Please, accept cookies in order to load the content.

Het Nieuwe Instituut invited five designers to the conference Alive. Active. Adaptive. organized by EKSIG and TUDelft in Het Nieuwe Instituut, highlighting how the profession is helping to drive the new materials revolution.

Designers, the link between science and technology

Other young Dutch designers take a science- or technology-inspired approach. Roos Meerman, an Arnhem-based designer, presented her Aera Fabrica products. The technique is a combination of blow moulding, glass blowing and 3D printing.  From an experiment with stretching plastic, the studio moved to seeing the plastic form as a balloon that you can blow up. By heating up the balloon, it is made flexible and can be transformed. Cooling it, solidifies the form again. In contrast with the glassblowing technique, with the Aera Fabrica process, you determine the form before the inflating process, which allows us to more influence on the final form. Meerman won the New Material Fellow 2014 and received a fellowship at the Nieuwe Instituut. Working with materials experts and scientific institutes, she argued that “designers can be the link between science and technology.”

Bastiaan de Nennie’s Phygital products originate in his sampling and remixing of 3D scanned objects: the scans are effectively his raw material. As he admitted, “the quality is not perfect,” yet this imperfection gives his work a low-res, cartoon-like appeal. Although “I didn’t intend to print them at first,” De Nennie was persuaded to do just that, with fascinating results. “The technique allows me to remix things impossible in real life, because you can rescale them on a computer,” he said.

It was another example of the rapidly evolving relationship between designers, designed objects and materials which the event helped to highlight. Ever since the Stone Age, materials have defined societies and their achievements. Yet with the advent of industrial production, they were relegated to a secondary role – an afterthought in the process of manufacturing. At Het Nieuwe Instituut, we saw designers driving a rediscovery of materials, and their ability to co-create our future reality. According to the institute, the idea behind inviting the designers, and co-hosting the event, was to further the exchange between academia and design practitioners. Having achieved that goal, it expects the conference to lead to further collaborations with TUDelft and other partners.


Het Nieuwe Instituut is the founder of the International Materials and Design Network, which facilitates international collaboration and knowledge exchange, and supports Dutch designers active in materials innovation. Report is written by Jane Szita.