Lian Kroes | Work in Progress

"What's it like to start something new? In this series, we present this question to young design and tech talents. They talk about their ideas, ambitions, struggles and everything involved in getting their brand new project off the ground. This time we meet with a designer who finds herself at the very beginning of her career. 

A conversation with Lian Kroes on how to kickstart a career as a designer. And as always, we ask: is there anything Eindhoven can help you with? Read along and do let us know if you have any tips or connections.

Last year Lian graduated from the Design Academy Eindhoven with Ik Zie Ik Zie (‘I see I see’). With a viewer based on a periscope (an instrument that allows you to observe your surroundings from a hidden position) she invited Eindhoven citizens to look at their city in a different way. For the project she placed several viewers in the centre of Eindhoven.

Which direction did you choose at the Design Academy?

‘My work lies in the field of research and design in the public space and the social domain. At the Design Academy Eindhoven you get to know different sides of design, there is a lot of attention for material research for example, but my focus was mainly on how people experience their environment and how design can play a role in this. Sometimes I explain it like this: I can design a chair, but also how and in which context people use it.’

What drives you?

"I strive to design things that are relevant to society and also understandable. In an accessible way I want to change the perspective of people and their environment. An example of this is a project realised in the Strijp district under the name Strijp Locals. A bicycle tour for new residents to meet the authentic Strijp people and discover new places. The last butcher in the district, for example, a man full of pride and stories. It's a simple way to close the gap between the different communities of a city. I think that's important, but at the same time it doesn't have to be so serious. Sometimes designers create things that even I don't understand. There may be a high artistic value to it, but is it still functional and useful for people? I aim for understandable design.’

Which way do you want to go now?

‘I feel a great commitment to Eindhoven. It is a city in transformation. I want to investigate how people experience those changes. Many old buildings are turning into short stay apartments, but if everything becomes short stay, what will be left? How do you connect residents?’

What's it like to start as an independent designer?

‘After a hectic time before and during the last Dutch Design Week, I am now in a stage of figuring out how things work and gaining experience. How do you deal with people who are interested in your work? How do you present yourself? A number of things have come my way, but there is also some uncertainty. In order to generate sufficient income, I've kept my side job at Natlab for now.’

How do you develop yourself?

‘Together with a couple of designers, I have a studio in an old school building. I learn a lot from sharing each other's experiences as beginning independent designers. I'm also part of the collective Maatschappelijke Vormgevers, where we pick up and initiate projects as a group. I have noticed that Eindhoven is a city where it’s easy to find help. The input of creatives is appreciated and actually deployed.’

Can Eindhoven help you with anything?

‘I'd like to work with real estate developers. With companies such as Stam + De Koning or project managers within the municipality, for example. The city is changing enormously at the moment, a lot of new buildings are being developed, but what does that mean for the users? How do you connect people with their surroundings? I think that as a designer you can be of value in processes of change. In addition, I sometimes miss the playfulness of the city, simple interventions that make residents look at their city from a different perspective. I would like to contribute to that.’

Do you have any tips, suggestions or do you see opportunities for collaboration? Then leave us a comment on LinkedIn!

About this series. What if you are still at the very beginning? If you feel like you have gold in your hands, but you are still a long way from being there? Every two weeks we ask a design or tech talent about his or her work in progress. And if we can help with something. Would you like to sign up with a project? Send us an e-mail!

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