Catch up with . . DES Talks

Three timely talks that debate new ideas, explore the present & imagine a brighter future.

Design for our Times brings together designers, experimenters & academics from the Netherlands & Scotland to exchange thoughts & share ideas. The conversations – Design in Postnormal Times, Material World & Circular Thinking in Design – explore both design in the time of a pandemic and the inspiring optimism of designers discovering new ways of working with everyday resources, to create new materials for our contemporary age. 

Design for our Times is supported by the Dutch Embassy in the UK.

Circular Thinking in Design

Circular Thinking in Design brings together designers & architects working in the Circular Economy, a system dedicated to eliminating waste and focusing on methods to continuously reuse materials and resources. Dutch designer & architect, Robert van Middendorp discusses his project to build a community hall made from ‘hand me down’ materials. Located in a business park on the outskirts of Zwolle, a city in the northeast of the Netherlands, Robert will share his knowledge and frustrations at pushing forward an ambition to change the way we build. Robert is joined by Chris Stewart, director at Collective Architecture who will discuss circular economy initiatives in Scotland.

Robert van Middendorp graduated from ArtEZ Hogeschool voor de kunsten in Zwolle in Architecture. During an internship, he realised that he did not only want to sit behind a desk, but work with his hands, so founded his own building & making practice, Atelier van Middendorp (AvM).

Chris Stewart is an architect with Collective Architecture. He’s currently running a programme with Zero Waste Scotland, in conjunction with The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS) & Resource Futures, mentoring SME construction industry companies on the introduction of the circular economy into their work. He is chair of RIAS Sustainability Working Group / former chair and current Director of the Scottish Ecological Design Association (SEDA) and sustainability convenor of the Glasgow institute of Architects (GIA).

Furniture & ceramics design & made by Robert van Middendorp

Material World 

Three contemporary designers discuss exploration into new materials

Medulla – Don Yaw Kwaning’s research in to soft or common rush, (juncus effusus) to explore the possibilities of making
a new material

In our second talk in Design for our Times, DES brings together three designers – Don Yaw Kwaning, Aymeric Renoud & Catriona Brown, all of whom are exploring the making of new materials made out of everyday matter. Each are compelled to investigate the possibilities of using everyday ‘waste’, plants or the overlooked that lurks in the ground beneath our feet, to make durable materials that address the need for sustainable practices. They will share their ideas and ambitions with Susanna Beaumont, director of Design Exhibition Scotland.

Don Yaw Kwaning is an Amsterdam based design studio, founded by Don Yaw Kwaning in 2019. Don Yaw’s interest in experimental material research began while a student at the Design Academy Eindhoven, where he graduated in 2018 with a cum-laude in ‘Man & Well-Being’. Since then he has been investigating whether his newly developed material made of the plant, common rush can be developed for the commercial market. This research is currently being supported by Green Chemistry Campus, Bergen op Zoom in the Netherlands. The Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam recently acquired a piece from Medulla of Don Yaw’s research project into soft rush for their permanent collection. He was recently awarded the Packaging Award by Rosanna Orlandii’s Ro Guiltless Plastic Prize.

A table made of ‘draff’ the wet grain leftover from brewing & distilling designed and made by Aymeric Renoud

Aymeric Renoud is a French designer who moved to Dundee in 2015 to study interior design at Duncan of Jordanstone School of Art & Design. In 2016 he founded draff Studio initially as a research project within the University of Dundee. Interested in eco-design and reusing waste material, Aymeric began to experiment with ‘draff’ the wet grains leftover from the distilling and brewing of whisky, gin and beer. This resulted in a new material which he uses to construct furniture. Aymeric was recently commissioned by Dundee Science Centre to create a suite of furniture for their new Culture Lab. In 2019 he was named a V&A Dundee Scottish Design Icon.

Working with mycelium, Catriona Brown experiments on Shroom, her biodegradable tree protector

Catriona Brown graduated earlier his year with a First in Product Design Engineering from the Glasgow School of Art / University of Glasgow. Passionate about sustainable design, for her final year project she developed and designed Shroom, a biodegradable alternative to standard issue plastic tree shelters, made of a fungi called mycelium. She is now in the process of refining her concept and exploring how it can be further developed for the commercial market. 

Design in Postnormal Times

Alice Twemlow, Lector in Design at the Royal Academy of Arts, The Hague, discusses design in our new non-normal landscape, with Chris Breward, Director of the National Museums Scotland. Twemlow offers us timely navigation & discusses unexpected outcomes and new possibilities, sharing her thoughts on deep time and the immediate future. Design in Postnormal Times was live streamed from the City Observatory on Edinburgh’s Calton Hill – today home to the visual art organisation, Collective – with Alice joining from Amsterdam.

Dr. Alice Twemlow is an Associate Professor in Artistic Research at the Academy for Creative and Performing Arts at Leiden University and Design Lector at KABK (Royal Academy of Art, The Hague). Prior positions include head of the masters program in Design Curating & Writing at the Design Academy Eindhoven. Read our Q&A with Alice.

Chris Breward is the Director of National Museums Scotland. He was trained at the Courtauld Institute and the Royal College of Art, London and has previously worked as Director of Collection and Research at the National Galleries of Scotland, Head of Research at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London and as Principal of Edinburgh College of Art, University of Edinburgh. His published interests include the relationship between art and fashion, visual and cultural histories of masculinity, and histories of city life.  

The remarkable Edinburgh Enlightenment geologist, James Hutton (as engraved by John Kay) encounters the fictional adventurer, Robinson Crusoe. Mash up – courtesy Alice Twemlow

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