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Rethinking closeness by Eva Visch

ArtEZ and Dutch Design Week

Rethinking closeness by Eva Visch

The COVID-19 pandemic poses the question in what kind of future we want to live together. The most important policy measure taken in this context is a distance rule (varying from 1 to 2 meters in European countries) between people. What does (physical) distance mean for our intimate relationships that are desirable and necessary, both in the private and public environment. The New Intimacy not only questions the relationship between people, but also the relationship between human bodies and the spaces and objects surrounding them. ArtEZ gives a translation in various projects, under the title The New Intimacy - Bodies, Objects and Spaces.

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ArtEZ and Dutch Design Week

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Based on the emergency ordinance that was releasedat the end of september, after the government issued new Corona measures, the mayor of Eindhoven has decided to cancel all planned events surrounding the live version of DDW. This means the festival can only take place virtually this year. Please check this page for our online activities and visit our DDW-platform: ArtEZ Dutch Design Week 2020


What does this changing intimate relationship mean for the way we would like or are forced to engage with each other? Can our engagement or collaboration be empowered by deleting physical boarders in a global virtual/online space? But also, how do you deal with loneliness and how do we relate to each other and our environment, both directly and indirectly in this new situation of social distancing?

Art education as well as art research are being challenged to formulate a response to a society that is haphazardly changing under the current societal challenges. Design students, teachers and researchers of ArtEZ deal with these questions by addressing and visualizing the many challenges and try to develop, for example, new objects, vocabularies, strategies, tools and future scenarios to respond to these challenges and make another kind of future. During the Dutch Design Week 2020 (DDW20) we present The New Intimacy with: Centre of Expertise Future Makers, Professorship Tactical Design, Professorship Fashion, Professorship Art education as Critical Tactics, ArtEZ Bachelor Product Design, ArtEZ Bachelor Interior Architecture and Master Interior Architecture.


More information


Podcasts DDW20

Dutch Design Week 2012On October 22 there will be some live interviews about the ArtEZ project Going Circular Going Cellulose. These interviews will be recorded. Keep an eye on this page for the link to the podcasts of these interviews!

Projects ArtEZ DDW20

ArtEZ aims to train future artists as change makers with societal impact. The focus is on the STEAM touch stones, i.e. changes that relate to Social, Technological, Embodied, Affective and Material aspects in society. ArtEZ tries to shape critical and reflective individuals for a rapidly changing, globalizing world in which they question preferable futures. Arts provides the space for a critical framework that enables sustainable change. Artistic creativity, innovation and the responsibility to facilitate interaction are their key tools.

Research at ArtEZ gives direction to these changes by speculating on and exploring alternative and desirable futures on the basis of these touch stones, not only to think them through theoretically, but above all to make them experiential to a certain extent. The various research projects aim to contribute to building resilient futures, equitable societies and critical diversity.

The ArtEZ presentation at the DDW20 shows some results of our education and research programme which are related to the changing intimate relationships between bodies, objects and spaces. Relationships that may make people vulnerable or might empower them. Are you curious? Take a look at out projects:

  • This research project aims to readdress and revises the idea of the Bauhaus, and Niegeman in particular, of designing for the mass to today’s design practice. The Bauhaus architects promoted prefabrication and mass production in housing design. They did this in an attempt to make design affordable and to provide a better quality of housing for the masses, specifically groups that lived in poor conditions. The project takes on board Niegemans ideas, experiments and lessons and translate these to the present day practice and present days vulnerable groups in society. These vulnerable groups are described in this project as “precarious citizens”.

    What are today’s precarious citizens? This project aimed to identify precarious citizens in today’s society as a parallel to the mass that was being addressed roughly 100 years ago when Bauhaus was created. Precarious citizens’ can refer to many different kinds of groups in society, whether referring to immigrants, elderly or otherwise vulnerable individuals in today’s society. But who do we more specifically mean when referring to these ‘precarious citizens’ and what are their needs in relation to their (temporary) living?

    Professorship Product & Interior Design

    Various scenarios of future living are being studied in collaboration with ArtEZ students, lecturers, researchers, designers, the business community, knowledge institutes and social organisations. This largely takes the form of multidisciplinary research, which in contrast to regular scientific research does not focus on the study of existing phenomena, but rather on future ones.

    More information about the Professorship Product & Interior Design

  • Frank Kolkman is an experimental designer who aims to challenge our understanding of current and near-future technologies and their sociopolicitical implications. For this project Kolkman researched ownership, employment and precarity in the sharing economy after finding that millennials are increasingly counting on Airbnb income to help pay for their first homes or on Uber to finance their cars.

    Platform companies like Airbnb and Uber provide accessible and flexible ways to earn (supplemental) income, however the dependency of users on ratings, reviews and the terms of service of the platform, create precarious conditions for earning a living. Counterintuitively platforms can also increase economic inequality. Because you first need to own something before you can share it it’s currently the wealthy who most benefit.

