Henriëtte Waal works at the intersection of participatory design, anthropology, and community art. By adopting the role of mediator and ethnographic researcher, Waal strives to delineate the social dynamics between people and their relation to their surroundings.
Waal’s Mien Blééch bottles result from her research into the abundance of high-quality drinking water in the Belgian part of Limburg due to the area’s mining past. Despite this abundance, local inhabitants prefer bottled water. In addition to the Mien Blééch bottle’s primary function of carrying water, Waal’s design functions as a cultural artefact that symbolises the forgotten coal-mining heritage. The shape and size of these containers derive from the water bottles local miners used to take underground before the mine closed in 1987.
Another of Waal’s projects works with contemporary forms of self-organisation in the modern urban environment. The NIMBY Toilet is a urine-fermenting dry toilet that utilises Lactobacillus cultures derived from homemade pickled cabbage. Originally designed for allotment gardeners, this product utilises the potential of lactic acid fermentation to provide an alternative to chemical fertilisers. This urine-fermenting toilet enhances the self-sufficiency of allotment vegetable gardens. The dry toilet chair reinterprets Enzo Mari’s 1974 Sedia 1 chair, originally developed as a theoretical and practical DIY exercise for students. The NIMBY Toilet aims to be an educational tool and a conversation piece, inviting people to think, learn, and exchange through doing.
To expound upon her working methods, Waal is developing a book that elaborates on forms of engagement with social issues and environmental concerns. The book is made in collaboration with Clemens Driessen, a philosopher and researcher at Wageningen University who specialises in animal and environmental ethics, and designed by Koehorst in ‘t Veld.
The NIMBY Toilet is made in collaboration with Sander Hofstee, Polonca Lovsin, Urska Jurman, and the Onkraj Gradbišča community garden. Developed as part of BIO50, Ljubljana, 2014.
Year of Birth
1982 (Amsterdam, The Netherlands)
Design Academy Eindhoven, Sandberg Institute
Studio Henriëtte Waal
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Marjetica Potrc, Hans van der Markt, Jurgen Bey, Jan Boelen, Lucia Babina, Mariana Idiarte, Clemens Driessen
Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, Museum of Modern Art Shanghai, IAPA International Award of Public Art, Nai Maastricht / Bureau Europa, Cultuurplatform Limburg, Stichting Mediamatic, Stroom Den Haag, WUR Wageningen, Waterbedrijf Vitens, Expansor Nederland BV, Stichting Into The Great Wide Open, OneWorld Magazine, Vize Magazine, Design Academy Eindhoven, Jeanne van Heeswijk / Jeanneworks, Satellietgroep, Wochenklausur