João Abreu Valente

Department: Contextual Design


The performance of matter

I’m nothing.
I’ll never be anything.
I can’t wish I were anything.
Even so, I have all the dreams of the world in me.
‘Tobacco Shop’, Álvaro de Campos

Today, the expression “Form follows Function” is no longer a representative statement within the design world. The shift has gone toward a more honest materialization of design thinking, which is the process. To that end, I use a liquid method of research, to question the functional meaning of the process and to
explore the need of contemporary objects.

Beauty is an abstract word, but it is perceived by every one of us according to the way we understand the world. Throughout history it has been a concept that remained pure in its own theoretical representation.
Humankind has evolved and the visual representation of beauty has changed with it, but the idea of beauty is still based on a conceptual achievement of the idea of perfection.
Before the Modernist era, beauty was explored as a perfect representation of reality. The individualization of the dogmatic idea of beauty started with Cezanne at the end of the 19th century. At that time, several artists saw an “open door” in his new way of
representing the world.
Today we live in a society that is constantly opening doors to question the world in which we live. This behavior is based on an individualist way of perceiving the world. The postmodern society, also called the ‘liquid’ modern society by Zygmunt Bauman, is a
“place” where people become nomads in their own life. The individual becomes the creator of his own path, which is built over a mesh of possibilities.

The digital happens to fit perfectly with the contemporary ideology. Its immateriality reduces the form of objects to the elementary shape of a square. The immaterial possibilities of the screen have transformed
the physical context in which we live. The digital reality of today is generating a feeling of alienation. We are caught inside a frame that we don’t understand.

In The Shape of Things, Vilém Flusser suggests that the factory of the future should also be a place for learning. I want to explore this concept through the educational potential of a simple process in the design field. I approach the process of transformation through its functional meaning, so the old statement “form
follows function” becomes “process follows function”.

For a better understanding of the physical world, designers should use the digital possibilities as a tool and not as an end result, in order to reconnect the object with its physical self and therefore, the object
with the user.


Copyright Design Academy Eindhoven

Copyright: Design Academy Eindhoven
Photographs: Joost Govers