GEO—DESIGN: Sand. The Building Block of Modernity

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Launch: 17.10.2020 Part of GEO—DESIGN Exhibition Series

GEO—DESIGN: SAND. THE BUILDING BLOCK OF MODERNITY Design Academy Eindhoven is proud to present the newest chapter of its GEO—DESIGN Exhibition Platform, with a physical exhibition ‘Sand. The Building Block of Modernity’ in collaboration with Van Abbemuseum. As the third chapter to emerge from the GEO—DESIGN exhibition platform, GEO—DESIGN: Sand. The Building Block of Modernity features nine original research-based projects that explore sand as one of the most critical elements of our everyday life—from altered to artificial landscapes, from entrepreneurs to multi-national corporations, from historic failures to new frontiers of design. Whether we recognise it or not, sand is nothing less than the essential building block of modern civilisation. Sand is all around us: in the buildings we inhabit, in the glasses we wear and the silicone chips in our computers and smartphones.

After water, sand is the second-most used resource on planet Earth. GEO—DESIGN: Sand. portrays some of the possible applications, materialities, geographies and economies of this global resource, which—far from being unlimited—is running out. GEO—DESIGN: Sand. features works by Rawad Baaklini, Soline Bredin, Elissa Brunato, Matteo Dal Lago, Christoph Dichmann, Lucas Dubois, Romain Laval, Tiiu Meiner, Leo Orta, Bich Tran Quang, Anna Diljá Sigurðardóttir, Baiba Soma, Wu Yanjin and Atelier NL. The exhibition is curated by Martina Muzi and edited by Jeannette Petrik, with a graphic identity developed and produced by Soline Bredin and Lucas Dubois.


The project ‘Carry on, and so on and so on’ by Rawad Baaklini, (MA Contextual Design, 2019) and Tiiu Meiner (MA Design Curating and Writing, 2019) tells a tale of continuous resilience. Like a stage, the sand quarry’s landscape acts out a unique relationship between man and land, revealing traces of exploitation, consumption and the spectacle of natural resources. Bureau Pas Pareil (Soline Bredin, BA Man and Communication, 2018 and Lucas Dubois, MA Information Design, 2019) is a space for collective thinking and designing on different subjects of investigations, such as geopolitics, visual identities, behavioural patterns among many others. ‘Dash World’ is an exploded view of a major conflict in Asia, empowered by the use of sand as a geopolitical tool. In the installation ‘Float’, Christoph Dichmann (BA Food Non Food, 2017) and Elissa Brunato lay out their investigation into the parameters of today’s flat glass industry, discussing the need to regulate our increasing demand for the non-renewable resource sand. Collated from expert interviews conducted across the industry, the project questions the wider complexities of the material’s use and its social, economic, and environmental roles. Combining informative videos and tridimensional installations, Matteo Dal Lago (BA Man and Leisure, 2019) uses a visual and sculptural language to reconstruct the complexity of the mica supply chain, guiding the attention towards the main players of the industry and the political institutions, reflecting on their responsibilities in the administration of such intricate and broad supply chains. Through his installation ‘Building Relay’, Leo Orta (BA Man and Leisure, 2019) utilises sculptures, maquettes and video to analyse the role of major actors and their use of sand in the realisation of the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. Sand is a key component to the production of concrete and is essential in the process of setting up the massive infrastructure of the Olympic village. ‘Dark Water Tours’ by Bich Tran Quang (BA Food Non Food, 2019) is set within the context of Vietnam where ancient living traditions and a vibrant ecosystem are fading because of excessive sand mining. The project observes the complexity of mining in one of the biggest sand mining areas in the world with an eye on the collapse of the ecosystem of the Mekong River delta. ‘Terabytes per Second’ by Anna Diljá Sigurðardóttir (BA Food Non Food, 2019) exposes the materiality of our global communication – the subsea cable landscape. With an interest in geopolitics, earth sciences and cartography, the work investigates translating scientific and journalistic content into a comprehensive multi-perspective narration. By making the invisible visible the project dives into the physical components that connect us. The installation ‘Sand – one of the building blocks for the economy of Morocco’ by Baiba Soma and Romain Laval (BA Well-being, 2019)

