All Posts in Category: in English
Take Reykjavik as an example, for the last seven years they have composed a designweek, as a joint effort between the design community and the local government. The role of such a festival is primarily to empower the local creative scene, to strengthen the vitality of the city, and to learn from each other. By exhibiting their work amongst each other, this type of self-help-group propels the design field forward. During the most recent edition, the President of Iceland, invited the design journalists to emphasise his believe in a creative economy. How much more moral support can you ask for as a creative in Reykjavik?
Globalization, and an open-source mentality have changed our thinking almost overnight about what constitutes a copy versus an original. Copying not only has legal and cultural repercussions; it bears on moral and psychological issues as well.
Fear of Being Copied
The tension that immediately arises when speaking about copying proves its relevance and explosive potential – not only in the field of design. Aside from the formal and juristic consequences, in design there is a “moral of authenticity” that is deeply rooted in western culture. What would happen if we could let go of this ‘authenticity’?
Another issue at stake is the similarity between copying and inspiration. Every designer will study examples of designers that inspire him. Designing is in part copying, leaning, re-using; placing an old idea in a new context. It’s foolish to reinvent the wheel, so we cut and paste from all kinds of sources of inspiration. And since the rise of the internet those sources are even more accessible: with a couple of clicks we can see everything, everywhere. Instantly.
Different Attitudes of Asia and Europe
The question of where inspiration ends and copying begins can be answered from personal, cultural, and moral standpoints, but also from commercial and legal points of view. Cultural differences certainly have an effect on where one stands in this debate. It has always been said, for example, that Asia and Europe have very different attitude towards copying; that originality and authenticity have different meanings in different cultures. In Japan and China, where a totally different ethical code governs authorship, you are considered a ‘master’ if you are able to copy good craftsmanship. Here in the West however, originality is at the heart of design culture.
Legal questions surround copyright culture. How is copyright built? What are the premises? How do we define a copy from moral, legal, and cultural points of view? Should copying be deplored or could it be also seen as a process towards perfection or the development of skills? Could it be regarded as the predictable consequence of an ever-present marketing, branding and personality cult?
In the likelihood of a future society dominated by copy culture, what changes will we see? Will patents and copyrights lose their raison d’étre, becoming artifacts of mass industrialization? Will they be replaced by open source concepts, appropriation and personalization? What will be the designer’s role in a shared and thus reciprocal relationship with a new, potentially multi-faceted breed of user, client, producer, reseller and co-developer?
Watch the project on Dezeen: click here
Design Education is a growing sector. In Western Europe the amount of Master studies in design is on the increase. In Eastern Europe, India and China the amount of Bachelor studies is growing and the amount of students per school or studio are growing as well. Besides the numerical growth, the Design-field is widening as well: New fields of design emerge on an ongoing basis. One can think of social design, interaction design, service design and design thinking. These are all sectors of the design field for where studies are being developed or will be developed. More and more different schools have a design related study in their curriculum, design is being taught in both technical-, managerial- and artistic schools and Universities at all of levels. Lucas Verweij initiated a roundup in corporation with DMY and the Dutch Embassy
Expert meeting round One
Host: Ronen Kadushin, Guest professor University of Art and Design Halle, teaching Open Design.
Host: Louise Schouwenberg, Dean of Master programme Contextual Design at Design Academy Eindhoven.
I do not agree, and argue with my wife about it frequently. I think designers are much too focused on the innovative. Innovation has been the collective obsession of the design world throughout the last century. I think we should let go of this obsession in order to make more objects of quality. Because quality does not necessarily equal innovation.
I think the role of designers in the innovative process is over-estimated. If we look closely at a lot of innovative design, the innovation is not the work of the designer.
Innovation can emerge at different stages of the design process. For example it can be part of the assignment. If that is the case the designer is often held responsible for the innovation, whereas actually the commissioner has called for it and thereby caused it to be a design factor. This was the case with both Nespresso and the Ipad. It was primarily the brief, released by the commissioner, that led to these extraordinary and innovative products.
|Who did the innovativion: the designer or the commissioner.|
Closely linked is the type of innovation that arises from the function of a product. The product is then able to do something that could not be done before. Skype is one example. We can not say it is brilliantly designed, but its functionality is brilliant. The same is true for car navigators or twitter. Any designer would have made these products into an innovative product because the functionality called for it, and hence the design brief must have as well. We tend to honor the designers in all these examples, whereas I believe the commissioners have done their part to make these designs innovative.
Production method and techniques
New technology enhances design innovation
When a new technique or production-method comes along a whole field opens up, look at lighting design. Because of the prohibition of the light bulb we have been converting to LED lighting, which can lead to completely different shapes and typologies. Due to this conversion, there has been one innovation after another. Dieter Rams showed the new producing techniques among the Braun products. Eames demonstrated what we could do with laminating. Le Corbusier and Tadao Ando showcased different ways of using concrete. Using the new possibilities in a creative and useful way, this is the core of innovative design work.
