I am Daan Sonnemans, a creative at heart. I have finished a bachelor degree in Industrial Design Engineering and started a small visual storytelling company at the start of 2020. During my bachelor, I worked on many projects. Varying from designing and making wooden furniture to developing new ways of manufacturing affordable leg prosthetics. Last semester I finished my pre-master in Industrial Design at the TU/e, where I learned first-hand about writing and publishing a research paper. Because I am a quick learner, I have developed a broad set of skills over the years. I can absolutely say I am a generalist rather than a specialist. In multidisciplinary projects, I thrive. In such a setting, I often take the role of mediator. I try to get involved in every aspect of the development process, working with people from different backgrounds. I make an effort to learn their language to improve communication and workflow.
Apart from designing products, I love to compose and tell stories. In a more traditional sense, I try telling stories by producing short films. On the other hand, these stories can also be represented by the products I design, both physical and virtual. For example, during my bachelor’s graduation project, I developed a new method of manufacturing prosthetic parts that could be manufactured cheaply in Sierra Leone. This process tells a story of war and insufficient healthcare, resulting in many people being an amputee. During my Minor program at the HAN University of Applied Sciences, I spent half a year living and working in Hanoi, Vietnam. In Hanoi, I worked in Friendship Village. On this compound, physically and mentally disabled kids live, get educated and are attended to medically. I used cooperative design methods, like Participatory Action Research (PAR) and co-creation, to help improve the living at Friendship Village. I grew very fond of these inspiring individuals, especially a group of deaf kids, who remained happy and positive, no matter how poorly their circumstances could be. During this period, I really developed my drive for global development and interest for the sensory impaired and their perspective of the world. During the first semester of the Master I worked within the Vitality squad on a haptic wearable for visually impaired. I learned a lot about visually impaired people and how they perceive the world different from us. I got to share this knowledge in our report, and we are in the process of transforming this into an academic paper to share their story with the scientific community. Scroll down to find a deep dive into my competence profile.
Joris de Groot just started his second In4nite project when
I joined him for my full-time internship. Project In4nite is a cooperation between the large multinational Low&Bonar and ten designers. Low&Bonar produces Colback. Low&Bonar recruited different designers to work with Colback and explore the possibilities of the material.
Using a technique from the R&D department of Low&Bonar we made a perfectly shoe-shaped cutout. Then we applied different methods like festooning, to make the material into a wearable shoe. I shaped EVA foam into a flexible, comfortable sole. The lines formed by shaping the material give the shoe a dynamic appearance. All in all, we were able to design the 2000N Pressed Concept Shoe collection.
We presented the collection at the Dutch Design Week 2018 in Einhoven. This was my first experience working with textiles, and simultaneously the coolest. It showed me possibilities of textile beyond what I had ever imagined.
(Creativity & Aesthetics, Technology & Realisation, Business & Entrepreneurship)
At Studio Joris de Groot I developed the Weld Pillow. A pillow designed specifically for the Weld Stool Alu by Joris de Groot. The challenge was to make a pillow that complements the seat, which means it has to be welded. I researched techniques for welding textiles and eventually worked with high-frequency welding.
Making a weld mould proved to be the biggest challenge. To make sure the weld looks clean the mould was made out of one piece of aluminium. In cooperation with Dolfing Druten B.V., we welded several different textiles and foams.
In this project, I worked with the method Design By Doing. By experimenting with different materials and methods, I designed the details. I spent some hours behind the sewing machine, making different shapes and adding details. I enjoyed exploring this method, and the result is a clean and minimalistic pillow.
Working with Joris in his startup also taught me a lot about being an entrepreneur and building your brand and business. I worked with several stakeholders and represented our projects during the Dutch Design Week.
(Creativity & Aesthetics, Technology & Realisation, Business & Entrepreneurship)
We developed a Guiding Environment for the elderly with dementia that helps them to maintain a healthy way of living. Our student team, consisting of six Design Engineers, two Embedded Systems Engineers and two Industrial Power Systems Engineers worked on Buddy. As a small robot-help, backed by a system of sensors integrated into a user’s home, Buddy is always there to support the resident.
This is the first long-term project I worked on with different disciplines teaching me a lot about multidisciplinary cooperation. I cooperated directly with the electrical engineer getting to know their side of the project. I eventually helped program and build the prototype. We also worked closely together with the target users doing interviews and doing lo-fi user-testing within a caring home.
(User & Society, Technology & Realisation, Creativity & Aesthetics)
During my Minor, Global Awareness, I went and lived in Hanoi for ﬁve months.
I worked at The Friendship Village that houses about 100 kids with a variety of mental and physical disabilities due to Agent Orange. My goal was to seek out anything that needed improvement. Using Participatory Action Research
I made a guide with the teachers, housemothers and other volunteers, to help newcomers do a better job working with the kids. We wrote signalling plans for every kid to hang in the classrooms.
I designed and built several games with the kids, to play during the physical education class. But most of all, I had a blast hanging out with these amazing kids, playing, cooking, teaching them English and learning Vietnamese sign language.
