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Caradt and playful interaction

Last week, second-year students from Avans’ Communication and Multimedia Design department in ‘s-Hertogenbosch conducted projects in which they addressed social problems in a journalistic and contrarian way. The design students were instructed to identify a structural problem and then to conduct research; to protest, and then to effect change in their immediate environment. Each project team of about five students chose a problem and made three designs to address it.

A wide variety of subjects was discussed, and possible causes or culprits were identified. The students deployed their design skills in confrontational works. Some used a poster series to bring politicians face-to-face with their own drug use. The climate problem was playfully presented to consumers through a game and a new type of restaurant. One project, simultaneously painful and hopeful, addressed the state of LGTBQ+ affairs in other countries and within soccer cultures. Another project that made people talk was one in which the taboo surrounding menstruation was challenged in an exciting way: by starting a conversation about it over a cup of tea.

The concepts were also presented to people outside of the programme and audiences were invited to contribute their reactions. Students made contact with various organisations of different kinds, including the police, BNN and Sire, and also a company that specialises in pop-up stores. These engagements were central to the process, helping us to think about how the concepts might be realized.

Among others, a project concerning the social challenges that surround experiences of neurodivergence, made the news A project titled Critical Dutch, concerning info-bubbles and alternative perspectives on COVID-19,  generated considerable attention online. It was clear that students were able to achieve a significant reach and to elicit reactions.

Artists and Caradt researchers Bart Stuart and Klaar van der Lippe were involved with this project, as they were with a previous edition They emphasize the importance, for design students, of being introduced to the complicated choices that surface during such a challenge. What appeals to Stuart and van der Lippe is that the students have to take a position: as a designer, you are not an extension of an industry, or a of a financial project – you also have a voice.  In seminars, they like to introduce a contrarian approach, as a basic ingredient for the more balanced professional practice that will come with time.

Coordinator of the project and also Caradt researcher Eke Rebergen is looking forward to a new edition next year.

More (sample) projects can be found at the project website


  1. Dutch politicians are seen drinking or smoking in posters for a public health campaign run from the Dutch centre of parliament (Binnenhof) – Dave Seldenthuis, Ruben van den Berg, Nina Verhaegh
  2. A packet of ‘kut tea’ (cunt tea), created to challenge the taboo that surrounds menstruation – Joost Cornelissen, Jennifer Lammers, Mika Sterken, Saartje van der Markt, Joyce Veldhuis
  3. Sexualities on Tour, a board game – Maike Belder, Milou Beurskens, Gaia Lipori, Daniel Sterk
  4. Save the System, a game based on facts in which you choose your own mission – Tristan Beurskens, Timothy Chin Kwie Joe, Tessa Reuser, Luuk van den Heuvel, Jia Xin Wang
‘Disrupting our contemporary society can be a serious design goal.’

Eke Rebergen is a researcher within the Cultural and Creative Industries research group and a tutor at the Communication & Multimedia Design programme at Avans University of Applied Sciences in Den Bosch.

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‘To be able to research something thoroughly, you have to deeply engage, not just look at it from the outside.’

Bart Stuart is a researcher at the Cultural and Creative Industries research group and an independent artist.

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Research Group: Cultural and Creative Industries

The research group Cultural and Creative Industries investigates the role of artists and designers as creative innovators and drivers of social and economic change. Affiliated researchers analyse the cultural and creative industries from a critical point of view and examine the conditions under which timely forms of aesthetic expression and social connectedness can actually take place within the precarious reality of this field. What economic models are required by artists and designers to create a meaningful practice within the aesthetic, social, and economic intentions of the cultural and creative industries? What skills sets are required for those artists and designers who don’t just want to follow movements, but actually shape novel social and economic models of the future?

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