Award design OCW – Emancipation awards 2019

The Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (OCW), has given the assignment to 4th year Interior Architecture & Furniture Design students, to create concepts for a new design for the 2019 emancipation awards: the Jos Brink award (for LHBT/LGBTQIA emancipation) and the Joke Smit award (for gender equality).

Deconstructing the Dynamics of an Award

The Jos Brink-prijs and Joke Smit-prijs are awards that offer visibility for the often unrecognised activist work done by individuals or collectives towards the emancipation of Dutch society.

These awards give us an opportunity to acknowledge the important work of activists but also, they demonstrate how we can actively engage in the transformation of the social climate around us. To do this we will collectively dissect the social constructs that these awards ask us to consider; identity, gender and sexuality and broader questions around privilege and access as well as frameworks of power.

For this applied assignment, the students went on field trips and attended talks and presentations by among others:

  • Mama Cash (Emma Herman)
  • San Serriffe (William Pollard)
  • IHILA LGBTQIA++ archives (Jasper Wiedeman)
  • Meet up with Fieke from COC Amsterdam at Cafe Blek
  • ATRIA Institute on Gender Equality and Women’s History

Final concepts

'I wasn’t born as an outsider, I became one. The LGTBI struggle is not my battle, but the notion of exclusion is.

For this project I chose to work with materials that do not fit into the dominant social narrative. Weeds are a marginalized group of botanicals that are weeded and removed for what they are.

I rather call these plants wild flowers. My labour is an attempt to change perception.

My design proposal for the Jos Brink award is: a brooch, made out of wild flowers, casted in bioplastic so that it can be planted after use.

The story goes that Oscar Wilde, wore a green carnation brooch to symbolize his homosexual affections. I re-value this symbolic meaning by using three different types of wild flowers.

The purple colour of the bio-plastic refers to the violet, a sign used by the lesbian community throughout history.

This award is a moment of celebration. Yet it is also a moment to emphasize that emancipation is a thing that needs to worked on continuously. The gesture of the delicate brooch that can be planted afterwards emphasizes this constant care. With this care a new flower will flourish in the future.'

Erik van Schaften
Concept Jos Brink award 2019 by Erik van Schaften, photo: Vanessa Kappler
Concept by Erik van Schaften
Detail concept Erik van Schaften

'Both my grandmothers got married and are financially dependent on my grandfathers. As a child, my father had his mother around to take care of the household and his father managed the finances. For my father, a good education for me was “to become a woman” with the image of his own mother in mind. Through my growing understanding of feminism, I became aware of the role I had as a female child which enabled me to step away from it.

I see porcelain mainly used for domestic purposes and by association is connected to the role of women historically. It is at the same time a strong and fragile material that symbolizes women’s emancipation.

This design is my way to embody the fragile tension between the assigned behaviours resulting from heredity patterns and the strength of will to shape our own future.

This tension needs to be shown and acknowledged in the award in order to thank the activists for encouraging women to break out of the expected role and make women’s fragile freedom a strength today.'

Concept Joke Smit award 2019 by Xénia Weulersse
Concept Joke Smit award 2019 by Xénia Weulersse
Presentation concept Joke Smit award by Xénia Weulersse
Presentation concept Joke Smit award 2019 by Xénia Weulersse

Participating students

Xenia Léonie Weulersse, Erik van Schaften, Pien Post, Maria Wiets Beaumaster, Maja Pop Trajkova.


Gabriel .A. Maher & Karly Rose Bedford

Project details


Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (OCW)


design concepts, 3D models, mixed media