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About Dutch Design Foundation

05 June 2019

Dutch Design Week 2018: MX3D Bridge, Joris Laarman ©Sjoerd Eickmans
Dutch Design Foundation (DDF) is optimistic and believes that the problem-solving capacity of designers can improve the world. That's why DDF offers designers opportunities, support, publicity and a platform. But how do we do that?

We do this in a variety of ways. Through large and small events, exhibitions, talks, prizes and debates, DDF provides a platform for the best and most promising designers. In this way, we help them to spread their ideas and work. Each year in October, the foundation organises Dutch Design Week and Dutch Design Awards. Throughout the year, DDF manages programmes under the flag of Design Works (a.o. World Design EmbassiesWhat if Lab and Driving Dutch Design). DDF stimulates and inspires, reaching well beyond the Netherlands. 

DDF always has a double objective: to strengthen the position and meaning of Dutch designers and show how designers worldwide are shaping a positive future. To achieve this, DDF manifests itself in four roles: Matchmaker (connecting designers to clients); 'Accelerator' (accelerating the research or creation process); Podium (offering an international platform in various ways); Inspirator (we inspire change-makers with explorations of the future).

DDF shows how designers around the world are shaping a positive future

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Dutch Design Week: Experiment, innovation and cross-overs in design

DDF is the organisation behind (a.o.) Dutch Design Week (DDW), but what exactly is DDW?

The nine-day festival is one of the top three design events worldwide and takes place every October. DDW presents the work and ideas of more than 2600 designers to more than 350,000 visitors from home and abroad. In more than 100 locations across the city, DDW organises and facilitates exhibitions, lectures, prize ceremonies, networking events, debates, parties and DDW Music Festival. 
DDW is different from other design events because it concentrates on the design of the future. Although every imaginable discipline and aspect of design is on offer during the event, the emphasis is on experiment, innovation and cross-overs. Exceptional attention each year goes to the work and development of young talent.

DDA 2018 Winner 'Young Designer': Olivier van Herpt
© Oscar Vinck

Dutch Design Awards: An ever-growing collection of outstanding Dutch design

Dutch Design Awards (DDA) has been leading in interpreting excellent Dutch design for years. The Dutch design community is invited annually to submit its best work for a Dutch Design Award. Commissions of independent experts select three nominations per category based on the open submissions and scouted work. An eight-piece jury then selects the winner of each category.

DDA looks to not only the future but also the past: our design traditions and the significant impact of the Dutch design mentality on the world. Dutch design is now globally recognised and has perhaps even become a style figure. The organisation's goal reaches beyond simply awarding the best designer: DDA wants the conversation about Dutch design to continue. With openness and curiosity, it, therefore, facilitates exchanges between designers and curators, audiences and professionals to continue emphasising the significant impact of design on society and contribute to the development of the profession. 

The best creations from the last year of Dutch design are celebrated with a varied programme during the Award Night in June. This is where the winners of Dutch Design Awards are announced in the categories: Product, Fashion, Habitat, Communication, Design Research, Data & Interaction, Young Designer and Best Commissioning.

Design Works: Increasing the design impact

The designer's role has long exceeded the act of designing a good product, garment or interior. Everything around us can be designed. A lot more impact can be generated by involving designers in societal challenges. The campaign 'Sweetie' of Terre des Hommes, which has successfully drawn attention to the exploitation of children, is a perfect example of this. Designers also played a crucial role in streamlining visitors at Rotterdam Central, a station maintained by the Nederlandse Spoorwegen (NS). 'Design thinking', as it is typically referred to, is becoming increasingly popular among organisations and governments nowadays.
As a means to further stimulate these collaborations, DDF created 'Design Works'. This sub-part of the organisation has been installed to foster business relationships and connect designers with companies, organisations and governments. Additional objectives include supporting designers concerning their professional development and stimulating underexposed design disciplines.

Design Works consists of several programmes, all organised throughout the year to pursue these ambitions. These programmes are, a.o., World Design Embassies, What if Lab and Driving Dutch Design.


WDE: Embassy of Circularity
© Studio Mima

World Design Embassies: New perspectives for the world of tomorrow

World Design Embassies (WDE) aims to deploy the power of design in developing new perspectives and concrete directions to societal challenges. In open coalitions, so-called Embassies, WDE joins forces with designers, corporates, and governments to create new perspectives for the world of tomorrow.

Technologicalisation, climate change, urbanisation, new forms of globalisation, individualisation… Just a handful of the many issues confronting our society. Some perceive them as a threat, while others seize them as an opportunity to try new things. We believe in the opportunities and, in collaboration with experts, practitioners, designers, users and change agents, take on the challenge of tackling the issues differently. The solutions chosen in the past aren’t always the best choices for the future. The world is in transition, and we need people with vision and a pragmatic approach; that’s why WDE teams up with partners and designers to catalyse new ways of thinking and improvements in today’s design practice.

What if Lab: Nederlandse Spoorwegen (NS)
© Cleo Goosens

What if.. what? What if Lab!

How can we intensify the collaboration between designers and companies or governments? What if Lab provides you with the answer. Looking deeper into the challenges that arise from such partnerships, this programme presents surprising conclusions. It is about the exchange: companies and service organisations get the chance to work closely with professionals in design, and designers get the opportunity to work on large, more complex challenges. Both parties broaden their network at the same time.
What you can expect: the prospective clients have a specific issue for which they invite a designer to admission a concept. Subsequently, the organisation selects several designers and compensates them for conceptualising their ideas. The final step is to single out one of the designers and ask the designer at hand to come up with a prototype or a final product.
As such, the company becomes more aware of how designers can be the driving force when crafting solutions to intricate issues and bringing them into practice. What if Lab oversees these trajectories and helps the organisation formulate a research question.

Driving Dutch Design

Driving Dutch Design (DDD) is a programme by ABN AMRO, Beroepsorganisatie Nederlandse Ontwerpers (BNO) and DDF, aimed at helping talented designers with the professional development of their studio. All too often, education in design disregards the value and necessity of entrepreneurial skills in the design profession. DDD aims to bridge the gap between design education and the design market.
DDF offers an eleven-month programme. During this time, an ABN AMRO coach is coupled with a ‘driver, the designer partaking in the programme. Together they strive to scale up the studio’s activities. In addition, the driver can attend masterclasses on creating a distinctive profile, marketing, operational management, financing and presentation. These classes are hosted by knowledgeable partners of the three initiators of the programme.
Every year, roughly 21 design start-ups enrol in this programme. The coaching trajectory begins after preselection in December. The programme concludes with the ‘Drivers Pitch-Event.’ In addition, there will be an exhibition where designers were invited to launch and showcase a publication in which they elaborate on their experiences and results.