See our picks of some of the most impressive work by DAE graduates – from intuitive design objects to critical concepts – below.

The annual Dutch Design Week would normally have taken over Eindhoven this week, but like most all industry events this year, it has gone digital. That means that a usual cornerstone of the event – the Design Academy Eindhoven (DAE) graduation show – will not take its physical form. But that certainly doesn’t mean that the show has been without an audience. We have compiled a roundup highlighting innovative work completed by DAE graduates, who saw their visions to fruition despite the sizably difficult circumstances brought about by the pandemic.

Three themes were especially prominent within this body of outstanding projects: the need for calm and relaxation, circular alternatives and wellbeing at work. In a time fraught with crisis and uncertainty, these works necessarily pose the potential for a healthier, more sustainable future

TOOLS FOR RELAXATION

Photo: Ronald Smits

Scope is a multicoloured surface lamp by Charlotte Bombel that creates various lighting moods. Bombel’s work explored how natural light illuminates our homes after being reflected and scattered – the fixture’s gradient mimics the hues we naturally respond to when working or resting.

With a mission to ‘improve our soundscape environment’, Heejoon Kwak devised Virtual Sky, an app that allows users to take control of their auditory surroundings. Kwak likens it as an acoustic alternative to augmented reality – the app uses data from the motion-tracking sensors of headsets and earphones to immerse users in different sound elements.

Photo: Iris Rijskamp

Jelle Smidt’s graduation project Modern Meditation – an ergonomically designed, technologically capable chair – kickstarts a user’s introspective journey. The chair is able to translate sound into strong vibrations, allowing different frequencies to address specific body parts as one meditates.

Photo: Ronald Smits

There’s rarely common ground between the design of children’s toys and furniture for grown-ups. Solving this problem was the goal of Julia Maliczowska with Sway, a relaxing lounge chair which can function as a cradle, swing, rocking chair and even seesaw, all with a minimalist, unobtrusive look.

CIRCULAR ALTERNATIVES

Photo: Ronald Smits

Bram de Vos proposes a combination of three agricultural methods – vertical farming, food foresting and syntropic farming – for making cities like Amsterdam agriculturally self-sufficient. He believes that a balanced system like Uprooting Agro-System could help effectively ease pressure on the global food chain.

Photo: Nicole Marnati

Citing the myriad sustainable benefits of hemp, Hannah Segerkrantz drew up a semi-modular system for the DIY production of furniture pieces utilizing the biocomposite hempcrete. ‘The aim of [Hemp-it-Yourself] is to encourage the use of natural materials and local, on-demand production,’ says Segerkrantz.

Photo: Femke Reijerman

Celebrated with the Melkweg Award, Ignacio Subías Albert’s conceptual project Artificial Wasteland critically questions the traditional lawn and artificial grass. The designer produced three handmade carpet lawns which attempt to depict the element truthfully and thus challenge society’s ‘ideal’ image of nature.

With Bathing in the Cloud (cover image by Ronald Smits), Lucas de Ruiter sought to ‘demystify the invisible world of the data centre’ with four photographic techniques. De Ruiter’s installation allows one to experience the real physicality of the Cloud – namely the steamy heat the computers produce – while pondering how this excess energy can be better utilized.

Photo: Ronald Smits

Each piece of furniture in Teunland – the personal apartment of Teun Zwets – was created by Zwets in less than a day with practical materials on hand.  ‘The focus lies on usability instead of refinement,’ explains Zwets, ‘leading to a new aesthetic that questions our throwaway society.’

WELLBEING AT WORK

Photo: Femke Reijerman

An in-office solution inspired by the passive stretching prominent in restorative yoga, Pak Phon comprises three tension-relieving pieces of furniture. ‘This series of furniture allows people to ease three main muscle groups that suffer from sitting on a chair all day,’ says designer Assani Lalinantawat.

Photo: Nicole Marnati

Enrico Rapella experimented with the ability of curtains to create private boundaries with furniture for Soft Spot, a table that can be adapted to different situations. ‘A curtain can demarcate a soft division in space around the body,’ explains Rapella, ‘similar to the area traced by the limbs of The Vitruvian Man.’

Photo: Ronald Smits

Lola Tual’s WC Who Cares is a comment on the ‘suffocating effects of peer surveillance’ in open-plan offices. Tual turned the ‘last private room in the office’ – the toilet – into a public performance cubicle with enabled livestreaming.

Photo: Chris König

Setting out to reframe the train station as a ‘hub for healthy habits’, Mathijs van Gageldonk devised multifunctional gym furniture and workout tutorials based on the public spaces for commuters. Exercise through Navigation was named the winer of the René Smeets Award.

Photo: Femke Reijerman

Under Cover by Olga Flór addresses the impersonality and restraints of hot-desking workspaces with a blanket, hanging tapestry and chair cover. ‘Textile has the ability to metamorphose our furniture, spaces and attitude,’ thinks Flór, who considered the importance of comfort in dehumanized environments.