Human Nature, designing the equilibrium
a collaboration between Creative Holland and Connecting the Dots
Text by Viveka van de Vliet
Portrait by Boudewijn Bollmann
Humans play with nature’s materials – now nature is playing with human material, as we enter the Anthropocene era, a new geological age. Mutant Matter, the 18th exhibition presented by Dutch Invertuals at Milan Design Week, this year co-curated with FranklinTill, explores our current and future relationship with materials and making.
In ten years’ time, Dutch Invertuals has evolved into a brand that is well known for its unrestrained creativity and its explicit visions on design. Together with a group of carefully selected, talented designers, founder and curator Wendy Plomp creates a kind of miniature society within society time after time. A pop-up world in which they dwell temporarily. Here, different characters and radical thinkers work together. They come up with and use the title of the exhibition as a mindset, play with the theme, contribute their own expertise, challenge themselves and each other, have discussions, comment on and reinforce each other’s work, have fun, think outside the box, help each other forward, possess the power of the joint network that spreads like an oil slick, and build a unique Gesamtkunstwerk as the sum of the individual parts.
After social subjects such as energy issues, conflict patterns, and digitization that were the focus of previous collective presentations, this year, the title is materials that change through human intervention: Mutant Matter. Life on Earth has always been changing and transforming. By evolving, improving and altering, humans, animals, plants and organisms are able to adapt to the ever-changing ecosystem. Today we live in the Anthropocene era in which the earth’s climate and atmosphere are affected by human activity. This make us rethink or rephrase the definition of what is organic and what is man-made. We can either see the danger of no longer having control and be overgrown by mutant materials, or look at it as an evolution and embrace the future. Designers see possibilities everywhere. With Mutant Matter the Dutch Invertuals designers show the potential of how materials can evolve and mutate to a liveable future.
Plomp challenges passionate, talented, and image-driven designers to do something special with the theme. She always adds new members to the team who push the collective forward. This year, Dutch Invertuals includes designers EDHV, Thomas Ballouhey en Xandra van der Eijk, and a number of new, young talents like Fransje Grimbrère, who continues to develop her Standing Textile(s), and Shahar Livne, who presents new sculptures made out of her newly invented material called Lithoplast. Together and individually they interpret the theme, try to understand the processes, and examine materials. They create intriguing products and objects that may add new functions or present abstract images that have never been seen before.
This year, the collective collaborates with Kate Franklin and Caroline Till of research agency FranklinTill. They published the book ‘Radical Matter, Rethinking Materials for a Sustainable Future’, in which they tell more or less the same substantive story in words that Dutch Invertuals tells in images. Together, the Dutch Invertuals will add a number of chapters to the book, as a manifesto.
Parallel to this, Dutch Invertuals continues to write its own ‘book’. Chapter logically follows chapter, and so the spirit of the times is repeatedly represented in different exhibitions. Never in the sense of which colour is hip and happening, nor with the aim of presenting marketable products, but to give insights in the future world. Dutch Invertuals redefines the limits of the profession, asks critical questions, and reflects on and analyses our behaviour, how we want to live, what identity and culture mean, and how we shape the new nature. ‘We give meaning to the concept of design and we gain a deeper understanding of the context in which we live’, says Plomp.
This interview belongs to the project Human Nature, designing the equilibrium. Part of this project is a live interview and an exhibition during the Milan Design Week 2018.