I believe innovation is the collective obsession of the design world: designers focus too much on it. Imagine what would happen if-only for one year-the whole design world stopped trying to innovate? What if we paused the innovation? A lot of good products would be made in that year, because if we didn’t put energy into trying to make the new. We might put energy into trying to make the good. Quality does not necessarily require innovation.
In architecture the turn-around is already visible. The renovation and restoration departments of universities grow bigger everyday. There is more work in these fields than in new developments. It requires a different attitude towards designing (because the product already exists). The stars of innovative architecture are not the stars of restorational architecture. More ‘new stars’ are emerging outside the innovative field. In product design there is not yet truly an equivalent yet, but the underlying development is the same.
Less innovative design can rock!
Hella Jongerius worked for sixteen years in Rotterdam, at two places in the old west part of town and two places in the district ‘Cool’. We are now speaking in her studio, Jongeriuslab, on Kastanienallee in Berlin’s Prenzlauer Berg district, where she has worked for half a year, after moving to Berlin with her family a year before that.
Since I am her husband and this is our first interview, the conversation feels strange. I had always thought it would be impossible for me to interview her, but soon I find this is not at all true.
Rotterdam has a certain “barren land” where weeds and rare flowers can grow well. There is still plenty of room there; lots of physical but also mental space that has always attracted creative people. I was able to work within that lovely creative shelter, developing my own stories and samples without distraction. The availability of workspace was and still is crucial for every designer, and Rotterdam still makes good on these opportunities. I have rented good places in the past: a former laboratory, a former butcher shop, and a monumental mansion. Each had some problems to play around with, but that character fits well with my own.
I studied product Design for public space, and am therefore officially qualified as a Designer for public space. I write and publish about design and therefore often call myself a journalist. Most of my journalism is oral: it comes in the context of moderating or interviewing on stage. That makes me a moderator and public speaker.
Between 2002 and 2006 I was dean of an architecture school (RAVB). I taught architecture students even when I was studying design. So that makes me an teacher.
I founded an office that worked in the fields of design and architecture. Where my companion (Ton Matton) did most of the city planning, I was more involved in the art world. I hardly made any autonomous artworks, but I was very often called artist. I have been making maps for a long time (mostly world maps). I know quite a bit about world projections, so I must be a cartographer.
In my time at the design institute Premsela (1998-2002) I was a program manager. When I later founded a design platform (dpfr) and a design Master course we called ourselves initiators.
I coach people in public speaking and moderating, so I am a coach as well.
Recently I started getting more involved in innovation and Web 2.0. As if it were my fate, this led to another professional description. Recently I was introduced as a web 2-specialist.
In recent times it has become much more normal to have more than one profession. In Twitter biographies people often call themselves: serial entrepreneur, designer, social media expert and DJ.
The new tradition is an overview of what professionals and the public alike term ‘traditionalism’; a century of traditionalist architecture and urban design, with an emphasis on the last fifteen years. The common definition of traditionalism – ‘the conscious reversion to traditions in building as regards form, structure and function’ – offers a succinct description of what this book is about. I can’t summarise its subject any better than with this definition. But the word ‘traditionalism’ is noticeable by its absence. The avoidance of the ‘T-word’ gives the impression that the book deals with a taboo.
Circumventing the notion of traditionalism is not only a linguistic issue. It is a missed opportunity to define traditionalism precisely and to point out the difference with regionalism and critical regionalism. A comparison could have been made with classicism and with ‘new urbanism’.
A fundamental (theoretical) framework is sorely needed to support, deepen and develop traditionalism. That is, of course, the motive for this book, but avoiding the right title make you think that traditionalism as such is somehow tainted, that nobody wants to be associated with it. That, to me, is incorrect. It is high time to name traditionalism in plain language and embrace it if desired. After all, the past teaches us that reappropriating a name (faggots, rednecks, punks) is a good strategy for emancipation.
And traditionalism itself teaches us not to reinvent the wheel all the time but, instead, to benefit from the lessons of history. That is to say that the new tradition is positively ambitious in theoretical terms. The text on the back flap reads: ‘If one puts bourgeois housing at the centre of architectural history, it becomes clear that the radical experiment of modernism was no more than an incident’. Right on target!
The change of perspective in this book transforms the dominant line of thought into a footnote. But because the T-word isn’t used explicitly, this argument isn’t convincingly substantiated.
The 270-page coffee table book (somewhat oversized and certainly not portable) is written by Hans Ibelings and Vincent van Rossem.
