design academy eindhoven: teachers become puppeteers

I didn’t study at the Design Academy. But I went there many times. For the diversity, the innovation, the motivation and most of all for the exceptional content that comes from the institute. If I would have know about DAE earlier, I would have chosen to go there. My reasons? Let’s not talk just about the outcome, the great projects, but the focus, network and professional advice. Under the former artistic director Lidewij Edelkoort the selection of content and future students was made by tutors that are designers themselves. Something that was still believed in. Until now, it seems.

Most of the tutors at DAE went through the same process; first being a design student and then trying to establish themselves as practicing designer. They experienced what a future designer needs to be faced with. How do I know this? From my common interest, the questions that I ask and through this blog that I run since years and which made me visit several students who spoke to me about the revolutionary program.

Couple days ago Agata Jaworska’s twitter informed me about the resignation of the three heads of the Masters program of DAE. I assumed it’s a joke, but I called Jan Boelen and he confirmed. Since then I followed Facebook and read, among others, the letter from the board and the current director of DAE Anne Mieke Eggenkamp that is directed to Jan Boelen. They must be scared. Why else should they forbid to contact the current and future students? Do they realise that the force behind the school are the tutors? They are the actual reason why the students decide to be part of the present knowledge. That’s obvious. Are they afraid that the students won’t sign up anymore? Or that they will even resign? Wouldn’t that be ironic. Frankly speaking they should resigns, because they didn’t sign up for what won’t be there anymore. Leaving these students behind must have been a tough decision for Joost Grootens, Louise Schouwenberg and Jan Boelen. Still the best decision they could have made.

As I know the discussion about the educational reform started end of last year. Despite the early announcement, it must be a slap in the face to be asked by the board of the Design Academy to become a character in the muppet show after years of dedication. The current changes imply that tutors have no decision power anymore. I quote here “to not appoint teachers, not be responsible for applications of new students, have no financial resources to create research programs and create presentations etc”. Also they are asked to quit the mentoring. What is left in design education? Is there any responsibility? Right now, with the demands of DAE, the tutors could become also pool supervisor in a public bath. The job description is similar.

I think this is messy. The vision is gone. The regime is on.

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