Thing Nothing exhibition features real and unreal objects

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Van Abbemuseum's Thing Nothing exhibition explores "the value of the physical object"

Dutch Design Week 2015: Eindhoven's Van Abbemuseum is hosting an exhibition that brings together experimental objects and installations from designers including Jólan van der Wiel, Studio Drift and MVRDV.

The Thing Nothing exhibition at Eindhoven's Van Abbemuseum
Aptive Manufacturing 2014 by Sander Wassink & Olivier van Herpt

Overseen by Design Academy Eindhoven creative director Thomas Widdershoven, the Thing Nothing exhibition features both real and unreal objects, brought together to explore "the value of the physical object in a de-materialising world."

The Thing Nothing exhibition at Eindhoven's Van Abbemuseum
Installation of jugs by Aldo Bakker

"Thing Nothing is a research into the meaning, value and future of things," Widdershoven said. "Thing Nothing addresses the relation between form and counter-form, between the real and the virtual, between technological possibilities and moral issues."

The Thing Nothing exhibition at Eindhoven's Van Abbemuseum
The Porous City 2012 by The Why Factory

Accordingly the exhibition brings together an eclectic range of pieces, from magnetically formed stools designed by Jólan van der Wiel, to 3D-printed clay pots by Olivier van Herpt and purposefully absurd digital products created by Bastiaan de Nennie.

The show is divided into ten themed sections: Considering Value, Most Precious Things, Progress, Perfection of Form, At the Edge of the Physical, Future, Anonymous, Signature, Post-Human and Thingstead.

The Thing Nothing exhibition at Eindhoven's Van Abbemuseum
Forgotten Memory – an Image of Dementia 2011 by Jetske Visser

Unusual materials feature throughout, with Studio Drift contributing a dark oval mirror formed from artificial obsidian reclaimed from raw chemical waste.

The Thing Nothing exhibition at Eindhoven's Van Abbemuseum
Gravity Tool II 2012 by Jólan van der Wiel

Emilie Pallard and Niels Heymans are showing fantasy digital fur, and Eindhoven graduate Hongje Yang designed a miniature vase, created from grafts of human tissue grown in-vitro on a three dimensional scaffold.

The Thing Nothing exhibition at Eindhoven's Van Abbemuseum
Random Darknet Shopper 2014 by !Mediengruppe Bitnik

HRL Laboratories' metallic microlattice – light enough to balance on a dandelion clock – is also on display, alongside a stack of architectural firm MVRDV's Disappearing Act glass bricks.

The Thing Nothing exhibition at Eindhoven's Van Abbemuseum
Digital Virtuosity 2015 by Bastiaan de Nennie

The Anonymous room features work from artists Mediengruppe Bitnik, who experimented with using an automated bot to make random purchases on the Darknet, and Metahaven, who designed a speculative floating data centre for international waters.

The Thing Nothing exhibition at Eindhoven's Van Abbemuseum
The Obsidian Project Part II 2015 by Studio Drift

The subject of nationality is also a recurring one. Eindhoven graduate Giuditta Vendrame contributed a 50-litre-tank of water collected in sovereignty-free high seas, while a film by James Bridle takes viewers on a digital tour of immigration detention centres in the UK.

The Thing Nothing exhibition at Eindhoven's Van Abbemuseum
Casting Spells 2013 and Virtual Textiles: Shimmer 2015 by Emilie Pallard and Niels Heymans

Thing Nothing is the conclusion of a trilogy of partner exhibitions between Design Academy Eindhoven and the Van Abbemuseum that began in 2013.

The Thing Nothing exhibition at Eindhoven's Van Abbemuseum
Stack Ring 2013 by Chris Kabel and Poster Design Horizon 2003 Kanya Hara MUJI

"The academy has always encouraged this type of cerebral approach to the design discipline," Widdershoven said. "We urge students to look beyond the material properties of things, to search for a presence in the space in and around an object."

"Given the explosion of technology and the evolving prominence of virtual space, how to create this tension between the thing and nothing is changing," he added.

The Thing Nothing exhibition at Eindhoven's Van Abbemuseum
Mercedes Bens E-Classe 210 by Ted Noten

"Today designers need to be able to take their skills and translate them into the real of the unseeen, the unspoken and the unmade."

The Thing Nothing exhibition at Eindhoven's Van Abbemuseum
Afterlife torch by Simon Warne and After Life Euthanasia Machine by Dunne & Raby, part of Afterlife Phase II by Auger-Loizeau

The exhibition was curated by Thomas Widdershoven, Ina Hollmann, Agata Jaworska, and Jan Konings. It opened on 17 October and continues until 15 November, as part of Dutch Design Week which runs from 17 to 25 October.

Widdershoven commented on the school's "paradigm shift" in the exhibition's opening speech, explaining how students are showing greater interest in responding to real-world problems than just making beautiful objects for collectors.

Photography is by Peter Cox.