Text: guest blogger Carla Verhagen, Zuiver’s design team

You probably know how it goes: you get back from vacation and before you’ve even had time to look at your photos properly, you get caught up in work and other activities. It was just the same for me after the Dutch Design Week. It is a real joy to be there and one is left with so many big impressions. So it is high time to look back: to look at the photos again, read the stories and background information and immerse myself once more in the feeling that the Dutch Design Week always evokes in me.

Martijn Paulen, Director Dutch Design Foundation:
“Eindhoven is the R&D department for design”

It is impossible to see everything in three days. But it is enough time to obtain a good impression of what designers are busy with at the moment. They are the creators of the future. They react to current social, political and economic developments, search for answers and come up with solutions, sometimes at a micro level but often with the whole planet in mind.

Personally, I find it fascinating to see how recurring themes slowly change over the years: from pioneering concepts by particular individuals to increasingly broad acceptance by society and industry.

Some ideas, concepts and products have stayed with me personally for a wide range of reasons: frivolity, ingenuity, largeness of scale and many other aspects. I would like to share a selection with you.

Penpal – App een Oma – Estis Design (students at Twente University)

Even though many elderly are able to send and use text messages, many people over 80 do not know how to do this. Penpal creates a bridge between modern technologies and old ways of doing things. In so doing, it helps to prevent the elderly becoming isolated.

Penpal is a device that is installed in the elderly person’s home (or room in an old age home). Text or WhatsApp messages sent to the device are printed automatically and arrive in Granny’s (for example) post box. Granny can use the reply card to write a message back using the same post box. In actual fact, the message is scanned and sent to the addressee identified by the QR code on the card. Because both Granny and her grandchildren can communicate in the way they are both accustomed to, the threshold is low and the frequency is (hopefully) high. And the card is delivered right away so there is no need to wait for the postman.

Photo: Ermi van Oers

Living Light – Ermi van Oers and team

Back to biology class for a moment, because this lamp generates its energy using the photosynthesis process used by plants. Do you see the light? And if this weren’t enough, it does not have an on/off switch. You adjust the brightness by touching the leaf. This new technology was developed with the increasing scarcity of resources in mind. But this is not all, the idea of lighting a park using the trees growing in it has already been born. What a fantastic combination of ideas from nature, science and design this is. If you want to know more about the project and follow it, go to the Living Light website.

Ermi van Oers - designer of Living Light:
"We should keep dreaming and visualise our dreams to inspire others, to come closer to a more sustainable energy system."

Photo: Mirjam de Bruijn

Twenty – Mirjam de Bruijn

Detergent makers are selling their products in increasingly concentrated and more compact forms. This made Mirjam think. She did some research and it turned out that roughly 80% of many liquid detergents and personal care products is just water.

Mirjam’s “Twenty” concept is all about the remaining 20% dry ingredients that remain after removing all the water from detergents. The idea is that you buy an attractive bottle once only and keep on reusing it. You then buy (for example) shampoo tablets and then add the 80% water yourself. After mixing with water, you have the same shampoo you are accustomed to. The dry products can be packaged differently or even sold unpackaged. In addition to avoiding unnecessary plastic waste, this also reduces CO2 emissions because there is no need to transport all that water. Mirjam graduated cum laude from the Design Academy in Eindhoven with this idea.

Mirjam de Bruijn:
“By raising awareness I hope to activate consumers in such a way that one day the concept of Twenty will become a standard for household goods.”

PerFlex – Brigitte Kock, Bart Pruijmboom and Niek van Sleeuwen, Industrial Design students at Eindhoven Technical University.

Soon you will be able to enter your body measurements on the PerFlex site to order a tailor-made wearable. The item of clothing you choose (bra, shoes or whatever) will be adjusted to your personal measurements to produce a unique and personal version that fits you perfectly unlike off-the-hook versions based on average measurements. A 3D printer is used to make the wearable item. I have also been told that they are also very comfortable to wear.

Precious plastic 3.0 – Dave Hakkens

Okay, I admit it; I have been following Dave with great interest since graduated cum laude in 2013 with two projects. The first is Phonebloks, a modular phone with components that you can change and swap according to needs or desires, thus producing less e-waste. The second is version 1.0 of the ongoing project Precious Plastic,which is his way of combating plastic waste.

Dave’s revolutionary ways of thinking and his strong belief in what he is doing have served him well. It also helps that his attitude is not at all materialistic. He won a 10,000 euro prize For Precious Plastic in 2014. He immediately offered the prize to anyone who could help him move his project forward. During the most recent Dutch Design Week, Dave won 10,000 euros again in the Dutch TV programme de “Toekomstbouwers” (creators of the future). This time his version 3.0 was already 4,000 euros over budget, so he distributed the remaining 6,000 euros among his team of precious volunteers. As for himself: he rewarded himself with a nice bar of chocolate.

Dave Hakkens:
"It’s not tools, machines or technologies that will fix our plastic problem. It requires a shift in our mindset to see plastic waste as valuable resource.”

With Precious Plastic, Dave wants to create a new consciousness among all people all over the world. We currently view plastic waste as a problematic waste product, but it is actually a valuable resource, perhaps even a new golden opportunity. He has designed machines for recycling plastic that are relatively easy to build. He has made design drawings and video instructions available as open source. The materials required to building the machines are almost always available everywhere. This means that his machines are in use all over the world and the Precious Plastic community is steadily expanding. Anyone can set up a plastic recycling workshop based on the principle that “every little bit helps”.

On his YouTube- channel, you can watch videos providing instructions, background information and many other topics to think about. The videos are presented in a light-hearted and accessible manner.

Whimsical installations with a message – Jelle Mastenbroek

Again and again, Jelle surprises visitors with new ingenious installations. In 2013 he graduated with “Splendor Lender” a reference to old-fashioned display cabinets that used to serve mainly to show off their owners’ status and prestige. If you insert a euro coin into the slot, the coin tinkles cheerfully as it passes cups and plates bringing a smile to your face. And you even get your coin back, so you can enjoy the experience as many times as you like.

Last year he won the Milano Design Award for his “Data Orchestra” project. If you swipe your debit card, driver’s licence or credit card through the reader, you are treated to a personalised living room concert. How far are you willing to share your personal information and what do you get for it?

“My first Music Box” is on completely a different scale, but I think it is a pleasure to look at for young and old. If you want to make children enthusiastic about design, the whimsical nature of Jelle’s creations make them a good start. If you insert a coin into the slot of My first Music Box, the xylophone will starts to play and a holographic music box dancer will dance in front of the picture.

At Zuiver, we love young talent and enjoy working with young designers. Just look at the wonderful things that result: our Albert Kuip chair by Ape, our Minimal Clock by Rik van Mierlo and our Navigator lamp by Olaf Weller. We are very proud of them.

If you would like to know about these designers and their ideas, just Google them. They all have their own sites with interesting videos and nice animations. And don’t forget to note the dates of the next Dutch Design Week in your calendar: 22 to 28 October 2018 in Eindhoven.