In addition to the high quality of all the entries, what most impressed the international panel of 2011 Rotterdam Design Prize jurors was the breadth of the field today. Designers have long since ceased to make products alone. They can act as curators, researchers, social activists, picture editors and even bakers!
This would seem to indicate that we agree with statements like “Everything is design” and “Everyone is a designer.” But we do not believe this is true, and the entries also disprove it. Apart from the nominees’ obvious professionalism, the added value a designer brings is evident in every case. Yet the entries are not examples of traditional design: for instance, the exhibition does not contain a single piece of furniture.
Instead, the jury is delighted at the way design functions as a tool in so many entries. From social design that restores the human fabric of a neighbourhood to work that unites science, technology and styling, everywhere, design is being used in new ways, reinvented and redefined.
Designers are unafraid to overhaul entire processes and even systems, so as to translate a greater whole onto a human scale, and vice versa.
According to this definition, designers often function as drivers or catalysts. The effects of their work extend beyond the studio and the shop window. In choosing a winner, the jury has sought to show its support for this attitude, which it recognises in so many of the nominees. The winning project sends a clear political signal, just as the jury seeks to do with its choice of the winner for the 2011 Rotterdam Design Prize.
The nominee we finally unanimously selected evinces the most interesting tendency that we have observed in the entries. This nominee practises a form of making that is not new for designers. We can call it “making things visible”, in the sense of accessible. Nowadays, people often talk about an information overload. All media, and individuals themselves, are generating and archiving ever-increasing amounts of data. The overload, however, robs all that information of its meaning – for the end user, the whole is often unmanageable.
As one juror put it, information is the raw material of the 21st century. Several of the nominees present complex material to us in a manageable way, or give us tools we can use to make information comprehensible as well as to do research of our own.
The winner of the 2011 Rotterdam Design Prize has made complex content accessible using simple means. This project arguably encapsulates the broad definition of the concept of design that we see in all the nominees’ work. It takes a sociocultural approach. In it, we see the all-embracing character shown in so many of the nominated works – it integrates different disciplines and forms of design and involves collaboration with various parties. Another important reason we chose to award the prize to this project is that it acts as a manifesto that suggests possibilities. It succeeds as a visualisation, installation and political signal. It is emphatically not a one-time event. At the same time, this nomination stays close to the fundamental principles of design: it is a concrete physical experience that has a clear, immediate impact.
The winning project shows that these times of cultural shortsightedness and budget cuts actually call out for one thing: space. Space to work, live and create – space for art, but also, above all, space for the spirit.
Talk-shows during OBJECT
9, 10 and 11 February 2012
On Thursday 9, Friday 10 and Saturday 11 February at 3.30 pm, we will be on the exhibition floor of Object Rotterdam, where we will gauge the opinions of designers and critics about the nominations for the Rotterdam Design Prize 2011. What do they think of the nominations? Who is definitely missing? But most of all: who should win? And why? Cast your vote. During Object you can cast your vote for the Premsela Public Prize for your favourite design. Please note: this is your last chance to vote, because the winner will be announced on 12 February.
OBJECT Rotterdam is the international fair for contemporary design and takes place at the same time as Art Rotterdam in Las Palmas, the building opposite. OBJECT Rotterdam exhibits unique objects, or ones produced in limited editions, from the world of contemporary national and international design. The fair presents limited editions and one-offs by national and international designers, both established and up-and-coming, from various design disciplines and in the most diverse materials. OBJECT Rotterdam exposes the cusp between design, crafts, fashion, architecture and visual arts and is the place to be for collectors, professionals and other design enthusiasts.
Picture: Exhibition floor of OBJECT Rotterdam. Photo Jelle Mollema.
Nov 2011 - Feb 2012
This year, the Rotterdam Design Prize was again staging a large exhibition in Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen. All fifteen nominees were presenting the work for which the scouts nominated them, in the Richard Serrazaal. In addition to products and objects, there were also models, videos and interactive installations. They were unique presentations, designed by Muller Van Tol and made specially for this exhibition. Together they gave a wonderful overview of the current ideas about design. Visitors to the exhibition could also vote for the Premsela Public Prize.
The exhibition was officially opened on Friday November 25 at 5.00 pm with the announcements of the nominees. The winner of the Rotterdam Design Prize 2011 was chosen by an international jury. The winner of the Rotterdam design prize and also the winner of the Premsela Public Prize were announced on 12 February during a final debate held in the museum.
This exhibition was part of the ‘Design in Boijmans’ programme. Design was being spotlighted in the museum as of this autumn. Together with the museum collection, there were three exhibitions, including the Rotterdam Design prize 2011 and the exhibitions ‘New energy in design and art’ and ‘Cent Minimes’ by Sheila Hicks that generated considerable interest in the area of design.
The museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday, from 11.00 am to 5.00 pm. The entrance area of the museum, including the Richard Serrazaal, is open to the public free-of-charge.