It's that time of year again – the days are getting darker and temperatures are dropping.
But not in this town, they're not. Eindhoven is the place of the action and the City of Light is warming up to welcome another Dutch Design Week – the tenth edition this year!
The old Philips manufacturing- and R&D site Strijp-S has undergone serious changes in recent years. Formerly known as Eindhoven's own Forbidden City, the glorious past of this holy ground is clearly taken seriously by the local council, which obviously cherishes its cultural and architectural treasures that are so closely connected to the Dutch megabrand. Exclusive lofts are for rent, next to uniquely historical buildings with names like the 'Clock building', 'Machine room' and 'Boiler house'.
With the 'Design on Wheels' workshop as our main target for today (not in the last place for its fun social aspect – catching up with friends and colleagues), most of the visit evolves around this area of the DDW. Surely, other carfreax will report on the Graduation Show of the Design Academy later on – carfreak Rik and I stick to browsing the events on Strijp-S today.
On this breeding ground of the Dutch lightbulb industry, it is only natural that a lot of work refers to lighting, often ornamental but sometimes rightfully clever. The smart and practical ideas are displayed side-by-side with the whimsically silly or totally crazy – but all are great to watch.
We see beautiful interpretations of patterns and structures, in various materials, from fragile folded paperwork to intricate hand-made jewelry – and a massive orange taped-up airplane.
The aspiration of authenticity is still all over the place. Honest materials – and usage thereof. Recyclability. C2C. What you see is what you get.
And wood is still hot. Literally. Maarten Baas' burnt furniture is newly interpreted. The material is used everywhere, to great extent, sometimes meticulously and skilfully painted, but often shown with its natural grain visible, seemingly unfinished.
Other local hero Piet Hein Eek still has a clear impact on what seem to be many of his disciples here. His tried and tested pattern of tied-together stacks of furniture is also still present if you look for it. But newly interpreted. Evolution of revolutionary ideas.
Craftsmanship is shown in most of the one-offs we see. A questionable trend, with the cost of labour being anything but competitive in Europe. Will it last?
Of course there is also fantastic and acclaimed consumer product design presented here, as there is attention for leading edge technologies. The biggest thrill of 'Eindhoven' however, is the combination of the traditionally optimistic and often audacious student work and one-(wo)man startups.
We hear that Milan is the place to be if you want to know what's going on – yet, Eindhoven will show you what to expect …in two years' time in Milan.
Of course we believe the hype