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Integrated 2013

The biennial art and design conference Integrated 2013 from Antwerp brought together artists, architects and designers who are leading the way in new ideas. 

By Katie Dominy / 07-11-2013

Organised over two days by St Lucas University College of Art and Design Antwerp, Integrated 2013 included a full programme of speakers from the world of art, design and architecture. Located in the City's deSingel art complex, there's no central theme to the Integrated events, the organisers noting: "Integrated logically abstains from focusing on a single central theme. It behaves rather like an intangible colourful fluid that lodges itself between a range of visions and philosophies." A view taken up by the design of the Integratedconf.org website with its top layer of colourful blurring tones.

Headlining with the legendary artist Christo, the two days (October 24-5 2013) included a number of Dutch creatives, including Daan Roosegaarde, Theo Jansen, Typeradio, The Stone Twins, Almanak and Typeradio and the Dutch/Belgian duo Unfold
Unfold is the studio of Claire Warnier from the Netherlands and Dries Verbruggen from Belgium. They foamed their multi-disciplinary Antwerp-based studio in 2002 after both graduated from the Design Academy Eindhoven. 
We asked  Dries Verbruggen from Unfold about their talk: "A large part of the talk was about Kiosk & Kiosk 2.0, the 3D mobile copy shop that was nominated last year for the London Design Museum’s Designs of the Year award. We concluded with the fact that for us, most of our work deals with the exploration of the role of the designer in a post industrial, globally connected age, how can we rethink manufacturing, distribution creation, financing? The audience reaction was extremely positive. I think our work also resonated well with this graphic design oriented audience because it’s one of the first design professions that dealt with the transition to digital, the huge new opportunities but also what was lost. Our work deals a lot wit this transition of product design, craft and manufacturing in the digital."
Design.nl asked Hugo Puttaert, from the college's graphic design department what Unfold brought to the conference. "The fact that Unfold are always in search for new tools instead of new trendy objects, was the most important reason. They investigate ways of working, in combining tools and experiences without always knowing where this could lead to. It is like a sort of actual alchemistic research in its purest form."
We asked Hugo Puttaert about inviting Theo Jansen, famous for his Strandbbeest self-propelled beach animals. "Theo is a real phenomena. He is the perfect example to show how extreme fascination and extreme hard work can lead to incredible, even alien looking objects. His statement: 'Stop being creative' is really like music to my ears. Contemporary media and institutions are most of the time only focusing on the empty concept of 'creativity'. Probably science and art can learn a lot from his genuine approach."
Can you tell us about your connection with Typeradio? "Typeradio is a solid team player in Integrated. Since it started, Integrated has always welcomed Typeradio with their simple but well thought out concept of online broadcasting of designers from all over the world. They do this with nearly no money, but their impact is – in my opinion – in the world of visual culture, bigger than the TED talks for instance, since TED is a big commercial organisation." This year Typeradio brought along an opera singer!
And the Amsterdam collective Almanak
"We interviewed Almanak two years ago for Addmagazine (Puttaert is editor-in-chief and creative director of the graphic design Addmagazine.be). We were fascinated in their 'working format'. Three young graphic designers (with each their own practice) working together on the same magazine: Items. They didn't just want to play the role of a designer. They also wanted to direct the magazine, to choose the content instead of only doing the design. This is what young graphic designers should do more often, but they have to be committed." Almanak 
And tell us about Daan Roosegaarde? "Daan Roosegaarde is, in another but similar way as Unfold, involved in new connections, without starting from any one discipline. Daan is more a planner/thinker/inventor not really a designer and this openminded, yet very dedicated character, means that he can focus and broaden his views all the time." Daan Roosegaarde's lecture was on merging the world of innovation with new imagination. Roosegaarde showed his recent interactive landscape design projects, such as his new public Crystal in Eindhoven and his SMOG project in Beijing. Daan Roosegaarde told us: "The audience had two days filled with lectures; but was happy to get energy from my lecture, the last one of the conference. We received many great replies via email and twitter. The audience was great and it was good to meet Christo in person."
We asked Hugo Puttaert how he came to invite Christo. "Christo is the perfect example of how important negotiation can be in achieving such extraordinary projects. The fact that he finances his projects without subsidies or sponsorship is really an example to young artists.In addition, Christo's work gives us another view completely on nature and culture, like the things which appear as in an semi-abstract dream.The only thing we can remember is a certain image, as Christo's installations only last a few weeks."
Let's look forward to the next Integrated in 2015! 

1 -Integrated 20132 - Almanak3 - Unfold4 - Daan Roosegaarde5 - Typeradio6 - Christo7 - Theo Jansen
Images: photography Roger Laute