Felix Mollinga | Made with Eindhoven

At the Design Academy in Eindhoven he learned to think conceptually and to design technologically advanced products. Skills that turn out to be very useful on the other side of the world. A talk with Felix Mollinga about getting better and better in 3D printing, helping travel agencies to disrupt and the collaboration with Disney, that suddenly came his way.

WHO | Felix Mollinga
WHAT | Designer, alumnus DAE
WITH | Disney

An email from Felix Mollinga: he looks forward talking about his project with Disney, but can we do the interview by phone? Meeting in Eindhoven is a bit difficult since he recently moved to Singapore. We set a date for a phone call on Whatsapp and with a time difference of six hours, Felix looks back on the Eindhoven springboard that connected him with Mickey Mouse, among others.

90 black Mickeys

It's 2018 when Felix is in the middle of his graduation projects. The student at the Design Academy Eindhoven is working on two final pieces. One is Additive Crystal, a lamp that combines two additive manufacturing techniques. The frame is 3D printed and is then combined with mineral crystals that continue to grow, developing their own crystal skin. Both are slow-moving processes, although the printing is very controlled and crystal growth is not. The result is a series of beautiful lamps, some of which have been placed at Schiphol Airport.

His other graduation project is called Databall_, a pinball machine that allows children to experience in a playful way what traces you leave on the internet. Earlier that year he already made the news with Acoin, a concept for a new and anonymous payment system. You could describe it as an offline device for cryptocurrency where your money isn’t stored in a cloud but on a USB flash drive.

Not a bad year, altogether, but things get even better. Suddenly an Amsterdam based agency approaches him, on behalf of Disney, for a special collaboration. The reason? Mickey Mouse is turning 90, a moment that calls for a celebration. Disney is inviting a number of artists to create a piece of work inspired by the iconic mouse.

What to do, as a future designer from Eindhoven? "I felt I could go two ways. I could make a critical work, questioning consumerism for example. Or designing something to really celebrate the 90th anniversary of Mickey. In my opinion, Mickey is not just a tiny mouse, it’s a figure that so many people remember from their childhood. I don't know of anyone who doesn't like Mickey. So I decided to go for option two and design an over-the-top version of the famous Mickey ears. It became a hair band with 45 black Mickeys on each side. After several versions I managed to get it out of the 3D printer as a whole."

Felix Mollinga

Ilustration by: Rik Stabel

3D printing skills

What did the collaboration bring him? "Well, I was able to sell one of the two Mickey hair bands", Felix smiles. "To Rop Verheijen, the actor from the Luizenmoeder. But above all, it gave me a lot of room to practice 3D printing. That came in handy with my graduation project where I wanted to print the frame of a lamp.

The presentation of the artworks took place in Krasnapolsky: “a combination of a party with Amsterdam celebrities and an office party with Disneyland Paris. In terms of publicity, I think it also helped me. There was a piece written about me in Het Parool, I notice that things like that help. In fact, it's my advice for every aspiring designer: make sure you get some free publicity and to show your work online.”

At the age of 23, he is an alumnus of the Design Academy who can reflect on the international design world from a distance. Despite the fact that Singapore is a city of millions, he thinks that there are more independent designers to be found over here. "In Eindhoven, the design scene is quite big and influential. At DAE you learn how to be an entrepreneur and also the city offers several facilities to establish yourself as an independent designer."

Design thinking

"Here in Singapore, the market is very different. Graduated designers usually start working for a large company. And despite the huge city, the number of design agencies here is still limited. I work in a consultancy for service design & business innovation and that's great. As a young designer, I get a lot of opportunities and join conversations with, for example, the largest bank in the country."

This talk with Felix takes place at the end of a Friday afternoon, when it is almost midnight in Asia. He has just finished a workshop to help Singaporean travel agencies develop new business models. In a country that is going through rapid technological developments, he feels that he has added value bringing a people-oriented approach towards innovation. “A way of thinking that was introduced to me in Eindhoven.”

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