There is a word to describe the condition to which consumer culture’s material output is destined from the outset. That word is junk.
Junk is not an accident, something unplanned or unexpected—it is a substance that has been designed. Junk is the trail that is left in the wake of growth and global trade, a product of industry, an indicator of income and social status, a material, an aesthetic. It is present in our homes, cities, landscapes and sky. Junk is a paradox: without it, our economies would wither; on the other hand, we are literally drowning in it.
Today, junk is shaping new landscapes, new global connections, new financial models, new policies and new modes of living around the world. Designers are indelibly linked to the systems that produce and perpetuate junk, and also to the systems that try to eliminate or transform it. As designers, we have a responsibility to understand how junk works and what it means to us and our bodies, to the land and water that sustain us, and to the multiplicity of species that co-inhabit the earth. Junk’s prevalence presents us with new frontiers and opportunities for research and for understanding, narrating and inventing the future of our world.
GEO–DESIGN: Junk. All That Is Solid Melts into Trash explores global systems of discarded things through 18 strikingly different investigations by alumni from Design Academy Eindhoven. The exhibition sets out to analyze how junk is embedded in daily life: from the industries where it is produced to the homes where it is collected and the wastelands where it accumulates. It traverses landfills and dumps, probes into the fallout of diplomatic and domestic crises, uncovers the ghosts of dead digital communities and discovers new ecosystems and economies built on detritus. It looks at junk as a microcosm, as an economic barometer that can reveal realities of consumption and production, and as a subject of intercontinental diplomacy.
Design Academy Eindhoven launched the GEO—DESIGN platform in 2018 to create space for the interrogation of the social, economic, territorial, and geopolitical forces shaping design today. Created in collaboration with the Van Abbemuseum, GEO—DESIGN: Junk. All That Is Solid Melts into Trash is the second exhibition to emerge from this platform, generating original research into complex, contemporary networks and exploring design’s role in the past, present and future of junk.
With 18 different design studios working around the same topic, the exhibition offers its own new matrix of research spaces for one of the most urgent issues in contemporary culture. Expanding beyond the walls of the institution and staging interventions in public, consumer spaces, GEO–DESIGN: Junk. All That Is Solid Melts into Trash forms a new relationship between the museum, Design Academy Eindhoven and the city of Eindhoven and invites visitors to examine their own place in the world of junk.
GEO—DESIGN: Junk. All That Is Solid Melts into Trash was first presented at Van Abbemuseum and Eindhoven city locations from 19 October to 17 November 2019. Curated by Martina Muzi, concept by Joseph Grima (DAE Creative Director).
Van Abbemuseum Projects
Giacomo Nanni and Julian Peschel, The Oceanic Pole of Undefined Liability
Ines Glowania, The Isolated System of Junk in the Gaza Strip
Lotte de Haan, Salaula: The International Trade of Donated Second-Hand Clothing to Zambia
Noud Sleumer, The Transboundary Loophole
Schimmel & Schweikle, Compute
Shahar Livne, Accumulation: Landscapes of the Plastisphere
Studiolow (Héloïse Charital and Ismaël Rifaï), Modern Aviaries
Studio Plastique, Common Sands
Tellurico, Unchecked Chain
Eindhoven City Projects
De Bijenkorf: Lara Chapman, An Archaeology of Aviation Superpowers: The Mojave Boneyard
Deense Kroon: Alexandre Humbert, Sleeping Beauties
HEMA: Johanna Seelemann, Fractional Object
Hutspot: Alissa+Nienke, Atelier to the Bone and Kirstie van Noort, One Standard Row House
ING Bank: Minji Choi Naturalised Junk
Rambam: The Anderen, The Relationship Is No Longer Garbage
SISSY-BOY: Dorota Gazy and Shay Raviv, Chiefs of Waste
Tigerlily: Alice Guidi, Hello, World!
Vielgut: Fred Erik, A Waste of Energy?
Joseph Grima, Creative Director, Design Academy Eindhoven
Manager Communications, Relations & Events
Communications & PR
Neeltje van Gool, Ilka van Steen, Maud Bongers and Jasper van Es
Producers Eindhoven City
PAPERJAM, Maud Bongers and Jasper van Es
Design Academy Eindhoven Executive Board
Mechtild van den Hombergh
Van Abbemuseum Team
Inge Borsje, Project Leader
Diederik Koppelmans, Bart van Geldrop, and Theo Wajon, Technical Coordination
Angeliki Petropoulos, Registrar
Van Abbemuseum Executive Board
Anastasia van Gennip
"10 tips voor Dutch Design Week 2019," VPRO, October 19, 2019. Link
"Eindhoven calling! #2," BNO, October 22, 2019. Link
"Dutch Design Week exhibition explores 'complex networks' of junk," Dezeen, October 25, 2019. Link
"Design Academy Eindhoven Graduates Focus on Junk Networks as the Design Ultimate and Most Urgent Global Resource," Archipanic, October 26, 2019. Link
"GEO—DESIGN: Junk," de Architect, October 31, 2019. Link