These KABK students reflect the future of art

And you should get to know them.

Vincent Wong, photo by Laila Cohen

You may have visited numerous campuses, studied a multitude of curriculums and tested the best student bars in town—but still feel unsure where to kick off your future. Fear not, it’s all for a cause worth fighting for, as higher education is a time and place to discover and devour your subject, to learn and absorb from your tutors, peers and studious environments. A degree should mirror this notion; one that’s intertwined with your individual passions and interests. And just in case you didn’t get a chance to visit the Open Day of the Royal Academy of Art, The Hague last weekend, we’ve got your back. Glamcult met four different students, each to their own, who have developed and distilled their hard efforts into portfolio-ready projects. Get to know their distinct approaches here—and if a place at KABK lies within your art school deck, we’re confident it’s a wild card to play.


Your combination of practices is exciting. How did it come about?

Back when I was 18, I had to choose what kind of study I wanted to do. I really wanted to go to the art academy, but I also liked Psychology and Medicine—so it was a hard choice. Thankfully I got into medicine studies, so I decided to become a doctor. But after I finished that, I still wanted to develop myself on a creative level and went to the KABK for the first time in 2008 to complete a BA in art. I started making sculptures and getting my inspiration from the human form and body language. And then, after a few years, I needed more depth in my work and wanted to make it more applied. I registered for the KABK MA in Industrial Design. A part of that master’s programme is my design research project. Right now I’m entering the final stages of the course in order to go to the design solution in my research. That research is about facial design, and the use of Botox.

How does your work as a doctor inform your work as a designer/artist and vice versa?

In my work as a cosmetic doctor I treat people’s faces with botulinum toxin and dermal fillers. What I see as a doctor fascinates and inspires me as an artist. For example, using botulinum toxin is popular as wrinkle treatment, but it also influences facial expressions. I wondered what its effect would be on personal communication, particularly as the trend is that more and more people are using botulinum toxin at younger ages. I use this disposition in my art and design, having more insight into the way in which botulinum toxins influence facial expression, and that’s what my design research project is about. I’ve used my own face to film 18 facial expressions before and after full facial botunilum toxin injections.

Are there any messages you’d like to convey or questions you want to raise in your art?

Right now I’m working on visualizing the effect of botulinum toxin on facial expressions. By making this more visual I want to create a platform to think about the trend that botulinum toxin has become and how we will end up as a society in the coming decades given the fact that this trend will go on. What do we as people want for our faces? What is a desirable design for a human face?

Do you believe cosmetic surgery/enhancement has become a status symbol? And how do you feel about social stigmas surrounding those opting for cosmetic treatments?

I see two different trends coming round in the use of facial enhancements: there are interventions intended so that others can see something has been done, and interventions where it is not the intention that others can see it. So, for example, injected full lips are also a trend in the Netherlands at the moment. In the US it’s become a status symbol to have the ‘injected look’ because injections are costly and the look indicates that apparently you have the money to have something done to your face to prevent the ageing process. In the Netherlands, and in Europe in general, it’s still mostly the norm to have your injections done in a way that looks natural. My clients always ask me to do it as subtle as possible, so that others don’t see that they had a Botulinum toxin or filler treatment. I also think in the Netherlands we have a more down-to-earth mentality; not to stand out too much, not to be vain… but also here getting a treatment is becoming normalised and the social stigma is fading away—especially among the younger generations.

Considering your multidisciplinary direction, how do you envision your future after KABK?

For now I will continue working on my project, making the best use of this multidisciplinary approach—which I hope will become a more common way of working. I think the future is all about connecting art, design, technology and science. Let’s see where that brings me!


Why did you decide to study at KABK?

At some point I really wanted to study abroad: to open up my vision, another culture and a new approach to art and design. In the Netherlands this field and the contemporary view are less conservative than in France. But to be completely honest, I saw the film New Kids Turbo, which provided the last step in deciding to come here.

What initiated your project?

It started as an assignment for the Tassenmuseum (Museum of Bags and Purses) through the IMD department. We had to come up with a view and narrative around the future of the bag, reimagining what a bag is. We started by thinking of the scenario where there will be less and less drinkable water. The bag itself is a container in its truest form, so we designed a bag that could fix and end this issue, by filtering urine.

How many times is it possible to filter urine to water over and over again?

You can do this up to two times before you die from the toxins you are drinking again, the lack of minerals and obviously the thirst. So it’s really an emergency; you can drink your pee two times to save a life.

