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Wednesday, 18 May 2011


It has taken me several months to come to the point to write this report about my Erasmus Exchange experience. I felt that I had to come back to London and digest all that has happened in peace.

Coming back to Camberwell has most definitely opened my eyes. I have experienced time in other college in other country, enjoying the new culture. Now I think I can compare few things that are different in Holland, London and in my native Finland in terms of studying life; quality of education and the culture itself. I have gained valuable life experience and memories that won't fade.

First of all, being Finnish, living in London and moving to Holland was not that big change. Holland, from my experience is somewhat between Scandinavian culture and British, or at least London culture (as it is geometrically anyway). Quite broad statement, but I felt that Holland is Scandinavian like very democratic yet quite conservative. And for relatively small country it has high standard of life. What Netherlands lack is space! The whole country is almost merged into one big city. Why it reminded me of London, for instance was the multi-cultural feeling when walking down the streets of Rotterdam and coming across many different nationalities. Multi-cultural population enriches the city’s cultural yield, which I think is captivating and educative. I felt at home already after few days in Rotterdam.

The exchange period was time of being valiant and sociable. Not knowing anyone was fascinating. I had to come out the comfort zone and make an effort to meet fellow students and get to know them. But it was actually pretty easy, as Dutch people are very friendly and talkative. Everyone speaks English. As an extra factor, I felt that being an exchange student, it was far more easy to get to know people, as everyone was interested to hear where I came from and what did I think of the country and the people. I made many friends during one semester throughout the college.

I was the only exchange student in my class, so it was slightly difficult sometimes, as the lesson started in English but somewhere in the middle turned to Dutch. I felt that it was hard to be the only one always asking for translation or asking everyone to switch in English (just because of me!). Some students refused to use English, as they didn’t feel confident enough. Some of them just didn't want to, because they were in their home country, and are entitled to use Dutch. I kind of got used to it and ended up sometimes sitting in the class for some time listening conversations in Dutch. It taught me perseverance in staying put, if nothing else.

Studying at the Willem de Kooning Academie was different to Camberwell. It was very hands on, yet industry led. Being professional and serious seemed to be standard. Weeks were very structured; lessons were given every day on subjects such as designing, production technique, products and concepts, social media studies, ergonomics, presentation technique etc. Usually I had four projects running at the same time. In Camberwell, it is all very independent. You’re given a brief, couple of tutorial and bang; you’re in the middle of assessment. For me (knowing that I need sometimes a bit of a push and kick on my butt to work hard) the structured teaching in Willem de Kooning was brilliant, as my motivation and inspiration got a lift. But then again, when I came back to Camberwell, I realised that it is important that we students learn to work independently, as there won’t be no one to tell us what to do once we graduate! The studying experience most definitely made me understand the way of teaching (almost no teaching at all) in Camberwell; to become independently responsible for your own actions.

Something that Camberwell could adapt from Willem de Kooning is the workshop. Dutch government pumps lot of money in to education, and one could see it. The workshops were three times of the size of ours. All the equipments were free to use, and the doors were open till late. Each workshop has a material storage. One could buy materials needed for non-profit prices, without having to run around the town looking for sheets of heavy steel and wonder how to get it back to college. I think if Camberwell College would supply the materials, it would encourage students to work on different materials and to take more risks and expand their projects, rather than feeling put off by the difficulty of getting specific materials before even getting started.

I visited countless museums, exhibitions, workshops and factories. I saw what is Dutch design, contemporary and traditional. It can be said that new and old is merging together creating excitingly playful, yet design with high level of standard. I am largely influenced by it. Contemporary Dutch design is well known on world markets. Droog Design, Studio Joop, Maarten Baas, Hella Jongerius, Joep van Lieshout, Piet Hein Eek to name few.

One of the most memorable and meaningful experience I underwent was the first step I took in ceramics department. I had a wonderful and passionate technician who showed me around and though me the basics on slip casting. The potter's wheel became familiar to me as well. He made me feel comfortable in his environment. Ceramics is certainly subject that I want to take further on my last year of studies. The ceramics workshop in Camberwell is comprehensive, and it would be shame not to use it.

How the over all experience has made me feel? I am certainly ready to move again, changing country and start from the beginning again. There is nothing more exciting than taking a new challenge in life, mine is to discover the world more. I am planning to do it as soon as I graduate.

I would suggest anyone capable to do Erasmus exchange as it is life changing experience. It gives you independency. Makes you more spontaneous and courageous. Meeting new people is one of the most important reasons; to create network around the world that may be helpful to establish dreams.

I am most definitely more confident and inspired.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Concrete lamp continues

Final outcome.

It is a concrete ambience light. The dome keeps the light inside. I also chose the type of energy saving lamp that is half mirrored, so the light reflects downwards.

