How Dutch Design Week puts the Netherlands on the map | ministries

Blog post | 24-10-2022 | BZ members worldwide

Dutch Design Week 2022 in Eindhoven brings together designers and entrepreneurs from all over the world. What’s on the agenda this year? And what does this annual event mean for the Netherlands? Dewi van de Weerd, ambassador for international cultural cooperation, takes you to the Dutch Design Week.

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Picture: ©About.today

Dutch Design Week 2021: exhibition ‘Cabinet of Collaborations’.

What is Dutch Design Week?

Dutch Design Week is one of the biggest events for designers in Europe. This year, more than 2600 designers will meet throughout Eindhoven: from fashion designers to architects and game developers. People and organizations who use design to think about global challenges. You can visit the event from 22 to 30 October.

Theme for Dutch Design Week 2022

‘The theme for this edition of Dutch Design Week is Get ready: We’re on a mission,’ says Dewi van de Weerd, ambassador for international cultural cooperation. ‘We are facing big challenges that require good ideas. Think climate change, health, migration and energy. It’s time for people, governments and businesses to take action.’ Design plays an interesting role in this: ‘Designers are able to outline prospects for the future – and come up with innovations for it.’

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is very interested in the opportunities that the week offers for international cultural cooperation. And that is why Dewi is also present.

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Dewi van de Weerd at Dutch Design Week 2021

Dewi van de Weerd, ambassador for international cultural cooperation (Dutch Design Week 2021).

What is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs doing for Dutch Design Week?

First, a step back: what exactly does the Ministry of Foreign Affairs do, and why is there an ambassador for international cultural cooperation? ‘In my role as ambassador, I am often on the move in the cultural field, and I work together with theatres, museums, festivals and events. With our embassies all over the world, we create new opportunities for Dutch citizens abroad, and we connect people and companies with each other. For example, we know the most important festivals and fairs in a country and we know who to contact. For example, we are active in ensuring that Dutch people can easily find their way abroad. Our embassies are therefore real matchmakers, also during Dutch Design Week.’

A global cultural network

‘For Dutch Design Week, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs invites connections from all over the world,’ says Dewi. ‘With such visiting programs we bring relevant contacts to the design world to Dutch Design Week. Think designers, but also curators and museum directors. In this way, we show the outside world what the Netherlands has to offer. And that results in new international collaborations and opportunities for Dutch design abroad.’

‘A good example is Building Beyond, a mentoring program for young, promising artists and architects from Africa. During their visit to Dutch Design Week, they get inspiration, but they also get the chance to share experiences during speed dates with Dutch talents. A great opportunity to share Dutch expertise on the basis of equality and to support the creative sector in other countries to achieve sustainability goals.

Building Beyond is a collaboration between the Prince Claus Foundation and Creative Industries Fund NL. Both are partners in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and focus on the use of culture and the creative industry for sustainable development. During Dutch Design Week, I also talk a lot with Dutch designers to ask what Foreign Affairs can do for them when they move abroad.’

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Dutch Design Week 2021: 'The greater number in numbers'

Picture: ©© Tommy Köhlbrugge

Dutch Design Week 2021: exhibition ‘The greater number in numbers’.

How important is Dutch Design Week to the Netherlands?

“The creative sector accounts for about 4% of all jobs in the Netherlands,” says Dewi. ‘It is above the average worldwide. That makes it all the more important for the Netherlands to put our culture and creative industry on the map. And that is why Dutch Design Week is one of our flagships: an internationally recognized event. This is where the crème de la crème of Dutch and international designers come in.’

Dutch Design Week: crème de la crème for Dutch and international designers.

‘Dutch Design Week is a great moment for designers to share their creations with the world and network internationally. But also for the Netherlands to bring in new ideas.’ An example: ‘Our summers are getting hotter because of global warming. There are countries where they build houses in such a way that there is natural air circulation inside, without air conditioning. For example, our construction sector can learn from other countries. Such innovations make Dutch Design Week hugely inspiring every year. I look forward to being surprised again!’

Changes in our society

‘With art and culture you can inspire people to think about the changes in our society. For example, by opening up complicated topics for discussion and devising solutions. This is what the coalition agreement says: how can we use the creative sector for social challenges such as climate change, water and energy? And it is precisely this question that is central during Dutch Design Week.’

International cultural cooperation, all year round

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is there all year round so that Dutch people can work abroad more quickly. And to exchange knowledge, opportunities, ideas and innovations worldwide. “We have a strong cultural sector in the Netherlands that likes to spread its wings internationally,” says Dewi. “And we help with that.”

Do you work in the cultural sector and are you curious about the opportunities abroad? Take a look at DutchCulture.nl. And do you want to know more about the ambassador for international cultural cooperation’s work in practice? Then follow @nlambassadorforculture on Instagram.

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