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Stichting DOEN

Social design can be found everywhere at Dutch Design Week. Stichting DOEN supports a great number of these kinds of projects. Managing director Nina Tellegen: ‘Designers do a lot more than just make beautiful objects.’ 

Text: Tekst door: Suzanne Dijkstra

Stichting DOEN: ‘We can no longer manage without social design’

‘The problems in the world are becoming increasingly complex. Simple solutions no longer work. Designers can play a refreshing role, because they introduce surprising new perspectives. Which is why we warmly support social design’, explains Nina Tellegen. Stichting DOEN has supported projects that have been involved in social design since 2010. ‘We employ a strict artistic quality selection process. Only initiatives that really bring about a change for society or the environment receive support. 3D printing is making enormous in-roads. But it often does not get any further than printing plastic, which is not sustainable. It is only when a designer starts to explore the possibilities of printing with organic material, like Erik Klarenbeek has done with his Mycellium Chair, that we find it interesting because it then has social impact.’ Tellegen thinks it is exceptional to see how social design is achieving increasing social acceptance. ‘Daan Roosegaarde has put the topic on the agenda of many ministers and drawn public attention to it. There is now a lot of attention for this school of thought. We're constantly involved in and looking for new initiatives and continue to come across exceptional design.’ 

The director of Stichting DOEN is sitting in the Atelier NL workshop, one of two designers that is supported via Voordekunst by Stichting DOEN. They held a workshop about crowdfunding for a large group of designers. Tellegen: ‘This week everywhere in Eindhoven you see examples of social design. Designers have real social impact. We help them further with their work. With funds, but also through laying links with other parties. Corporate companies are starting to discover the influence of social design. And the Veenhuizen collection is another good example of new cooperation. All the different parties worked together, parties who would not normally do so: the Ministry of Justice, designers, furniture brands and inmates.’ Tellegen emphasizes that the support for the designers is financed with funds from the BankGiro Loterij. ‘Thanks to all the participants, we can work on a green, social and creative society.’ 

Tellegen sees social design as an important element in the resolution of social problems. ‘It is of course not all that is required. Technology and money also play a great role. But we can no longer manage without the influence of design. Over the last five years we have seen that the impact of social design has increased. Stichting DOEN plans to continue to support social design projects. Until the topic is picked up by other financers. This is exactly what happened with electric transport. This has now been taken over by other parties. I believe that social design as a term will no longer exist in the future as it will become a matter of course. This is because consumers think more consciously about their impact on the world and take well-considered decisions. We do not want environmental pollution, child labour or dubiously produced products. What is so great about social design is that it constantly responds to the world around us. For example a lot of designers are currently involved with the flow of refugees. They are searching for loop holes in legislation to allow refugees to earn income for themselves and these plans are already being adopted by aldermen. It is awesome to see how much influence design really has. It makes me very happy. Social design is very positive, it gives hope.’