25 Oct 2019 • Installation
How digitizing the design process can help tackle overproduction
Even spending only one day at Dutch Design Week will make you realize there is no lack of products – nor visual stimulation – in today’s consumption-based economy. Fortunately, it’s a topic addressed by many of the event’s exhibitors, who are finding ways to give disused goods a second life. At the DAE graduation show, for example, we saw Leo Orta transform unwanted electronics into furniture, while Antenna Conference speaker and Pratt University graduate Garrett Benisch saves biosolids from landfill by turning them into stationery. But is there also a way to avoid wasteful overproduction and solely produce on demand and as needed?
Suzanne Mulder, Puck Martens and Merle Kroezen – founders of Utrecht-based Studio PMS – believe the answer might lie in virtual and augmented reality technologies. The winners of this year’s Frame x Bolon Design Challenge think that digitizing design and development processes has the potential to make industries more sustainable. In PMS’s case, that industry is fashion, a world synonymous with excess. In a bid to counter mass production, they advocate designing digitally, exhibiting digitally and purchasing digitally.
The studio’s DDW installation – on show through 27 October on the third floor of the Veem building – gives shape to these ideas. Apparellel Existence is the result of a design challenge conceptualized and produced by Frame in collaboration with Bolon. Tasked with exploring Bolon’s latest flooring collection, Diversity, through an immersive experience based on hyper-personalization, Studio PMS used augmented technology to hint at ways to produce less without denying customers their sense of choice. After downloading the Android-and Apple-compatible Studio PMS app, participants are invited to select one of three unique digital realms. While wandering around the physical space designed by Attach Studio and clad in Bolon materials, viewers start to see figures dressed in digital fashion featuring Diversity prints – but only through their handheld screen.
The sense of tactility in the digital realm is getting more and more realistic
By showcasing its immaterial designs solely virtually, and giving visitors the opportunity to customize their experience and garment in that virtual space, the design collective steers clear of physical surplus. But how does this approach translate to the world of interiors? Bolon designer Petra Lundblad thinks that AR can change the way the industry deals with material. ‘It allows architects and designers to perceive our floors in not-yet-finished projects or buildings,’ she says. ‘In addition, it could help us save on the process of sampling as we could show clients a virtual sample instead. And, as exemplified by the work of Studio PMS, the sense of tactility in the digital realm is getting more and more realistic.’
For Bolon, DDW is the ideal spot to explore new directions. ‘At the event we are presented with ideas and research, all about exploring the design process and finding new sustainable solutions for the future. For us it’s interesting to see how other designers can play with our material – it opens our eyes for new ways of working with our flooring. Studio PMS’s design really made our Diversity collection something new.'
See more coverage from Dutch Design Week, past and present, here.