Amongst the furniture and other objects on display at the Design Academy Eindhoven graduation show were a number of designs which were more about concepts than products. Here is a selection which caught our imagination with their clever and provocative ideas.
Are you finding Instagram too instant and Twitter makes you twitch? Sometimes we feel overwhelmed by social media and just want to slap Facebook in the face, a sentiment echoed by contextual designer Theophile Blandet. His Fountain of Knowledge installation features computer and tablet screens painted over with popular internet images (such as a Kim Kardashian selfie), thereby physically stopping the incessant deluge of information spewed out by these devices. A timely reminder of the need for regular digital detoxes and to enjoy the "real" pleasures of life.
See more: Theophile Blandet
Urban living may be effective in cramming people into small spaces, but this often has the effect of disconnecting us from our environment. Designer Alice Bleton's solution is the Monade Capsule, a transparent pod which can be grafted onto rooftops and other external spaces of existing buildings. Inspired by mountain refuges and spaceships, these capsules not only provide a safe and welcoming space for individuals to reconnect with the world around us but also inspire them with fresh new perspectives. A great way to humanise the urban jungle.
See more: Alice Bleton
We are surrounded by objects but rarely pay much attention to (let alone develop relationships with) most of them. Manon Ritaly encourages us to take a fresh approach with Talkative Union, a collection of human-scale objects which function somewhere between furniture and sculpture. These intriguing objects (covered in blue flocking for extra tactile appeal) don't have any defined functions and rely on users to decide what to use them for. Use your imagination, explore and experiment like a curious child, and you could well be rewarded with far more emotional engagement than any functional object.
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Smoking may be an (almost) universally decried activity, but what about the smokey minority who just want to be loved? Is it socially acceptable to confine them to tiny smoking cabins, forcing them to look at really unattractive pictures on their cigarette packets with smug non-smokers looking on in contempt? Designer Jessie Derogy wants to bring smokers and non-smokers together with a series of objects which feature subtle references to the cigarette. Smokers might find them comforting as they are not full of reminders of the ghastliness of their habit, whilst non-smokers might find the scenario of people smoking next to these intriguing objects amusing enough to actually interact with them. Everybody is happy.
See more: Jessie Derogy
A Dutch Wife, for those who don't know, is a bolster cushion made of bamboo mesh designed to be embraced in bed to keep the user cool; so called because it originated in Indonesia when it was still a Dutch colony. Designer Aram Lee deconstructed the cushion and reimagined it as a blanket woven in a similar way as the original bamboo version. By doing so she liberated this charming object from its colonial connotations and turned it into a fascinating parable of how cultural transfers work. This reminds us of other instances of reverse cultural colonisation, from the use of pedal-tricycles as taxis in London to the adoption of African prints in western fashion, and the joys of living in an open, cosmopolitan society.
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Designer Mirjam de Bruijn pointed out that most household products are made of 80% water, so wouldn't it make sense if they were sold in concentrate forms such as powders or tablets? Twenty is an experimental brand complete with slick yet functional packaging which proposes to do exactly that. The potential benefits are significant - less packaging waste, lower transport costs, less shelf-space at the shops and lighter shopping bags. Everybody wins!
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Blood has a near mythical status as the life sustaining force for all animals, yet animals' blood is routinely discarded at abattoirs around the world. Basse Stittgen explores the potential utility of blood by first drying and then heat-pressing it into day-to-day objects such as egg cups, a jewellery box and, most intriguingly, a record player which plays the sound of a pig's heartbeat. The connection with blood imbues these objects with symbolic meaning which is as fascinating as it is macabre. Just make sure the dog doesn't get them first.
See more: Basse Stittgen