Het Nieuwe Instituut, in collaboration with research fellow Ruben Jacobs (cultural sociologist), organiseD two evenings under the title Soft Strategies, a reference to the way in which designers can make technological objects more 'human'. On July 9, the conversation with the designers Vinca Kruk of Metahaven, Marcel Schouwenaar of The Incredible Machine, Simone C. Niquille and Florian Cramer focuseD on the ethical aspects of the design practice. How ethical can a designer be? How far reaches his ability to influence underlying systems?
The principle of 'humaneering' starts from the notion that technology should have a human face and that designers can mediate between technological capabilities and human needs. The World Expo has always been an important platform for this. Since the advent of the industrial revolution, scientists and technicians have been regarded as the bearers of modernization, but the World Expo has also shown the crucial role of designers in the 'softening' of that same modernization. Humaneering was a successful strategy that was propagated by, for example, Charles and Ray Eames, Steve Jobs, Don Norman and Mark Weiser. Technological objects and capabilities have now penetrated into every fibre of our existence, affecting our behaviour and our standards and expectations in many, often unseen ways.
- Vinca Kruk (1980) is a graphic designer and together with Daniël van der Velden the founder of research and design bureau Metahaven. The work of Metahaven - both self-initiated and commissioned - offers a reflection of political and social issues in jointly produced design objects and thus moves on the border between politics and aesthetics. Kruk taught and still teaches at several academies, including ArtEZ in Arnhem, Otis College for Art and Design in Los Angeles, Design Academy Eindhoven, Valencia Academy of Arts in France, Merz Akademie in Stuttgart (Germany) and UniBz Bozen in Italy.
- Industrial designer Marcel Schouwenaar is creator, developer and technophile. He is co-founder of The Incredible Machine, a design bureau for products and services in a 'connected world'. The Incredible Machine helps companies to develop new concepts that enable products, spaces and services to communicate with each other. In order to enable these opportunities to be seen and experienced, they develop their ideas into prototypes at an early stage. If seeing is believing, then experiencing provides understanding, according to them. Their clients include Lego, TU Delft, Philips, Rabobank, UNDP and Zodiac Aerospace.
- The Swiss graphic designer and researcher Simone C. Niquille is interested in the representation of identity without the body, the digitization of biomass and the growing optical view on everyday products. She studied graphic design at the Rhode Island School of Design (US) in 2013 and obtained a Master in Visual Strategies at the Sandberg Institute in Amsterdam. Niquille is part of the research and design collective Space Caviar, is involved in White Hole Exhibition Space (http://whitehole.gallery/) and writes columns for Sang Blue.
- Florian Cramer is programme director and lector at the knowledge centre Creating 010, which is connected to the Willem de Koning Academie and the Piet Zwart Institute. The knowledge centre Creating 010 is involved in practical-based research into new developments and partnerships within the creative industries. As a lector, Cramer explores how new media are changing the professional field of established designers and visual artists. Cramer is also the dean of WORM's Parallel University.