Once I took the block out of the mould the surface cracked from many places. The surface is partly covered with air holes. Also some part of the surface is not smooth.

I am not really happy with the end result, and unfortunately I didn't have the time to do a second round! I learned a lot from mould making especially when working with concrete. I want to try to do the lamp again, but better!

Only positive thing about the cracking and impurities on surface is that the inspiration was taken from the ancient Egyptian arts. And if you look at the works today (well, some of them are 4000 years old!), they are not in top condition any more. So to conclude, I can say that my lamp design is complete, even some of the corners are sharp and the others aren't. It totally reflects on the arts from that period!

Concrete lamp project

Second project on Product & Concept subject was to look on traditional crafts and modern techniques. I needed to produce a interior product combining new and old.

I love ancient Egyptian art and architecture. I looked for an inspiration from statues, hieroglyphs, architecture, pyramids etc. Between the statue of Tutankhamen and Nefertiti I decided to make a lamp out of concrete in an approximate proportions of Nefertiti statue.

I made the mould out of wood which has a smooth surface, as that would give smooth surface on concrete as well. It was very hard to make the mould, the sides were tilted in 5 degree angle. And I had to cut the wooden pieces in an angles that they joined correctly one after another.

I also made a dome, which was to be the hole where to put the lamp. I had to consider that the electric cable would have to go through the concrete, so I assembled a plastic pipe from the dome to the bottom of the mould.

Using very fine silver sand and cement I produced concrete which I poured carefully in the mould. I left it to dry for five days.

Textile Museum Tilburg

I had a chance again to visit in another city in Holland, this time it was Tilburg, and the well known Textile factory/museum.

We had a tour kept by lovely Dutch lady. We were shown how textile, wool and cotton was made in a past, as they had all the machines on display.

On a production line, we were able to follow the mechanics maintaining the knitting machines and designers designing new patterns and weaving techniques. Tilburg factory gives an excellent opportunity for students to produce their lines there. When normally setting up a line is very expensive.

The museum was also educating the visitors of tomorrows textile. The exhibition was presenting sustainable fashion, interior textiles and product design and examining the questions and dilemmas associated with the development of sustainable products.

I had to buy Studio Jop's tea towel which has an insect pattern on it! Cool

A. Sonneveld House

The house is good example of pre-war Dutch Functionalism.

Designed in 1933 by Brinkman Van der Vlugt, the firm responsible for the Van Nelle factory. The villa is carefully restored to its original state both inside and out. Using then modern techniques of steel framing and concrete. The interiors play with strong colours, and each room has been constructed according to its intended use.

It was nice quiet day to visit the Sonneveld house. And it was free! Located in museum quartier, just next to NAI (Nederlands Architecture Institute), Boijmans Museum and Kunsthal.

In and around Willem de Kooning Academy

Willem de Kooning Academy consist of two buildings, the old bank made of red bricks called Blaak and on the side of it is the new building, Wijnhaven with most of the workshops.

Hella Jongerius @ Boymans Museum, Rotterdam

Designer Hella Jongerius has become known for the special way she fuses industry and craft, high and low tech, tradition and the contemporary.

She has her own design company Jongeriuslab in Rotterdam. Along her own projects she has done projects for clients such as Droog Design, Vitra, Ikea and Royal Tichelaar Makkum.

Visiting the exhibition was good chance to see her projects specially the materials she works with, rather than just looking at pictures in internet. Since studying in Willem de Kooning Academy, I have spent probably most of my time in the ceramics department, and Hella Jongerius designs represents quality and playfulness that is to my taste.

As the last picture shows (from Twitter), There were about 200 coloured vases in the circle and in the beginning of the year visitor got a fit and collapsed on to the vases. Huh!

Pecha Kucha Amsterdam

It is already quite a while ago when I attended to Pecha Kucha night in Amsterdam (13th of October 2010)

Me and my classmates were told by our Presentation technique teacher that this event is worth of seeing and it might give good ideas for future presentations.

As it says on website: 'A happy crossbreed between an elevator pitch and speed dating, PechaKucha Night will present 12 participants who will show 20 slides for 20 seconds each. No more boring lectures, seminars or presentations. PechaKucha Night offers the audience the experience of a dazzling range of speakers and images in the course of one evening'.

It was great. Started 9pm, in a nice art venue, got couple of drinks and sat down. The participants were all from different areas of arts, photography, fashion design, fine art. I made some notes of each participant, as we were to hold our own Pecha Kucha presentation at college later. The points we were to look at were: performance, content and visual.

One girl, Elke, she talked about her work as a fine artist and life performer. It was very intriguing to hear her story. It was very personal, and her presentation exuded passion and enthusiasm towards her work. Not all the contestants were able to speak English fluently and they stumbled a bit, but over all the presentations flowed.

