Design Academy First Impressions

Hi David, Jeff Werner here. How’s things?
Me: I’m in Eindhoven. Been here over a month now. Got a decent room in a townhouse with three flatmates, themselves from all corners of the globe and masters students at the Academy. My days (and nights) are filled with studies in the Public Space department and the Atelier module course, which is like Foundation on steroids. Oh and of course riding bicycles to Dutch parties in abandoned squatter buildings.
bare bedroom with mattress and two windows
My bedroom, first day. Much more cluttered now.
furniture in a living room piled against one wall
My living room special project. Much less cluttered now.
Jeff Werner and Jonathan Igharis
Me and Jon Igharis, fellow ECI exchange student (did you know he’s also at DAE this term?) at pretty much the best party. Photo courtesy Jon.
I can honestly say that Design Academy is pretty good. The faculty give spot-on feedback, are very honest in their biases, and even more honest (harsh, some might say) with their critiques. I’m told that 20-30% of students fail at least one entire term. (I just talked to my friend Lucas: he says 50% in his department). I’ve certainly met a lot who have, including two of my roommates.
Design students stand around in the studio making decisions
My top-notch Atelier classmates making a group decision on the arrangement of our ‘village’ assignment.
The students: I’m consistently impressed with the maturity (I’d guess almost half are in their mid-20s and have previous education) and diversity of approaches to our more creative assignments. And how overall smart they all are. For example, we need to design and make a clock that speaks to cyclical time as opposed to our usual linear perception of it. My clock will visualize multiple timezones as they relate to how many of my contacts are online simultaneously around the world. A girl in the class thought of a device that makes tea over a period of hours rather than minutes. One guy is using flies trapped in various sized jars, which determines their life spans. Another installed layers of coloured paper to be tread and torn upon in an elevator. Another is exposing newsprint to various durations of sunlight.
And the facilities: wow. Six open-plan, former-factory floors in a city landmark building. First years mingling with 4th years. An entire textile room. Etc., etc.
But it’s not all to rave over. I find the administration to be aloof, uncooperative and fairly unwelcoming sometimes. And you wonder how many profs, none of which even maintain an office at the school let alone live in Eindhoven (they come to class once a week and that’s it), are hired for their name rather than their teaching. And the school doesn’t even have wireless internet, which, if you know me, is the most disturbing fault of all.
So far I’m getting out of the DAE what I hoped I would: more mix of art with design. More conceptual thinking. So I and wanted to thank you for suggesting it to me last year as an exchange option. But at the same time it makes me almost impatient to return to Emily Carr and try out some new strategies. It’s interesting, when you start inevitably comparing schools with the other exchange students, and you see the weak, but more clearly, the strong points of your home school.
Jeff
p.s. Saw a great exhibit of recent Design Academy grad work:
http://jeffwerner.ca/2008/03/design_academy_exhibit.html
p.p.s. More photos of things I’m up to:
wooden coat hangers arranged in a circle pattern
green venetian blinds bound together with packing tape
crumpled paper with blue dot
uncrumpled paper with blue fragments
pieces of an electronic toy guitar
macbook pro computer with an arduino

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