10 Must-Sees at Dutch Design Week 2018

Photography by Nicole Marnati.

is the go-to event for speculative design ideas, experimental projects, and new materials and technologies. The 17th edition—entitled "If not us, then who?" and spread across 120 locations—was no exception. Its finger focused firmly on the pulse of work with potential to improve lives, and projects that were open-minded, futuristic, and often had environmental and social ramifications.

This year we spotted projects that used minerals from urine as a ceramics glaze, a material called Kaumera, which is extracted from sludge granules created by water purification processes (and used to create a glue and a fabric dye), and the world’s first 3D-printed bridge. The latter was designed by Joris Laarman and created by a Dutch startup called  headed by Tim Geurtjens and displayed in the city’s Ketelhuisplein. It is soon to be permanently relocated to the Oudezijds Achterburgwal canal in Amsterdam’s red light district. And, of course, there was the ever-inspiring graduation show of the world-famous Design Academy Eindhoven. Its new location, the city’s former Campina milk factory, offered a vast and theatrical setting.

Photography by Léa Mazy.

1. showed unique tiles as part of the Design Academy Eindhoven graduation show. Called "The Production of Fatigue," her project focused on the patterns created when printer cartridge ink runs low. It questions society’s obsession with productivity and effectiveness, as well as the unsustainable idea of perfection in mass production and what the aesthetic qualities and nuances of fatigue in human and machine performance might be. In collaboration with Italian porcelain manufacturer , Mazy is now working on developing this printing method for the industry.

2. Leading Dutch decorative materials specialist  created one of Dutch Design Week's most memorable exhibitions via "Time is Now," which addresses such themes as circularity and sustainability. The project combines Baars & Bloemhoff castoffs with elements from previous exhibitions to create new pieces. Its accompanying show "Transitions IV: The Not So Flat Exhibition" showed a new flat-pack furniture concept of accessible and experimental pieces by five Dutch designers. Pictured is Johan Moorman’s geometric and abstract configurable kitchen (made out of  high-pressure laminates and  solid surface worksheets), inspired by Italian inlaid marble floors and the Bauhaus movement's functional systems.

Photography by Nick Bookelaar.

3.  presented an exhibition called "Body of Work," which included limited-edition collectible design pieces. Other works have become production pieces or been used in such projects as the W Hotel Amsterdam or the Deloitte HQ in Denmark. On show was, among others, the studio's Repeated Mirrors series, Tunnel collection, Mono-Lights, and Trilithon marble and onyx furniture range.

Photography by Studio Thier&vanDaalen.

4. Last year,  showed a curated selection of pieces in the home of friends. This year, they opened up their recently renovated 1960s-era house in Eindhoven, converting it into a living gallery of art and design produced by them and colleagues they admire. The studio showed a round blown glass light in a square brass frame, a coffee table made from leftover kitchen and bathroom surface materials, and a shelf made out of lumps of industrial polyethylene waste from a tube-making factory. When sliced open, the latter reveals a marbled pattern. The copper light is by Vantot.

Photography by Cleo Goossens.

5.  ’s project for Design Academy Eindhoven wowed for its theatrical presentation. It also demonstrated how urine can be used to create a series of dyes—because of its ammonia content, it's both a natural cleaning agent and a fixative. She took things a step further and used the textiles to reveal information about the environment and health of the person’s urine. When she detected Bisphenol A—a substance found in plastics and cans—she marked the fabric with a blue square.

Photography by Cleo Goossens.

6. It may be difficult to believe, but these beautiful cups and vessels by  in collaboration with  were made out of algae-based biopolymers. If grown locally and in closed systems, they could provide a sustainable alternative to oil in the production of plastic, or even a replacement for bioplastics made out of genetically engineered corn, say the designers. What’s more, they absorb C02 during production.

Photography by Huis Twaalf.

7.  ’s Grace of Glaze project was born out of the somewhat odd fact that most porcelain and ceramic objects are either made out of colored clay or glazed in different hues, but hardly ever both. Doesburg uses different tones of clay and combines them with colored glazes to create countless different and subtle gradients. The possibilities are endless and inspiring.

Photography by Ronald Smits.

8.  ’s original take on garden furniture, called "Split," is made out of a manually split, locally sourced, and minimally treated 60-year-old Robinia tree trunk. Split or cleft wood is more weather-resistant and stronger than sawn timber, explains Bergmann, who sourced the pieces from Eindhoven’s municipal timber yard. By storing the benches and table on their sides when not in use, water cannot pool on the pieces and make them rot. The bits in with soil are scorched for extra protection. Not only was the project environmental in its use of timber that can then be returned to the ecosystem to decay naturally, but its rugged beauty was a powerful statement against standardized products.

Photography by Max Kneefel.

9. "HOW& WOW" by the , who showed in the former Veem warehouse building in Eindhoven, elevated such humble materials as plastic into crafted objects. ’s polyethylene goblets and glasses emanated a stately glow, while  showcased 3D printing explorations to create contemporary craft pieces, pictured.

Photography by Rive Roshan.

10. Food experiences and design stole the show. One of the most memorable was "28 Grams of Happiness," a sensorial multi-course lunch or dinner experience created by food design studio  and Eindhoven restaurant Pippens. It delivered in a space filled with uplifting, colorful, and healthy design objects selected and curated by . Objects on display included ’s Meshmatics wire, mesh and waste wood chandelier for , tactile wall coverings by , a modular kinetic tapestry by , and an interactive installation by Tom Kortbeek and .