A reflection on Dutch Design Week 2022
Published on: 31st October 2022
It was great to see how DDW experimented with a mission-driven programme this year, as it forced all those involved to jump into action, question current thinking and develop products that would stimulate change.
Alongside many others in the design community, over the past few years we have noticed a progressive shift towards more abstract exhibits that verge on art rather than design. Although much of what was presented was not 100% viable right now, they were all still certainly provocative, thought provoking and indicative of the prevailing sentiment.
The festival did provide good insight into how we could tackle some of the world’s greatest challenges and move towards a sustainable future for all. From new material applications and repair workshops to the more bizarre ways you could repurpose waste, you are always able to find interesting perspectives on what’s to come.
One of the largest focus areas this year was being ‘climate ready’. This was very much expected as we are all now facing more unpredictable weather, water shortages and temperature raises around the globe.
There was a good mix of immediate solutions as well as future-focussed ones. For example the need to be more conscious about consumption drove a lot of designers, such as the Circular Collective, to look into how we could harvest rainwater and reduce usage. On the other hand, V8 Architects and Marjan van Aubel focussed on how we could integrate solar design into different aspects of life.
No matter the solution, it was evident that being ‘climate ready’ has very much cemented itself as one of the key pillars of DDW’s future and one we hope is explored with pace.
Year on year we’ve seen many proposals as to how we could use alternative materials within current practices. As with previous year’s most followed the trend of moving away from petroleum to more bio-based solutions.
It did seem as though many were just pointing out problems, rather than coming to the table with an actual solution, but those that did make the effort really stood out. For example, Ori Orisun Merhav’s Lac Lab found innovative ways that you could use the natural resin produced by the Kerria Lacca insects. One example was how you use it as natural shellac coating.
The idea of perceived value was explored in two distinctive ways. The first being how we could improve an objects lifespan by placing more meaningful value on it, and the second being how we could give a new lease of life to discarded materials and objects.
The re-think plastic exhibition was a central hub for this. From PrettyPlastic Tiles’, who transformed construction products into cladding material, to Brabantia’s waste bins that were made from 91% recycled post-consumer plastic, the idea of next generation renewal and not ending up in landfill was everywhere.
Phillips showcased beautiful 3D printed lamps made from recycled fishing nets in an exhibit called ‘From Waste to Wonder’. At first glance many believed the nets were actually recovered as marine waste from the ocean. In fact, they these nets were collected as commercial waste from fishermen in Cornwall who were compensated for any worn nets with their price equivalent in the weight of a catch. Although a little misleading as to the problem it was tackling, it was hoped that this practice would be adopted by regions in the world where this type of marine waste causes significant problems.
Tying nicely together with the idea of perceived value is repair and how we could facilitate this. Two main notions seemed to be; we need to provide consumers greater access and easier ways to repair their products and; we need to offer more subscription based models to consumers.
There seemed to be more and more examples of how up and coming designers were thinking about products in this way. For example Thomas Mair’s coffee machine, Kara, was designed to make it easy to understand how it works and how to repair it.
Overall DDW 2022 didn’t disappoint. It was great to see how designers answered the theme of ‘Get Set’ and got fully behind the mission of tackling some of the world’s greatest challenges. Although the majority of ideas were not 100% viable at present, what was, was the inherent desire to jump into action and question current thinking. It really gave promise for what’s to come and hopefully the speed at which we could see this happening.