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Alissa + Nienke x EE Exclusives - Project Fringes & Floats Photo by Nick_Bookelaar.

Cabinet of collaborations

The overarching theme of Dutch Design Week 2021 (DDW21), The Greater Number, is supported by 4 subthemes. In Cabinet of collaborations, we focus on the use of design power for business and the need for responsible, improved scaling up.

The world's population is growing simultaneously leading to a growing need for resources. More food, more healthcare, more houses to live in, and more stuff. The desired level of prosperity poses serious challenges for the way we treat our resources, energy, and each other.

Responsible and improved upscaling

The industry has had a negative connotation in this regard for years. It's dirty, ugly, and polluting. Yet, we are largely dependent on it. How can we change this? By joining forces and involving designers in these challenges, industry and the design field can work together on improvement and responsible upscaling: improved scaling up. That is what the subtheme 'Cabinet of collaborations' is about, the power of design as an increase in value and the opportunity for designers to work with business and industry. An interplay that leads to new insights on both sides.

Want to know more?

Designers Itika Gupta, Sanne Schuurman and Rick Tegelaar explain what they think of design power for business and the need for responsible, improved scaling up.

Watch the video

Designers in industry

Designers are known for their creativity, inventiveness, and their talent for visualising and realising concrete proposals for a better world. But the translation from innovative concept to industrial application is often accompanied by major challenges. For cooperation to be effective, the parties must learn to speak the same language. For example, designers need to understand where the responsibilities, interests, and priorities of the businesses lie. Approaching these from a design perspective can lead to surprising results. These can be enormously accelerated if the strengths and effectiveness of businesses are maximised.

The added value of collaboration

Despite innovative (digital and smart) manufacturing technology, the production of high-quality products at a realistic price remains one of the biggest challenges for designers. Close and early collaboration with the industry can ensure the smooth implementation of ideas. But there are also great opportunities for the industry. Experience shows that the input of a new vision from the outside and asking 'fresh' questions can give a company a sharper edge. The parameters set by an organisation with shareholders and a business model can be interpreted by designers as a challenge or an incentive for innovation. Designers have the intrinsic ability to take a comprehensive view and see connections. Combined with an industrial partner's specialised knowledge of materials, technology, and/or the market, this can catalyse the project or innovative developments. Through interdisciplinary collaborations, both designer and industry can rise to challenges and come up with solutions that would otherwise not be achieved individually.

Closing the gap

'Cabinet of collaborations' is about building bridges and closing the gap between the individual designer and the industry. For designers, this means strengthening and professionalising design practice, and for industry, it means recognising the added value of design power as an important means of innovation and value creation. Creativity as part of your strategy.

During DDW21, we will be examining how the much-needed scaling up can take place in a responsible and impactful way, and we will be showing a selection of relevant collaborations between designers and the industry.

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 Vincent van Herk.

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.