Wendy Plomp – Mutant Matters
Interview by Viveka van de Vliet
In ten years’ time, Dutch Invertuals has become a household name. Together with a group of carefully selected, talented designers, founder and curator Wendy Plomp creates a kind of miniature society within society time after time. A pop-up world in which they dwell temporarily.
Here, different characters work together. They come up with and use the title of the exhibition as a mindset, play with the theme, contribute their own expertise, challenge themselves and each other, have discussions, comment on and reinforce each other’s work, have fun, think outside the box, help each other forward, possess the power of the joint network that spreads like an oil slick, and build a unique Gesamtkunstwerk as the sum of the individual parts.
After social subjects such as energy issues, conflict patterns, and digitization that were the focus of previous collective presentations, this year, the theme is materials that change through human intervention: Mutant Matters. These are materials that mutate by means of chemical reactions due to our use of, for example, chemical weapons in wars. Like radioactive glass. And thus change our landscape.
In the Anthropocene, the name of the epoch in which the earth’s climate and atmosphere are affected by human activity, you can view mutant materials in different ways. As a danger – we are afraid we will no longer have control over them and will be overgrown by them. Or as progress – because mutation means evolution.
Plomp challenges passionate, talented, and image-driven designers to do something special with the theme. She always adds new members to the team who push the collective forward. This year, Dutch Invertuals included designers Daniel de Bruin, Thomas Ballouhey, Léa Baert, Bram Vanderbeke, Xandra van der Eijk, Edhv, Jeroen van Veluw, Emilio Timp, Bart Schalekamp, and a number of new, young talents like Fransje Grimbrère, who continues to develop her Standing Textile(s), and Shahar Livne, who presents new sculptures made out of her newly invented material called Lithoplast. Together and individually they interpret the theme, try to understand the processes, and examine materials. They create intriguing products and objects that may add new functions or present abstract images that have never been seen before.
This year, the collective collaborates with Kate Franklin and Caroline Till of research agency FranklinTill. They published the book ‘Radical Matter, Rethinking Materials for a Sustainable Future’, in which they tell more or less the same substantive story in words that Dutch Invertuals tells in images. Together, the Dutch Invertuals will add a number of chapters to the book, as a visual manifesto for the written manifesto.
Parallel to this, Dutch Invertuals continues to write its own book. Chapter logically follows chapter, and so the spirit of the times is repeatedly represented in different exhibitions. Never in the sense of which colour is hip and happening, nor with the aim of presenting marketable products, and also not necessarily to improve the world. Dutch Invertuals redefines the limits of the profession, asks critical questions, and reflects on and analyses our behaviour, how we want to live, what identity and culture mean, and how we shape the new nature. ‘We give meaning to the concept of design and we gain a deeper understanding of the context in which we live’, says Plomp.
Thanks to Connecting the Dots
Portrait by Boudewijn Bollmann