Jelle Mastenbroek made a bang in the design world last year and won of the “best technology” Milano Design Award, 2016. His “Data Orchestra” confronts our loss of any sort of real or controlled personal connection to how our data is spread and traded in the virtual realm. By translating data into notes and combining them into tunes, our input into these invisible systems becomes recognized and easier to relate to.
For Dutch Design Week 2017 Mastenbroek presents is presenting a selection of his projects from the last four years in a solo show for Sectie-C where his studio is located. He also designed an orchestral soundscape for the curated Sectie-C entrance exhibition.
‘The Sectie-C designers are all independent,” Mastenbroek says, “but there is also something that unites them - a way of thinking, a type of education. I think the soundscape that I worked on for this exhibition reveals something of these connections.”
Like most of the designers working out of studios at Sectie-C, Mastenbroek traverses the blurry line between art and design. Many of his projects explore the thorny theme of money. “How can we improve the quality of life without using money?” he posits.
“What I don’t like is when money is automatically positioned as a bad thing,” he says. “I think it is more the way we use money that makes it bad. If you use money as a goal, it might create a dubious environment, but if it is used as a tool or an instrument, I see it as something with more potential.”
Which explains why Mastenbroek’s projects often take money from the audience only to give it straight back again. “There is usually a money back guarantee with my work,” he laughs. His installations - like the crockery vending machine “Splendour Lender” - require a coin to work, but the choreography ends with the machine spitting the same coin straight back out. The project brings porcelain to life and shows the original function of money as a medium to exchange goods and services. “Splendour Lender” is part of the permanent collection of the Zuiderzee Museum in the Netherlands.
One of the biggest challenges of positioning oneself on this art design boarder is the pressure to be always producing new work that remains quite specific. “It is important to stay busy and to be producing a lot that is true to the niche you have carved out for yourself,” Mastenbroek says.
“I am not fond of making just more chairs,” he says. “I want to stay focused on a more artistic direction.”