Diez: “My work is driven by curiosity for things that matter in the everyday life of people. Profound research, technical expertise and a sense for old and innovative materials are the base for an experimental approach to innovative product design. I look for simplicity in the solutions without losing originality. All my work strictly follows the principles of a circular economy.”
“BOA, for example, is made using a minimum of 75% recycled material and therefore has a carbon footprint that is almost 10 times smaller than the primary global average for aluminum. AYNO and COSTUME are two other great examples of products that are made to be disassembled and reassembled to be used many times over before they eventually get recycled. These are all products that showcase that there is no contradiction between good and sustainable design. Designing for a circular economy doesn't necessarily mean we have to refrain from something, but rather that we might have to think and build products a little differently.”
“There is no contradiction between good and sustainable design. Designing for a circular economy doesn't necessarily mean we have to refrain from something, but rather that we might have to think and build products a little differently.”
“Teaching provides me an opportunity to reflect my own design philosophy and pass on knowledge to the next generation of designers. The special thing about working with my students is that I have to reflect more on my own actions. There's a difference between feeling I'm doing something right and being able to explain why I'm doing something the way I'm doing it. Our studio designs products that will be ready for the market tomorrow - the students can instead think ten years into the future, this change of perspective is an important enrichment!
“The next generation needs curiosity, to never stop asking questions about the world around them. It is important that they question existing norms and assumptions and they consider the impact of their design. Pushing boundaries in design is not just about innovation for its own sake but also about solving real-world problems and improving people’s lives. By combining creativity, empathy and a commitment to positive change, the next generation of designers can make significant contributions to the field and society as a whole.”
“By combining creativity, empathy and a commitment to positive change, the next generation of designers can make significant contributions to the field and society as a whole.”
“I see the keys for this process in cross-disciplinary collaboration to think beyond traditional boundaries, prioritising environmentally responsible practices, materials and production methods to address global challenges like climate change and resource scarcity, taking risks and embracing failure as a learning is always a big part and last but not least I always try to motivate also my students to design with a clear sense of purpose - to consider the societal and environmental impacts of your work and strive to create designs that contribute positively to the world. “
“In recent years, the world’s system has experienced deep shock as a result of social, health, economic and environmental crises. Design as a practice both responds to and influences the world around us. What was once linear is becoming circular, novelty has to be replaced by longevity. I think that the transformation to a circular economy is one of the most important missions for designers. As designers we have a key role in advancing the circular economy because we are in contact with practically everyone involved in the making of a product, and we can use this position to affect positive change in the way products are made, used and brought back into a circular system.”
“As designers we have a key role in advancing the circular economy because we are in contact with practically everyone involved in the making of a product. We can use this position to affect positive change in the way products are made, used and brought back into a circular system.”
“It is difficult to know if you’ve succeeded or not, but if a user values a product I have designed enough to keep it around for many years, that they care for it and repair it, that the product means something to them and they therefore keep it in use, is for me the most rewarding in terms of creating successful products for a circular economy. Of course a product needs to last long and be recyclable, but it also needs to be a product people actually want to use for a long time.”
“Awards and recognition in the design field can shape a designer’s vision by validating their work and pushing them to continue innovating. We were lucky to have received some of the most important ones, last year for example the `Royal Designers of Industry` (RDI) - granted annually, it is the highest accolade in the UK for designers given in recognition of sustained design excellence, work of aesthetic value and significant benefit to society. Being invited to the ceremony in London and receiving this incredible recognition next to colleagues like Anab Jain, Andrea Trimarchi and Simone Farresin (Formafantasma) and Francis Kéré is an indescribable honour.“
“I find it hard to name just one promising young talent. If I just look at my students in Vienna, they are all aspiring young designers with a different view on the world and on the design scene. Take for instance Design in Gesellschaft (DING), a collective of 13 designers, some of them graduated from my class. They have their own brands, but work together in a collective, providing a forward-looking counter-model to the now outdated concept of author design. In appearing both as a collective and in their own brands, they gain broader access to projects and, subsequently, to the industry. Instead of being 13 one-man shows, there is a "we" that can scale, perform and make offers differently. They can quickly and easily form alliances with other members and incorporate their resources and expertise into their work.”
“What it means to me to be a first generation DDW beacon? I always follow the Dutch design scene. Even though the country is relatively small it has a vibrant design scene – I remember seeing the first Droog exhibitions in Milan, Design Academy always has been a benchmark…“
On Sunday, 22 October, Dutch Design Week hosted an intimate breakfast discussion on the 'role of retail in a circular chain of furniture,' led by DDW beacon and circular design pioneer Stefan Diez.
Invited guests included designers, furniture brands, material and system experts, and an architect specialized in material reuse. The participants underscored the complexities design faces when navigating deeply rooted, linear retail systems. They suggested a need for systemic change involving designers, makers, and consumers. Challenges that should be addressed are for instance: the need to update designer contractual models to stimulate circular design to the importance of communicating the disassembly of goods to the user.
Participants questioned how local retailers could help 'close the loop' and the requirement for a supportive infrastructure to accompany the release of circular goods. Ultimately, it was posited that a holistic approach involving policymakers, designers, and end-users is essential for fostering change, with the necessity for this conversation to expand beyond just the design community. After visiting Dutch Design Week Stefan Diez himself highlighted that he is looking to the Dutch to lead the way to push this discussion to practical next steps.
* Whereas Dutch Design Week (DDW) used to appoint two or three ambassadors each year until last year, we are now exploring a different format. This year, Dutch Design Week invites three designers to serve as beacons. Leading designers, pioneers in their field. These trailblazers serve as kinds of landmarks in the turbulent world of design and are seen as guiding lights for fellow designers, partners, and DDW visitors.
We aim to build on the knowledge, experience and expertise of these beacons to deepen the dialogue within the design field. This year, we will explore together what form(s) this can take, hopefully resulting in a valuable, sustainable connection.