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A new year for Dutch Design Foundation

The now traditional late New Year celebration kicked off the year for the Dutch Design Foundation. Director Martijn Paulen opened the year and with it the preparations for Dutch Design Week 2018.

Frans van Beveren, E52

The meeting began with an after movie of DDW 2017, after which Paulen talked enthusiastically: “It is fantastic to see everything played back like this, together we turned the city on its head. The MediaMarkt for example, where Koert van Mensvoort demonstrated how robots and people could work together. That must have been a bit of a shock for the people who just came in to buy a USB stick.” The director looks back with satisfaction on the more than 110 locations from the last year: “People sometimes complain that there is too much to see in a single day, but then you just haven’t spent enough time here!”

Paulen reflects on last year’s edition and in doing so immediately looks forward to the coming year: “Last year we set up various embassies based on themes for the World Design Event. That was very successful, so we have decided to retain a number of the themes.” It wasn’t just components from the programme that went well, the media attention for DDW had a positive vibe. An important part of this was the television programme De Toekomstbouwers, where designers were given in-depth exposure and they were able to show what they do, and most especially why they do it. During DDW 2018 there will be a second season of this programme. A part of Dutch Design Week that is going to be tackled differently this year is the Dutch Design Awards show. The award show that was previously held during the week will now take place in June.

What if Lab

In addition to the week in October, there are a number of other projects that the Dutch Design Foundation is organising. One of them is What if Lab, where designers are linked to companies, government authorities or other parties. “What if lab was established because we believe so deeply in the ability of designers that we wanted to offer them a stage. In addition, we have noticed that there are parties in the market who would like to entrust the solving of issues to them.”

This year designers will be placed before new challenges in the What if Lab. Both the NS and the Association of Netherlands Municipalities (VNG) have new questions for designers to find answers to. The VNG is to continue with the What if Lab: Local government meets Design. This year it will focus on three topics: radicalisation, E-health and Smart City.

The NS is doing things a little differently this year. Instead of focussing on the train journey itself, this time it is the turn of the stations. Ruud Mols from the NS explains: “This year we’re going to get to work on the stations. Stations are all unique buildings, that are located in unique environments where unique passengers come and go. Stations shouldn’t become efficient transfer operations but rather personalised places.” According to Mols, it should no longer be a station, but ‘My station’. The question that designers could ponder over is: What if the unique combination of station, environment and people became a unique experience.

Electric Design Rides

The cars with art objects on the roof, which ferry DDW visitors around Eindhoven, are not to be supplied by Volvo this year. The Swedish car manufacturer has had to give up its place for the sake of the environment. This year all the cars will be electric. The French brand Renault is going to supply the cars.