Dutch Design Ween is an annual festival of – guess what? – design in Eindhoven. This year’s was already the 11th edition of the event that started as a bottom-up initiative of a design community in city and grew up into a large and international gathering of the companies and organisations that in some way or another are related to ‘design’.
As we are based in Eindhoven, we have luxury to follow these developments and observe (and often participate) in these gatherings (click on the ‘Dutch Design Week’ tag in this blog and you can see how this festival has evolved during these years. What hasn’t changed is that this week is about much more than only ‘design’ (or rather it is about the design that is very different from a traditional understanding of this word, and of this industry).
Sure, there are numerous designs of chairs, vases and lamps – you will see plenty of those at various locations in the city. But they are somehow not in the center of attention here; something else is, although it’s not easy to say exactly what it is.
Both professional media and lay people alike are struggling to express what they see and experience here during the ten days in October. Strategic design? Conceptual design? Social design? Back in Philips Design we used the word ‘high design’ to describe this new type of design (and the process that leads to it), in an attempt to differentiate it from the ‘chairs and vases’. This term didn’t survive, and these days people more often use another word, ‘design thinking’.
This is indeed what you see galore in Eindhoven during the DDW days, many examples of how various aspects of our life are being re-considered, re-imagined and re-designed. Perhaps it’s better to describe what you see here not by defining what is it, but by asking the question What does it do with you? It is the design aimed not to please, but to provoke, to challenge, to kick you out of the conventional way of thinking.
But then again, it is not like an expo of strange dada objects (as the picture above may incline). The creations presented here are the result of what can be called ‘responsible innovation’, made not because we can, but because the authors thought they will being new and interesting meanings in our lives (like this cooking pot solely powered by solar power).
Speaking about the authors, the designers behind these wonderful creations, DDW has another unique feature: you can talk to them right here and now. The expo is not just showing the concepts, it helps people to have a debate about them, to ask questions, to express their concerns and to hear the stories from the first (creative) hands.
During the next few days we will try to show at least the most interesting things we will see at the DDW; stay tuned!