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Mobility, privacy and gender identity at Dutch Design Week

01 October 2019

Running from October 19 – 27, Dutch Design Week (DDW) explores themes that affect all of our lives, creating discussion and generating new ideas and prototypes. Here is our second selection of DDW 2019 themes - mobility, smart spaces/privacy and gender/identity - and project highlights.


Population growth, rapid urbanization and environmental concerns are forcing us to look at mobility in new ways so that we can make our cities more livable. The future requires audacious choices in terms of infrastructure design and new applications in the field of mobility. DDW mobility highlights include:

In the 1930s we planned our cities to work efficiently. For cars, not people. But now that the world is a very different place and we’re forced to go back to the drawing board, we can’t afford to make the same mistake. Today, mobility must put people first. The Embassy of Mobility on Ketelhuisplein is an open-air space promoting the innovations of tomorrow among the general public, but also among the business community, industry and government.

Embassy of Mobility
© Chuttersnap

STATION OF BEING is a new sort of bus station designed by innovator and engineer Rombout Frieling in cooperation with Research Institutes of Sweden in Umeå that is set to revolutionise the transit experience. The bus stations, shown at DDW in the form of a video installation, are part of a larger EU-supported project to reduce car usage and make public transport more attractive. The first STATION OF BEING station, which will open in the Swedish town of Umea in early October where temperatures reach -40°C outdoors and there are 6 metres of snowfall in winter, measures 5x18m and allows passengers to turn waiting time into quality time by sheltering in ‘pods’ where they are protected from cold winds. The station is built mainly of local wood – with an innovative CLT wood roof – and its energy consumption is comparable to that of a traditional bus shelter. Bus status information is transmitted through sound and light projected on the roof.

Rombout Frieling Universum North bus station, Umeå, Sweden
© Samuel Pettersson

DDW visitors will be able to ride in the Renault ZOE electric car as part of our renowned free Design Rides service. But it will also shows its vision of the future in an exhibition entitled ‘The future of mobility’ where it will present three concept vehicles: EZ-GO (a vehicle for daily shared mobility in the city; a sort of mobile meeting room with space for up to six people), EZ-PRO (a vehicle for last mile delivery), and EZ-ULTIMO (a vehicle for a premium mobility experience).

© Renault

Noggin is a foldable helmet service designed by product and user-experience designer Amy Virasak that aims to make ridesharing safer. Over the past year, Bird, Lime, and JUMP have taken over cities with the introduction of ‘last-mile transportation’ services. However, with the rise of these electric vehicles flooding city streets, there's also been a rise in trips to the emergency room due to rider accidents and head injuries. E-transportation companies technically require users to wear a helmet when using their service and claim that safety is a top priority but in reality they do nothing to facilitate it. Noggin provides Uber's JUMP bike riders with free foldable helmets that can be accessed directly from the rented vehicle. The design is origami-inspired and the helmets flat-fold for convenience when not in use.

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Smart Spaces/Privacy

Questions that cause consternation in the sphere of smart homes, technology and privacy include: How can we ensure the homes of the future are smart but also privacy-friendly? How can we avoid giving away all of our data and privacy each time we log in to a website? How can we make digital and physical sources of research work more harmoniously together? DDW explores all three in these projects detailed below.

Tijmen Schep’s Candle project helps society think critically about new technologies. Its goal is to challenge the industry into creating better, more ethical products. For DDW four artists and designers have been asked to research and create a 'privacy aesthetic'. Their designs for the home show us a glimpse of what smart products might be like in the future - more respectful of the complex social fabric inside our homes, and the privacy of the friends and family who visit us there. This ecosystem of privacy friendly devices, ranging from smart locks to security sensors, and from weather stations to thermostats, is completely different from what is currently on the market. Not only is data stored locally, and not in the cloud, but the entire system can work without ever connecting to the internet. Even the voice control works fine offline. And instead of forcing you to trust the code and hardware, you are in total control. As with IKEA products you put them together yourself, so you can be sure there are no hidden microphones! Even the software is open source, making it easier to understand how the algorithms work.

Candle, the privacy friendly smart home
© Candle

Julia Janssen is a designer who specialises in the social impact of technology, issues such as ownership rights of personal data, the altering definition of privacy, the monetary value of online behaviour and the future of digital identity. ‘One Click’ is a book that lists the 835 privacy policies that people accept when they click on ‘Got it’ on the website. And ‘0.0416 seconds’ is a live performance/exhibition and recording that involves reading the entire one-click list of policies out loud as a collective art piece. The title refers to the fact that clicking on an accept button takes an average of 0.0416 seconds, which is also the time it takes to give up ownership rights on your own personal information. The work explores the inhumane scale of this statutory construction and the way the data economy is built on the ignorance of the internet user.

One Click Book Cover
© Julia Janssen


Gender, diversity and identity are themes that are examined a great deal in society, in the media, in schools and in online platforms and a growing amount of designers are highlighting these topics too. Here are two DDW projects to look out for.

Marsha Wichers is a cosmetic surgeon, designer and artist. For her Masters she presented Face Design, a project in which she filmed herself creating 18 facial expressions before and after undergoing 'full facial' botox. “I've noticed how difficult it is to show anger when you can't frown or disgust when you can't press the corners of your mouth down,” she says. Wichers wants to stimulate discussion around this practice, and explores questions such as: Can we still understand each other after cosmetic surgery? Or does A.I. understand us better? When do you cross the border of what still looks natural? How much Botox can you do before you lose too much of your facial expression? Is it okay to have your face reflect your real age?

Face Design
© Micha Wichers

With its minimalist design, low price and choice of many sizes, Bonne Reijn designs and makes special suits that are accessible to a wide audience. The emphasis is on the wearer and the application of his or her personal style. The suit has an elegant fit that is both feminine and masculine. Everyone wears the same regardless of size, gender, age, subculture or class. The suit shows the power of uniformity and responds to the saturation in styles that many people experience with regard to fashion. Bonne Reijn has won the Dutch Design Award 2019 in the category 'Fashion'. He will be part of the DDA exhibition in VEEM.

Bonne Suits
© Esmay Wagemans