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Things that matter

21 June 2021

Life under lockdown - Eithne Nightingale
The overarching theme of Dutch Design Week 2021 (DDW21), The Greater Number, is supported by 4 subthemes. 'Things that matter' examines the relationship between people and products, and the design of value.

As individuals, we actively focus on sustainability on all fronts. We separate our waste, we recycle and reuse, we 'green' and declutter. The demand for sustainability is also increasing among designers and manufacturers, in materials and in production processes. However, the search for sustainability is also about how we interact with products. DDW21 is examining this theme with the subtheme 'Things that matter', where the relationship between individual and product is central. How can we redesign that relationship and make it more sustainable?

Want to know more?

Designers Nienke Hoogvliet, Antoine Peters and Ineke Hans explain how they deal with the relationship between people and products and the design of value in their work.

Watch the video

Overconsumption and depletion of the earth's resources

The rise of mass production in the 20th century has altered our connection with our products. A lot of products are now widely accessible. More and more people have access to more and more stuff. Unfortunately, this development towards more goes hand in hand with cheap materials, simplified manufacturing processes, and often poor working conditions for those making the products.

The current Western economic system is mainly driven by the ideals of constant growth. Research shows that consumers' buying drive is the biggest cause of environmental pollution. One-third of the pollution in the air, soil, and water can be attributed to the production and use of everyday products. We produce and consume at will, with all of the environmental consequences that that entails.

Throw-away mentality

The result is a decrease in quality and an increasing pile of waste. When something stops working, we replace it. When we no longer need something, we throw it away. Repairing is often more expensive than buying new, which has drastically changed the way we value and use products and objects.

Moreover, consumer society constantly urges us to satisfy our ‘wants’ again and again. As a result, products have become ephemeral and subject to trends. What effect does this have on the relationship between us as humans and the products around us? When there are so many products within our reach, how does this affect what we consider valuable and what we don't?

Relationship between human and product

Although designers – the creative minds behind product design – are partly responsible for this problem, they also play a crucial role in the search for a solution. More and more people are not only calling for sustainable products to be made but for them to be treated in a sustainable way. Because if we care about products more, understand them better, or have a personal story with them, those products will matter more. We cherish products that matter and are less likely to throw them away.

Join and participate in DDW21

The upcoming DDW offers a platform to designers and projects that consider the relationship between individual and product. How do we design products that matter to the individual user? Where does this value lie? In the subtheme 'Things that matter', we focus on the stories behind products and examine what gives value and how that can be designed.

Do you have an individual or collaborative work or project that ties in with this subtheme? And do you want to participate in DDW21? Contact Programme Manager Lisa Hardon.

The Greater Number: The search for the better number

Is the path we want to take after the Covid crisis the same one we've been taking in recent decades? A lot of people have been asking themselves this question over the past year. More and more people think that this could be the time for a big change and a new perspective. They want to break with this blind focus on economic growth and are ready for a different system that is more focused on well-being and happiness. To investigate the role that designers can play in the search for this new system, Dutch Design Week 2021 (DDW21) has chosen as its overarching theme ‘The Greater Number: The search for the better number’. With this theme, DDW21 is first and foremost calling for less. Where less is not the best solution to more, but better. In 4 subthemes, we explore different perspectives to this quest, and we invite the design field to reflect on this and participate in DDW21.