The book includes photographs of completed projects and drawings of neighbourhoods and villages, most of them designed by Mulleners + Mulleners, Scala, Molenaar & Van Winden, KOW, Soeters van Eldonk, Krier Kohl, Six Architects and LSW Architecten. Facade drawings, floor plans and sections are omitted entirely. The book seems aimed at a wide audience and not solely for professionals. And that aim has been achieved, because the book is accessible. Ibelings in particular clearly describes what this architecture is about.
The new tradition is expressly a compilation of work by two authors, with an abrupt change from one to the other on page 185. In part one Ibelings describes contemporary architecture practice as he zooms further and further out from the daily housing conditions.
That results in a clear division into chapters: home, neighbourhood, village, city, landscape. It is, in effect, a substantial yet sympathetic essay (c. 6000 words and lavishly illustrated) in which Ibelings argues for a greater understanding of history in the development of new projects.
The political and social tension surrounding the subject becomes clearer when he hints at the book’s aim. On page 89, for example, he writes: ‘Architects […] usually show more interest in the city than in the village.
They are more fascinated by the feverish dynamics of a steadily growing metropolis than by the peaceful continuity of rural settlements.’ And on page 39 we read: ‘In the Netherlands the trend is only to often to reinvent the wheel […] and above all not to draw any lessons from the past’.
The charge gradually becomes explicit: because of modernism, architects have developed an over-fixation on innovation and renewal in the area of typologies and materials. Traditionalists oppose this, advocate a view of profession based more on craft, and search for ‘continuity in architecture’ (hence the book’s title).
Occasionally it becomes obvious what the book is really trying to do, namely to offer a counterweight to the prevailing view of architecture. Oops, is there a customary view of architecture? Most architects don’t think so, but traditionalists think there is. They are of the opinion that modernism is too dominant in both architectural education and practice.
They think there is scant regard for the discipline as a professional craft and skill. They think the architectural discourse is too hermetic and too inaccessible, and is based on too many assumptions. Now and then – not in this book – a comparison is made with politics before Pim Fortuyn. The New Urbanists add that people and human behaviour are not taken as the measure of things in urban design as often as they should be.
This group is stronger abroad than in the Netherlands and has viewed sustainability as of paramount importance for a long time. ‘Giving people many choices for living an urban lifestyle in sustainable, convenient and enjoyable places, while providing the solutions to peak oil, global warming, and climate change.’ But although there is enough ammunition, the author decides not to go on the offensive in this book.
After page 185 Vincent van Rossem takes over with an exhaustive historical essay (‘Timeless’) that spans 25 pages. Van Rossem has an unmistakably academic style of writing and needs no fewer than 49 footnotes, whereas Ibelings needs none. While even non-professionals will understand part one of The new tradition, part two makes for heavy reading, even for insiders.
The large discrepancy in approach between the two authors does not benefit the book. They work alongside each other but not together. A discussion on this theme has not, it would seem, been conducted between the authors. The result is therefore neither a comprehensive argument, nor account, nor study of historical facts, nor picture book. In that sense the publication is tentative, encompassing as it does a little bit of all of those character traits.
True to its title, The new tradition deals exclusively with projects in the Netherlands. The historiography, however, introduces an international perspective. A correct decision, I think. No matter how nice it is to see foreign examples, this book is about the Dutch situation. The book describes how that development, past and present, is inextricably linked to developments elsewhere. Van Rossem in particular refers frequently to the English and German history of houses and residential districts.
Another interesting thing is that the book doesn’t confine itself to buildings. A substantial part concerns ‘traditionalist urbanism’ – which is generally more appreciated than the architecture. Ibelings’s chapters on ‘Neighbourhood’, ‘Village’, ‘City’ and ‘Landscape’ go beyond the individual building and Van Rossem, too, writes extensively about the Garden City, Plan Zuid and the historical city.
Moreover, a lot of attention is devoted to landscape and public space. This is useful because intelligent and careful solutions are often devised at the level of exterior space. Traditionalism means no Vinex front gardens but doors that open directly onto the street, no cars parked lengthways along the street but beneath it, behind it or beside it on a separate site.
The street and the square – the collective domain – are viewed in a much more positive light than the style of architecture. In Poundbury, better known as ‘the Prince Charles village’, the architects fought the fire department in favour of the construction of dead-end streets and against roundabouts and through roads. Also included are alleyways, small shortcuts for pedestrians and cyclists only. You won’t find them in contemporary residential districts.
This book would have been stronger if Ibelings and Van Rossem had sided more explicitly with traditionalism and, from there, counterattacked the numerous accusations made against it. After all, another lesson we learn from history is: attack is the best form of defence.
Info: Hans Ibelings, Vincent van Rossem, De nieuwe traditie / The new tradition. Continuity and renewal in Dutch architecture, SUN Amsterdam 2009, NL/EN, p.288, ISBN 9789085066927, €34.50