Theo Van Doesburg, described in his Nieuwe Beelding theory. Light, air and space, a balance of color and proportion, those were the keys to a healthier life. Proponents of De Stijl, or modernism in general, were aware of the limited power of the medical apparatus and put themselves forward as alternative aides towards a better life − ‘better world’ that one could set about shaping. Eighty years later, the creative industry takes up the gauntlet of this alternative road to health. Long live the new ‘quacks’!


The medicine called fun (1)
We are at a turning point where vac­cines, pills, Zimmer frames and walk-in consultation hours no longer suffice. It is not a question of ‘whether’ we will grow old − that’s almost a given − but primarily of ‘how’ we will do so. The answers to this question can be divided into three groups.

Group one are the design anthropol­ogists, the inventors of solutions, the conceptualists that create eye-opening objects to break the taboos surround­ing aging and all of its ailings, thereby putting the topic on the agenda. These are the designers that are able to breathe new life into old formulas with an innovative approach. (2)


Studio Dumbar, Visual Identity Alzheimer Nederland.

They can redesign a heavy blanket to make an illness more bearable. (3) Design is relevant, now more than ever. Where previously people created prostheses to rectify a malfunctioning body, now the realization has set in that the products we surround oursel­ves are failing us. And so, it is not the body that must change, but the prod­ucts. No longer do the shaking hands


make pouring tea impossible; nowa­days it’s the teapot. (4) Designers are the outsiders with a fresh perspective, bringing a wind of change with them. They think about the loneliness of old age and how a lamp or the contents of a complete household can actively pro­vide companionship. (5) Or, per­haps because of these designers, we no longer need to feel ashamed of our flaws; of incontinence and the diapers that come with it. (6) Design can break down taboos. Not with words, but with products that crystallize a problem and make it something you can talk about. Euthanasia is perhaps the best ex­ample, with the early termination of a life giving new meaning to living − Happily Ever After!(7)


In contrast to the first group, the second group does not think in gene­rations or problems, but wants life to be better across the board. The Con­tinuous Drama of the Minutes Passing immerses itself in the con­ti­nuous ticking of minutes that go by. Dys­calculia and the inability to deal with numbers may have formed the initial inspiration behind the project, but it has gone beyond that. It allows us to hold a mirror up to ourselves: “There are clocks everywhere, but there’s no




Project granted by Creative Industries Fund NL, Seoul Design Festival and the Dutch Embassy South Korea. Special thanks for East West Education.

time.” We don’t seem capable of making time stretch any longer. How cata­strophic! (8) Everything must hap­pen fast; literally in an instant. (9)


Installation of 'Bed of Olfaction' by Harm Rensink.

Group three forms a minority, but is a group on the rise. A carefree lot. Rather than focusing on problems, they absorbe the qualities of longer life. “More is better presuming you find a way to add substance to what’s been gained.” NieuwGrijs banks on the growing grey masses as a funda­ment for a modern society. (10) These designers celebrate the extra years. Thorough and well-considered, or with the unpretentious simplicity of a good party. Being happy can be enough.

(1) Jules van den Langenberg, The Medicine Called Fun (2) Studio Dumbar, Visual Identity Alzheimer Nederland (3) Anne Feikje Weidema, Re-covered (4) Inge Kuipers, Tea-set Touch (5) Studio Toer, Moti (6) Julia van Zanten, Protective Underwear (7) Juliette Huijgen, Euthanasia. Tales of Happily Ever After (8) Lisa Mande­maker, The Continuous Drama of the Minutes Passing (9) Harm Rensink, Bed of Olfaction (10) Michou Nanon de Bruijn, Het NieuwGrijs.