This trip showed me the world of global development, and how it needs to be completely overturned. I fell in love with exploring these new cultures and working together with people who need a helping hand. That is why as a designer I aspire to work globally on sustainable solutions to social issues within lesser developed countries.
(User & Society, Business & Entrepreneurship)
Verbind is a project I worked on during the last semester of my bachelor. While I was starting my graduation internship, I felt like I hadn’t done a real artisanal project during my education. That is why I chose to delve into the craft of joinery. I gave myself the task of designing and making two pieces of furniture using mostly wood and its material properties.
In my parents shed, I was able to ﬁnd all the tools necessary for making a stool and a chair. Woodworking without the proper tools like a table saw table was challenging at some times. It took a lot of patience to make sure everything would ﬁt well.
Because my interests in design do not stop at products, I wanted to involve graphic design and photography in the project. That is how I came to make a magazine about connecting (verbind) my passions into one project. To conclude, I made a short film about the process and the results. Outside interest in this film started my career as a part-time filmmaker.
(Creativity & Aesthetics, Reflecting)
It is estimated that only 5 to 15% of people in low-income countries who need assistive technologies – such as external prosthetics – have access to them. During my graduation internship as part of 3D Sierra Leone, this research was conducted to develop possible alternatives to the relatively expensive lower leg prosthesis parts currently available in Sierra Leone.
The result of this project was a method of casting aluminium prosthetic parts in the sand. This method was easy enough to perform in my backyard using things lying around the house. A variety of products could be cast as the negative mould was made using 3D printed positive moulds of the needed parts.
If it wasn't for Covid-19 this would have been one more project where I got to go abroad. As a follow-up to my trip to Vietnam, the premiss of this project fitted perfectly. I could use my skill set to help people in lesser developed countries sustainably improve their own lives. One doing this from home provided me was a mandatory lack of high-end technology which helped a lot in the process.
(User & Society, Technology & Realisation)
External Human-Machine interfaces (eHMIs) are typically proposed to facilitate explicit communication of vehicle intent to pedestrians. However, implicit communication through vehicle kinematics or movement patterns is shown to be the primary indicator of driving behaviour and intention in traffic, for both manually-driven and automated vehicles. Unfortunately, subtle changes in kinematics are often hard to perceive and make it difficult to comprehend a vehicle’s consequent intention. We created a novel eHMI concept by using fluid movements to highlight and exaggerate the movement of the vehicle and therefore emphasize this movement-based implicit communication.
This is part of the abstract to the work in progress paper I published together with my pre-master team past semester. Writing this significantly improved my academic writing as well as my general knowledge of the scientific community. Presenting this during the AutomotiveUI 2021 conference made me want to try to publish some kind of paper from each semester project, to rapidly improve my scientific research and writing.
(Design and Research Processes, Creativity & Aesthetics, Technology & Realisation)
The time we live in is a unique one. The world around us is changing faster each day. When designing the world of tomorrow, we designers have a crucial role and should approach it responsibly. In 2015 the United Nations gave us a clear path of improvement by listing seventeen global goals for sustainable development (THE 17 GOALS | Sustainable Development, 2015). These can be classified into two main directions of development. The first is tending to the earth we live on. There is only so much time left if we don’t start caring for our planet. As Bio-Architect Neri Oxman beautifully states: “We should start to mother, nature.” (Dadich, 2019). The second path of development that is important is tending to the people that live on the earth. While we are collectively more wealthy than ever, there are still many people living in horrible circumstances. Causes include overpopulation, uneven distribution of food and other resources, insufficient medical care and lack of education. These are problems that need solving if we want to raise the standard of living globally. Especially the latter path needs more attention as this can directly impact the former. When living in poverty and lacking education, survival is more important than tending to the earth. By raising the standard of living in less developed countries, sustainability will ultimately be on the global agenda. I hope to raise the standard of living in lesser developed countries in the future. A large and often overlooked group of people living in poverty is people with disability and especially disabled children. Research shows that approximately one-third of the worlds disabled population is children (Cameron et al., 2005). I got to experience this first hand with the deaf kids I worked within Vietnam. Because of poor relatives, they have no chance to go to school where they would learn either Vietnamese or sign language, resulting in them not being well versed in either.
I imagine helping those kids is by direct co-operation with the communities. Using methods like Participatory Action Research, 2nd and 1st person design perspectives and Co-creation, meaning being a part of the community you work in rather than a “White Saviour” coming to fix their problems. I especially want to focus on children with sensory impairments as they are often competent enough to participate in society, and the way they cope with their disability intrigues me. Through design, I want to better their standard of living. I want to tell their story and inspire people to take action, using my passion for filmmaking.
