19.10 – 18.11.2018
Tunnel Musée Dräi Eechelen
Parc Dräi Eechelen
Partenaires : Mudam Luxembourg – Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean,
Ville de Luxembourg
We’ve created this. Let’s design our way out of it.
The Dutch designer Daan Roosegaarde brings together modern technology, nature, and urban environments in his work. He highlights the poetry and beauty of technology, while always keeping the environment at the forefront of his thoughts: be it on earth, or in space. He is not only a designer, but also a dreamer.
Interview by Karima Djemana (BTS Media writing, Lycée classique de Diekirch)
Studio Roosegaarde, as a social design lab, creates landscapes of the future to connect people, technology, and space. Its goal is to improve daily life in urban environments and to spark our imagination. What drives you?
We create things to make the world around us more accessible. We are facing many global challenges, like rising sea levels or the smog in larger cities, and in a way these issues are a sign of bad design. As human beings, we can be sad about it, complain, and blame other people. Or we can tell ourselves: ‘We’ve created this. Let’s design, let’s engineer our way out of it.’
Some of our projects are clearly about upgrading reality, for example with our light trees project. Others are about visualising how our potential future could look like. This is reflected in the Waterlicht project, a light installation that shows how high the sea level would rise up if we never try to interfer. One of our most recent projects tackles the problem of space waste.
Space debris is floating around our planet, endangering our satellites and spaceships, and creating more waste by collision and a growing threat to our digital world. It is a problem we have right now and nobody knows how to solve it.
All of this links back to the Design City LX Festival, which offers an interesting way of working with other projects, like space mining. We see this as a long-term collaboration to design for improving life.
How has your actual research been influenced by your background, your taste in architecture and, more precisely, architectural design?
The whole landscape of where I grew up is an actual work of art. We live below sea level in the Netherlands. Without ecology or architecture to hold the sea back, all of the old cities would be dying a horrible death. Even my friends from China frequently ask me: ‘But why don’t you move to Germany? It’s much safer.’ So, for me, design is embedded within the DNA of where I come from. I love the notion of public space, of making space interventions that will add value to a place and bring clean air, clean water, and clean energy. For me, design and architecture have always been linked to the outside, and to my own personality. As a child I never played inside, I preferred to stay outside and build tree houses.
Your projects combine technology and meaningful human experiences to create unique landscapes. Can you describe how nature and technology meet in your work?
For me they belong together. Nature, culture, technology: these are all rooted within the DNA of my home country. Many aspects that are linked to technology have similar notions to what and how we are doing, learning, growing, trying. That is why I have always been fascinated with hybrid projects like the Lotus Dome, an installation that uses the heat of our hands and light to open up. Or even the Gates of Light, which reflects the headlights of passing cars on the architecture to illuminate the way.
Gates of Light was actually inspired by the wings of a butterfly. The texture of their pigment absorbs light, which is why the colours always appear so vibrant and visible. We take a lot of inspiration from nature and apply it to our designs. Nature has taken billions of years to develop all of its resources, so we might as well learn something from it.
What has been your inspiration for your current project in Luxembourg and how did the design process develop in your studio?
We are going to launch the Dune project in the tunnel of the Musée Dräi Eechelen near the Mudam, with thousands of fibres reacting with light to the sound and motion of people walking by. At the same time, we will be launching the Space Waste Lab in the Netherlands to raise awareness about space debris and develop solutions. We hope to collaborate with Luxembourg on this project. These are the main elements.
Instead of deciding what we will and will not do on our own, we compiled a team of about 25 people – designers, engineers, and project managers – who plan everything together, from the initial idea to the final project. Of course, we consult with experts when the need arises.
The theme of this year’s Design City LX Festival is Me craft – You industry – We design. How do you define the relationship between these three elements?
You create to make the world more understandable. I think we, as humans, want the wrong things. We think so much about yet another Louis Vuitton bag but not enough about clean air, clean water, clean energy. So the notion of making things that move people, and not being influenced by opinions but rather focusing on proposals, is something that is really necessary in today’s world.
There is an abundance of technology but there is a lack of imagination about what we want our future to look like. I hope that we will be able to find solutions to create our future, with all the challenges that we will have to face.
Luxembourg is working on its space mining project. Do you have any forthcoming or current projects that are particularly ambitious or eccentric?
We see our Space Waste project as a new element in this field. Space debris is a big problem and it is going to get worse. We are teaming up with ESA, the European Space Agency, and we are looking forward to starting a long-term collaboration with Luxembourg. It is interesting that the country is taking the lead in this matter.
It seems that, with space debris, the train of thought is: ‘Everybody owns it, so nobody cares’. Luxembourg takes ownership not only morally but also in its role as a high-tech creative thinker. We are looking forward to engaging in a dialogue with the country and to introducing our own ideas.
As for eccentric projects, I think the way in which we deal with the world today is eccentric. As far as our projects are concerned, we have launched a few in China, the Netherlands, Poland, and Columbia. India and Mexico are next. Then, of course, there is the Space Waste project that we will be launching. A lot of urban innovation will pop up and we will keep on doing more visible installations, which are more about the poetic notions of human technology.
Le designer néerlandais Daan Roosegaarde marie l’aspect poétique de la technologie moderne à la beauté de la nature. De la pollution atmosphérique au débris spatial, il propose des solutions pour les problèmes environnementaux les plus complexes. Ses installations connaissent un succès international et illustrent l’esprit d’un homme qui est non seulement un créateur, mais aussi un visionnaire.