Impact on people, nature, and society: these are the criteria that guided the jury for the Dutch Design Awards 2021, announced in Eindhoven during Dutch Design Week (until 24 October). The eight winners, the judges wrote in a statement, ‘mark a new impetus for the design world with a lot of innovation and the power to change. This year’s winners underline that designers thrive on change and cross-pollination and radiate hopeful optimism.’

Dutch Design Awards 2021 winners

A moodboard style picture of different elements from the ByBorre Create tool, including yarn, sketches and the screen of a tablet showing different colour options for the textile design
Byborre Create

The Dutch Design Awards are split into eight categories, covering creative disciplines from product design to fashion and graphics. 

The winner of the product design category was Borre Akkersdijk, founder of innovative textile label Byborre, for his Byborre Create project. The initiative consists of an accessible tool and platform that simplifies textile design for customers, preventing textile waste and allowing freedom of creation. ‘ByBorre Create makes clear that an intrinsic problem in textile production can be solved, while at the same time paving the way for greater innovation,’ said the jury. 

Posters displayed on a metal structure outdoors in a park
‘Stay Sane, Stay Safe’ by Studio Lennarts & De Bruijn

The award in the communication category went to Studio Lennarts & De Bruijn for their ‘Stay Sane, Stay Safe’ campaign, developed at the start of the pandemic as an open platform for users to upload, download, print or share posters. The project so far has gathered 2,200 posters from 87 countries, and was described as ‘an outlet for designers and everyone who could use a little support’. The initiative, the jury said, ‘shows just how valuable the reactive role of designers can be on the zeitgeist’.

Marker Wadden Archipelago, in a Dutch lake, surrounded by a strip of sand dunes
The Marker Wadden. Photography: John Gundlach/Flying Holland

The Marker Wadden (an artificial archipelago developed within lake Markermeer) won the prize in the habitat category, as ‘an urgent and exemplary project; an impressive, non-human oriented approach that largely leaves nature to shape the landscape’. The newly developed nature reserve was developed with nature itself, and consists of five islands with ​​marshlands and shallow water protected by two rows of dunes, with the aim of recovering the ecology and biodiversity of the area. 

The circular warehouse project, showing a warehouse space with a long table and chairs
Circulair Warenhuis

Created by Raw Color, Popma ter Steege Architects, and Buro Bordo, the Circulair Warenhuis is a project in collaboration with the Netherlands’ largest secondhand department store, created to explore new ways of reusing everyday objects in collaboration with leading designers such as Max Lipsey and Studio Makkink & Bey. The project involved over three million kilos of goods from the store, which were then repurposed into scalable furniture designs. ‘This is the application of design in its broadest sense,’ reads a statement from the nominating jury. ‘The Circulair Warenhuis is not based only on a few products or pre-conceived flavour formulas, but is all about a diversity of input, processes and possible outcomes. It encourages a varied approach to tackling waste flows and making them relevant.’

Other awards include Affect Lab’s Good Neighbours, a timely project exploring community building; Leela, a beta test of a new digital fashion platform by digital fashion house The Fabricant; and Globalance World, a project commissioned by Swiss private bank Globalance that demonstrates the global impact of investments (hence dubbed ‘a Google Earth for Investors’).

Dutch Design Awards Young Designer 2021

Abstract sculpture by Audrey Large with green, pink and blue elements
Work by Audrey Large

The Dutch Design Awards’ Young Designer accolade was awarded to Audrey Large, whose 3D-printed sculptural works are the result of extensive research into digital cinema and image theory. The French designer combines animation and 3D software to create her colourful abstract objects, merging techniques, function and the viewer’s perception. ‘Audrey Large sits atop the zeitgeist with the new visual language she creates,’ said the jury. ‘She makes tangible the blurring of boundaries between the digital and the physical.’ §