    ‘Objects for the Sharing Economy’ is a speculative design proposal that offers a new product typology aimed at a more inclusive approach to sharing. By mounting two-faced domestic appliances directly into the facades of homes and buildings they could be accessed by others from the outside at times when they would be underutilized - either for a fee or for free. Embedded Internet-of-things technology used to control the devices omits the need for platforms, meaning owners have full control over their own terms and conditions for sharing. A facade as a solution for or an articulation of precariousness.
    In the light of the Corona crisis, the ‘New Intimacy’ occurs in the privacy of ones house. The private home becomes a place where money can be made and where one can become less precarious.

    To collaborate on the design and production of the prototypes Kolkman invited Thomas van den Bliek, a promising, recent Product Design graduate from ArtEZ Arnhem with a special interest in designing tangible transactions between people and digital (payment) technologies.

  • Hey Honey: “If she can only cook as well as algorithms can process”

    Klasien van de Zandschulp is an interaction designer who readdressed Bauhaus’ functional and analytical design methods for the precarious citizen. Van de Zandschulp started her research with the question: to what extent are we precarious when we are online?

    The research focuses on the automation of the home, in particular the kitchen, which has always been the playing field for functional design and innovation in home-devices. Like the Frankfürter Kitchen, designed to be highly functional and low budget for social housing. Or the Honeywell Kitchen Computer, the first computer advertised to be used inside our homes. Today all sorts of smart devices are slowly but gradually taking control of our households. These devices are designed as highly functional in a networked environment, where they communicate with each other, taking decisions based on analytics and consumer behaviour. How do these devices converse and are we part of the conversation?

    Van de Zandschulp collaborated with creative technologist Mark Meeuwenoord to create the installation Hey Honey - if she can only cook as well as algorithms can process; a speculative kitchen scene with three objects communicating via ultrasound, inaudible for the human ear. By turning the frequency-knob you can eavesdrop on their conversation.

    While technology offers opportunities in Frank Kolkman's project, this project shows that someone who is forced to stay at home for a long time can also become vulnerable due to the dependence on smart devices that are in unclear contact with the large tech companies (the big winners of the COVID-19 crisis). There seems to be a new intimacy with objects, but the question is how reliable the relationship with The Internet of Things is.

  • The Going Circular Going Cellulose research project, initiate bij ArtEZ Centre of Expertise Future Makers is aimed at collaboration between researchers, designers and companies for a more sustainable and circular fashion and textile sector. This ambition calls for collaboration between people, institutions and companies that each have their own 'community of practice', speak their own language, and know their own assumptions, customs and rules. Yet everyone must be attuned to that common goal. This requires close cooperation, let's say intimately, in a broad sense.

    • Intimate in the sense that people have to trust each other in sharing knowledge, experience and ambitions;
    • Intimate in the sense that one must be able to follow the process of idea development, experiments, testing, etc. 'closely together' in order to understand what one is doing.

    A sustainable fashion and textile sector also questions the relationship between clothing / textile and its use in relation to our physical actions. This, too, is another form of intimacy. Are we able to build such an intimate relationship with textiles / clothing that objects are no longer "consumer products" in a throwaway culture, but cherished and long-lasting human-object relationships?

    In addition, Going Circular Going Cellulose investigates the changing role of the designer with regard to material development in collaboration with all partners in the chain, creating a different form of "material intimacy" between designer and object. As a designer, it is all about being close to the material, designing a material yourself and thinking from the perspective of the different possibilities of the material (instead of turning it into a beautiful end product).

    The different designers in the project provide different visions and possible answers to this in their design research. The design projects will be presented as different examples of "material intimacy".

    ArtEZ Centre of Expertise Future Makers

    ArtEZ Centre of Expertise Future Makers initiates and realizes design-driven innovation and research projects that contribute to a diverse, inclusive and sustainable society. Many projects aim to make value chains in fashion and textiles more sustainable, while also developing future scenarios through experimentation and speculative design interventions.

  • No School (No School Manifesto and the No School Movement) 

    No School believes in intimate forms of education based on the creative and biographical turn in opposition to the neoliberal and bureaucratic turn (higher) education has taken. The covid-19 pandemic has made this intimate connection between the learners even more fragile. We, as community of learners, made of students, teachers and researchers, have all lost our intimate space for knowledge and creativity sharing. With the No School Manifesto, we will make a statement (in the form of a visual representation) regarding what No School stands for and what thinking in possible worlds in creative education can do.

    The Movement project follows this story line by bringing the concept of New Intimacy in a more concrete form. Learners and Leading Learners who are part of the No School Movement have also lost their intimate space of learning and creating due to the pandemic regulations. The DDW space will be the chance for them to meet again for the first time after months and start re-creating the momentum they had lost. They will do so in a process of co-creation together with artist Thijs Rooiakers, by putting their creative works together and by exploring new intimate relations between different kinds of material and the space in which the installation will be realized. The creative process will be the mean to find back that lost intimate and creative learning connection. 

