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Design Column #9 - Conflicted

from September 27 2014 until January 25 2015

Hazan Zangana, Nowruz Rituals, Haft Sin collection, 2014 Justin Wijers, These are the times that try men's souls, 2014 Disarming Design from Palestine, Rudy Luijters and Montaser Younis, The Land of Milk and Honey, 2013 Justin Wijers, The imbalance of life, 2014 Studio Job, Pussy Cats (Cat Fight), 2014 Gorilla, Gaza, 2014 Johanna Schmeer, Bioplastic Fantastic, 2014 Gorilla, Allahu Akbar, 2014 Studio Swine, Hair Highway, 2014 Disarming Design from Palestine. Majd Abdel Hamid, Hourglass, 2013 Gorilla, IS was here, 2014 Metahaven, A Definition of Now, 2012 Disarming Design from Palestine, Mark Jan van Tellingen, Stress ball, 2013

Design Column #9 Conflicted shows work by designers who, despite our innermost and worldwide uncertainties, strengthen their grip on things. Their designs ward off the conflict, putting things into perspective with the aid of humour and beauty. Meanwhile the theme will be explored and discussed further on www.designcolumn.nl.

Fear reigns. It seems as if the world’s on fire. There are countless crises all over the world, and never since the Second World War have there been so many refugees. Alongside the many geo-political tensions, the financial system is in need of reform, we are systematically plundering the planet and pandemics are a growing threat. 

The intangibility and complexity of our problems creates fear and a tremendous sense of foreboding and insecurity. The mass media keep us better informed of all the misery than ever before. How can we deal with all this? Until recently we shrugged off fear with a sardonic smile, but now we are increasingly exchanging our post-modern cynicism for informed naivety. Engagement is back: against all the odds we want to build something better again. But after a while every position we take is undermined by what we have learned or by what is happening around us. It is not only the world that is in conflict - we are too.

Ideas that make a difference

Every three months the Design Column focuses on a news item in the form of a small exhibition at Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen and subsequently at the Droog Gallery in Amsterdam. The column is a place where new ideas are made visible, where the power of imagination is given expression. Designers and artists are especially interested in experimental imagination. With their idiosyncratic vision, they see things differently and are capable of bringing about change. The Design Column creates a space for these innovative concepts.

In conversation with

The Design Column is not only a presentation but is also an opportunity for reaction and dialogue. You are cordially invited to participate in a roundtable conversation that will take place at Museum
Boijmans Van Beuningen and Droog. If you would like to participate in this conversation, please contact the curators of the Design Column at designcolumn@boijmans.nl. Also check out the blog at www.designcolumn.nl.

With thanks to

The Design Column is made possible with the support of the Creative Industries Fund and the BankGiro Loterij.

On view in Design Column #9 Conflicted

Disarming Design from Palestine, 2013

Disarming Design from Palestine is a label that shows another side of Palestine with functional products. The products are designed, developed and produced by contemporary designers, artists and students, in collaboration with local craftsmen and producers. The aim of the project is to contribute to sustainable cultural and economic development in Palestine. Art and design can be used to further the discussion about political, social and cultural issues. Disarming Design from Palestine’s end products contribute to this, and so, too, do the collaboration and dialogue during the production process.

Hozan Zangana, Nowruz Rituals, Haft Sin collection, 2014

Nowruz is the Persian New Year celebration, surrounded by all kinds of rituals and traditions. Zangana created this collection because he saw how frustrated his wife was every year when she could not get all the right things together in the Netherlands. As well as helping her, he wants the collection to provide a feeling of being ‘at home’ and contribute towards the preservation of the cultural heritage of his homeland, Iraq. His Haft Sin set brings two worlds together: centuries-old Eastern tradition fuses with modern Western design.

Studio Job, Pussy Cats (Cat Fight), 2014

Studio Job plays with bad taste and beauty, and steers a course between art and kitsch, perfection and handiwork, good and evil. ´Pussy Cats´ was inspired by the designers’ two cats. The merciless, cruel nature of the cat is obvious in the sculptures.

Studio Swine, Hair Highway, 2014

Studio Swine followed the trade route of human hair and then came up with a method for incorporating hair into products. The designers covered hair with a natural resin and made decorative objects with it in the Shanghai deco style of the 1930s. This new material offers a prospect for the future. The use of human hair in products is controversial in the West. The designers play with these feelings by clearly making hair visible in visually attractive objects.

Metahaven, A Definition of Now, 2012

´A Definition of Now´ is a hashtag-like pattern containing the abbreviations S.O.S. and L.O.L. The Metahaven design agency initially used this visualization to explain Twitter to their students because bad news travels on Twitter, good news on Facebook. But perhaps this framework can actually be a symbol for the current moment. Or is it actually impossible to conceive of our lives in such generalities, and is reality infinitely more complex than a simple game of noughts and crosses?

Johanna Schmeer, Bioplastic Fantastic, 2014

The world population is growing and food supply will be an ever-increasing challenge. Schmeer imagines how our food might look in the future thanks to bio- and nanotechnology. The ‘Bioplastic Fantastic’ series consists of seven mechanisms made from a bio-plastic improved by enzymes. Although this solution would be fantastic, the shapes are reminiscent of a dream - or rather a nightmare: an optimistic scenario whose form references gloomy images from science-fiction cinema.

Justin Wijers, These are the times that try men’s souls, 2014
Justin Wijers, The imbalance of life, 2014

Wijers’s drawings show victims of violent crimes and road accidents that he finds on the Internet. With free association he combines these gruesome images with words, sentences, views or TV images. The victims are chosen from a great many photos and symbolize murders, accidents and war victims in general. The drawings express impotence and frustration but at the same time engagement and involvement.

De Designpolitie, Gorilla - Gaza, 2014
De Designpolitie, Gorilla - IS was here, 2014
De Designpolitie, Gorilla - Allahu Akbar, 2014

Gorilla is a visual column that appeared daily on the front page of Volkskrant newspaper between 2005 and 2009. Nowadays the designs feature in De Groene Amsterdammer and Adformatie. Gorilla is a visual reaction to the news. The design collective wanted to use their column to make a socio-political statement and soon came up with the political pamphlet: their designs function as a type of mini poster. Iconic images are often given a twist that wrong-foots the reader.

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