DDW23: Kazerne Is Intertwining Hope and Design

Kazerne is a 2,500-square-meter combined meeting, exhibition, and hospitality space housed in a former military police barracks (and adjoining warehouses) dating back to the early 19th century. When Design Milk last visited in 2015, the renovation was only a year in – now it is complete and diners can eat surrounded by powerful design installations. For Dutch Design Week 2023, a show called Evolving Harmony: Intertwining Hope and Design has been curated by Annemoon Geurts exploring a “radically different” way to “live, produce, and consume together.”

A three-dimension sculpture made from white felt folded into repeating conical forms clustered into sphere-ish and elongated sphere-ish shapes.

The space adjacent to the main dining area was given over to three large sculptural pieces, two of which were by Eindhoven-based designer Grietje Schepers, who graduated from Design Academy Eindhoven in 2008. Ellipt 007 (above) is made from natural Dutch wool felt – the light and shadows it casts were conceived to create “mesmerizing patterns” and “alter the sensory perception” of the space. The three-dimensional form was created using an intricate pattern cut into flat felt with no waste.

A stool, a candle holder and a mirror are on a concrete floor – they are all dark red and made primarily from oversized chains.

“The Crawling objects capture your attention with their insect-like composure,” said the wall text explaining Crawling (above). “The creatures seem to come towards you while they are obviously too heavy to walk.” In keeping with Schepers’ low-waste approach, they are largely made from thrifted materials and objects.

A table has legs that look like roots with glasses the stems of which also look like roots and a series of amber coloured lights on what could be branches. The table's surface is black and shiny.

The third piece is by a more recent DAE graduate, artistic researcher, and designer Ori Orisun Merhav. Made by Insects is part of an ongoing research project into the natural polymer lac (more commonly known as Shellac and used as a coating) which is made from the secretions of female lac bugs. What started with a research project in Thailand to study the insects has evolved into a library of new techniques for working with this material in new and innovative ways and a body of work that demonstrates those techniques.

A series wooden frames are hung in two rows on a black wall. Black or white textiles that have been printed with black or black and white marks or images are stretched from the top to the bottom of each frame.

Fragments N21C and N21H (above and top) by Nanette de Kool are a collage of memories captured in photographs, video stills, and fragments of conversations, that are then screen-printed onto used and reconstructed textiles to evoke your own stories and memories. The Illinois Institute of Art graduate has a background in fashion design and styling.

A woven light brown bag featured black leather details. A bundle of fibre sits of the table in front of it.

Selyn was founded in 1991 when Sandra Wanduragala set out to create a sustainable income source for 15 women in Sri Lanka by reviving the dying art of handloom weaving in her home garage. Today it is a fair-trade certified company employing more than 1,000 female artisans across rural Sri Lanka.

A man holds a mobile phone up to the button on top of a bag – only his hands and arms are visible. Some text and an infographic are visible on the screen but not legible.

As well as traditional crafts, Selyn uses cutting-edge technology to provide transparency into its supply chain. By simply scanning the button attached to the top of this bag, you can see who made it and when they were last paid, verified by the maker herself, as well as information about materials, dyeing methods, and environmental impact.

A wallhanging is made from patched together piece of fabric in various shades of red, orange, yellow and light brown with a pale blue square in the center. Buttons are sewn on at the point at which some of squares meet.

In September 2022, the company was commissioned by the ambassador to the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Colombia to collaborate with interior architect Nicole van der Velden, to renovate his office and residence in line with his circular economy principles. Alongside reupholstered furniture, this quilt (above) was produced to tell the story of the project through its scanable buttons.

Three large clam-shell forms stand open, the layers of 3D-printed filament clearly visible.

With support from Creative Industries Fund NL, Isaac Monté has 3D-printed three giant clams – representing different stages of a stone mason’s apprenticeship – from Stone Paper made from byproducts from the limestone industry, such as calcium. Due to its unique viscosity, this necessitated the development of novel extrusion techniques. Through his work, Monté pays homage to the ancient craft of stonemasonry while redefining it for the modern era.

Wooden carvings of three brightly coloured, simplified, human forms each have a carved bird standing on their head and an illustration of either a bird or a fish on their fronts.

Everyday Paradise (above) was co-curated by Lili Tedde and Lidewij Edelkoort to enable visitors to “search for beauty, soothe our soul, and heal our mind; to recompose our battered being” in a climate of “ongoing war, endless waste, accelerated climate change, and our loss of agency to AI.” Edelkoort is quoted as saying “The selection of these exotic masterpieces was done with the expert eye and experience of Lili Tedde, passionate about helping others discover her beloved Brazil through multiple publications and exhibitions,” however, I found the decision to credit everybody involved apart from the designers and makers of these pieces, plus the use of terms such as “exotic” and “outsider,” problematic and perhaps symptomatic of some of the problems the exhibition was designed to soothe if not solve.

A small shed-like structure is comprised of vertical slats of wood of different widths, lengths and colors.

House of Dreams explored the bedroom of the future with a “bedstead made of only responsible and locally harvested materials, a safe place to close your eyes, take a nap, refresh your mind, and dream a dream that stays your own.” The project was conceived by ConverseArchitects, made from reused Velux window frames, and filled with a specially made mattress, futon, topper, and pillows containing only materials from Dutch soil made by Futon Factorij. 

Five glass jars contain different materials and a label that says "House of Dreams"

“Since we want to showcase a simple bedroom, it seemed appropriate to us to exclusively pick real and tangible materials and products,” say the architects. “By staying close to the origin of the products we want to show the simplicity of our basal installation. Our goal is to pick our materials from Dutch soil and work together with real craftsmen.”

A white woman in her 20s in setting the third table in a row of five. She wears black pants, a black shirt and a green knitted vest. She stands in front of a large woollen wall hanging.

Finally, the gourmet circular farm Vaderland hosted a pop-up restaurant for the duration of Dutch Design Week. Designer and farmer’s daughter Lianne van Genugten and chef Joep Brekelmans are building the farm using “an iterative design process, in collaboration with nature” they say. “This means perpetual movement, fine-tuning, balancing, and optimization, again and again. With respect and attention for what the earth asks and gives, they are developing a nature-inclusive farm.”

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.