Experiment – 26 projects selected
This year, the Fund launched the Experiment Grant Scheme, a continuous subsidy for small-scale, experiment-driven research projects by designers, architects, makers or design firms. Due to COVID-19, the scheme gained added urgency. Coordinator Gabriella Fiorentini reflects on the launch and the first selected projects.
1 July 2021
The new Experiment Grant Scheme has been received positively on the whole. Many applicants see the scheme as an important addition to the existing subsidy possibilities provided by the Fund. COVID-19 additionally brought a new dynamic to the Experiment Grant Scheme and added urgency. The low-threshold opportunity for makers to start up projects proved to be a valuable tool during the COVID-19 crisis. Accordingly, many applications were submitted and we have seen a variety of excellent proposals. However, we do notice that for some of the applicants it is still difficult to determine whether it is best to submit their application to the Experiment Grant Scheme or to one of the regular subsidy rounds within Design, Architecture or Digital Culture. As a result, a good number of applicants have had to withdraw their applications. In addition, many projects submitted had a budget greater than € 10,000 and are therefore not considered to be small-scale research. Other projects were withdrawn because they did not fall within the scope of the Fund; the grant scheme focuses explicitly on the fields of design, architecture and digital culture and the crossovers between and within these fields. There were also cases where projects focused on issues that were too complex to be considered small-scale research.
The positively assessed projects are fairly evenly distributed over the various disciplines. A large number of projects focus on issues relating to climate and sustainability. For instance, with Buycloud, Studio Noa Jansma explores the transition of natural phenomena into exploitable resources by means of a virtual speculation market. Also receiving positive assessments were several applications from individual designers and makers who want to use the subsidy for personal projects and the development of their own practice. The experiment Waar stad en haven elkaar omarmen by Juliette Gilson is a good example of this. This project involves an investigation into a new kind of society in the interspace between city and harbour activities, and the development of an own language using the working method of design writing. A number of other projects focus on interesting crossovers with other disciplines. In Sound as a Malleable Terrain, for example, electronic musician upsammy explores the auditory characteristics of the Hembrug terrain in Zaandam through soic and interactive experiments. Studio Ku uses his knowledge as a designer and physician to create a speculative crossover scenario – Free the Male Nipples – that focuses on gender inequality. It is also striking that several of the successful experiments build on knowledge from earlier subsidized projects. For example, the impulse behind Visser & Meijwaard's Ontwerp onbekend originated in a study that was carried out at Van Tetterode Glass Studio as part of the Open Oproep Eigentijds gebruik van ambacht.
Zo verkent elektronisch muzikant upsammy met Sound as a Malleable Terrain de auditieve karakteristieken van het Hembrugterrein in Zaandam met sonische en interactieve experimenten. Studio Ku zet zijn kennis als ontwerper en geneeskundige in voor een speculatief cross-overscenario – Free the Male Nipples – gericht op genderongelijkheid. Opvallend is ook dat verschillende gehonoreerde experimenten voortbouwen op kennis uit eerdere subsidietrajecten. Zo ligt de aanleiding voor Ontwerp onbekend van Visser & Meijwaard in een onderzoek dat in het kader van de Open Oproep Eigentijds gebruik van ambachten werd uitgevoerd bij Glasblazerij Van Tetterode.
Of the 54 subsidy applications taken into consideration, 26 are receiving grants. This brings the percentage of applications receiving grants to 48%. The Experiment Grant Scheme works with time periods. The first period was open from 1 February to 15 June 2021, unless the subsidy ceiling of € 250,000 was reached earlier. This happened on 26 April 2021. The grant scheme was then temporarily closed. The second period opens on 8 July 2021.