By Åoomi Design Studio

Impressions of the Dutch Design Week in Eindhoven

Eindhoven & Design

Eindhoven is a city located in the province of North Brabant, South of The Netherlands. Industrial city with no particular charm, it is famous for having been the seat of Philips, which opened its manufacturing company in 1891 and contributed to the revitalising and growth of the area. Nowadays, the city is “the” reference for industrial design with its world-renowned Design Academy Eindhoven (housed in “de Witte Dame” – a former Philips lamp factory) and its annual event: the Dutch Design Week, attended this year by around 295,000 visitors from all over Europe.

The event, in its 15th edition this year, is particular for being housed in buildings and places spread all over the city.

From refurbished industrial buildings, museums, schools, shopping malls, historic cafés, churches, to hidden little squares, every unused and suitable venue is smartly occupied. For 9 days, Eindhoven breathes design, innovation, and vibrates to the rhythm of music from local and national bands. Even taxis are dressed up for the occasion.

The programme features many events, such as exhibitions, workshops, concerts, lectures, debates, or the Ceremony for the famous Dutch Design Award. Being aware that visitors want to make the most of their experience, organisers have developed, with the help of design experts, themed routes for first-timers as well as regulars. Knowing that I would not be able to see everything I wanted in such a short time, these routes helped me spotting which exhibitors and venues matched my interests.

Food & Design

Particularly interested in interior decoration, innovation and food, my friend and I decided to focus on the Strijp area and its main venues. Ketelhuisplein is similar to a huge outdoor exhibition with stands and little wooden barracks where companies and collective present their business or projects. Live music and foodtrucks create a friendly atmosphere.

The Parliament of Things on Ketelhuisplein
The Parliament of Things on Ketelhuisplein

A little greenhouse aroused our curiosity. It was called Agri Meets Design. Within this platform, farmers and designers join their forces to initiate projects and provide solutions to a more sustainable agriculture sector through design. We stopped at the EGGCHANGE counter. Intriguing name, right? By signing up and liking the Facebook page of the project, we receive a certificate and a fertilised egg. What to do with the egg is up to one’s choice: either eat it or hatch it for creating new chicken generations. By empowering people this way, the project aims to raise-awareness on:

  • The current and alarming state of poultry farming
  • A new economic system, in which the egg represents a natural capital

Indeed, capitalism and the ease with which we tend to accumulate our capital has led us to no longer care for it. In this new system, your capital grows only if you watch after it, and are patient enough to wait for the benefice (meat). By reproducing the slaughter procedure themselves, people would realise what chickens have to suffer.

Innovation & Design

It took us the rest of the afternoon to visit the Klokgebouw, especially the exhibition “Mind the step” organised by three Dutch universities: University of Technology Eindhoven, University of Technology Delft, and University of Twente. Master and PhD students were presenting their final project or experiment in an inventive way. Thus, they got to inform the visitors about their field of research and challenges to be addressed, received feedback from them, while developing their network and opportunities to further develop their project and bring it to the market.

I discovered that design is not only about art and decoration, but mostly about innovation touching vital sectors and aspects of our daily life: medical care, sports, sustainability, agriculture, well-being, renewable energy, building, urban planning, and so many more.

We came across very interesting projects. Some of them left a mark on me, such as this student who explained us how she’s been researching the issue of empowering children with their health, especially how to involve them during a doctor visit. She designed an interactive game board on which the child, the parents and the doctor place coins depending on the topic they want to discuss. The time spent on each topic is calculated to help the child comprehend what’s most important regarding his/her health.

A wall full of heart-like drawings drew my attention. By putting their fingers into a little cap detecting heartbeats, people get their unique heart flower drawing. The Heart Bloom project enables the public to experience and see their heart rhythm, while informing them about children heart diseases. You can only collect your drawing by making a small donation to the Dutch Heart Foundation.

Wall of Heart Flowers drawings
Wall of Heart Flowers drawings

The Dutch Design Week is definitely worth a long visit. One can apprehend the world of design better and discover innovations that will shape the future in our ever-changing world.

Leave a Reply