Bodily exchange

This store makes consumers rethink the concept of ‘product’.

Unveiled during Dutch Design Week in October, the Nieuwe Instituut’s New Store tested different forms of consumption and invited visitors to try out regenerative – and somewhat uncomfortable – products.

The Nieuwe Instituut, the Netherlands’ national museum and institute for architecture, design and digital culture, is a global centre for design innovation. Three designers, selected from entries submitted earlier this year, tested their products at the institute’s New Store pop-up shop in Eindhoven during the annual design fair. Each product employed alternative materials, production processes, working conditions, sales methods and eventual reuse.

Arguably the most controversial of the trio was ‘eco-deviant’ Arthur Guilleminot’s ‘Piss Soap’, which revived the ancient tradition of ‘using pee to make soap, which was done for many centuries, including in ancient Rome,’ explained the artist. Visitors were invited to contribute their urine in exchange for a Piss Soap bar, in this way challenging consumerist attitudes, current waste systems, what is considered normal, and the value we place on reused materials. ‘By making soap that we use for everyday hygiene, I hope to raise awareness about how unlikely waste products can be used for our benefit,’ Guilleminot said.

Brogen Berwicks ‘From Ship to Shop’ served visitors a seafood meal. Two seemingly identical fish dishes were on the menu, both bought in the Netherlands: one from local fishers, the other from a distant ship as part of the global fishing industry. Each order came with a ‘receipt of transparency’ which outlined the real environmental costs of the meal, challenging diners to ask themselves whether they were willing to pay the higher price for more environmental benefits.

Finally, Arnout Meijer’s ‘Black Marble’ asked how much light we really need when darkness has its own special qualities, with two interactive light installations that ‘illuminate darkness’ using engravings.

After the Dutch Design Week debut, a second, expanded New Store will showcase at Salone del Mobile in Milan in 2024, before the establishment of a permanent physical New Store at the Nieuwe Instituut in Rotterdam.


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