215 minutes w/ doeke wartena


Could you briefly introduce yourself?

I’m Doeke Wartena, I studied graphic design for two and a half year. Back then i did a lot of monk work that took me hours or days to do. I liked creating things based on rules, always looking at ways to organize content with a reason. We also had information design back then which i really loved. At the end of the 2nd year I also started to learn programming to speed up my workflow. Then in the 3th year I was less able to express myself. The assignments we had were less open for structure or systems i wanted to create. After a while I decided to take a break and come back a year after to continue where I left. During that break I decided it would be better for me to make the switch to interaction design, which is a choice I have never regretted. For the rest, I have a really broad interest that is still growing and it’s always hard for me to narrow it down, which I do try. Also, I’m an extreme perfectionist which isn’t always easy.

Could you tell me how the whole experience is doing it for you?

The experience is really different from the normal assignments we have where there is a 8 week time frame for around 10 assignments. That sounds like a lot of time but having 10 assignments and spending a lot of time looking what others made really narrows it down. Now we have a lot more time to work on a much bigger project. First I didn’t like to work on such long projects cause you can’t move on to the next. I had a bit of a rough start with my research project. After that I restarted almost from scratch and now I figured out I really like to work on such a big project. When I’m graduated I even want to continue working on it.

In that case, does your research project or graduation in general feel like it’s some kind of mona lisa of work you’ve done or will do?

I leave the Mona Lisa far behind.

Could you tell us about your research project?

The work name for it is MarkerMusic. MarkerMusic allows a user to edit a music sequencer and draw sounds with markers. It’s focus is to be intuitive. It’s a combination of both hard– and software. Sheets are used to drawn on which also forms a way to store the music created so it can be used for later reuse and allows quicker modification. For the rest it’s more and instrument then an installation, which means it’s easy to set up. The whole table can be turned into a small suitcase in almost no time.

What were some important influences for this project?

It’s kind of driven away from where it started. It started when i was watching the videoclip Around the World from Daft Punk. A really great clip directed by Michel Gondry (the director of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) and with choreography by Blance Li. In this clip there are 5 groups of people. Each group represents an instrument. A group is only performing when the instrument it belongs to is playing. When i saw this i had the idea that the way they move could be converted back to music. They also had a round podium. I converted this idea to basically a round sequencer where tangibles could be used and also be piled up so the height would also be taken into account to create music. I wanted to do this with clay since it’s being a nice “tool” to create stuff. But in the process I got stuck by lack of sound knowledge and ideas of how to translate my idea to reality. The project had some twists in it I’m really happy with and now it’s going in a direction I really like.

Could you tell me a little on the topic of your written thesis?

My thesis is called “Dynamische leesbaarheid in het digitale boek” which translates to “Dynamic readability in the digital book”. The main focus is about how an eye tracker could be used to get information about the way a user reads. This data can be used to make changes to a text format to then measure if the adjustment was an improvement or not. But in my thesis i also handle aspects like time of the day, gps location and ambient noise and several others that can influence reading. It’s a bit hypothetical but not unrealistic. The future will tell how long it takes.

Does the topic of your thesis, to some extend, influence your design beliefs and find it’s way into your research project or other ways of your practice as a designer?

Not really, it’s hypothetical. Although i’m making a system that can improve the typography layout over time. If that works well i would like to see how it works out with people that have dyslexia.

Another bit of digging in the past: could you inform me about your practical assignment and the person you collaborated with?

For the practical assignment i worked on The Venice Biennale Ideological Guide 2013 together with Roel Oortgiesen and Thomas Boland. The project was initiated by artist Jonas Staal to display how the Venice Biennale is influenced by geopolitical relationships from the present and the past. For each participating pavilion a whole team of people gathered statistics and wrote a new opening text to explain the relation between the political situation in the country and the art in the pavilion. We were responsible for making this information available in the form of an application for smartphones. We were in charge of the actual programming of the iOS version of the application as well as the look–and–feel for which we closely collaborated with designer Remco van Bladel. The main function of the application is to show and to compare the gathered information. Another important feature is the map that shows the user’s location, the location of the pavilions and the routes to follow. This can all happen completely offline to prevent roaming costs. There a preset routes for among others the G8 and the Arabic League. When the user follows this routes he can explore the relations between all the pavilions in the route. Remco did some of the coordination among with De Heren van Design and Reneé In der Mauer. We sometimes had meetings together but Roel Oortgiesen had most to do with Remco since Roel was on the design as well. Thomas and me where more focussed on the technical aspect of the application.

Where did you do your internship?

I did my internship at Onformative, a small studio in Berlin that had 4 people back then. Onformative creates a lot of output based on generative design.

Could you maybe tell a little on how doing an internship abroad influenced you and your design beliefs or work habits?

The fact that I did my internship abroad at Onformative didn’t change my design beliefs or work habits. If it was located in the Netherlands it could have done the same. But a really nice and inspiring thing of an abroad internship is the fresh input you get from being somewhere else for a long time. We went out for lunch everyday cause it’s way more affordable there then it is here. Such a thing breaks the day really nice and is more cozier.


Did they serve avocado during lunch in Berlin?

In berlin you go out for lunch to eat avocados. But my addiction was Vietnamese soup

Could you speculate on what you would like to be doing five years from now?

I would like to freelance 2 days in the week, work on my own projects 2 days a week and teach one day a week.

do you have any tips or pointers for upcoming graduation students based on your own experience?

weeks of programming can save hours of thinking.