CAN I TALK TO YOU FOR A MINUTE?
Design Academy Eindhoven Social Experience Class Theo Poel Wineke van Muiswinkel Margot Zoeteman
Social Experience at the Design Academy Eindhoven One class we have in the propaedeutic year at the Design Academy Eindhoven is called Social Experience. In this class we learn social skills such as meeting with strangers and functioning within groups. If you want to get a little taste of this class and if you’d like to enrich your life I can advise you to watch a ten minute talk of Robbie StokesWhy should you talk with strangers, which you can find on our tumblr site: we-socialexperience.tumblr.com. One of the things Robbie Stokes says in his talk is: “Aren’t we all a strangers until we say Hello? The only difference with people you know is that you are giving a piece of yourself, and this creates a relationship.” Think about it. We (A class of 50 students) learned from our
teachers how to talk to strangers. A thing that most of us couldn’t and even didn’t want to do. We learned that strangers can be nice and give us experiences which enrich your life. Complete strangers can give the most amazing insights or a broadening of your network. One of the most important causes why we are afraid to talk to strangers is because we are insecure. And this insecurity is another thing we got a lot of insight in and learned about. How can you approach someone who might deny you? How do you cope with this denial? How do you come across to others? How do you experience being so conscious of yourself? How do you present yourself? How can you accept others, in order for others to accept you? Curious how to do this yourself? In this newspaper you’ll find everything about what we did, how we did it and what we learned from it. Enjoy!
First Day How about writing down your first impression of the person standing right in front of you and stick the note onto their jumper? Therefore collecting the „first impressions“ you are sending out? How does it feel to walk around town as a group of 50 people without speaking to each other? Or have you ever pictured yourself walking around a hall, blindfolded and introduce yourself to everyone you bump into by saying „Hello, I‘m Margot“ (even though you‘re clearly not?) Expressing the way others perceive you in an expressive drawing, examining each other intensely for a whole minute, going around touching each other blindfolded: Most of these activities already happened on the first day of „Social Experience“.
What was your first impression of Wineke? I thought she was like a statue, like one of those fancy sculptures. A pretty statue, not like a serious one.
What was your first impression of Theo? He speaks like me, he has a lot of energy. And I recognise myself in him. How did you experience the very first day of social experience? We became closer to each other, and it was a completely new experience.
What was the social network-assignment all about? We had to visualise our complete network. Everyone you know, you had to put into your network. We could choose the form by ourselves, so people did it in a lot of different ways. It was fun. In the beginning I was thinking oh my god, itâ€™s so much, but later when it was done it looked quite good actually.
Social Network What was your first thought when you got the network assignment? Thatâ€™s a lot of work.
Can you give a short introduction to what the map assignment was about? It was about getting a strangerâ€™s route from their home to maybe a place in town. As a way to meet and talk to strangers. Will you tell us about your experience with the maps? For some reason I spoke to a lot of foreign people, like people from the US and people from Mexico. I just chose people randomly, and they were all from a different place. It was nice to talk to them.
Everyone has something different to bring
What was the coolest thing you learned from the mapassignment? That most people can be really nice when they have time and talk to you. What did you learn from the maps-assignment? The thing that I learned is that I should practice more talking to strangers. Thatâ€™s what I really learned from the map-assignment. I think half of my maps were real, half of it was fakeâ€Ś No, actually everything was fake except for three, and those three my mom did for me. But I did give away the gift.
Szilvia Kurdi meeting a stranger
What was your most interesting stranger experience? I can’t remember. Will you tell us about your most interesting stranger experience? I didn’t really like that assignments, because I didn’t meet any interesting strangers. What was your gift? I made a, how do you call it, it was five compliments, to pass on. It was a box of compliments designed to make the recipient feel better, to think about him or herself in a different way. And then they could pass them on. How did your stranger react when you gave the gift? In the beginning, she was surprised, because she didn’t really understand it. But then she was really happy, smiling and taking pictures. Why did we do the gift-assignment? Because the teachers told us. How did you experience the gift for a stranger-assignment? It took me a really long time to come up with something, I was sitting in my room for the whole afternoon just thinking. The first two strangers I tried handing it to was not very nice to me, so the experience was actually quite shitty. But I learned a lot from it, and in the end I gave it to a very nice man who said he would take good care of it. So it was a good ending.
