DDW23: Isola Presents Nothing Happens If Nothing Happens

11.14.23 | By
DDW23: Isola Presents Nothing Happens If Nothing Happens

The former Schellens Fabriek in Eindhoven became Something.bigger for Dutch Design Week 2023 – a creative hub for designers, artists, and makers as residents and host to Nothing Happens If Nothing Happens by the digital and physical design platform Isola. The exhibition showcased innovative biomaterials, circular products, and collectible design pieces.

A pink ottoman with segmented sections

The German designer behind the limewood and bouclette Big Marshmallow (Ottoman), Paul Ketz, claims that it suits any environment “from throne room to lounge area” and that the segmented shapes are like “a fountain of youth that seems to float gently around.” We’re not quite sure about any of that, but it does look super comfy and it certainly makes a statement!

A green sculpture that looks a bit like a paperclip

In case you didn’t spot the visual reference or the clue in the name, Paperclip by Esmee Gruson was in fact inspired by the ubiquitous paperclip, “enlarged and deformed into a new absurd reality,” with the intention of questioning comfort, functionality, and the boxes into which we place things.

Two seats are made from a modular system of bright green beams and slats made from repurposed wood such as a chalkboard with white writing on it and an OSB board with the word "used" on it in blue

Deze Beams (“these beams”) originated from a collaboration between Plastiek Breda and Soeps Creative Collective. At their simplest, they are sustainably manufactured, recycled plastic beams with holes in them – together they can be used as a modular system to make almost anything, from seating to sleeping pods. “Together we build a creative ecosystem without limits to sustainable thinking and action,” says the team. “These are easy to use, encourage reuse, and therefore reduce the purchase of new materials and/or products.”

A small round side table with a rounded leg is made from a brown fibrous material

MESA is a side table handmade from 100% natural and biodegradable eucalyptus bark by the Portuguese multi-disciplinary design practice DUBLO Studio. Eucalyptus bark falls naturally from the tree and can be collected from the ground and, at the end of its life, the stool can be returned to the earth as compost. “This conceptual work is intended to show a field of application for plant materials in less complex products,” says the studio. “Properties of the material are lightness and stability and a long lifecycle, as it is reusable.”

A bright orange piece of material is on a stand – it has rippled in the surface like sound waves

As unlikely as it might sound, Groove by Rotterdam-based Cousins Design unites image making, improvisational music making, and ceramic production. “Using music I have composed and recorded, or images I have created (chiefly, analog photographs), I sought a way to express these as topographical ‘landscapes,'” says designer Wilem Cousins. “Using digital fabrication techniques, particularly 3D modeling and computer numerical control (‘CNC’) milling, I create plaster molds derived from these landscapes allowing me to transfer these detailed textures into the clay body.”

An ottoman has a "w" shaped metal base with a green "n" shaped upholstered foam section inserted into it.

Paris-based designer Raphaël Pontais’ favorite material is metal – not the most comfortable choice for a chair, so he has paired brushed stainless steel with fabric and foam to create the Rooly pouf. The duality of materials and snug fit of the two pieces results in an oddly satisfying form.

A side table or ottoman looks like it is made from a series of shiny, bright orange tubes arranged square loops

Senimo is a carpenter and a designer who creates limited editions of collectible furniture, inspired by curved forms and using recycled materials. The Sharpei Stool is handmade in a small series from reclaimed or reused wood, wooden fibers bound with resin into medium-density fiberboard (MDF), and lacquer for the orange glossy finish.

A series of pairs of circular and triangular shapes stacked on top of each other with a plank in between each pair – all in black.

X4 by Rotterdam-based Studio Verbaan is part of an ongoing series formed with a 3D-printed foundation that is then veneered by hand. “Attention is given to every detail, texture, and contour, imparting a unique and artistic character,” say co-founders Solange Frankort and Jordi Verbaan. “This artisanal process infuses a human touch into the technology, making the sculpture a masterpiece that reflects both advanced technology and human craftsmanship.”

A set of two tall OSB rectangular boxes with shelves forming cubes, with tables and boxes stacked inside each other inside each cube

RE-Puzzle is a space-saving furniture concept by Ukranian designer Solmazprimavera crafted from recycled materials. The modular system is made entirely from post-consumer materials like plastics, metals, fabrics, and OSB (oriented strand board) and is fully customizable to fit any space.

A clear plastic box filled with yellow, green and blue plastic bottle tops in behind two tables with bright blue legs and a surface made of swirled plastic in the same colour as the bottle tops

Dutch Circular Design describes itself as “a young Dutch design brand with a mission” and that mission is to raise awareness of the value of reusing materials. WasteCraft is part of their effort to do exactly that through such pieces as side tables in which the waste they are made from (in this case, bottle tops) is left deliberately visible in the end product. “Because this is the only way people can see, and therefore believe, that the circular economy is already happening,” they explain. “For us, this is more than just a style, it is a deeply felt mission to create a better world together.”

Three 3-legged stools each made from a single-sheet of flecked plastic material – one is dark green, one is mint green and one is cream colored.

Weld Stool Recycled is a collaboration between Studio Joris de Groot and Gogo Plastics, demonstrating their research into applications for the latter’s recycled panels, and specifically, whether the panels would be both strong enough and flexible enough to be used for Studio Joris de Groot’s Weld Stool – the answer, after much testing and experimentation – is yes!

Photography by Katie Treggiden.

Katie Treggiden is a purpose-driven journalist, author and, podcaster championing a circular approach to design – because Planet Earth needs better stories. She is also the founder and director of Making Design Circular, a program and membership community for designer-makers who want to join the circular economy. With 20 years' experience in the creative industries, she regularly contributes to publications such as The Guardian, Crafts Magazine and Monocle24 – as well as being Editor at Large for Design Milk. She is currently exploring the question ‘can craft save the world?’ through an emerging body of work that includes her fifth book, Wasted: When Trash Becomes Treasure (Ludion, 2020), and a podcast, Circular with Katie Treggiden.