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With 'Picture This,' Dutch Design Week 2023 urges us to imagine a humane future
The design festival in Eidhoven, celebrating innovation, creativity and imagination is set to take place from 21-29 October
Image: Courtesy of Dutch Design Week

With 'Picture This,' Dutch Design Week 2023 urges us to imagine a humane future

Dutch Design Week 2023 attempts to capitalise on 'design as a medium' to imagine many futures that are resilient, equitable, and conscious of humans' impact on the planet.

by Mrinmayee Bhoot
Published on : Oct 20, 2023

Writers, artists, and designers have been imagining speculative futures since we have been telling stories. Increasingly, in an age where climate change, the climate crisis, pandemics, and threat of war dominate the content we consume, dystopias are more common than utopias. In response, this year’s theme for Dutch Design Week urges us to Picture This, a future where we can create products without mining raw materials, where consumption does not have to mean waste, a future of regeneration and reuse that is careful of its imprint on the planet and its resources.

More than just a naive call to imagine a world we can build together, the design festival calls on designers and artists to turn the tides, by demonstrating tangible solutions to the challenges we face today. The design event taking place from October 21 - 29, 2023, celebrates the imaginative power of design. While we can imagine a more just world, it is the involvement of designers that gives that dream shape, the exceptional power of visualisation will help navigate and change the future more meaningfully. “What sets Dutch Design Week apart is its focus on shaping the future. Designers are not simply showcasing finished products, but are instead contributing by sharing concepts and ideas, offering a design-driven perspective on the future… This emphasis on potential distinguishes Dutch Design Week,” says Miriam van der Lubbe, creative head of Dutch Design Week 2023.

The week-long celebration of innovation, resilience, and sustainability, is spread across various workshops, galleries, and cultural centres in the city of Eindhoven in the Netherlands. All of the activities (40+ events and almost 400 exhibits) for the week are divided into different narratives or missions, which follow different routes through the city. These missions envision worlds, and feature designed objects/ concepts that are meant to 'enable our thriving planet, create our living environment, boost our health and well-being, achieve our equal society, and challenge our digital future.'

Furthermore, seven different themes explore how design can find solutions to the major social issues of the times. These include the Embassy of Circular and Bio-based Building curated by Lucas De Man and Pascal Leboucq of Biobased Creations, a Dutch design studio; Embassy of Food curated by Barbara Vos, a product designer based in the Netherlands; Embassy of Health conceived by Marleen van Bergeijk, a social designer; Embassy of Inclusive Society conceived by Shay Raviv, a Dutch design researcher; Embassy of Mobility curated by Joost Van der Made, a Dutch designer; Embassy of Safety curated by Tabo Goudswaard, and Embassy of Water curated by Anouk van der Poll, Eindhoven-based product designer.

With this year’s theme, DDW seeks to understand the era we’re living in while confronting the future we’re shaping, recognising the power of imagination in driving positive change. From the host of talks, design workshops, and exhibitions planned, STIR offers a preview of the festival, so we can Picture This equitable future together.

Product Chronicles

The Product Chronicles is a group exhibition curated by Zakka Stories. The lead curator, Lisa Hardon, investigates the meaning of design and how value can be designed through her work. With the showcase at the design week, she attempts to explore how design can strengthen the connection between users and products. A prevailing question for the selection is, how can design today lead to products that will still matter tomorrow? Featured designers include London-based Aniela Fidler Wieruszewska of Diamond Makers Lab, Antoine Peters, a designer from Amsterdam, Studio Nienke Hoogvliet who have put up an interactive installation exploring the value of time, and Christien Meindertsma, a designer who explores the life of products and raw materials in her work. She will be showcasing FLOCKS, in which she has developed a new industrial technique that makes it possible to build with wool in 3D, allowing wool to be used for product designs and even architecture.

Nothing Happens if Nothing Happens by Isola

Isola, the Milan-based design platform which brings visibility to independent designers and design studios will be showcasing the second iteration of their exhibition based on the theme for the year, 'Nothing Happens if Nothing Happens.' With a focus on circular design practices, Isola will take over a 400 sqm space in the Schellens Fabriek, a former factory space, showcasing innovative biomaterials, and collectable design pieces from its selection of designers. Some of the designers in the line-up include Raphaël Pontais, a Paris-based furniture designer, Albore design a 3D printing studio, and Juyoung Jung, a Korean designer.

The exhibition space, designed by Isola’s creative director, Elif Resitoglu, in collaboration with design studio IAMMI, and Italian start-up ReMat, focused on recycled polyurethane. The same materials were used in their exhibit at Material Matters at the London Design Festival 2023.

The New Old, Objects for Use by Verkstan

This design exhibition by Verkstan, a collective of Dutch designers, pay homage to craftsmanship and tradition. Tom Schoonhoven, Ben van Kemenade, Ruben Warnshuis, and Vasco Verissimo employ conventional and innovative techniques to translate old qualities into new objects and tools by making use of traditional and non-traditional techniques. Through the showcase of handcrafted objects, their goal is to counter the disconnect people feel from the objects and implements that surround us. Their combined body of work consists of a wide array of materials, ranging from wood, steel, and stone to textiles and more.

House of Dreams

ConverseLab, a Dutch architecture practice imagines the bedroom of the future with this installation at the Home of Design in central Kazerne. Along with Futon Factorij, a studio that specialises in handmade traditional futons and works exclusively with organic materials, they have created a bedstead made of only responsible and locally harvested materials such as buckwheat hulls and raw wool. Through the functional art piece, they invite visitors to consider the materials that surround them daily, and their effect on the environment.

The Many Tree by Studio JNRB

What if we could build trees? asks this installation outside the Eindhoven Central Station. Designed by Australian arboreal architect, Josh Russo-Batterham, it prompts visitors to rethink how they use and value greenery in the city. It provides a hybrid solution to the notion of urban greenery: a half-built and half-grown sculpture.

Intercommunal Collaborations, a workshop by Zeynep Uğur

This workshop asks its visitors to imagine the co-existence of multiple worlds. Through this exercise, it challenges the normative worldview of Eurocentric values and assumptions that dominate the international development sector. Through case studies, Zeynep Uğur a Turkish researcher encourages the audience to hold a mirror to reflect on our underlying values and assumptions. By imagining a 'pluriverse,' it attempts to decolonize our assumptions of our consumption practices.

Dutch Design Week (DDW) 2023 will take place from October 21 - 29, 2023, in Eindhoven, the Netherlands. It is supported by the Dutch Design Foundation, who have made essential contributions to creating a more beautiful, sustainable, and social world.

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