We had 3 hours to absolve this assignment, and I’ve spent about 2 hours with the feeling: I can’t do that. I went home to make a little gift to a stranger, and it was a good reason to wait and not to start the assignment. Finally I chose an easy way to find a person who would like to talk with me – or I thought, it will be easy. I went to the library. I thought, I will ask somebody at the Library Café, but it was lunchtime, most of the people spent their lunch, so I didn’t want to disturb. I took some rounds in the library, finally I chose a woman who sat alone in a calm corner. She was very open and kind, and at the beginning of the conversation was very easy because she turned over an interior book. So we started talking about interior, and design. I also told a few things about myself, finally she talked about the Dutch Design Week and she offered me a Dutch designer who lives near to her: Piet Hein Eek. She showed an interesting book about his works, so I told about the recycling (she showed me Piet’s recycled chairs). She was really surprised by the little gift and she was very happy. It was a very difficult assignment for me, as I can’t make connections with people easily – not only because of the language, it would’t have been easy also in Hungarian. I think the map drawing homework was a little easier: I had an exact assignment: ask the people the draw a map – it’s clear, I could tell abut the school during the drawing, but just choose a stranger and initiate conversation…? What should I ask…? I don’t like to ask about a stranger’s life because I feel it’s too intimate. How can I continue a conversation if it stopped? Next time I shouldn’t hesitate 2 hours before the interview because it’s an unnecessary stress. But I have no idea how can I avoid the inconvenient pauses in the talking – now I tried to raise totally new questions, but I felt, it’s too constrained… I was very proud and in liberated mood after the interview, but I think the next interview with a stranger wouldn’t be easier than the first. But it was a completely positive experience.
Marie Caye meeting a stranger L’ARROSEUR ARROSÉ / A TASTE OF MY OWN MEDECINE My challenge this time is to stay as long as possible with a person and to create a relationship as deep as possible. This goal defined my gift. I wanted to give my friendship and my contact as a gift and also I wanted the gift to be a tool to get to know each other. It took the form of a card game with personal questions or actions (such as a hug) were written on it. We were asked to find someone at 12:00. Lunch is important for me and I like to share a meal so I decided to find someone alone in a restaurant. I went to coffee lovers in the book store because I like their botterham kaas with honey mustard sauce. There were 3 men alone and the nearest was very occupied reading a book. The second one was only reading a newspaper. I had already decided what to say first : “Hi, do you want to become my friend ?”. My question was as puzzling as expected. The old man I asked told me he was going to a concert soon unfortunately. I had heard about 2 euros concert on Thursday lunch break and I always wanted to go. So the conversation switched to him telling me about this concert. “Maybe I can go with you ? And we can talk after ?” I told him. He said ok and lead me where the concert was. From this moment on I totally lost the upper hand on the talk. I was maybe startled by this change of plan and Fons seemed to have a lot more experience in meeting people than me. For example he presented his self when I had forgotten to ask. He asked the questions for example “Marie, then why are you studying in Eindhoven ?” and he arranged for us to have seats next to each other at the concert. We went to Fritz Philips Music Hall and Fons showed me the place which has been renovated recently as he told me. We listened to a French harpist and Fons slept a little. After that we had a tea (and a tostie for me) at the concert hall café. By this time I had gotten my act together and we used my card game to meet each other. With the questions (what do you live for ? Are you in love ? Did someone close to you die ?) we talked a lot. I met Fons, 68 years old man, now retired. He travelled a lot even in closed countries like South Korea. He is in fact used to meeting stranger : he shared his place with a Cuban guy for a few months. He has a son who is my age and studying science. He was married twice and he is already grandfather. I learn that his sister died when she was 40 in a horrible way. She lit herself on fire by accidently letting her cigarette go when she was drunk asleep on her couch. He is also very afraid to die before he feels he had done enough, so he keeps on doing new things and treasuring his health at the same time. He also asked a lot about me and I could see how I presented myself to a stranger. At the end it really felt like I knew him and we could be friends. I gave him my card game for him to play with other strangers because I felt he would like it. I also gave him the real gift : my address to become pen friends. He offered me the lunch in return. And we said good bye. For my gift I did not know if I should give the tool (the cards) as well as my address and I had made a big box for all this. My meeting with Fons shaped my gift because I felt I had to give him the cards and He just put them in his wallet, much more simple. I love that I learnt another way to create : together with the person you destine the object to.
