In 2016 you were one of the speakers of TEDxEindhoven. How did people react on your Talk?
M: ‘I remember that the audience was really stiff. Like really stiff. Luckily we had a few friends in the audience, so I could focus on them. We had a few jokes and participation stuff in our Talk, but there was just no reaction. It was good that we had the music. Something that could keep on going.’ (She laughs.) ‘But on the other hand, after the Talk, a lot of people came up to us to talk about our project, and told us how interesting it was. So although people were very calm during the Talk, a lot of people showed their enthusiasm afterwards. And even now, it surprises me how many people have watched the Talk online. Also when we have other interviews. They look us up online and one of the first things they see is our TEDxEindhoven Talk. They often refer to it.’
A: ‘It is a good credential. “Oh, you did a TEDx Talk? So you must be serious!” Sometimes it also confuses people, because in the talk we only talk about music. But now we do so much more.’
M: Yes, for some people it would be easier if you would just make one line of furniture, and this is what you do.’
How did you experience the whole TEDx process?
M: ‘It was very last minute. I think we were a back-up plan.’
A: ‘We heard about it just two or three weeks before the event. At the time we were very busy with another project. We had a tight deadline, but we just really wanted to do this.’
M: ‘It was a very hectic time, so we had no rehearsal or whatsoever. They just trusted us! On the day of the event, we were working until the last minute. So we literally came in, set up our instrument and did the Talk.’
A: ‘Because of the other project, we couldn’t be there in the morning. So we missed the introduction. The funny thing is: while we were preparing for our TEDx Talk, Marie was also working on a project about a fake TEDx Talk.’
M: ‘Haha yes, so I could use the experience of the real talk for my fake one!’
If you could do another TEDx Talk, how would it differ from your first one?
M: ‘I would like to do it again, but this time with the guidance and then be against everything!’ (They burst into laughter.) ‘Not to create conflict, but to see how the TEDx format can be stretched. TED has such a strong format and such a strong guidance. It is very smooth, but it can also lack in personality and miss that little edge.’
A: ‘We are very inspired by the TED Talks of Reggie Watts, a voice artist. He has one Talk about nonsense. He talks all the time, without really saying anything.’
M: ‘It is very entertaining. But there is no content.’
A: ‘There is also another TEDx Talk I really love. I don’t remember the name of the speaker. (TEDxNewYork Talk by Will Stephan, red.) But he comes on the stage and starts to talk: “Now I am coming on this stage. I am telling you a very personal story. Then I will take a very dramatic pause.”.’
M: ‘“My voice will drop. Some people will say “Ahw” in the back.”.’ (We all laugh; the imitation is very entertaining!)
A: ‘If we could do it again, we would definitely experiment more with the performance side of it. We wouldn’t just want to talk, as the designers, about what we made. We might even do it in character, really go deep and build a story world on stage. Now it was just a bit awkward, because I was making music and Marie was talking. But I am also a person on the stage.’ (He laughs.)
M: ‘Yes, it was actually really funny. Every time I see it again I think: Why did we do it like this?’ (A burst of laughter again.)
What are your plans for the future?
A: ‘We want to focus on things we really want to do. We just want to make new designs and find interesting collaborations, and put in less effort in applying for awards and doing exhibitions.’
M: ‘The problem with awards and exhibitions is that you need to put in a lot of work, which takes a lot of time. We need to be careful that this won’t take us over. We are creative people, but still need to bring money in. And above all, we are makers. We don’t want to spend too much time in showing. I guess, it is just a matter of finding the right balance.’
A: ‘Yes, because we still do some exhibitions. For example, we’re joining the exhibition Reloading Technology in TAC in Eindhoven until the 4th of May. And last Friday we had the opening of a Frankenstein exhibition in Rijksmuseum Boerhaave in Leiden. Our project SAM is part of it. It will be featured until October. This is a really cool thing, since it is an exhibition with a lot of the projects that inspired us before!’
M: ‘All our heroes are there! That is so cool! We are also in a big moment of internationalisation. We travel a lot. We’re always trying to have a very critical approach, but of course we have a very Western view. By traveling we try to expand our views and get a more critical aspect in our work.’
A: ‘Last week we were in Iceland at the Master of Design as guest teachers. Later in the year we will probably go to Bologna to collaborate with the Future Food Institute, where we will make another version of SAM. In April we go to Milan, to exhibit at the Salone. After that we will go to Poland for the Lodz Design Festival, then to Budapest with the Pigstrument.’
Hearing all this I just have one final question. You do so many different projects in so many different countries. How do you get there?
M: ‘It is a combination of working really hard and maintaining a network. I think the new chances come from things like exhibiting at the Dutch Design Week and giving a TEDx Talk. Then people just find us. So it is a little bit of luck, but mainly just working really hard to be present and visible.’
For now, they will stay a bit closer to home. This Saturday (March 24, 2018) they will perform at FAQ Festival for Electronic Music in ‘s Hertogenbosch. As far as I know, without pigs.