So I've kept you in suspense about my trip to the Graduate Projects at the Design Academy Eindhoven, which was part of Dutch Design Week, October 19-27, 2013.

It's now been a couple of weeks since my visit, and I've sorted through all the photos and take-away materials and narrowed it down to 2 favorite projects that I want to share with you here.

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The first is a project called "Autonomous Machines" by Echo Yang. This project first caught my eye because it was beautiful.

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A series of marks were laid out across a large pallet on the floor. You can see why a surface/pattern designer would be drawn to this display. There's a lot of pattern, texture, color and form, not to mention relationships between the individual marks, all of which is visually pleasing.

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Attached to the bottom edge of the pallet were three television screens showing different machines creating these marks using different media (ink, watercolor, pencil, paint, etc.).

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I like the way these activities are described as "Experiments" and the scientific way that Echo went about documenting the process of making these marks. Is it a science project? Or an art project? Or a combination of the two? It also struck me as a bit funny and clever, the way each mark was "Drawn by" a particular machine. This automatically made the machines seem human. They were making art, expressing themselves. The tin toy chicken looked especially ridiculous doing this, but succeeded in creating a surprising variety of beautiful marks.

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This project made me think about my use of machines/technology in my work. My computer, its software, my digital stylus and tablet are all tools over which I exert full intellectual/creative control. It's fascinating to think that they might (someday) have ideas of their own. What will art look like when we start collaborating more, and in new ways, with machines? Will this art be valued more or less than art created solely by the human hand? Do you already have feelings about traditional or digital media, and one being superior to the other? What are the advantages of working digitally, in your eyes? What are the advantages of working traditionally?

My favorite project was called WeCollaborate, by Conor Trawinski.

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I think a platform for helping people realize their dreams is a fantastic invention. Why hasn't anyone thought of this before?

Just visiting a space like this (online or in person) would fill you with energy and inspiration.

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It was fascinating to read through this interactive board, which was full of original ideas. What if you could go to this site and find out that you are not the only person who really wants to build a playground for adults??

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I feel like I'm constantly coming up with new ideas, and then at some point I hit a wall. I realize I need help or support to make them happen, and (especially as a stranger in a strange land) I often don't know where to go to get that help.

Finding a printer to produce my wallpaper is an example, or a photographer to photograph it. Now that I've found partners to help me with those things, I'd like to find another to help me produce textile products. Besides tapping my real life network, I've gotten great advice in the past few months by posting questions in the Association of Dutch Designers (BNO) Group on LinkedIn. Do you ever use LinkedIn to find collaborating partners or get advice from knowledgeable people in your field? Or do you have another good source for finding the information you need to make your ideas happen?

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Maybe WeCollaborate will become the one-stop-shop of the future, a household tool for anyone with a dream, with an idea of what they want to do but not how to do it. If we could all tap into this database to find partners who share our dreams, but bring different skills and backgrounds and talents to them, the world will become a much more fluid, imaginative place, don't you think?

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P.S. Speaking of ideas coming to fruition, my web shop is in its final stages. Still working on the last module though, which will allow you to enter your wall measurements and get an instant, custom quote. As soon as that's ready, we'll be live! Can't wait. Once again, if you'd like to be added to my mailing list and be notified when the shop goes live, please e-mail me at elliecashman@gmail.com.