‘Well beyond their common characterisation as problem-solvers, designers have a role to play in materialising public engagement with collective concern’
Laurens Kolks was, until recently, a researcher at the Cultural and Creative Industries research group and is a teacher at St. Joost School of Art & Design.
Laurens graduated from the Design Academy Eindhoven in 1999 and obtained his master’s degree in Sociology at Erasmus University Rotterdam in 2018 with honours. Laurens gained work experience as an intern at the architectural firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro. In his own practice he subsequently focused on projects at the intersection of design, art and architecture. An important starting point in Laurens’s work is his love-hate relationship with the Dutch compulsion for social engineering and planning. Particularly when it asserts itself in public space or within the public domain.
Laurens has been a tutor at St. Joost School for Art & Design since 2008. He has worked as a guest lecturer at art academies and universities in the Netherlands and abroad, such as the Gerrit Rietveld Academy, TU Delft, Fontys Hogeschool Tilburg, and the University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Southern Switzerland (SUPSI), Lugano.
Laurens is currently working on his PhD project at Erasmus University Rotterdam, under the title Disclosing complexity: The articulation of public issues through design.
Social Design Practices
This research project aimed to question, problematise and study the relationship between design and its social context. It starts from an ambivalent research attitude towards the ‘solutionism’ that lies at the basis of many design practices: a view in which designers approach the world from the basic principle of problem-solving. Through a rigid, one-sided application of this paradigm, ‘solutions’ are often designed for ‘problems’ we did not know existed.
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?Read more
‘Our research group investigates the role artists, designers and cultural producers in general can play in developing the aesthetics and poetics of a desirable future.’
‘As a result of my current research, I ask the students the questions “what is your work” and “what works for you.’
‘Performance is about engaging with versions of the self, stretching the gaze to see what others see when they look at you.’
‘To be able to research something thoroughly, you have to deeply engage, not just look at it from the outside.’
‘Doing research connects my practice with teaching; it strengthens and brings them closer together.’
‘The most difficult and empowering thing as an artist is to stay honest about my work and me. And I'd like to help my students to get there too.’
‘Disrupting our contemporary society can be a serious design goal.’