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Marsha Simon: “interCHANGES focuses entirely on the co-creation of knowledge”

18 October 2023

© Diversity Week HvA - Marsha Simon - Mascha Tielemans
“For as long as I can remember, I have felt that things should be different and over the past eleven years designers, entrepreneurs and researchers have shown me that things can be done differently.”

We are talking to Marsha Simon, Programme and Community Manager of Dutch Design Foundation (DDF) and the programme-maker of interCHANGES, a new programme of interactive events. A safe place where everyone is invited to contribute to common missions, where you can share knowledge, co-create and develop long-term partnerships. Because no one can stand on the side-lines any longer, right? 

Take part in interCHANGES →


InterCHANGES, facilitated by Dutch Design Foundation, arose from that need. “Designers are my favourite in that list”, Simon explains, “but what I’ve realised over the last few years is how relevant it is to reach and involve people outside the design-bubble. So that people who have nothing to do with design can experience what it can do for them. And to show that we can really achieve our missions if we work together.”

As an independent moderator, presenter and programme-maker, Simon strives to bring people together in such a way that they all really benefit from it. For her, an event is a magical moment. But she also bears a responsibility: after all, it is her task to make every event meaningful for every participant. And she does this even more specifically within interCHANGES.

The programme narratives of Dutch Design Week

Together with partners, the platform will organise interactive sessions around new missions, formulated as programme narratives. During this edition of Dutch Design Week (DDW), Dutch Design Foundation introduces ten of these programme narratives, consisting of different missions and design perspectives, and helps them to make the best possible matches between participating designers and visitors. A wide range of mission-driven people are invited to meet up, work together and make an impact.

Opening Europe's first cloverleaf (October 1935)
© Stockholms stadsmuseum

Together in the cloverleaf

“While developing the format, I came across a photo of the very first cloverleaf-interchange in Europe, and I suddenly saw it clearly: many mission-driven people are on a highway. Every day we work hard to move forwards. We may leave the highway for a while to help each other, slow down a little, we drive into the cloverleaf and our paths cross”, says Simon as a nice metaphor. “This is the perfect moment to open a dialogue, to share your dilemmas, what you need and how you can complement each other. Meanwhile, everyone keeps moving forward. You only slow down temporarily, but you come back enriched and then move on together. We have a better view of each other along the highway route, you recognise and acknowledge others and can find them when needed”.

“Of course, these people have been on a mission for some time. And they will remain so, even without interCHANGES. But they often only meet up at very specific times in homogeneous situations. Whether it’s the director of a company or organisation, a policymaker working for the local council, or a designer or visitor at Dutch Design Week.” The challenge, according to Simon, is to find the space to get together with other blood groups and get started. She thinks that, with the richly varied communities of the Dutch Design Foundation, that she can play a facilitating role in this process. That is how interCHANGES was born.

“With interCHANGES we strive for a broad cultivation of the co-creation of knowledge. I hope that interCHANGES will be able to grow in the near future and that people will understand what kind of culture we have in mind. And that a strong community of mission-driven people can develop, who know how to find each other. But above all that these people feel seen, heard, supported, enriched and connected.”

© Van Abbemuseum - Embassy of Inclusive Society - DDW22 - Tommy Köhlbrugge

Co-creation of knowledge

“What makes interCHANGES so special is that it focuses entirely on the co-creation of knowledge. There are often two players during an event: the speaker and the audience. The speaker gives a nice presentation, usually there is some kind of interaction, but the person on stage usually plays the leading role. Interesting speakers are also part of the programme at interCHANGES. But instead of an event-filling presentation, they use ultra-short, powerful storytelling in order to activate the thought processes of all participants, so that they start talking to each other and get to work. This takes place in different formats based on similar or complimentary missions.”

Throughout interCHANGES, what happens during the session and the knowledge that comes to the surface is recorded in a layered way. With the help of co-founding partner and the digital collaboration platform Miro, a substantive follow-up is put in motion. So, knowledge is not lost after interCHANGES; it is available at all times to all participants so that they can continue building. 


This is your chance to be a part of the launch of interCHANGES during Dutch Design Week 2023. The very first interCHANGES take place on 24, 25 and 25 October. Make sure you’re there!