In our DesignTalks Spotlights, we’re going into the Who, What, When, Where, and Why of what you should know about each of our DesignTalks speakers and why we are so excited about their work. Short and sweet, yet substantial, we hope you enjoy this series.
First up, Christien Meindertsma:
Christien Meindertsma is a Dutch artist and designer who graduated from Eindhoven Design Academy in 2003 and is currently living and working in Rotterdam. Meindertsma is a artist and designer whose work investigates the life of products and raw materials. According to her personal biographical statement, Meindertsma “aims to regain understanding of processes that have become so distant in industrialization.” Meindertsma’s projects excel at using a single focal point—e.g. an object, a raw material or a geographical source—as a window into demonstrating the global scale of industrial products and its implications.
What has she done? What is she doing now?
In 2008, Meindertsma gained international attention with the publication of PIG 05049, a research project that tracked end-products created from a single anonymous pig. Over three years, Meindertsma traced a total of 185 end-products across the globe and categorized them into separate book chapters titled Skin, Bones, Muscles, Blood, Internal Intestines, Fat and Other. By reducing a global process to the scale of one animal, PIG 05049 approachably reveals the complexity of industrial production today.
49 PRAIRIE PLANTS is a book that consists of 49 sheets of paper, each made of a different kind of prairie plant from Nachusa Grasslands. The project exemplifies how Meindertsma deftly highlights aspects of production through well-framed ideological constraints. In the case of 49 PRAIRIE PLANTS, one product (paper) demonstrates the unexpected diversity of a single geographical location to create a range of beautiful outcomes.
Mostly recently, Meindertsma installed Fibre Market at the London Design Museum’s inaugural exhibition—Fear and Love: Reactions to a Complex World. Fibre Market probes the potential of recycling textiles. Springing from the lack of cultural infrastructure for textile recycling, Meindertsma makes visible the lost value of 1,000 discarded woollen sweaters by turning their fibres into a tactile and colorful presence.
Why is her work important?
Through design explorations of products and raw materials, Meindertsma makes astute commentary on how we source, produce, and consume in our contemporary world. Several of her projects illuminate processes that we do not realize, or even notice, are embedded into a complex system of industrialization that supports our everyday lifestyles. By showing us how little we know about the sources and composition of the products we consume, she “links raw materials with producers, products and consumers that have become so invisible in an increasingly globalized world.” Other projects by Meindertsma poetically demonstrate the potential of single sources and local production to create an unexpected diversity of products, and to encourage productive research into alternative methods for the future.
For more information on Meindertsma’s work visit www.christienmeindertsma.com
Text by MICHELLE SITE