Dutch Design Week is arguably the most unique annual design event, a perfect storm of time, place and raw creativity, that attracts some 275,000 visitors over nine days. That the attendance figure surpasses the population of Eindhoven — the quiet city in the south of the Netherlands where DDW has taken place since 1998 — is remarkable in itself, but the fact that the general public (i.e. Dutch families) makes up the majority of visitors makes the atmosphere rather unlike any other design festival in the world.
And while there is no single anchor event of DDW, the Graduation Show at the Design Academy Eindhoven is widely regarded as the single must-see event, in which the fresh crop of Masters and Bachelors — 141 in all, this time around — exhibit proudly present their thesis projects to the 45,000 visitors who visit the galleries at the Witte Dame building (the former Philips light bulb factory that now houses the school). Suffice it to say that DAE students' design education culminates not in June, when they graduate, but in October, during DDW, and it's worth mentioning that these photos largely belie the sheer number of visitors.
For the last three editions of DDW, the academy has also organized a complementary exhibition at the Van Abbemuseum, a short walk down the street from the school itself, where the DAE's Creative Director Thomas Widdershoven conceived a trilogy of shows in collaboration with museum director Charles Esche. Starting with Self/Unself in 2013 and followed by Sense/Nonsense in 2014, the arc concludes with this year with Thing/Nothing, for which Widdershoven has once again selected a handful of graduates to be exhibited in the museum context, alongside dozens of others of emerging and established artists and designers. (This year includes works by Ai Weiwei, Kenya Hara, Dunne & Raby, and MVRDV, as well as DAE alums such as Lucas Maassen and Chris Kabel, among many others.)
I should disclose that I am currently a student in the newly launched Design Curating & Writing Masters program at the Design Academy, which all but precludes an unbiased perspective. Nevertheless, this gallery is intended to serve as a representative — not comprehensive — sample of the projects on view, in the interest of illustrating the breadth of the work from the Class of 2015.