True Matter: a conversation with Mieke Meijer

  • Interview
  • Network
  • Process

True Matter is an expression of the global
shift from a careless to a caring attitude

  • by Dutch Invertuals

During the intensive 6-weeks program the designers are challenged to work with raw materials from their local context. Experienced tutors and lecturers from the Invertuals network guide the participants through this journey, sharing their knowledge and working methods. We asked Mieke Meijer, tutor of three editions of Dutch Invertuals Academy, to share her experience with us.

How would you describe your experience as a tutor of Dutch Invertuals Academy, guiding a group of international designers in exploring their local surroundings? 

Being a tutor at Design Academy Eindhoven for quite some years already gives me the privilege to be surrounded by talented designers from many nationalities. The first edition of Dutch Invertuals Academy however, was extra special because it started during the pandemic. We had to be distant from people in the physical world, so the possibilities that the digital world offered were so welcome at that time. It was special to feel strongly connected with people I had never met in real life, just by what we had in common: a love for design and an interest in what true matter means to us, to the design field and to the world we live in. What stood out to me the most was how involved the participants were with the project of their fellow students, that was exceptional. No competition but a true urge to get the most out of it for everyone.

How did the process evolve though the different editions and how did the results vary?

Although the program was slightly different each edition, the theme and process steps remained the same. Therefore the results of the different editions could be easily mixed. The question of true matter can be asked to anyone at any time, I think that’s the reason it resonates with many, no matter where you are from, who you are, or what you do. It is a personal question and collective question at the same time.

What does the theme True Matter mean to you in your design practice?

To me it’s something dynamic, and subject of change. In the time where most of our work was self-initiated, True Matter was about what we found interesting and relevant. If you would have asked me 5 years ago I probably would have said that it was about ‘constructive honesty’ and ‘true materiality’. These are still important in our work, but what became more important when working with clients is, rather than completing a task, trying to find common values. When you find these common values the outcome of projects are much richer for all parties involved.

What do you think is the value offered by Dutch Invertuals Academy to young professionals?

I think it’s similar to the value Dutch Invertuals had for me when I just started as a design professional. It’s a follow-up of an art/design academy where you can exchange ideas, share successes and failures. When you have just graduated you have to do it all yourself in many cases. Getting the opportunity to work on something as a collective in a professional way can be very stimulating. What always has been the essence of Dutch Invertuals is the sum which is more important than the parts. There is always a bigger story connecting all the individual projects. Besides that, the always original PR campaigns and immersive exhibition designs make it worth a visit for everyone.

Is there something you learned from this process that you would like to share?

Dutch Invertuals Academy was a wild idea that came to life very quickly with a small team of enthusiasts. Wild ideas do not survive very often but Dutch Invertuals Academy proofs that a wild idea can have a positive impact in many ways: on the people organising, on the participating designers and on the people who have seen the results and who maybe start asking the question what true matter means to them as well.