Designs for life won't make you a living
The 50th Milan furniture fair was crawling with millionaires – but are designers being exploited by having to make work for free?
Finally, the show by recent graduates of the Design Academy Eindhoven demonstrated again that no other school consistently produces such imaginative work. Massoud Hassani's wind-powered anti-landmine ball was inspired by his native Afghanistan, a country rumoured to have more mines than people. Even more impressive was Dirk van der Kooij's use of a retired production robot from a Chinese factory to print out chairs made of plastic from old fridges.
Eindhoven's students are going places. The question is: where? As design schools churn out ever more graduates, their future looks ever more precarious. There are some important lessons to be learned, though. Today's designers need to be tougher business people; they need to negotiate harder and hold on to their copyright. But if there is one moral to this story it is this: design is a way of life that so many people want to participate in, they'll do it whether or not there's a viable living in it. Even some of the manufacturers are haemorrhaging cash to hold on to this dream within a dream.
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