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These are the ambassadors for Dutch Design Week 2018

22 June 2018

Ravi Naidoo (Design Indaba), Laurens van den Acker (Renault) and Wendy Plomp (Dutch Invertuals) are the ambassadors of the 17th Dutch Design Week (DDW). The ambassadors deploy their network to create links, function as a sounding board for participants and visitors, and initiate special activities during the week.

Advocates of design
Every year DDW appoints parties from the design field as advocates of design in general and especially for the week. According to the organisation behind Dutch Design Week (DDW) the threesome form a balanced and wide reflection of design in 2018. Martijn Paulen, Dutch Design Foundation director: ‘Ravi Naidoo´s ambassadorship underpins the importance that our organisation attaches to talent development, inclusivity and internationalisation. We see Laurens van den Acker as the link between people, innovation, technology, mobility and industry. And with the appointment of Wendy Plomp we stay true to our core values: innovation, research and experiment.’

Ambassadors’ quotes

  • ‘We bring our trademark activism to DDW.’ Ravi Naidoo
  • ‘A virtuoso soloist is often supported by a great symphony orchestra.’ Laurens van den Acker
  • ‘Companies and institutions are increasingly embracing creative spirits.’ Wendy Plomp 

See the appendix for the complete interviews with the ambassadors.

Wendy Plomp © Martin Dijkstra

Ravi Naidoo © Martin Dijkstra

Laurens van den Acker © Martin Dijkstra

Dutch Design Week
The 17th edition of DDW, the biggest design event in Northern Europe, will run from Saturday 20 until Sunday 28 October in Eindhoven (The Netherlands). Again this year the organisers expect more than 2500 participants, distributed over more than 100 locations presenting new work, prototypes and concepts. The complete programme will be announced in September. For additional information:

Note for the editorial staff, not for publication:

For more information, please contact Dutch Design Week (DDW) via Nicole de Boer, +31(0)6 248 08 928,,

Our website carries high-resolution images of the ambassadors, available free from copyright for non-commercial publication purposes, providing the name of the photographer (Martin Dijkstra) and Dutch Design Week are stated.
Click here for the high-res images. Credit: Martin Dijkstra

Dutch Design Foundation
Dutch Design Foundation (DDF) is optimistic and believes that the problem-solving capacity of designers can improve the world. That's why DDF offers designers opportunities, support, publicity and a platform. DDF organizes Dutch Design Week, World Design Event and the Dutch Design Awards and is active far beyond the Netherlands. Through debates, lectures, exhibitions and gatherings staged all year round, DDF provides a platform for the best and most promising designers, helping to disseminate their ideas and work.


Ravi Naidoo: ‘We bring our trademark activism to DDW’

Ravi Naidoo (Durban, South Africa 1964) is the founder and director of Design Indaba in South Africa. Naidoo is part of the jury for the Index Awards, D&AD Impact Awards, IXDA Awards and Dutch Design Awards. In 2015 he received the Sir Misha Black Medal for his efforts deploying design to strengthen the South African education system and economy.

Ravi Naidoo has a strong reputation within the design world. He organises inspirational international design conferences, is known as an advocate of change and promotor of young talent, which he scouts around the world. In addition, he explores major social issues like the (potential) role of design for the future of Africa. Last year, Naidoo and DDW introduced the new platform Antenna together. His ambassadorship is in line with the importance DDW attaches to talent development and inclusivity and also underlines its international ambitions.

What do you expect from the coming Dutch Design Week?
‘Dutch Design Week is mainly aimed at experimenting, prototyping, R&D and speculative design - it really extends the scope of design. The event is less focused on the traditional trade fair models of most design weeks, but is rather a platform that gives insights on the future trajectory of design.’

Which aspect of design would you like to attract more attention to?
‘We think there has been a step change in the calibre of design graduates emerging from the leading schools in the world - and they are deeply concerned with how design can improve the quality of life. We want to help them realize their graduation projects. And it starts with listening.’

What can you contribute to the week from your specific experience?
‘At Design Indaba, we have transformed our Think Tank into a Do Tank and have become prolific producers of design. We are now bringing this trademark activism to DDW. This way, we hope to be able to help graduates convert their plans and ideas into tangible, viable projects.’

What would make your ambassadorship a success?
‘In one word: impact. If it has impact.’

Laurens van den Acker: ‘A virtuoso soloist is often supported by a great symphony orchestra.’

Laurens van den Acker (Deurne, the Netherlands, 1965) has been the Senior Vice President Corporate Design with Renault since 2009. After completing his degree in Industrial Design at the TU Delft he held various positions with leading automotive companies in Germany, America and Japan. In his current position, Van den Acker is responsible for the design of the Renault, Alpine and Dacia, and for the car division of Samsung Motors. Van den Acker works and lives in Paris.

Within the technical design world Van den Acker is considered one of the trendsetters for automotive design. From his position at Renault he can provide, better than anyone, an insight into the future of mobility, a field on the brink of major change. For DDW he represents the connection between people, innovation, technology, mobility and industry.

What do you expect from the coming Dutch Design Week, in what way can or will it distinguish itself from previous editions?
‘I expect to see projects that surprise, amaze, intrigue and inspire me. I am looking for tangible solutions but also for magic. For high tech and crafts. For perfection and passion.’

Which group, or which discipline, which aspect of design would you like to attract more attention to?
‘Those in the field who are often in the background. Lots of people think that design is an exceptionally individual activity, but in fact it is a true team sport. A virtuoso soloist is often supported by a great symphony orchestra.’

What can you contribute to DDW and the ambassadorship from your experience or field?
‘Mobility affects us all and is crucial for a properly functioning society. DDW is an excellent forum for testing new ideas and asking critical questions.’

What would make your ambassadorship a success?
‘If I am able to contribute to the creation of solutions.’

Wendy Plomp: ‘Companies and institutions are increasingly embracing creative spirits.’

Wendy Plomp (Wilnis, the Netherlands 1977) graduated from the Design Academy Eindhoven (Man & Leisure). She is the founder, curator and art director of Dutch Invertuals. Under Plomp’s watchful eye, this continually changing design collective explores the limits of design throughout the year. Central to Plomp’s work is giving stories shape. She analyses our culture and spirit of the times, explores the sources of design and discovers new traditions.

Throughout the years Dutch Invertuals has repeatedly been one of the most striking participants. During DDW, but also at the Salone del Mobile in Milan. With Plomp’s never failing attention and efforts for young talent, she consistently delivers a prominent intrinsic contribution to the week. With the experimental Dutch Invertuals she represents many of the core values of DDW, including the stimulation of new developments.

How will the upcoming DDW make its unique mark?
‘The attention for sustainability and circularity is increasing. The public at large is also ready for the “transformation”. Which is why I expect many material innovations that will subsequently find their way into all sorts of new applications. Designers are involved increasingly often in processes that had previously not had a design function. Companies and institutions are increasingly embracing creative spirits. They want to look at the world differently, from a higher level of abstraction.’

Which aspect of design would you like to attract more attention to?
‘Creativity is often not properly appreciated. The value of it is far higher than most people realise. A chasm has also opened up between commerce and designers. As a result, many talented designers do not survive. I want to change this imbalance. Which explains why at Dutch Invertuals we regularly stimulate and explore cooperation with commerce.’

What can you contribute to the ambassadorship from your specific experience?
‘I hope to create links between parties. I will be exercising my almost ten years of experience in the world of design to achieve this.’