Artist and social designer Marijke Timmerman leads The Slowcooker. The studio designs new ways of looking at social problems. It seeks to connect with people’s everyday behaviour and designs new concrete perspectives for taking action. It is the conviction of The Slowcooker that visual feedback leads to change.

In our daily life, we come across contradictions that we struggle with sometimes. We feel the personal urgency to reflect on these dilemmas. We want to understand these struggles and find answers and reflect on them. We want to sharpen minds and create clarity.

Before the start of a project, it is often not completely clear what the project is about. That’s why we start with (re)thinking. We search for the core of the urgency. From here, we determine the effect we want to achieve. When that’s clear, we choose the best way to achieve that goal.

Subjective research

After exploring the urgency and determining an effect to be achieved, we start working out a concept: a clear idea about how we can best reach the target group. 

We subjectively research through expressive artwork. We dive deep into the subject. It’s an intuitive way of research, and we go where the flow takes us.

We do this by exploring, collecting, visualizing, experimenting, connecting, disassembling, reassembling, observing, taking a picture, asking questions, making drawings, organizing, collecting and engaging on the topic.

For example, deconstruction allows us to expose preconceived ideas. It forces the viewer to wonder what the purpose, vulnerability and symbolism of the basic ingredients of the image are. It helps with understanding the relationship between goods, consumers and the environment.

Another research method we use is putting opposites side by side. This can reveal two truths within the individual. We use the philosophy thesis-antithesis-synthesis. The synthesis resolves the conflict between thesis and antithesis by reconciling the common truths in both. It can break thought patterns and look for the solution from other angles.

Collecting and categorizing can also create new input to your ideas. It helps you to differentiate what is already there and what is different. We can spend hours collecting images. But what exactly do those images say?

Sharing results

After the expression phase, we shape a coherent story. A concept for a target group. The concept can create insights, behavioral change, tools, inspiration and topics for discussion. It is a reflection of our findings. We believe that a strong and clear concept helps to create a bigger impact. Often we use visualisations to make the findings shareable. You can use these to tell the story or to convey a message.

With the appropriate aesthetics, you can empower the concept. We search for a design that best suits the concept. There’s often cleanliness and simplicity to our aesthetic. We believe those are aspects that increase the impact of the concepts.

As soon as we arrive at a final concept, production starts. Depending on the purpose, this could be anything. From unique items and printed matter to online tools. And from illustrations to film and workshops.