‘Together we can learn to define futures’

| Michaela Nesvarova

Artificial womb, a lightbox and mushrooms. Three main installations, currently being finalized in DesignLab, will represent the University of Twente at the Dutch Design Week in Eindhoven.


All under the theme ‘Past, Present & Future: Connecting worlds for a better future’, the installations were created by the DesignLab team. This week, the projects will be making their way to Eindhoven for the Dutch Design Week (DDW) held from 22-30 October 2022.


The concept for installation ‘Connecting worlds for a better future’ was developed by Jamila Blokzijl, Concept Developer at DesignLab. ‘We refer to it as a lightbox,’ she says. ‘By turning it around, it portrays a narrative. It should evoke questions like ‘What is my role in everyday life and how do I use this experience to contribute to solutions in the world?’

The story engraved in the lightbox shows the past, present and future. ‘The present is represented by a big bang, leading to new innovations and new ideas,’ says Blokzijl. ‘We don’t know what the future will look like, but at the UT we work to make it better.’

The turning wheel will serve as a starting point for visitors of the UT’s section at DDW. ‘It should tell visitors: don’t just get inspired, take action and participate. The underlying idea of the installation is equality,’ explains Blokzijl. ‘We all have our own ideas and vision, no matter where we come from and what we do. Everyone has something to bring to Eindhoven. Together we can learn to define futures and work to make an impact.’


‘Project Mushroom’, developed by UT students from DesignLab’s DreamTeam, will certainly make some moves in Eindhoven. The installation is part of the MINI Design Rides and, as such, needs to fit on top of a car which will be driving around the city during DDW.

‘We call this project Mycelium. It refers to tiny strains of fungal organisms that connect fungi and plants so they can share nutrients,’ says one of the makers, UT student Alexandru Amariei. ‘It symbolizes a network of individuals that flourish together, a network to share knowledge and different perspectives among different stakeholders. It should showcase that we need to collaborate in order to thrive. And it should be eye-catching, so that it sparks people’s interest and draws them to the UT exhibit at DDW.’  


‘It’s a monument of an artificial womb that was in use for 18 years and produced one baby per year,’ Lisa Mandemaker, Designer in Residence at DesignLab, describes her interactive installation ‘Monuments for future M/Otherhood’.

‘When we talk of artificial wombs, the story is often dystopian, cold and detached. I wanted to create something that represents a more poetic and warm future possibility,’ continues Mandemaker. ‘I wanted to showcase a different story of where we could have come from and let people reflect on new forms of family.’

The DesignLab installations are all connected, thinks the designer. ‘They all represent a future ecological ecosystem. While the ‘lightbox’ relates to the UT ecosystem, the mushrooms represent the DDW ecosystem, and the womb is about a new family ecosystem. About the relationship to where we come from.’


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