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Dutch Design Week 2020 Virtual and IRL Edition

October 21, 2020

The Netherlands is a small nation, but it's a renowned design powerhouse. COVER takes a peek at a selection of textiles, rugs and futuristic innovation at DDW20

The theme of the 2020 edition of Dutch Design Week (DDW20) is ‘The New Intimacy’. Jorn Konijn, Head of Programme for DDW, provides an essay on the topic for the magazine section of DDW’s impressive website. His essay reflects the impact of the global pandemic and how Covid-19 has ‘shrouded’ the globe while simultaneously it has ‘exposed all the threads and frayed edges’ of our ‘social fabric’. 

Although DDW20 reflects a panoply of imaginative and futuristic Dutch design, Konijn’s choice of weaving and textile analogies reflects two important aspects of the pandemic: it has driven global demand for ‘cozy’ textile-based products for the home including handmade rugs, while it has resulted in enforced perimeters between humans who aren’t in a mutual ‘bubble’. Konijn says these perimeters put at risk our ability to ’empathise’ with fellow humans, a view that reflects one of the more esoteric, if not deliberately odd, rugs on view at DDW20—The Finger Rub Rug by Laura A Dima.

The Finger Rub Rug by Laura A Dima

The Finger Rub Rug is a shag-style carpet made of 1,300 lifelike silicone human fingers that move collectively not unlike the mesmeric waving tentacles of a sea anemone. Accompanied by a soundtrack the artist describes as ‘erotic, scary, funny’, the rug is warm to the touch thanks to an unseen electric blanket. ‘Touch is a magical power,’ says the artist.

Here we highlight four designers at DDW20 whose rugs or installations reflect current or future developments in interior textiles:

Christien Meindertsma x CSrugs

Christien Meindertsma’s Journey of a Sheep’s Fleece: Asten is a topographic-style carpet interpretation of wool’s journey from the fleece on a sheep’s back to the final product. It’s also an evocative reminder of growing global awareness and demand for supply chain transparency (sometimes referred to as ‘provenance’). Awareness of the chain allows consumers to make educated product choices that are sustainable to people, animals and the planet. 

Journey of a Sheep’s Fleece: Asten by Christien Meindertsma

Meindertsma’s carpet is a bird’s eye view of the sites relevant to the production of her carpet: New Zealand sheep grazing fields, the French town where the wool is dyed, and the industrial site of CSrugs in Asten, The Netherlands, where the carpet is woven. Asten is the first in a series of 3D tufted rugs designed by Meindertsma for CSrugs. Forthcoming rugs in the textured collection will depict different locations important in the production of the fine wool CSrugs uses to make the majority of its rugs. 

Studio Samira Boon

Studio Samira Boon presents interior textile-based project Bio-Fold as part of The Exploded View by the Embassy of Circular & Biobased Building. Bio-Fold is the new name for Studio Samira Boon’s preceding project BiOrigami—unique acoustic elements created from discarded jute coffee bags.

Jute coffee bags are not easily recycled. Integrated with bio-based plastics, Boon has created a new bio-composite material. She employs the concept of Japanese origami and digital production techniques to create material that is a functional, sensory and flexible 3D architectural product with welcome acoustic properties.

Bio-Fold by Studio Samira Boon

Related to Boon’s exploration of jute and bio-plastics is KOMBUTEX—a sustainable, regenerative ‘textile’ made from bacteria that is being presented at DDW20’s Embassy of Health. In our pandemic obsessed world bacteria are often seen as ‘the bad guys’, but similar to the acknowledged benefits of bacteria-based health drinks, Boon and her colleagues know bacteria can be harnessed to create sustainable, breathable, dynamic and naturally healthy interior ecosystems. 

Using the concept of ‘SCOBY’ (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast)—a biofilm that seals a brewed liquid that makes the health drink known as Kombucha, Studio Samira Boon together with VU and Waag Society are studying how this surface growth can create sustainable, ‘breathing’ interiors. The group is growing KOMBUTEX as a textile-like surface that acts as a plant growth medium and a natural biodegradable version of mechanical air exchange systems. 

Raw Color x Kvadrat Febrik

Raw Color is the Eindhoven-based studio of designers Christoph Brach and Daniera ter Haar. Their designs reflect a sophisticated approach to material and colour, and mix their expertise in graphic design, photography and textile design. Their collaboration with Kvadrat is Planum—a collection of twenty tones of knitted upholstery textiles with soft, lustrous matte surfaces. 

Project Planum by Raw Color x Kvadrat Febrik

Exhibited at DDW20 as Project Planum, the installation was initially developed for KNIT! a Kvadrat Febrik initiative with 28 international designers. A collection of quilts is presented for the first time at DDW20 together with a series of small panels that explore colour combinations within the Planum palette.

Sandra Keja Planken x Studio Noun curated by Isola Design District

The Happy Rug Collection is described by the artist as ‘happy, huggable rugs’. Reflecting DDW20’s intimacy theme (or more accurately our current lack of intimacy) the idea of huggable rugs has instant appeal. Hand-tufted with sustainable Eucalyptus yarns made from the fast-growing tree—a relatively green and renewable resource as the tree is coppiced, not cut down—Keja Planken presents three ‘huggables’ at DDW20. The designs combine different textures and fibre lengths on multi-layered surfaces. Landscapes are one of Keja Planken’s themes as is the landscape of the human body. Lips is a design that the artist says will ‘make you feel like you are being hugged and kissed;’ an ‘interactive’ concept similar to the The Finger Rub Rug. 

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