Design Triennial pairs social problems with design solutions


In its seventh edition, Design Triennial Flanders investigates the power of design to solve problems of our time

Designers on view in C-Mine explore how design can improve our way of life

The seventh edition of the Design Triennial in Flanders recently kicked off in the former mining buildings of C -Mine in Genk. The current “Conflict and Design” edition explores the problem-solving powers of design.

Design, for some people, conjures up images of cool, must-have trinkets and gadgets. But design is about a lot more than that. Design revolves around the question of how something looks and how it is built. Objects, sure, but also services, communication models and even societies. Each design carries impact, however minimal, on the environment and society we live in. And the designers currently on view in C-Mine have been investigating just how their designs can offer an answer to the problems of our time.

Every object, process and concept in the Design Triennial is presented on the basis of a “conflict”, alongside the answer from the designer’s perspective. “Conflict and Economy” and “Conflict and Nature” are the most obvious exhibition sections. Upcycling, recycling, circular economies ... This part of the exhibition features everything from classic designs like the NMBS recycling points to new, innovative ideas like a system that uses plants to clean up soils polluted by old oil tanks.

“Conflict and Society” is interested in how design can improve our way of life. The experimental project The Soup Station, for example, lets commuters drop off vegetables at a mobile station kitchen on their way to work so that they can collect their readymade soup in the evening.

“Conflict and Conflict”, finally, tackles major issues like war, imprisonment and death. An inspiring project here is “Disarming design”, in which Palestinian designers worked with elements of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, creating shower curtains with images of the separation wall for example.

However ingenious or innovative, not every object or idea showcased in the Triennial is likely to find its way to the real world. But that’s hardly the intention of this Design Triennial. Rather than concrete solutions, this “Conflict and Design” shows that design can be a space to think about a better world.

Until 9 March
C-Mine Genk, Genk