Unveiled this weekend, the Dutch Design Awards celebrate a wide spectrum of design disciplines and their most talented local players. 

Winning both the award for the best communication project and the Future Award – the most prestigious accolade which recognises the project with the widest impact amongst all the victors – was Refugee Republic, an interactive online documentary by Submarine Channel mapping the lives within a Syrian refugee camps with both humour and clarity. The piece employed different narrative techniques (from film to illustration, music and interviews) to highlight the very serious issues affecting the inhabitants of the camp with a light, non-judgmental tone. ‘A project like this,’ said judge and South Africa-based global conference Design Indaba founder Ravi Naidoo, ‘demonstrates that empathy is your best design tool.’

Selected by a jury led by KLM Global Brand Director Frank Houben, director of architectural institute Bureau Europa Saskia van Stein and design consultant Joost Alferink, the judges awarded Teresa Van Dongen with the Young Designer prize. Her work merges aesthetics, scientific research and techniques (like bioluminescence) to produce beautifully crafted lamps. ‘It opens up a new poetic domain for design,’ said van Stein, noting how the young Dutch designer's relatively small portfolio (Van Dongen graduated from Design Academy Eindhoven just a year ago) holds incredible potential.

The Design Research category was won by Arna Mackic, whose Mortal Cities & Forgotten Monuments project was formed as a proposal for the Bosnian city of Mostar’s cultural heritage. Mackic developed the idea of monuments built not for religious purposes, but that refer to sentiments more commonly shared within a population; social or historical motifs that don’t suggest potential conflicts but a more neutral, common ground.

SchilderScholte architects’s Pani Community Centre, built last year in Rajarhat, Bangladesh, was awarded the Habitat Prize, celebrating a building that improved the quality of life in the area it was erected. The Rotterdam-based practice built a vocational school and community centre which also acts as a gathering area for women and children of the local town. The building was more than an aesthetic exercise and included important details such a yellow paint to repel mosquitoes and clever cross ventilation techniques.

Presented with the Fashion Award was Lanvin’s creative director for menswear, Lucas Ossendrijver, for his ability to translate a haute couture quality into pret a porter label. Ossendrijver infused new life into the brand through collections that feature classic shapes with eclectic mixes of fabric and textures.

A multimedia tour created by Fabrique for Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum was awarded the Services & Systems accolade, while the Best Product award was won by Flex, a Dutch innovation lab working on a variety of everyday objects and identities for their Post Sorting Aid.

The panel of judges was as varied as the winners, with an international arm of note-worthy ambassadors including Matilda McQuaid, Deputy Director of Curatorial and Head of Textiles at Cooper Hewitt Museum and JoAnn Edward, Director of the Museum of Craft and Design in San Francisco.