shows the cycle of sand from extraction to application in construction projects and economic developments towards tourism in the ecosystem of Morocco. The observation of landscapes shows the friction between geology, politics, marketing, urban development and tourism. From the observation of independent sand-related businesses in the Poyang Lake area the installation ‘15” Sand Economy’ by Yanjin Wu (MA Contextual Design, 2019) uses the TikTok entertainment app as a research tool. Exploring the potential of the app, the project discovers typologies of businesses representing a face of the sand economy which tends to be inaccessible through traditional media. As homage to the long term sand related research-based work of Atelier NL, GEO—DESIGN invited Nadine Sterk and Lonny Van Ryswyck to present their ongoing project ‘To See a World in a Grain of Sand’, a collection of sand from many corners of the globe which has grown to hundreds of samples over years. GEO-DESIGN: Sand will present the collection and its stories.


Martina Muzi is a designer and curator, based between Italy and The Netherlands. Her multidisciplinary practice extends between the private and the public, the physical and the virtual, the informal and the institutional, investigating how different social systems shape future scenarios of design and creative work. Through field research, she develops situated perspectives that are fully designed and materialised as films, archives, exhibitions and clothing collections. After receiving her master’s degree in Social Design at the Design Academy Eindhoven in 2013, she began an independent research practice as well as collective studio practice at Space Caviar (2014-2018) using design as a lens to investigate the social, material, technological, and geopolitical conditions characterising the present.


Jeannette Petrik is an independent writer and cultural producer interested in socio-cultural phenomena at the cultural fringes and social peripheries, dedicated to the facilitation of events of doubt in dialogue with her surrounding environment. After graduating from the BA (Hons) Product Design at Central Saint Martins School of Art and Design in London, UK, she pursued a MDes in Contextual Design at the Design Academy Eindhoven, NL and is engaged in an independent creative practice that includes writing, community organising and experimental sound production.

Graphic Design

Soline Bredin and Lucas Dubois are studio Bureau Pas Pareil, based Rotterdam. Soline graduated from the BA Man and Communication at the Design Academy Eindhoven and explores the limits of human relations with technologies and media. At the frontiers of the digital and physical, her work crosses multiple mediums which she applies to research projects. After studying Art Direction and Visual Communication at ECV Paris, Lucas Dubois graduated from MA Information Design at the Design Academy Eindhoven. He is interested in the foundations and the role of communication. Connecting seemingly distant notions, together they expand on design in dialogue. Bureau Pas Pareil leads investigative projects and designs for diverse applications.

GEO—DESIGN: Sand. opens on 17 October 2020 at Van Abbemuseum, GEO— Bilderdijklaan 10, Eindhoven. Book tickets online: tickets. To ensure a safe, enjoyable visit please adhere to the current DESIGN: guidelines. The exhibition will remain on display until 15 November 2020. Sand. Exhibition at Van Abbemuseum

Opening and live events

To celebrate this third edition in the GEO—DESIGN series, the curatorial team will meet online viewers in a live-streamed tour through the exhibition, featuring project stories and conversations with participants. The tour will take place on October 22nd at 16:00 CET on the Instagram account of Design Academy Eindhoven @designacademyeindhoven, alongside additional live talks each Thursday in October and November.

GEO— DESIGN Exhibition Platform

The GEO—DESIGN exhibition platform explores the social, economic, territorial, and geopolitical forces shaping design today. It generates original research into complex contemporary systems in the form of design explorations and investigations. It has transformed the annual exhibition of the Academy’s alumni work – produced in collaboration with the Van Abbemuseum of modern art in Eindhoven – to create an ongoing exhibition series that provides an urgently needed space for showcasing experimental approaches to design research. Launched in 2018 by the Creative Director of Design Academy Eindhoven Joseph Grima, the GEO—DESIGN exhibition platform is curated by Martina Muzi. In 2020 Design Academy Eindhoven launched under the same vision the new Master Department Geo—Design led by Formafantasma. The first outcome was GEO—DESIGN: Alibaba. From Here to Your Home, an exhibition produced together with the Van Abbemuseum during Dutch Design Week 2018. Nine DAE alumni were invited to research Alibaba’s operational model and its impact on the design field. In 2019, GEO—DESIGN: Junk. All That Is Solid Melts into Trash explored global systems of waste production, probing into modern systems of Capitalism and their vast, hidden landscapes of consumed and discarded things - from satellite graveyards to textile waste via the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, with eighteen projects produced by DAE alumni.

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Launch: 17.10.2020 Part of GEO—DESIGN Exhibition Series