Soon Joo Bovenschen is the project manager of In4nite II and research and development manager for interior and transportation at Low & Bonar. She works with Colback on a daily base, which her department issues to the carpeting industry and Automotive. Alongside a dedicated team, she works on product development, provides insights to our customers through targeted research, and supports our technological department.
Could you tell us a little about your background?
I was rather young when I graduated in Chemical Technology at the Institute of Technology, and really wanted to continue my studies afterwards. I decided to take up Chemical Engineering at the University of Technology in Eindhoven. Here I also discovered the significant differences between academia and the business world.
I chose to continue my line of work in the latter, because I wanted the research I was doing to be implemented. In every company I have worked for so far, this aspect of applied research has always played a role. It’s something I truly enjoy doing, and it remains a part of my occupation until this very day.
In retrospect I am glad that I combined my studies at the Institute of Technology with a university degree, because each represents an entirely different manner of operating. The Institute of Technology maintains a very hands-on approach, whereas the university proffers conceptual and analytical thought — proficiency in both methods has proven to be extremely valuable.
You are now also project leader at the In4nite Project. What does In4nite mean to you?
What I enjoy most is that it’s unlike anything else I’ve done at Low & Bonar. At the same time, it’s an entirely new way of working for the company itself. We started the project last year and the results have been so positive that we decided to continue it. For the forthcoming edition we’d like to further expand on the experiences that have been generated last year.
The project provides a fresh and unusual approach into our materials, which is incredibly exciting. We’ve been working with the same materials for decades, and even though we continue to innovate and improve our products, our technologies essentially remain the same. We know exactly what the qualities of our materials are and emphasize these in their uses and development, but as a result, we tend to operate within an area that is already familiar to us.
Although our materials are generally essential components in a wide array of products, it is often applied in ways that renders it invisible. By placing the Colback itself at the centre of attention and approaching it from a different perspective, we learn new ways of understanding the material, which in turn originates entirely new uses for it.
It is a rediscovery of a material that we know so well. And if we are capable of this, we hope that others are, too — such as organizations that have never even heard of Colback, for example.
The driving force for the project is definitely the quality of the final designs; and these merely denote the results of a long and complex process. As of yet, what these designs will turn out to be is not clear at all! This is a very compelling thought, and marks an entirely different way of working for me.
We now know which designers will participate in this year’s edition; can you tell us something about how this team was put together?
This year, we’ve decided to embark upon this adventure with a smaller team. We’d like to build upon the successes that were achieved last year, which is why we’ve included several of last year’s participants. In addition to these talented designers, I especially wanted to introduce a larger variety of expertise. Industrial design combines the aesthetic choices of design with technical ingenuity; I’m very pleased that we’ve managed to add these features to our team, which now comprises a much broader scope of designers in comparison to last year. This diversity excites me.
What excites you most?
The driving force for the project is definitely the quality of the final designs; and these merely denote the results of a long and complex process. As of yet, what these designs will turn out to be is not clear at all! This is a very compelling thought, and marks an entirely different way of working for me. Generally speaking, I know exactly what the final product of a project will be. We spend a lot of time working towards preconceived goals, aiming for clear and definitive end results. And although I am of the curious kind — I like to find solutions off the beaten track — I am also most definitely a goal oriented person. I always carefully consider the purpose or necessity of each and every step. I will have to completely let go of this tendency, which is quite fun and exciting.
Taking purpose and necessity in mind; what do these words mean within the framework of In4nite and the exhibition at Dutch Design Week?
I really hope that, once we have set up our show at Dutch Design Week 2018, we’ll all be pleasantly surprised with the outcome; not only forming a revelation to the audience, but also for the designers themselves, our partners, and of course Low & Bonar. It is ultimately less about the individual designs and much more about the overall picture. I would like to increase our visibility towards other companies and consortiums, and forge new bonds or collaborations in the weeks running up to the event. Not only can we assist other companies with our skills and technologies, but such collaborations could also offer interesting opportunities for our designers. The Dutch Design Week marks the kick-off for what I believe will be fruitful collaborations to come.