MDW19 at 5Vie: Connect by Kiki & Joost and design empathy

What happens when people work together but separately? What relationships are forged when designers make different things, but in proximity? At the Fuorisalone 2019, the site specific installation Connect by Kiki van Eijk and Joost van Bleiswijk will explain. At the 5VIE.

Kiki and Joost (Kiki Van Eijk and Joost van Bleiswijk) are a household name of Dutch design. A couple in life, they share the studio but work on different projects. and they are both designers by training but in love with crafts: with studying materials, techniques and meanings and with the process of making.

And it is this very process that Kiki and Joost will set up for all to see in their Fuorisalone 2019 site specific show at the 5Vie called Connect (in via Cesare Correnti 14). But their purpose is not only to show how things are made. It is, rather, to focus on the dynamics of collaboration that allows them to do things as individuals. but to grow together, feeding each other and each other’s work. kiki joost connect

More about the MDW19 here

Because something develops when you spend your whole life sharing the same studio, discussing ideas and taking decisions. Kiki and Joost call it empathy: the capacity to connect with one another, to develop a mutual influence that make all parties involved evolve. Something that, in their words,”the world lacks”.

Read more about empathy here

What is Connect?

Kiki and Joost: “It is an honest exhibition: it is about us exploring a theme that we care about on many different levels: connection. We will bring into the space our research, our way of working, our production, our thoughts. We will deal with connections “our way”: by shaping objects that we believe have a value beyond their physical presence. Connect is an abstract and metaphorical exploration but it’s also a physical one: about when you make things, work together and connect objects to each other and to space”.

Connection, or the lack thereof, is a big issue of our times…

“It is. We know we are addressing a very contemporary topic but this exhibition is not a political gesture. That it’s not our role: rather, it’s a poetical act”.

What sort of works will we see?

“You’ll find our work: Space poetry looking into space and architecture. Freeform, created by paying attention to nature. Interlocking Panels where shapes are connected and supported by each other. Fusion crossing the boundaries of design, art and architecture and looking at function in a different way. Curved and tape, a more instinctive kind of work”.

Connections: how do they matter in design?

“They are extremely important in so many ways. Because different connections are layers and layers are thoughts. And there is a connection in what you think (the concept) and what you make. But there is also a link with the process of making, the time that each person invests in the project, the uniqueness of the vision. The act of making requests that you are respectful, resourceful and patient in order to build connections and accept them. Aren’t these qualities necessary and fundament for our future, outside of any aesthetic?”

In which way does the lack of empathy manifest itself in the design world? and in everyday life?

“Designers have to think about what is important, what makes our lives, surroundings and the world better. Or at least less harmful. Today producing just for the purpose of selling quantities shows a lack of empathy. Making just what’s new and cool shows a lack of empathy”.

What do you think of solution-driven design?

“There is a new wave of design that is driven by solution, design as a discipline that can actually make a change. We don’t work in that way, we came from a different training and moment, but we are careful and honest in what we do and want to bring to life pieces that are much more than objects and will stay with us hopefully forever”.

This exhibition is done together with three young designers. Why?

“We invited Niels Hoebers, Sander Wassink and Michela Castagnaro to join us because we respect their work and we also felt it was important to showcase with us a younger generation. It was a gesture of openness and connection that truly mattered for us”.

How can design be empathic?

“There’s not a quick and simple answer. It’s an ever-learning process and it is complex: we are all connected with those issues and part of the problem and the solution at the same time. But at least we can start by slowing down and be more in tuned with nature, people, materials, and the space around us. We are lucky to live in a beautiful farmhouse surrounded by green. We spend hours in our garden looking closely at nature; and that makes you look at life in a very primitive way.  Every process it’s quite logical and intuitive and at the same time magical and surprising”.

The Connect exhibition in one liner?

“Look around yourself, life is all about those invisible threads”.

Connect has been produced by 5VIE with the support of the General Consulate of the Netherlands and was developed with Niels Hoebers, Sander Wassink, and Michela Castagnaro. Via Cesare Correnti 14.