For the last year the wonderful world of the web has been chanting his name. Why? He comes up with concepts brimming with ingenuity that are directly inspired by the circular economy.
It was October 2013. The Thunderclap platform (which, through users, offers projects visibility on the web with the aim of finding funding) highlighted a project that did not take long to attract tens of millions of people around the world: Phonebloks. Behind a name that sounds a bit like a video game is a rather extravagant young designer called Dave Hakkens.
A hyperactive designer
At only 25, his project won over the giant Google - and not without reason: Phonebloks is "phone-lego". And with it, Dave intends striking a blow against the planned obsolescence of our numerous electronic devices, which not only results in waste and unnecessary spending but also drains the earth’s resources.
More than just a new type of cell phone, for the environment Phonebloks is "a vision, an idea, a movement." And the same goes for several other projects the young Dutchman has worked on in the studio he shares with two friends in Helmond.
With Precious Plastic, for example, he gives us a new contraption that will recycle plastic waste into everyday objects.
He graduated with honors from two prestigious institutions (Sint Lucas and the Eindhoven Design Academy, in the Netherlands), but Dave did not wait to complete his studies before his name started creating ripples. Before Phonebloks, he had come up with Rubble Floor, which can be seen in one of his videos, and is more akin to a making-of than a demonstration and is otherwise known as how to reuse the rubble from a building site to make a new floor. Dave is also the power behind Wind Oil, an oil press driven by wind energy, Playful Paper, gift wrapping paper to keep, and Breaksoap, traditional soap but without any of the unnecessary waste. All are prototypes, but above all are burgeoning ideas that are not only about new uses but about taking a different view of the world.
The design bug
"My goal is simple,” he says on his official website – “try to make the world a better place by designing things." It is perhaps the simplicity of his position that lies behind the public’s enthusiasm for his work. Hakkens’ designs are not revolutionary – but he convinces us that revolution is possible. Wherein lies his strength. With Phonebloks we can each choose our own modules. One way of getting us to play a really active role in the struggle for a cleaner world and one that will get the industrialists thinking. The Precious Plastic project even produced some emulators who built their own machine from open source files. Finally, in his Vegetable Garden video, which shows how a vacant lot can be transformed into a garden, Hakkens is simply telling us that change as he understands it comes from two main ingredients: the community and action. These feed his creativity and, by extension, our own.
In short, the designer reminds us that sustainable development is not as much a duty as it is a state of mind, a way of being in the world. And above all, it is now.
Main picture: Precious Plastic, a machine for recycling our plastic ourselves, ©Dave Hakkens