There were some rather tedious presentations as well. This guy, Jos, photographer, didn't have much to talk about and his landscape photographs were boring. He had long pauses between the images which made me feel uneasy. If one doesn't have much to show or talk about, where was the point to attend?

I think our class in London should do it! I looked and found that London College of Fashion has done something similar. In London the organization has done Pecha Kucha event three times. I think there would be interest for much more...

Material practice FACE

Ceramic workshop practise.

Someone made a mould of my face with using plaster strips. (and I did the same for the other one)
After the mould was dry, I poured in plaster.
Now I had positive mould of my face. Took it to vacuum and formed negative mould from acrylic sheet.
The acrylic mould was then used for polyester resin to produce positive face in wanted style and colour.
Lots of fun, made a theatre face of myself and had a great opportunity to practise with the workshop materials, techniques and equipments!

Ontwerpen part2

I made 20 carpet polygons. To maintain the structure, I cut sheet of aluminium and bended it in shape of polygon. Cut the carpet strips and glued them together with very strong epoxy glue.

The end result was strong and solid. I joined them together with cable ties and it became wall panelling installation.

To think of the function little further, it could be used as a modular panelling where consumer buys separate polygons, with loop system for attaching them to each other, and creates wanted pattern on the wall or ceiling. Depending of the joining of the patterns one can create low relief installation where the panels comes either more or less out of the surface.

I was happy with the end result, after struggling with the material throughout the term. To improve the project, I should seal the edges of the carpet, because it unravels. Probably by using heat.

Ontwerpen = Design part1

Ontwerpen is one of the main subject I have studied. On the second year its about material research. The idea for design was to be approached through material experimentation. We were to choose material we liked and disliked. I ended up with synthetic carpet for flooring.

I did cutting, burning, glueing, melting, painting, braiding, weaving etc...

Problem was that the material is flat. wanted to produce something which would come out from the surface but didn't want to make a toy for cat (for scratching their nails) or something tacky like that!

I used cable ties to tie pieces together, also joined without using any adhesive. Tried to make it three dimensional. I didn't want to use any other visible material along the carpet. Nothing really inspired. I was actually quite lost with the project. But then I saw Something made by Hella Jongerius. A stool with round metal frame covered with felt. it looks soft and not solid, but actually you could sit on it firmly. I got the idea!


Absolutely loving Belgium! Visited Brussels, Gent and Antwerp. All very different.

Brussels has it big international city feel, where the European Union is based. Followed the Tintin comic walk around the town, even got a T-shirt for souvenir! Everything seems a bit ramshackled, but the Medieval buildings made me gasp from admiration.

Gent was even more old, basically the whole town is still from the Medieval time. Little canals her and there, the lights were directed to the buildings the way that it showed details clearly, and made them look bombastic in the dark. There were many lovely dark and cosy pubs where they served exquisite Belgian beers.

I visited Antwerp just on the way back to Rotterdam and probably the most unforgettable thing was the Central Station. Oh my, how can it be station, it rather looked like enormous Cathedral with its detailed arch windows and sturdy curved stone staircases. But it was interesting mix of old and new. The platforms on the other side were up to date modern architecture with strong lights.

And what is a visit in Belgium without mussels and fries accompanied with home made mayonnaise and dark Beer!

Festival I'm certainly attending next summer!

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Piet Hein Eek

On the Eindhoven visit, I also visited in renowned Dutch artist Piet Hein Eek's workshop/gallery/studio. He has a big warehouse where he presents, works and builds the objects.

He got known for his scrap wood furniture during the nineties just after graduating from the Design Academy Eindhoven.

It was exciting to peek into someone's workshop and see all his assistants working on projects. So many products. Well, obviously his been practising for a long time already. Wish I could get realm like this one day!

Dutch Design Week Eindhoven

Design Week Eindhoven is one of the must happenings to visit.

What I found interesting in Eindhoven particularly was the Design Academy Eindhoven's graduate show. I found the level of works extremely high. There were companies looking for the next big thing and plenty of public wondering around and admiring the works. Projects were professionally displayed. The pressure lowering crutches were unforgettable. The design of the product didn't remind you of a hospital but rather something organic and pure, modern gadget. And if the product really does what it promises, it can be that the crutches will be seen on markets one day.

The Blob Building caused a stir on me when I first arrived the city. Designed by Italian Architect Massimiliano Fuksas. Sitting in a taxi and heard from the local taxi driver that the building has a divided views. Some says that its an eyesore and total offence to its surroundings. Others refers to an outer space or molecule alike. Eindhoven seems to have all kind of architecture, so I guess, in this case clash of styles suits the image of the city.

It was very nice to visit another important (industrial) city in Holland. I have travelled around quite a lot already!