Marjan van Aubel – Sustainable Future Aesthetics

Course: August 8 – 13, 2016

How do we deal with sustainable forms of aesthetics?
In this summer course, participants will consider and focus on emotional and psychological needs that are potentially related to our energy consumption. They will serve as fundamental criteria for the framework of design today and for our future. In this manner, designers can reframe new technologies and stimulate behavioral change by designing structural solutions for our daily lives.

In the development of new technologies, the “aesthetics” of design are often still subordinated to “efficiency.” While our starting point will be “sustainability” in directing ourselves towards alternative energy resources, an attempt will be made to frame new technologies beyond “pure” scientific efficiency.

The course will focus on rethinking how to generate energy, its material usage and functions. The idea is to develop self-sufficient future systems. These don’t necessarily need to fully “work,” but they will demonstrate a positive, future vision. During the course we will use the Bauhaus ethos as a starting point and translate it into our current time.

The course is characterized by a hands-on mentality. This includes, for example, quick exercises, sketches on model paper, and conversations and dialogues with fellow participants. These are held in specific locations both inside and outside the Bauhaus monument building. Prior to the start of the course, participants will be asked to study a technique or a specific material of their choosing and in dialogue with Marjan van Aubel, which participants can explore and develop a deeper understanding of during the week-long course.


Marjan van Aubel (Netherlands, 1985) is a designer of materials and objects whose practice spans the fields of science and chemistry. She is a graduate of the Royal College of Art Design Products (MA) and the Rietveld Academy (BA) DesignLAB. Her research process blends scientific precision with sensory responsiveness in order to develop aesthetic solutions for the future. Van Aubel’s objects make tangible the potential of technology and energy harvesting for the benefit of the living environment. At the heart of her collection is a series of innovative materials, from foam porcelain to integrated solar cells based on the properties of color. Intuitive and inquisitive, she believes interdisciplinary practice is the way forward for design.

Van Aubel has collaborated with scientists and manufacturers including Solaronix, and The American Hardwood Export Council. She has exhibited at world-renowned institutions such the Victoria and Albert Museum, Boijmans van Beuningen Museum, and the Design Museum in London, where she has been twice nominated for the Design of the Year Awards, in 2013 and 2015. Her work is part of the permanent collection of the Vitra Design Museum, The Montreal Museum of Art, and MoMA New York.

She won the Swarovski Emerging Talent medal in 2015, the ARC13 Chair Award and the First Prize Dutch DOEN/Materiaalprijs in 2012. Van Aubel was shortlisted for the Arts Foundation Material Innovation Award in 2014 and is considered “one to watch” by the Design Council as one of seventy designers representing the future of British Design.

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