On the occasion of the nomination of Lille as the world capital of design in 2020, the new issue of North, Mirror of culture in Flanders and the Netherlands is largely devoted to design. A bible which offers a panorama of design in the regions of Flanders, Wallonia, the Netherlands and France.
Launched in 1972, North is a publication in French of the Flemish-Dutch cultural institution Ons Erfdeel vzw. Biannual, each magazine embraces a specific theme. Released in April, the new issue of North is entirely devoted to design, with a focus on strong trends: collaborative economy, design and sustainability and Belgian architecture.
As the editor-in-chief Luc Devoldere points out in the editorial, “Today, design is much more than it was in the past: aesthetic and functional bearing the personal stamp of the manufacturer, intended for a select clientele. Contemporary design can both embrace and challenge reality. Design has a social, political and existential vocation. “
And this is what the 164 following pages will seek to illustrate. We will above all remember the river interview with design expert Giovanna Massoni, consultant, journalist, exhibition curator and who is participating in Lille 2020. It questions the very meaning of design, and changes in practices ( “Design is everywhere, often” invisible “: because the work of the designer consists in transforming an object, a context, a service by improving it, in full respect of the users who will benefit from it” ). It also questions current discourses, with a clear, pragmatic vision, particularly in the importance of societal and environmental issues: “ For 40 years now, we have been talking in particular about the life cycle of an object, the importance of designing a product from “cradle to cradle” and therefore defining its environmental impact upstream. At the time, many designers and manufacturers already understood this problem. Today everyone is looking to join a new ecological program. However, you have to be careful. The life of an object, the reuse, the reuse, the upcycling – all these words which come from the lexical field of the circular economy – are not absolute truths ”.
While calling to be vigilant in taking into account the contexts, and the importance of adapting programs, models to the territory in which it is located, that design above all is a field that takes on meaning and forms in the exchanges , dialogues, perpetual adjustments, she does not hesitate to put into perspective the histories and cultures and the need to take into account the contexts: “If we think of design as an environment for economic and industrial development, whether or not we have a traditional, historic industrial fabric is essential for the profession of designer. I note, by comparing Belgium to my country of origin, that the Italian industrial fabric has generated a completely different type of designers than those present in Belgium, where the industrial design tradition is not as present, despite a relatively recent past. flourishing. Belgium has housed designers, but there is no real Belgian design, nor a strong industrial tradition, unlike Italy, Germany, or the Netherlands, where Philips is located in Eindhoven, among others. . “
In addition to the circular economy, the magazine also addresses the point of view of the collaborative economy, questioning the nebula of initiatives that this expression brings together, the real question of sharing, the legislative variations specific to each country, and the necessary reflection to approach to find a balance between economically viable models and a certain vision of the service.
In the presentation of avant-garde projects, the question of design and water is also present in the fields of Dutch questions. In particular, an article lists various experiments, such as the porous slabs by Fien Dekker, or the concepts proposed by the design agency Studio Bas Sala, to collect rainwater in his garden. But above all returns to the very innovative vision of Anouk Van der Poll, at the origin of the exhibition “Embassy of Water” at the Dutch Design Week goes further: “” Over the next few years, designers concerned with the issue of water will focus much more on developing regenerative projects by studying how to improve water quality and collaborate with nature (…) “Regenerative design goes much further than imitating nature (what is called biomimicry), because it no longer places man, but water and nature at the center of its concerns. “
In this special Design edition, many other subjects also highlight the importance of exchanges to nurture creativity and influences in design practices. We will obviously find there the importance of the Grand Hornu in cross-border cooperation, in an article in which Marie Pok, current director of the Design Innovation Center, recalls the singular wave of Dutch design in Belgium (and more widely in Euripe) thanks to the explosive concept of the company Droog Design. The experiences of the recent Flemish collective Brut, revealed in the latest editions of Milan Design Week, are also another approach to the importance of pooling creative strengths, even if it means playing with the dividing lines between art and design. Finally, the Dutchman Frank Kolkman offers experiments and installations approaching design from a speculative point of view: “ That is why, as designers, we must not only seek new chances and possibilities, but also try to predict new problems and new dilemmas. So that we can discuss it, preferably on the basis of a broad debate. So it’s not just a question of designing the car of the future, but also of thinking about the shape that traffic jams will take. ”
An exciting issue, which highlights the meeting points between innovations and research fields that exist in Flanders, Belgium, the Netherlands and France, while skilfully pointing out the specificities of each territory, which make these exchanges essential. , and which should animate the spirit of Lille 2020 (whose opening events are postponed to September). A more than topical positioning, in this period when everyone hopes that to give meaning to this unprecedented planetary crisis, by imagining that design, will finally be recognized in all the sectors essential to the life of our societies, in its capacity to provide answers, to optimally think about synergies.