Companies Will you describe the person you made the design questions for? Yeah, they were people buying an electrical bike, they were customers of my parents. Around 60 years old, having problems with riding a bicycle.
Yes, I have a confession… I came up with the design questions already after the ﬁrst meeting.
How are your company currently solving your design question? Well, we just had a meeting with our group, and we decided to split up to work out models of our product. And that’s how far we are. We’re doing pretty good. What was the coolest thing you learned from the design questionassignment? The power of working in teams and that putting different people with different ideas works quite nice actually. Everybody has their own talents and stuff.
What do you think about the design question assignment? Are you recording this?!
In Between We meet strangers every day. When we walk to our work, when we do our groceries or when we are waiting for our bus. We meet strangers and at the same time they remain strangers. People who pass us by, maningless and without any trace or image in our memory. What if we don’t see strangers as extra’s in our play of every day? What if we take the time to transform the stranger into a social experience which will be remembered? If we look for the opportunities by searching and observing in the public space you start to notice. You notice the beauty of small things, you notice that our public life is based on staying strangers. If you step out of this, you learn more about the world around you. Foremost you learn about the fact that you are also a stranger to others. In breaking this ‘strange’ system we can find, although often small and short, moments of likeliness, recognition and sameness.
Wineke Margot and Theo…. Wow what a team! Here we are at the end of a trimestre as if time flew on top of our heads. Speaking to random people, having people look at us like we were crazy, but most importantly; learning. Observing aspects of socialisation that before these months looked so futile but now are so clear. Examining each other like we were beasts in the jungle, this is how we learn.
Articles Maps Jackie Fachini Marie Caye Dorota Gazy Mariska van Kan Rebus Alvin Arthur Interview Jonas Ersland Statistics Elise Weegels Vito Boeckx
Editing Newspaper Martina Huynh Milou Bergs Cover Image Merle Bergers
Crossword Marjolein Butter Comic Juul de Bruijn
The several social experiences made it clear for me how we can create beautiful and meaningful moments by giving. We life in a society where taking is normal. By having the only intention to give, without wanting anything in return, we can de-strange people. By not having a specific goal something beautiful can emerge: a moment of intimacy. This cannot be directed. Every goal other than spending some time and sharing a story will destroy the opportunity on this experience of kindness. By giving instead of taking we only create the possibility for two strangers to become a shared story for a small period of time. I will not forget mr. Rybak, my stranger. He will stay in my memory as a person. If he still would be a stranger he wouldn’t be in my mind at all at this moment. The experience would not exist, the story would not have been remembered. Will this work every time? Probably not. Meeting a stranger will not always turn into a memorable experience and it is exactly this why it is so special when it does. During the Thursday class we experienced that vsocial life could be considered as an extensive social system. By the assignments we became aware of the fact that we are a part of a larger social network. We are a society within a society like the matruschka’s: class 1A, the society, a group. We were triggered to get out of our comfort zone and to be active as a individual but also as a collective. The group dynamics changed during our Social Experience class and we became a unity. In group dynamics this is called ingroup and outgroup. Our society, which has become more individualistic over time, has a strong culture of ingroup and outgroup. If you don’t belong to my group you’re a stranger. The experiments in the assignment made us crossover. In this we discovered that basically we are all the same group. By reaching out we create an ‘in between’. The latin word for this is ‘inter’. Interaction, interest (from inter-esse which means being in between) and even internet are social actions or constructs because they create a connection by making the in between possible. People who are in between (like artists or mr. Rybak) are often looked upon as strangers because they are strange, but in fact they can learn us a lot about connecting, about reaching out, about being in between, about social interaction.
Hey have a look at our summary of the Social Experience classes at the Design Academy Eindhoven! You'll find us approaching strangers, givin...