Humans of TU Delft: Wing Yan Man about Dutch design

Who are the people who study or work at TU Delft? We meet them in this series. Wing Yan Man is organising the first ever IDE standalone exhibit at Dutch Design Week.

Wing Yan Man hopes to inspire the younger generation to think differently about design as a study. “Design is about much more than just products.” (Photo: Thijs van Reeuwijk)

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“In August 2021 I started as programme coordinator for Artificial Intelligence at the Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering (IDE). During that time I attended the annual Dutch Design Week (DDW) twice, and I was surprised that we didn’t have our own exhibition as a faculty. Under the umbrella of 4TU Design United, we do collaborate to design exhibitions and plan events with the other three universities in 4TU: Eindhoven University of Technology, Wageningen University & Research Centre, and the University of Twente. While some of the other universities have their own exhibits, we as the biggest design faculty did not.

I mentioned that to the team, and the new IDE dean, Caspar Chorus, asked me if I would like to organise something. That’s how I became the coordinator and curator of IDE’s first ever standalone exhibit at DDW. The goal is a bit different than the 4TU exhibit, which is more about showcasing our research projects for the design expert audience. With this exhibit we are focussing more on the general public to get exposure for our IDE brand in the hope of attracting young people to study design.

I’m working with four other curators. We decided to start with an internal contest among our students and employees, but mainly it was aimed at the students. It could be done solo or with friends, and it was not bound to a course, so they really were free to come up with any ideas imaginable. The contest was organised into four themes, in part to showcase certain types of the research and education that we’re doing here. At the same time, I think these themes will also really appeal to the younger crowd. The themes are: sustainability; diversity & inclusion; mental health; and new technologies like AI. We received more than 40 ideas from different directions, and we chose 16 to be developed further into prototypes. In the end, eight were selected, with two of these installations for each theme. They are interactive, and many of the ideas represent personal passions of their creators.

‘We hope to change people‘s perspectives on what design is

The exhibit is called ‘DREAM. DISCOVER. DESIGN’. There are three phases of the experience. As you go in, you enter a long, dark hallway, with a slightly mysterious feeling. We will ask people to write down their dream for the future on a piece of paper and hang it up on the wall. Then they enter the discovery part of the exhibition space with the eight installations scattered around. It’s more fun, playful, and very colourful. All of the installations are interactive, there are tangible and physical things to see, and you hear sounds and all sorts of things. As people exit the installations, we hope we have inspired them to design their future. So then we ask a reflective question about how you would design your future based on what we do at TU Delft.

I would like people to go through the exhibition and be amazed. There are so many things happening, but as you walk through it, there is a logic to it. But we also hope to change people’s perspectives a little bit on what design is. When I talk to people about industrial design engineering, they often think it’s about products or household devices. But design is about more than just products. I hope to make people think about their dreams and see those dreams as ideas. Then you can think about how you can build them into a prototype or an experience. To go through the process and take an idea and turn it into something tangible that people might want. So I hope to inspire people, especially young people, to think about their dreams, whether it’s about climate change, mental health or technology, and turn them into tangible products, services or system changes to design for their future.”

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Heather Montague / Freelance writer

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