Dutch Design Week in the town of Eindhoven took place in October. This is always an important design event. I would even say that this is one of the most important ones of the year. Here is my report.
Yes, DDW is really one of the most important activities for a trend hunter or trend expert like me. This is a playground for non commercial, creative and young (at least young at heart) designers. You will find commercial players like Piet Hein Eek here but this is a week with student works, prototypes and new thinking. This year we saw some large brands like Vitra and Levi’s come back to do activities.
A semi commercial player like Piet Hein Eek here.
But we are mainly here for these kind of things. Here a student at Design Academy in Eindhoven – one of the top design schools in the world. This chair by Willem Zwiers.
But let’s start with an overall introduction.
The design week felt bigger than usual. I normally spend two nights here but the week gets more and more new destinations. This year there was a specific section for design galleries.
So where are we with design thinking among young creatives? Very few actual design pieces. More focus on materials, some collectible design and absolutely digital/technological/AI-driven solutions. No real colour focus. The few colour projects I saw were mainly dealing with natural dyes. And of course a huge focus on sustainability.
But let’s try to be clear on the conclusions for this design week.
Where do we start talking about colours in Eindhoven? Perhaps with this retro blue? It has an aqua feeling with a bit of green. Here at Piet Hein Eek. Notice that this works well with a dusty retro pink.
Here the same retro blue with oxblood or purple. At Studio Rens
The same kind of blur on the walls at exhibition Messmerized. Also with darker blue and pink.
Retro blue with pink again. Here at Kazerne.
The same teal and with yellow at Raw Colors.
The apricot or dusty pink with a darker blue. Here at Studio Rens with Tarkett.
A bit of electric yellow. Here at the center court at Strijp S.
Electric yellow with oxblood and purple at Kiki & Joost.
A more “normal” yellow at Raw Colors.
More oxblood. Here at Piet Hein Eek.
Oxblood and green at Studio Rens
Pink and minty green at Messmerized. Here by Celia Hadeler.
Oxblood, grey and dark green at Kazerne.
I don’t know what you think about the colours and colour schemes above but there was absolutely a lack of colours. Some – but not a lot. Instead most colour installations were about natural dye. Like above picture. Here an initiative by Studio Tjeerd Veenhoven. They were in contact with tulip farmers in the Netherlands. The collected the flower heads of withering tulips and dried them, grounded them and used as a dye for fabrics.
I will say this now and only once. A lot of these projects are interesting but they don’t solve durability. Will they be affected by sunlight? What if you wear it and sweat? Does it wash out? Etc, etc.
Most of these projects are interesting – but not durable.
And there were A LOT of these dye projects.
Charlotte Werth made these colourful prints with bacteria.
Sara van Laerhoven used waste for colouring.
And so it goes on. You can absolutely notice that there is no discussion on durability.
A lot of the projects used no colour at all. Basically leaving the material as it is. Raw. Here a nice project by Christien Meindertsma. She used local, Duch wool. Normally the quality is too low and therefore not used. Here she showed good examples on how to use this local wool. You see fashion garments, rugs, yarn, etc.
At the school Design Academy I found Lison Gueguen who used things like leaves and straw to make interior design objects.
A favourite of mine was design student Seoungjun Lee who used raw pine to make these furniture pieces with no bolts or glue. Just the raw material.
At art center MU I found this straw installation.
At Design Academy again. Student Elizabeth Balado let people pick flowers and then print them as part of a therapy session.
Raw colour. Design Student Wies van den Maagdenberg cut up vinyl floor and made new shapes.
Finnish design student Iines Jakolev took the scales from pinecones and made tiles with patterns.
At the gallery district Kasper Boelens made these pretty raw stools.
Also raw. Belgian designer Yoon Shun used raw material and basically just added charcoal pattern.
Also raw and reused. Zinc slates reused for this cabinet. By Miles la Gras.
Raw recycled rubber from design student Eline van Dijkman
AI or futuristic nature
No suprise but there was of course a huge interest in AI and future nature. All still very raw and colourless.
Design student Flavie Liu had AI in this futuristic landscape or map.
Future greenhouse strollers by design student Janneke de Lange.
Faux fur at the gallery district
AI generated chair
Levi’s worked together with Vitra and the Visionary Lab. They grounded jeans (including buttons) to make a new material. In the first picture they had salt crystals in the fabric. In the second picture the shaped mushrooms in the chair.
As a separate chapter in this story. I want to point out that Dutch Design Week is all about thinking about the future. Here are some projects that stood out to me.
Student Ralf Gloudemans got one of three super awards for his student project and it looks really interesting. He put on VR eyewear and 3D shaped vessels that he then made a mold of. He then made ceramic vases from the virtual experience. Interesting.
What is waste in the future? And what is materials for new objects? Student Dario Erkelens made these sculptural pieces. Both art an design at the same time.
What are we doing with all our toys when noone wants to play with them? Thrift shopping? Student Walter Mingledorff made nice collectibles out of “trash”.
Public spaces with scultpures you can touch? Student work.
Not only students are thinking about future materials. Todoro Rava used waste to build material that feels and looks like wood.
Alara Sipahioglu made rice bowls out of bags normally designed for crisps. The crisp bag is normally made of a difficult material and now it can be made into something else.
Ceramic waste made into stones.
Solarix makes facade panels that collects solarenergy.
A lot of the projects for this design week was about machines and digital solutions. I have already talked about some of these questions above with AI etc. But it is super academic and difficult to understand all these digital questions and solutions.
Like above student work. A girl wants to endorse and promote feminism on social media. Super difficult to look at this and say if it was good or bad.
Here a “fountain”. You can see the sculpture spurt water but only via a device.
Or a digital solution that should make us understand nature…
Dutch Design Week 2023. Bigger then ever. A huge focus on material and sustainability. Less focus on colour. You can compare this report with the one I did 2022 here. Or the one for 2021 here. And here.
So a number? I think it is unique and one of a kind. But it gets more and more academic – and in that sense more difficult to approach. I would like to see a bit more easier projects. Lighter? Easier to just look at – and like.
I give it a 4 out of 5. Still super important. But a bit much to digest.