Dream out loud’: Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum hosts designs for a better future

Cocktail Carpets 2, by We Make Carpets, 2015
'Dream Out Loud: Designing for a Better Future' is a landmark exhibtion, launching at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam this weekend. Pictured: Cocktail Carpets 2, by We Make Carpets, 2015
(Image credit: press)

Wallpaper* doesn't have a reliable crystal ball. But if we did it would probably be designed by Swarovski, and it would no doubt unveil a catalogue of works from a new exhibition at Amsterdam's Stedelijk Museum.

'Dream Out Loud: Designing for Tomorrow's Demands' questions what the next generation will need and desire. The extensive group show – featuring no less than 27 emerging and established designers – is an eclectic romp through their REM worlds, allowing us privileged access to their wildest design dreams.

The emphasis is on conceptualisation rather than immediate functionality. Curator Lennart Booij explains, 'Idealism is not new to design, but now we’re seeing a change of emphasis: the focus has shifted from the design object to the idea itself.' This new wave of 'social design' is abundantly present throughout the gallery – in Pieter Stoutjesdijk's prototype self-building house, for instance. He dreamt up the concept in response to the devastating Haiti earthquake in 2010, particularly for residences in Port au Prince. The home is made from 122 'Eco boards' that can be produced locally and sustainably from grass, reeds or pruning chips, while a bowl-shaped roof collects rainwater.

Other featured projects are physically smaller, but pack an equally powerful punch; like Studio Formafantasma's recreation of their 2014 installation De Natura Fossilium, documenting two years' worth of research into bio-based polymer packaging, which reconstitutes lava into decorative glass.

The exhibition goes on to address a range of environmental and socio-politcal issues. Even the projects that seem like they're created for pure aesthetics comment on larger global issues. We Make Carpets' vivid tapestry of cocktail umbrellas, for instance, recognises the creative potential of things we use once, then needlessly throw away.

Despite the sobriety and immediacy of the global problems addressed by the exhibition, one leaves with a sense of hope. Each project is optimistic and each designer determined. It's exciting to see. Booij says of these encouraging works, 'It's all about bringing the seemingly impossible a step closer to reality. Social design responds to complex societal issues. And that’s of enormous relevance.'

De Natura Fossilium, by Studio Formafantasma, 2014

The exhibition features 27 designers, both established and emerging, addressing what the next generation will need and desire, while trying to come up with solutions to global problems through design. Pictured: De Natura Fossilium, by Studio Formafantasma, 2014

(Image credit: press)

The Ocean Cleanup project

Being tested this year in the North Sea, Boyan Slat’s innovative, crowdfunded The Ocean Cleanup project (pictured) collects floating plastic and debris, to be collected and shipped onshore for recycling

(Image credit: press)

Shelter for Haiti

Pieter Stoutjesdijk’s prototype self-building house has been constructed in the museum in life-size. The home is made from 122 ’Eco boards’ that can be produced locally and sustainably from grass, reeds or pruning chips, while the bowl-shaped roof collects rainwater. Pictured: Shelter for Haiti, by Pieter Stoutjesdijk, 2013

(Image credit: press)

In Vitro Meat Cookbook,

Designers Next Nature Network explore ways in which in vitro (or cultured) meat can be used in the kitchen, after the first cultured hamburger was produced at Maastricht University back in 2013. Pictured: In Vitro Meat Cookbook, by Next Nature Network, 2014

(Image credit: press)

Fibre Placement Chair, by Marleen Kaptein, 2014

Design duo Kaptein Roodnat has teamed up with the Netherlands Aerospace Centre for their eco, carbon fibre chair. It has a delicate texture reminiscent of dragonfly wings, and was created with an advanced tool known as a carbon fibre placement machine, most often used in space travel. Pictured: Fibre Placement Chair, by Marleen Kaptein, 2014

(Image credit: press)

Phenomenon, by Pieke Bergmans, 2016

Pieke Bergman’s mesmerising lightwork uses inert natural gasses that emit light when subject to compression. The result is this tube of otherwordly blue light dancing across the screen. Pictured: Phenomenon, by Pieke Bergmans, 2016

(Image credit: press)


’Dream Out Loud: Designing for Tomorrow’s Demands’ is on view from 26 August until 1 January 2017. For more information, visit the Stedelijk Museum website


Stedelijk Museum
Museumplein 10
1071 DJ, Amsterdam


Elly Parsons is the Digital Editor of Wallpaper*, where she oversees Wallpaper.com and its social platforms. She has been with the brand since 2015 in various roles, spending time as digital writer – specialising in art, technology and contemporary culture – and as deputy digital editor. She was shortlisted for a PPA Award in 2017, has written extensively for many publications, and has contributed to three books. She is a guest lecturer in digital journalism at Goldsmiths University, London, where she also holds a masters degree in creative writing. Now, her main areas of expertise include content strategy, audience engagement, and social media.