Around this time of year, there is always a sense of anticipation in Eindhoven about the imminent start of Dutch Design Week (DDW). However, unlike previous years, this year’s program will be entirely online due to national coronavirus measures. Nevertheless, DDW 2020 will provide a rich and diverse virtual festival experience. Eindhoven University of Technology will feature prominently in this year’s program with a host of researchers presenting their work in virtual talks and displays, all hosted by a dedicated TU/e DDW website.
Dutch Design Week is a highlight of Eindhoven and TU/e’s event calendar each year. However, on September 30th and in light of government measures issued then to manage the spread of the coronavirus, Mayor John Jorritsma announced that Dutch Design Week would take place entirely online.
“Understandably we were shocked, but the show must go on and we have a fantastic program in place for TU/e’s Drivers of Change exhibition,” says Lucas Asselbergs, the project leader for TU/e’s program in DDW. “We’ve had to completely revamp how we present the Drivers of Change, but we’re eager and ready to go!”
Largest design event in Northern Europe
DDW is the largest annual design event that takes place in Northern Europe. In the traditional physical setting, thousands of visitors converge on Eindhoven to explore and engage with a wide range of industrial designs and concepts with pieces inspired by industry, art, music, and scientific research.
“DDW is much more than showcasing the design of beautiful things. There is a technical component in almost all of the exhibits, and it’s important to highlight these designs and how they will impact society,” says TU/e’s project coordinator Jeannette Schoumacher. “While it’s disappointing to lose the physical events, our dedicated online platform has allowed us to be creative with how we present the exciting designs of our researchers via 45 flagship projects.”
Dedicated website for “Drivers of Change”
TU/e’s dedicated online platform showcases the various components of TU/e’s “Drivers of Change”, which includes profiling of TU/e’s flagship projects, virtual tours, and timeslots to speak to select designers and researchers.
First up, virtual tours will allow visitors to visit TU/e’s exhibits from their comfort of their own homes. TU/e students will guide visitors through various projects and themes, and in a manner replicate the traditional physical guided tour.
Next, there will be timeslots available for visitors to speak directly with specific exhibitors. Designers and researchers will be available to speak at specific times during the week about their work in further detail as they would so easily have done at a physical event.
“Stories of Change” has inspiring stories to tell
A mainstay of the TU/e’s DDW program is the “Stories of Change”, and this year is no different. A variety of topics will be presented by great speakers from TU/e.
“We’ll have talks every evening between Monday 19th October and Friday 23rd October. These talks will be live-streamed on our website,” says Lucas Asselbergs. “In addition, we’ll also have talks on the Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday afternoons of the festival.”
Half of the talks will be in Dutch and the other half will be in English, with topics such as soft robotics, quantum technologies, and remote technologies covered.
Flavor of TU/e’s flagship projects
A range of fascinating and stimulating projects will be covered in the Drivers of Change. These projects are categorised under three banners – health, smart tools, and sustainable. You can find a full list of all projects here. Here’s a taste of what to expect just to whet your appetite!
Health: The Womb Phone
When a pre-maturely born baby is placed in an artificial womb, bonding between the baby and parents can be affected due to the absence of parental voices. Rooske van Loon and Marlou Monincx present the Womb Phone, a telephone connection that acts to enhance bonding between the parents and their preterm baby. Parents can use the Womb Phone app to speak to their child from a distance or play music, with such acoustic stimulation known to be crucial for brain development of a preterm baby.
Smart tools: SMARBLES
Our planet is wondrous, and we, as humans, have been exploring these wonders on sea, land, air, and in space for centuries. Parts of these environments can be difficult to access and require new technologies to facilitate their exploration. As part of the Phoenix Project, Peter Balthus and an international team are developing swarms of smart marbles, which are smart sensing agents. The technologies are being tested in pipeline inspections, but could be used to inspect chemical reactor vessels, in space exploration, or even inside the human body.
Sustainable: Seaweed matters
Ever wondered how we can create a new seaweed-based biomaterial that can be used to make shoes and accessories? In her project, Jing-cai Liu explores seaweed can be used as a raw material for our future products. A video showing a provocative scenario associated with seaweed will be shown to stimulate discussion and increase awareness of a key societal issue. Seaweed is not just for eating – it can be worn too!