Dutch Design Week returns to Eindhoven (16 – 24 October 2021), with a city-wide programme of events, exhibitions and initiatives that mark its 20th anniversary. This edition’s theme, ‘The Great Number’, responds to humanity’s addiction to growth. Divided into four sub-themes, projects explore the topic through ideas, research products and proposals. 

Dutch Design Week 2021: The Great Number

The event’s 2021 theme is inspired by Italian architect and designer Giancarlo De Carlo, who coined the phrase for the 1968 Milan Triennale, which he curated. For that event, the theme was chosen to ‘raise the issue of the world’s population rise, the conquests of modern science, and the discrepancy between Western abundance and poverty in the Third World’. The exhibition was destroyed a few days after its opening, by a group of students who had joined that year’s Europe-wide protests and saw the Milanese institution as the ‘epitome of elitism’.

The subject is still very current in 2021: ‘With this theme, on the one hand [we] call for less,’ reads a statement introducing Dutch Design Week 2021. ‘Less consumption, less production, and therefore less waste. On the other hand, we know less isn’t always possible and that when it comes to more, it should be better.’

With this premise, designers and creatives were invited to think about the current state of the world, and consider the pandemic as well as themes such as the climate crisis, inclusivity and wellbeing. ‘Designers want to make a difference: thinking about fully circular products, introducing new forms of local production, or designing products that make consumers think about the product’s use and true value,’ continues the statement. ‘Designers are critical in this exploratory, experimental phase. They can use their imagination to design a changing society.’

Dutch Design Week 2021 Ambassadors

Floris Alkemade, Natsai Audrey Chieza, and Christien Meindertsma have been named ambassadors for Dutch Design Week 2021. Each will develop a unique project for this year’s event, offering a personal interpretation of  ‘The Greater Number’. Every year, key figures from the design field are enlisted as advocates for design and take on the role of Design Ambassadors with specially curated projects in Eindhoven. According to the Dutch Design Foundation, ‘the appointed trio represents the modern and most urgent voices of the design field of today and the future like none other’.

Design destinations to discover in Eindhoven

‘Between No-Longer and Not-Yet’ at Kazerne

Neon lighting in a room with blue and green curtains
‘Go with the Flow’ by mother and daughter duo Jet and Pieke Bergmans at Kazerne. Photography: Ruud Balk

Kazerne’s 2,000 sq m exhibition space is set within former military barracks connected to an industrial warehouse, and the spaces will be showcasing design talent under the title ‘Between No-Longer and Not-Yet’, featuring work by Adaptism, Jet and Pieke Bergmans, Social Label, Giulia Pompilj, Edward van Vliet, and Teun Zwets, among others. Beyond the design week events, Kazerne is an unmissable design destination in its own right, home to eight luxury hotel rooms, a design shop and two restaurants, making it the perfect destination in the city. 

Paradijslaan 8

Dutch Invertuals

Photography: Ronald Smits

Dutch Invertuals and The Future Laboratory joined forces to explore how design can foster Equilibrium Cities: ‘future urban zones where collective ownership, fluid identities and nature are empowered to thrive’. The project combines the Future Laboratory’s forecasting expertise with Dutch Invertuals’ power to imagine and build on these ideas. ’We need to rethink our relationship with objects and our role as designers within our society,’ says Dutch Invertuals design director Wendy Plomp. The pieces in the exhibition include Johanna Seelemann’s ‘Hortulanus’, taking into consideration maintenance, change and decay of our daily objects through nature-centric technologies and production materials, and Wen Zhan’s concept of ‘undesign’ developed through a series of street furniture objects made from found materials from the streets of Hong Kong.

Fuutlaan 12B

Piet Hein Eek’s factory and hotel

Blue room at Piet Hein Eek’s hotel in Eindhoven
The ’Night Watch’ room, for the night shifts, designed by Teun Zwets

Piet Hein Eek’s creative destination is a must-visit in Eindhoven. His studio-factory is open to visit, with a restaurant, shop and showroom that allow guests to delve deeper into the Dutch designer’s universe. Since October 2021, he extended his reach with a hotel (located in the same block as his factory, housed within an old Philips ceramics workshop), featuring some of his signature design motifs and produced in collaboration with local creatives including Studio Rens and Teun Zwets

Factory: Halvemaanstraat 30
Hotel: Beeldbuisring 201

‘Meanwhile’ by Kiki & Joost 

Black cabinet with colourful fans as background

Top: ‘NSNG‘ cabinets by Joost van Bleiswijk for Moooi. Above: Collage Table by Kiki Van Eijk made at the Cor Unum ceramic residency

Designers Kiki Van Eijk and Joost van Bleiswijk present a show that reflects the optimism and healing qualities of the making and creative processes. ‘The exhibition is a joyful and energetic presentation of our one-off pieces,’ they say. Called ‘Meanwhile’, it includes new collections for Maison Dada and Moooi, an installation for the Queen of Hearts Foundation, and the results of a design residency at Cor Unum.

Gabriël Metsulaan 1

Van Abbemuseum

Eindhoven’s contemporary art museum hosts ‘Budget Airlines’ (until 14 November 2021), a project by the Geo-Design exhibition platform in collaboration with Design Academy Eindhoven. The exhibition explores the impact of budget airlines globally, on humans, the environment, politics and the social climate. ‘Over the past three decades, the airline industry has undergone dramatic change as a result of the tactics and mechanisms behind these low-cost carriers,’ say curators Martina Muzi, Joseph Grima, who gathered proposals through an open call to Design Academy alumni to develop the project. 

Stratumsedijk 2

Design Academy Eindhoven Graduate Show

Benedetta Pompili, Conversing with Matter, Master degree Social Design

Design Academy Eindhoven’s graduate show is among the unmissable highlights of Dutch Design Week, showcasing work from graduates with bachelor’s and master’s degrees. This year’s iteration includes the first edition of the Critical Diversity Conference, addressing topics of diversity and inclusivity within art and design education.

Beursgebouw, Lardinoisstraat 10

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