top Baas Maartens´ Smoke, bottom Dave Hakkens´ bloks. both © Frank Hülsbömer
Shiny, immaculate, new: these are the qualities we expect from the objects with which we surround ourselves. But one often forgets that aging is also part of life – and design. Transience, the theme taken on by the sixth Design Display exhibition, is much more than a philosophical question. Two designers who deal with the concept of impermanence in different ways take center stage: Maarten Baas destroys in order to create, while Dave Hakkens develops concepts of sustainability. Though both of them share the opinion that good design is more than good looks. For the Smoke series, Baas took iconic design pieces and torched them until they were left charred. In reworking design classics, Maarten Baas’ productive act of destruction not only shows the surface’s vulnerability, but the transience of the original design intentions. The torched versions call for the recognition that things must elapse to make room for the new. Facing Baas on the other side of the glass display, is Dutch designer Dave Hakkens with his Phonebloks – a concept for a smartphone made up entirely of individual modules. The idea is that different “bloks” can be assembled on the motherboard like Lego blocks. These blocks are autonomous functional units such as batteries, processors, speakers, cameras, or memory cards. Users can assemble or upgrade their device at will, as well as easily replace broken parts. The transience of a single module doesn’t spell the end for the whole device. The transience of a single module doesn’t spell the end for the whole device. In the On Display magazine accompanying the exhibition, the fascination with ephemerality and the allure of decay are further explored.