Is your bag functioning?

Right now it’s just a prototype, but I’d really like to make my product work. Of course it’s speculative but water shortage is a daily emergency in many places. So, I’d like to make it work and see how it’s implemented in real-life situations.

Do you have any advice you’d give to KABK freshers?

I would say: collaborate with people you love, try to build your own network while you’re in school, party a lot and eat spicy food.

What do you dream about?

I’m not sure you’d like to know that…


What inspired you to do your latest collection?

My concept is about people chasing status, money and fame… but in the end, from my perspective, they’re looking up to something that’s hollow.

If you could dress anyone, who would that be?

I would like to dress Ezra Miller, because the way he expresses himself is quite interesting. I admire that he’s not afraid to do that.

I find that padding and lining are often neglected or hidden away in fashion design, yet it’s one of the most crucial parts of construction whilst insulating our bodies. What attracted you to this specific material?

When I started to work on this collection, I was searching for materials that kind of give blurriness visually. I was also looking at broad shoulders and amplifying some body parts, and I was using the padding for this. So, I thought: ok, why not use it as my main material? Then I put some colours on and it created the effect I really wanted to have. I also like to work with unconventional materials in order to make something more interesting.

Is it washable?

No, it’s not! Ha-ha, everything will melt when soaked in water.

What other designers, past and present, do you admire?

When I was younger I really the work of Alexander McQueen but now I’m more interested in Martin Margiela and the Antwerp Six. I find their design and details are really fascinating; they’re different!

What advice would you give to KABK freshers?

Just do whatever you like; you don’t have to listen to the teachers all the time. Believe in yourself and follow your instinct.

Where do you see yourself after you’ve graduated?

I would like to apply for an internship in Paris; I’ll try go for Margiela!

What do you dream about?

I don’t know how to answer this question… maybe I don’t dream?

Aliaksandra Pirazhenka, Tijs Struijk and Sarah Bovelett


Why did you decide to study at KABK?

I went to a lot of open days during my orientation year, but what I thought was nice about KABK is the international aspect. With that you also learn about cultures apart from the studies themselves. I like that the courses are taught in English and, being from the Netherlands, I still get to study in a different language. Basically the academy has people from everywhere. 

What initiated your project with Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen and what makes it special?

In the first three years we also worked on professional projects, but they were mostly focused on individual progress and our creative designer identities. What’s really nice about this project is that we could put everything we learned over the past few years into practice. Collaborating with a professional organisation like Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen teaches you a lot about communication, how to present and convince the client. That’s a good aspect.

What problems did you face whilst designing this installation? And how did you overcome them?

I think time is actually the worst enemy in this project, because we are also writing our thesis and finishing our graduation proposals. So, we’re eleven people, we’re kind of stressed working on our thesis… but also making a professional installation performance to take place at Rotterdam’s Central Station—so we really want to put on something nice. I think time management and stress are the worst to overcome, but we’re getting there!

Do you think there are any skills you have developed for or during this project?

In each group project we are learning new things regarding communication. In the project ‘body space movement’ we are putting skills to the test, which we’ve learnt over the years at KABK, and that’s what this project is meant for. It’s really for the fourth-year graduates to use their skills, put them to work, and see how to implement them in the professional world.

Why should someone study Interior Architecture/Furniture Design?

I think it’s an interesting study because you’re facing design on a daily basis—it’s everywhere, even in the supermarket—and it has a big influence on the way you operate in your space. Furniture studies are more focused on the relation of body to object, architecture is more related to your body in space. You become aware of a lot of things on a bigger scale. I think that’s also an interesting part of the studies; it’s focused on design but in the end you’re studying: a bit of philosophy and history… through their spatial aspects. it’s broad!

What do you dream about?

I dream about designing for clubs. I want to design spaces and interventions in club environments in order to stimulate the social cohesion, so my dream is to come up with that. Currently I’m also working on a platform called Submid in Rotterdam, where I’m also implementing my design into nightlife. That’s my dream—we’ll see how it turns out!

The installation ‘body space movement’ is on show from 18 February until 4 March at Rotterdam Central Station. Tijs worked on the installation with fellow students Aliaksandra  Pirazhenka, Sarah Bovelett, Bart Krijnen, Iris Bossen, Joyce Edel, Daphne van der Veer, Rowan de Graaf, Aaron Kopp, Xiaofeng (Maple) He, Mabel Kraus

Words by Lawrence Harrison

Photography by Laila Cohen

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