The explosive developments on the World Wide Web have generated new fields of design explored by artists as well as architects, (web) designers, game producers and computer programmers. In the exhibition Play-use, they present their findings with interactive models, prototypes, and computer games focusing on the constantly redefined relationship between play and use.

Part of the exhibition was Play-use/The Forum, a website – no longer online – made in collaboration with EINA, Escola de Disseny i Art, Barcelona. Play-use/The Forum expressed part of the projects intention: to ignite a real debate on the possibilities of connecting cultural practices from within and beyond the hierarchies of the fine arts. The question was: which needs can art satisfy? And what programs are designed to fulfill these needs?

A new work by the Dutch architect Kas Oosterhuis presents this relationship between play and use as basis for a new type of design. Employing the lay-out of internet sites such as Active Worlds, he designs buildings as games whose architecture follows the demands of the players. Physical and virtual space merge in the installation by the Japanese computer game producer Hiroshi Masuyama which confronts visitors physically with the virtual world of the new computer game Doshin the Giant. SOMAR (Sophie Krier and Marjolein Fase) presents in collaboration with the Design Academy in Eindhoven the project Fake in which she contrasts the three dimensional materiality of industrial design with the ethereal facade of the cartoon world.

In her series Kiosks, New York artist Donna Nield employs digital means to reconfigure cosmetic booths into ambiguous architectural artifacts. Computer software also plays an important role in the design of the apartment building Resi-Rise Skyscraper by the New York based architecture practice Kolatan/McDonald Studio. This skyscraper’s shape and facade mutate according to computer-steered design changes based on changing residential needs and fluctuating market values. Residential units (“pods”) can be attached or detached when the inhabitant wants a new interior, moves away or with changes in the real estate market.

The American critic and ID Magazine editor Janet Abrams is responsible for installing the exhibition’s nerve center, Medialounge. She has assembled a collection of websites, CD-roms, computer games, video’s en magazines to help the visitors to orient themselves on the hybrid nature of new design. Combining the function of café, salon and library, the space is designed by Melle Smets and Jurriaan van Diggele.

The exhibition was made in collaboration with the Design Academy (Eindhoven), EINA (Barcelona), Interrogative Design Group/ MIT (Massachusetts, U.S.A.), Royal College of Art, Postgraduate Art & Design (London)

Contributors: Janet Abrams, Jop van Bennekom, Kelly Dobson, Peter Friedl, Meschac Gaba, JODI, Kolatan/McDonald Studio, Atelier Van Lieshout & Women on Waves, Hiroshi Masuyama, Donna Nield, Honoré d’O, Kas Oosterhuis, Jean-Arnaud Smadja, Melle Smets/Jurriaan van Diggele, SOMAR, Simon Starling, Krzystof Wodiczko, The Word Company.