By investigating the unique, localized stories of controversial monuments, the Information Design masters students at DAE hope to better understand the ideologies that allow for the creation and removal of monuments and how to navigate the space in between.
Since June 2020 the removal of monuments has felt like a global phenomenon. Monuments seem to be falling like dominoes from one nation to the next creating a roaring echo. However, this global media debate often obscures the unique emotional narratives of each monument for their local communities. Bridging this gap is a key challenge of understanding monuments.
We use our tools and perspective as information designers to illuminate these individual complex narratives and their connection to the continuing international debate.
Watch the panel discussion The story of the project
In the fall of 2020 our tutors in the Information Design Masters program at Design Academy Eindhoven proposed a loosely collective project focused on the widespread protests earlier in the summer, in particular the removal of figures memorialized for their roles in racist and colonial activities. Dozens of monuments were removed–some by force, others by local governments. In Europe, the pulling down of slave trader Edward Colston in Bristol, UK by protesters and the removal of King Leopold II by Antwerp city officials made international news. However, from a distance the nuances within the debate, the stories behind the monuments were often lost. Often it felt like there was a binary status--monuments in-place or a void where the monument stood. In a word, there was a lack of information regardless of what happened to the inanimate yet deeply provocative statues. The public debates of whether removal is the right path of recourse and how to reckon with the colonial pasts and present in Europe and the countries they colonized is a rich and complex challenge. As information designers, we wanted to investigate further the practice of monument-making and history-telling in the public space and how we could contribute. At the guidance of our tutors, Toon Koehorst and Jannetje in ‘t Veld of the design studio Koehorst in ’t Veld, we each set off in our own directions finding and researching monuments in our hometowns and elsewhere. That is the basis of this organic, personal archive of 17 monuments.
Creating a collective, critical design project
While this project began as an assignment, our class felt that these monuments tell a richer narrative in combination rather than in isolation. Inspired by the power of collective decision-making, we self-organized to create this website and publish our archive. This decision follows in the spirit of the Design Academy while also pushing our tutors to adjust their grading practices to meet our collective effort. We are proud of this outcome, in particular knowing that each one of us fostered this output and shaped the infrastructure of this website. This website was built with only open-source tools and fonts (except for the impactful typeface Martin by Vocal Type). The underlying code infrastructure was designed and built so that every designer, regardless of prior technical knowledge, would be able to code their own page. All collective decision-making was democratic and discussed and all efforts were volunteer. Teams and individuals earned creative license through doing the work. Our design system and visuals exemplify this collective approach and stand as a deliberate challenge to the homogeneity inherent in web development and modernist design. In doing so we hope to share a mosaic of nuanced local stories to audiences who have varying degrees of familiarity with a specific monument or the global debates. We hope that the archive and the stories take the space necessary for critique so often deprived by mass media. This project will be exhibited and launched at Dutch Design Week 2021 in Eindhoven, NL.
Read "After the Monument" - by Koehorst in’t Veld Thanks to

As a group, we would like to thank the following mentors:

Koehorst in’t Veld and the other Information Design tutors for the assignment and their support and critique as the project evolved

Jantien Roozenburg for her ongoing support & help

Sofia Bresciani graduate for inspiring us to think about the complex narratives imbued in monuments with her

The Anderen for their support on editorial design

Team Leads

Marie Dvorzak
Elisa Mirkil
Design Team

Hannah Kansy
Inês Pinheiro
Afonso de Matos
Nick Monro-Meares
Lukas Völp
Louisa Wolf
Development Team

Marie Dvorzak
Vitor Ferreira Serra
Anda Lupascu
Marina Menéndez-Pidal
Maxine Oosterholt