Can we stretch the boundaries of what vending is? This is one question we wanted to answer during the course Matter of Transformation. By looking into the papers of three different philosophers we contested the traditional way of looking at vending machines as a simple input-output system. Based on John Dewey’s criticism of the reflex arc we developed a machine where the outcome of vending was not predefined. The contesting view of Suzan Oyama on nature vs. nurture gave us the idea to create a machine that evolves over time due to the way it is used. Ludger van Dijk made us create an ecosystem in which men, machine and environment constantly influence each other through co-dependency. By combining all these philosophic views we created Kluwen, a transforming vending machine in the everchanging non-defined ecosystem of the Wearable Senses squad.
During the course of this quartile, I got quite familiar with the concepts of the three philosophers and was able to reflect on them in the design of a vending machine. But most of all I learned to look differently at design as a whole. In a mostly dualistic society, it is extremely hard to think out of these confines of input-output systems. But In a world where it is increasingly difficult to design something new, it is almost mandatory to try and adopt these new ways of viewing design. I learned about the interwovenness that is the triangle of influences of design. In easier words, I got to see how not only the user influences design but how much user, product and environment influence each other. As a final thought, I will keep in mind the concept of affordances. However you design something, it will always afford different use, especially in our exponentially rapid changing world. It is up to us as designers to use this in favour of our design.
How I want to improve my expertise areas during my Master (based on the M2 rubriks)
Before picking my aforementioned graduation project I was supposed to graduate at Holst-centre working with Pauline van Dongen. Sadly due to Covid, Holst Centre decided not to take any more interns. After reading her book and looking more into work I got siked the world of wearable technology presented in a material-aesthetic way.
This semester I started a project in the Vitality squad, Sensation of Data. The premise of the project is to turn dry data into sensations. I immediately saw the opportunity to steer this project towards aesthetic wearable technology.
For the past weeks, my team and I have been working on haptic wearables to create an extra level of sensation for visually impaired people. Simultaneously I have been exploring an emerging technology I am planning on pursuing during my Master.
One of the Expertise Areas I can quickly improve during this semester is User & Society. During our project, we need to be closely cooperating with the user as I can not easily step into their shoes. During the first quartile, we did a focus group with several target users. It was my first time doing this kind of evaluation. It was a huge help in getting to know our target users and evaluating our first ideas.
I used qualitative coding to analyse the data. A method that I hadn't used before but proved to be necessary for analysing qualitative data. Doing deductive coding of the data provided us with more insights than we would have gotten when just reading through the transcripts. These two methods are already new assets in my skillset of user-centred design.
During the course Constructive Design Research I chose to work on Field research as this is the main field I aspire to work in as a designer in the future. We set out to do two different user studies one being an interview to get some startling insights and the other being a diary study testing the concept of a prototype. For the interviews, one teammate and I went to several Vinyl stores to conduct interviews. For interviews, the golden rule is, practice makes perfect, so I try to do many. All interviews combined got us to build a prototype that revolved around a research question. "Can we learn from retro-devices that are still being used, to re-introduce more personality within smart technology?" To test our research question and prototype, we conducted a diary study where two participants used it for five days and wrote a diary entry each day describing their use and experience with the device. Like previous user research, this research was thematically coded and analysed. The results of the study need to be presented in a paper which is good practice for academic writing and research.
Joris de Groot just started his second In4nite project when
I joined him for my fulltime internship. Project In4nite is a cooperation between the large multinational Low&Bonar and ten designers. Low&Bonar produces Colback. Colback is a non-woven, high-performance material used in an array of products such as floor tiles and car upholstery. Low&Bonar recruited different designers to work with Colback and explore the possibilities of the material.
Joris, who always starts his design process on the factoryfloor, was inspired by the forming of car upholstery. At R&D the upholstery is tested by pressing a cup into the material while heating it in an oven. Using a shoe form instead of a cup enabled us to shape foot-specific shoe forms. When the material is cooled down the material retains its shape.
The result is a perfectly shoe-shaped cutout. Different techniques, like festooning, are then applied to make the material into a wearable shoe. I shaped EVA foam into a flexible, comfortable sole. The lines formed by shaping the material give the shoe a dynamic appearance. All in all, we were able to design the 2000N Pressed Concept Shoe collection.
We presented the collection at the Dutch Design Week 2018 in Einhoven.
As we’re nearing the end of the quartile and I have reflected on my current progress. It is now time to see what still need to be done to reach my goals for this semester. As mentioned above I have already used sufficient user evaluation methods to reach my goal. Although, there are definitely still some being done in the next semester as these are detrimental to the project. But hey! You can never practice too much. Regarding data-driven design. We have been focussing on designing with specific data within our projects about Sensation of Data. Next quartile, I want to take this a step further and try to include more data and more interesting data. I also want to be more involved in the programming of and with this data.
My last goal was that I wanted to scope my vision at ID. While I have been able to sculpt my vision into one I’m quite proud of I still have to find out a lot. I’m just starting to explore a field of design I might want to pursue, which is Wearable Technology. To make sure I want to go in this direction, I would like to have more conversations with experts in this field. Furthermore, I still like to go abroad next year so I need to figure out who to talk to.