Dutch Design Week 2021 – an introduction

The Dutch Design Week in Eindhoven celebrates a 20 year anniversary. But it’s not really why I am here. I am here to look at fantastic non-commercial projects and see a glimpse of where we are going. I will do this report in two segments. Here first an overview, but later a post about the magical new thinking of a new generation. I am really optimistic. Really.

A central point of the design week in Eindhoven is the school Design Academy. With officially 163 graduation projects, this is my absolute main reason to go to this design week. Out of all design weeks in the world, this is the youngest, liveliest and most non-commercial. You don’t necessarily get to see future classics in proper real commercial products – but you get to see talent. And you get to see how a generation of creators are thinking. What issues are they addressing? New materials? New objects? New solutions? What is important to the fresh generation of designers.

For me as a trend hunter, trying to understand our behaviour, needs and dreams – this is absolutely one of the most important design events of the year.

The design week in the Netherland does not only have the school. This magnet of creativity attracts a lot of creative people. Obviously predominantely Dutch but a normal year I see off the chart strange Swedish things, German, Polish etc, etc.

Over all, this is a typical kind of project you would find here. Someone has been working with wood and started to experiment. The twig holes get exposed and part of the impression. Super nice looking. Sustainable? Perhaps but more looking into products that are unique and with a story. By Sho Ota.

A typical project addresses questions of our times. Here a mirror that applies augmented reality filter. Important? Absolutely not. But obviously something on the minds of the students.

So of course you will see solutions (some even awarded as this one) for our usage of technology. Here a kind of switch that turns off social media.

But I finally got to see some fairly clever ideas for working from home. After all these design weeks this semester… here curtains that can shield off your workspace. So simple, and haven’t seen that anywhere.

Another curtain installation.

But also working outdoors. I love the playfulness. Of course we need to build conference rooms in parks. Obviously. And you should work laying down on your stomach. I just thought this was so fun.

Speaking of workspace, we are slowly moving into the field of corona. Here is a warning system for when you are too close…

Not sure we will need that next year…

And there weren’t really a lot of “pandemic design”. And that is fine. Here is a girl who made drawings during the pandemic. By Lisa Li.

The majority of pandemic design was retrospective. I am sure we will have to look at this as some point but now it feels a bit too soon.

Sliding over to the next topic. Of course we need to talk about sustainability. We have been talking about it for a long, long time. To make it relevant 2021 we need to make it scaleable, meaning industrial. We have seen cute, crafty project for a while now – and now is time to make it industrial.

All the sustainable projects I like in 2021 are scaleble – not crafty…

Ineke Hans has been working with Dutch company Circuform. This is a chair made a few years back and now Circuform has bought the license. The whole chair is made from sustainable materials. But what triggers me is that they have a full “buy-back” system. So when you are tired of the chair you get your money back. Basically a leasing system.

Of course a complex logistical system – but damn, I like it. Fishnet materials and a non-owning system. Nice.

I also saw this. These are facade panels that gathers rain. Perfect for when there is water shortage. Done by Shakira Jassat.

At one stop in Eindhoven they had built a house of only sustainable materials and there was this rain collector.

This house had plenty of fruitful ideas

So I just said I don’t like crafty sustainable projects any longer. Well, of course there are exceptions. I like how this student found broken furniture and added a 3D printed “band-aid”. By Thibault Dupille.

This is just so beautiful. Do you rememeber those 3D-pens that could make objects when writing?? Here is a whole installation done with 3D-pen and recycled plastics. Love. Daan Veerman

One of my favourite projects. Still a bit small scale but very nice. Rosana Escobar has deconstructed the coffee bag and used the fibres to make new objects. Yes, very crafty, but also beautiful.

We are slowly getting over to the issue of colours. Overall I would say that most of the student and non-commercial works were left un-coloured. Meaning that wood looks like wood. Metal looks like metal. Glass looks like clear glass. Etc. etc. But here and there were neutural, soft colours. A mirror with a soft pink frame. A pedestal in grey.

And I saw at least three or four projects addressing the issue of natural dying.

Here dye with algeas.

But I managed to find some colourful installations. Mainly at the area of Piet Hein Eek. It’s like he is surrounding himself with colour lovers. And that is always energetic. Colour and design studio RENS always make beautiful exhibitions.

I have collected the colours in how often it was used and not by studio. So in this segment we see orange and this light yellow. I want to call it “pear yellow”. You know that soft yellow one which is very sweet. Not the green, healthy one.

Piet Hein Eek is also playing around with yellow and orange.

That darker olive green is nice with the pear yellow.

There is also a bit of mustard. Not so red as it has been earlier, but almost with a hint of brown. Here reuse of plastics by Jessica den Hartog. This layering is also big. You see it in the image but with glass from Studio Rens.

Piet Hein Eek again.

And red. Definately a kind of tomato red.

That mustard yellow with red. At another colour lover Raw Color.

There is also a soft, soft, almost transparent minty green. Here again with Jessica.


Studio Rens

Layering and this minty green in the glass.

And of course some purple and green. Here at Raw Color.

Another blanket at Raw Color.

Tomorrow I will be back to talk about how students are working with inclusion and a new mythology.


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Gunnar Hoffrichter
Gunnar Hoffrichter
2 years ago

Great overview!