This evening brought together Rotterdam-based designer Chris Kabel, who conceived the exhibition Designing the Surface during his fellowship at Het Nieuwe Instituut, designer and digital artist Lucy Hardcastle, Jurrien Brouwer from Philips, and design critic Alice Rawsthorn. Read the text of Rawsthorn's lecture.
Designing the Surface
The exhibition Designing the Surface reveals not only the importance of the final layer of an object, but also underlines the need for interaction between designers, institutions, media, as well as industry and technology experts in the development of new surface applications. The finish is, so to speak, designed twice: first at the molecular, two-dimensional, or technical level, and second at the level of the application to objects in the real world.
Chris Kabel will explain how his research fellowship led to a greater awareness of the finish as a new kind of material. This approach resulted in an exhibition, materials research and a series of articles. In the first of several conversations, Jurrien Brouwer (senior design lead in materials and finishes at Philips) will explain how the company approaches the surface. As R&D increases the performance of finishes for the consumer market, how is the experience of using objects in the home changing? Which user interests are driving design experimentation, and how are these innovative visions translated back into everyday life?
Next, the London-based designer and digital artist Lucy Hardcastle will present her method of designing the surface, between real and virtual space. She will discuss how technology empowers her to work ‘at the level of the impossible’, how it impacts her approach to tangible materials, and whether her practice exemplifies the need for new skills and capabilities for designers in the realm of code and animation.
Finally, design critic Alice Rawsthorn will shift the discussion back to a longer history of design, as well as current conditions in the creative field. She will explore how our exposure to digital technology has transformed our perceptions of surfaces, in terms of their visual, tactile and political impact.
The event will be moderated by Tamar Shafrir (Het Nieuwe Instituut, R&D).
Often developing new material techniques or incorporating mundane ones in a surprising way, Chris Kabel brings the pragmatic together with the conceptual. Chris Kabel studied at the Design Academy in Eindhoven and founded his studio in Rotterdam in 2002. He won the DOEN Materiaalprijs in 2009 for his innovative use of materials. Chris Kabel was a research fellow of Het Nieuwe Instituut in 2015–2016.
Jurrien Brouwer is a Senior Design Lead in Materials & Finishes at Philips Design. He studied product design at the Design Academy in Eindhoven, before joining the Trends Analysis and Color Materials & Finishes department at Philips. In his current role as Senior Designer he explores new expressions in materials and technologies and prepares them for production.
Alice Rawsthorn writes about design in the International New York Times and frieze. Her latest book Hello World: Where Design Meets Life explores design’s impact on our lives, past, present and future. Alice is a regular speaker on design at events including TED and the World Economic Forum’s annual meetings at Davos, Switzerland. Born in Manchester and based in London, Alice is chair of trustees of the Chisenhale Gallery and the contemporary dance group Michael Clark Company, and a trustee of the Whitechapel Gallery. She was awarded an Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to design and the arts.
Lucy Hardcastle is an interdisciplinary designer and digital artist. Her work focuses on tactility, visual illusions and sensual aesthetics through digitally rendered pieces, sculpture, set design and moving image. Her work highlights tensions between physical and virtual worlds and experiences, and aims to reconnect users and viewers with the material world through symbolism and metaphor. Her current projects focus on bridging the highly digital and physical aspects of her practice to produce immersive experiential pieces.