Alive. Active. Adaptive. was an international conference organised by the DRS Special Interest Group on Experiential Knowledge (EKSIG) on 19 and 20 June 2017 in Het Nieuwe Instituut. The conference brought together design practitioners, researchers, architects and artists to discuss the future of emerging materials and its implications for design research and practice.
The conference focused on the experiential knowledge of designing with emerging materials that are alive, active and adaptive, whether by means of biological or computational processes or an integration of the two. Elvin Karana and Elisa Giaccardi of the IDE faculty (TU Delft) were the conference chairs. Maurizio Montalti (Officina Corpuscoli), Anna Vallgarda (IT University of Copenhagen) and Mark Miodownik (Institute of Making) were headline speakers. Check the conference website for further details of the programme.
Material research from design practice
A special contribution to the conference was given by a group of Dutch designers who presented their research on materials: Roos Meerman, Diana Scherer, Xandra van der Eijk, Teresa van Dongen and Bastiaan de Nennie. The designers met an international, professional network, focused on material and design research. Their contribution is part of the International Materials & Design network, founded by the Het Nieuwe Instituut. The network was set up in order to organise collaborative projects with international partner organisations, to enable knowledge exchange on innovation in materials, design and sustainability, and to support talented Dutch designers in expanding their international networks.
Artist Diana Scherer is the New Material Fellow at Het Nieuwe Instituut. She was awarded the fellowship for her project Interwoven, in which she manipulates the root systems of plants to create a textile-like material. In collaboration with Radboud University, Scherer is now exploring the possibility of growing complete items of clothing underground. During the fellowship, Het Nieuwe Instituut provides her with mentorship and support in the further development of her research project.
Roos Meerman is an Arnhem based designer, who researches natural phenomena, looking for specific characteristics and the limits of a material by playing with it. Her goal is to control materials, yet in such a way that it retains freedom of movement. Because of this approach, the final outcome of her projects is always unique. Roos Meerman’s work has received several awards; in 2014 she was New Material Fellow at Het Nieuwe Instituut and more recently she won the Bio Art & Design Award 2016 with Lilian van Daal for their research project Dynamorphosis.
Xandra van der Eijk
Central to the work of Xandra van der Eijk is theoretical and practical research into subject, site and matter. Control and the passing of time are recurring themes in her installations, which also raise awareness for natural processes. Xandra van der Eijk graduated from the Interfaculty ArtScience at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague, after graduating in graphic design (BA) at the Royal Academy of Art, The Hague. Van der Eijk received the Paul Schuitema Award in 2008 and the Bio Art & Design Award in 2017. Van der Eijk is a research fellow at WAAG Society and part of design collective Dutch Invertuals.
Teresa van Dongen
Teresa van Dongen has always been fascinated by nature and science. Her research has focused on themes such as light as a translation of energy, the transparency of glass and what it beholds, and the physics of movement. The results of this research include: Spark of Life, a 'living lamp' (bacteria based) that needs only a teaspoon of acetate every two weeks and fresh water every month. Teresa van Dongen graduated cum laude from the Design Academy Eindhoven, and in 2015 won the Dutch Design Award in the category Young Designer.
Bastiaan de Nennie
Bastiaan de Nennie graduated from the Design Academy Eindhoven. Bastiaan positions his practice at the intersection of the intertwining worlds of the physical and the digital. He departs from a pre-digital reality: the world of things. Once selected, these objects are 3D-scanned, the scans are dissected, and the components are used as building blocks for new digital creations. After a multifaceted computer-based creative process, these then reappear as a new blend of 'phygital' presences materialized in the form of 3D-printed sculptures. This continuous travelling, in and out of these two presences - the physical and the digital world - raises questions about the dominance of the material over the immaterial.