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Dutch Design Week introduces its 2021 ambassadors

Floris Alkemade, Natsai Audrey Chieza, and Christien Meindertsma are the ambassadors of the 20th edition of Dutch Design Week (DDW). They are developing three unique projects especially for this year's event, giving their own interpretation of the DDW theme The Greater Number – our quest for the "better number" – a response to humanity's rampant addiction to growth.

The DDW21 ambassadors

Every year, DDW appoints people from the design field as advocates for design in general and DDW in particular. According to Dutch Design Foundation—the organisation behind DDW—the appointed trio represents the modern and most urgent voices of the design field of today and the future like none other.

Floris Alkemade © Martin Dijkstra

Floris Alkemade

At DDW21, architect and former Chief Government Architect Floris Alkemade will present, on behalf of the Board of Government Advisors and together with World Design Embassies, an exhibition in the form of a labyrinth. Alkemade: "The road to the future is not a straight line, but a continuous search, wandering and changing direction. The project is about finding new ways, looking at things differently. Change is an art that requires improvisation, audacity, and imagination."


The exhibition is a translation of his essay 'The Future of the Netherlands. The Art of Changing Direction'. In it, he describes the great challenges we face as a country and how we can provide answers to complex issues such as climate change, loss of biodiversity, as well as housing shortages, ageing, and loneliness.

Natsai Audrey Chieza © Toby Coulson

Natsai Audrey Chieza

Natsai Audrey Chieza, founder and CEO of Faber Futures, was invited as an ambassador to develop the project Bio Stories for DDW21. In it, she explores the complex dynamics surrounding synthetic biology: the design of living organisms. Chieza: "Technology and design have played an important role in creating a world where nature cannot thrive. But it's in our power to change that. This means that we have to recognize that synthetic biology is not about designing stuff, but about designing systems in which prosperity, care, and equality are central." 

This type of design raises strong reactions and various ethical and fundamental questions about the role of design in relation to nature. That's why Natsai Audrey Chieza is presenting the project Bio Stories at DDW21: a three-day forum in which she engages the Dutch design community on what kind of relationships we want to have with nature. Bio Stories is a prelude to the work Chieza is developing at the World Economic Forum Global Futures Council on Synthetic Biology. In this council, she will bring real ideas, insights, and provocations from local dialogues to the table.

Christien Meindertsma © Martin Dijkstra

Christien Meindertsma

Designer and artist Christien Meindertsma has been invited to develop a project that explores the relationship between objects and people. In her work, Meindertsma delves deeper into the origins, value, and meaning of materials and products. Her interactive installation and exhibition Body of Elements can be seen in Microlab (Strijp-S) during DDW21.

Meindertsma: "In 2007 I made the book PIG05059 and used it to show the staggering number of products in which an average pig ends up. Now, in the year 2021, I wonder, What am I made of? Where do my elements and particles come from? Where do they go? Without being aware of it in everyday life, we are connected to places all over the world through the very matter from which we are made. Our body—like many products—is only a temporary stopover for the elements that form the universe. With this new project Body of Elements, I want to work with interaction designer Joel Gethin Lewis to show how these elements stay in our bodies for a while and then move on."

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