    Professorship Art education as Critical Tactics (AeCT) 

    The Art education as Critical Tactics (AeCT) Professorship is both a national and an international research network, initiated at ArtEZ University of the Arts with the aim of realizing a ‘creative turn’ in education. AeCT designs new forms of learning based on a coherent creative theory. Creativity is seen as the formative force in nature, not limited to mankind.

    More information about the Professorship Art education as Critical Tactics

  • Living in times of acceleration, control and connection, the principles and conditions of relationships are tested in most fundamental ways. The Anti Chair Movement is proposing to establish the rules of connection and intimacy in new ways. By liberating the object of its proposed function, The Anti Chair Movement strives to challenge how we engage with the objects and spaces around us. Shifting away from control and speed, towards a space for participation and resonance by inviting a new form of engagement. As equals in one space, learning to engage again. What relationships can immerse from a new form of engagement and how will it influence how we live with the objects and spaces surrounding us?

    The Anti Chair Movement is a protest against the traditional method of designing chairs and the way we look at them. Chairs are designated sitting objects, but they can be used in many ways, people have to find the space and the creativity to engage.

    Many examples of different functions can be found on YouTube. People use chairs as balancing tools, as building bricks for towers, as a drum kit, as vehicles, and so on. The Anti Chair Movement is particularly inspired by the Canadian ice dancer and choreographer Shae-Lynn Bourne who danced with chairs. The chair became her partner, listening to movement and reaction. By using the chair in a different way, the function becomes fluid and the relationship with the object changes.

    Ant Eye is a collective of Hanneke Klaver & Tosca Schift.

    The research resulted in a collection of 6 different danceable chairs that come to life through film. The Anti Chair Movement firmly believes that chairs reflect the way we treat them. If we look with different eyes, we can build longer lasting and deeper relationships with our chairs.

    Bachelor Product Design

    ArtEZ Product Design explores the dynamic and ever-changing nature of design, therefore reacting or responding to the present. In this ever changing world, the BA Product Design contributes towards new approaches and opens up new domains. The studio method of the department makes the collaboration between student and designer fruitful and allows students to learn and build from networks and experience.

    More information about the Bachelor Product Design

  • During COVID-19, proximity seems far away. Recorded routes take control of our movement through space. Plexiglass and screens feel cold. Alumni Eva Visch noticed that contact in the form of only seeing and hearing was not enough. One wants to feel the warmth and movement of the other.
    By working from home she started looking for softer ways of screening. A shield that does not create a distance but becomes a place for proximity and touch.

    As a designer Eva Visch investigated how she could develop new materials that would enable people to be together and at the same time keep physical distance. The photographs of her project show the intimacy and importance of touch. Eva developed a material that is flexible, skin coloured, feels warm and stretches with movement of hugs or just the meeting of hand palms. At the start of the Black Live Matters movement she included in her research also the diversity of skin colours.

    Bachelor Interior Architecture

    The Bachelor Interior Architecture pays a lot of attention to the relationship between body and space and to the responsibility of designers for our environment, inside or outside, large or small. We investigate the knowledge of space and the knowledge of the relationship of the body to space by testing it against reality.

    More information about the Bachelor Interior Architecture

  • Resilient building in a changing climate is an important aspect in the project of Ying-Ting Shen. Based upon her research of traditional Taiwanese Atayal houses she developed a gravity-sustainable building method. The stacking models show the use of materials, the importance privacy and building with memory. A project that shows us how waste after a flood or earthquake can be re-used for temporary housing, how the history of previous living and lives (privacy) can be involved in new future living.

    Application of traditional construction method in post-disaster shelter In 2018 Hualien Earthquake, sturdy buildings we believed in crumbled down. This shocking fact became Shen’s motivation to research traditional Taiwanese indigenous architecture. In the process of research, she found that they used simple and easy-to-learn construction methods to create sturdy buildings. Due to limited technology, none of these indigenous buildings used adhesives. As a result, on the one hand, flexible intersection without adhesives creates resilience for the house. On the other, it also becomes a sustainable building method. Building materials are undamaged by nail and glue, thus they could stay intact and be reused when buildings are demolished. In the further process, she wants to apply this method to post-disaster reconstruction. In a post-disaster state where everything is destroyed and disorderly, how can we continue the lifespan of the material? And what value could we create in this scenario? Shen intends to construct a temporary shelter by a traditional building method and the remains of our home. The process of reconstruct a shelter, it is also a reconstruct treatment for our memory. Furthermore, the completeness of materials is preserved by this method, thus the wreckages could be used in the permanent housing rather than be transported into landfill.

    Master Interior Architecture

    MA Interior Architecture The ArtEZ Master Interior Architecture (Corpo-Real) investigates the corpo-real. In the word corpo-real ‘corpo’ stands for bodies in general and ‘real’ for the reality that they relate to. Hereby, corpo is seen in the broadest sense of the word; not just the physical, but also the psychological, digital, spiritual, virtual. We investigate their relation to the “real”, meaning the reality of the here and now – and beyond. Students are trained to react to a constant changing society and to be able to confront recent and future changes.

    More information about the Master Interior Architecture