What is your research (essay) about?
Transpair is a form of reuse during use, a combination of transformation and repair. As Transpair is practised during the period of use it challenges authorship and passive consumption. ‘Transpair / Hacktivism in interior design’ revolves around open-source collaborations between designers, end-users and design itself. It also places my newly developed reuse strategy 'Transpair' in the context of contemporary art, architecture and design. Aided by theory on Relational Design and Hacktivism I looked at practices in which end-users play an active creative role, whether by design or improvisation. Amongst which projects from Rex Architecture, 2012Architecten, Platform 21 and Observatorium.
There is a growing awareness that our planet's resources are limited. Designers often seek solutions by creating more sustainable end-products, feeding the cycle of continuous replacement. In doing so the user is overlooked as a major factor in the life-cycle of design. As the distinction between designer and end-user is fading, it could be interesting to look at new roles active users could play. Could design become more a tool than an end-product? How can design grow and enrich during use? What consequences would this have for design practices? And what is there to gain for professionals and amateurs alike?
Which findings do you consider most important?
Seeing design as a tool for activity instead of a finished product opens up a pool of unexpected qualities, both in designers and users. This can happen by deliberately creating open processes, but also by creative resistance through DIY: hacking, non-intentional design or dynamic repair. I found this in my essay research but also in my graduation project 'Staging Transpair'. Adaptation and transformation can add depth to the visions of designers and enables users to exercise influence over design. Adaptable tools can help improve lives when conditions are hard. Even when DIY is not a necessity it still answers to an innate human urge to create something physical. The joy of making is one of the most vital aspects of Staging Transpair.
My most important finding is that users have much more influence than perhaps they realise. As soon as you start seeing the possibilities of your surroundings no one will stop you from reverse engineering, tuning or transforming design. You are a co-creator when you behave like one.
Do you currently use the research findings?
With Stortplaats van Dromen I just finished 'Entree!'. It is a participatory art project in Utrecht Overvecht where we transformed five entries to apartment buildings. The creation of an open process was the key element of the project. Through various media inhabitants gave ideas, materials and opinions, and helped us with the execution of the designs. In coming projects I would really love to research more about growing architecture and design, and developing an (interior) design practise of Transpair. If all goes well an exciting project will come through soon.
How do you look back at the year at MaHKU?
Artistic research at MaHKU was just what I needed after the bachelor. Questioning design itself after creating quite some architecture and interiors shook up my ideas and helped me towards developing my own vision. It was challenging but fun and I recommend it to every curious and inquisitive designer. But be prepared to shape your own master and to grow some thick skin.