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Dutch Design Week

Our principal feeling about Dutch Design Week is that Eindhoven is a playground for ideas skilfully made reality. The festival explored what design practice could be in myriad ways as well as showing how people could choose to practice together

It was an inspiring visit which included the daily DDW newspaper, affordable spaces for exhibitions and studios featuring pop-up restaurants, approaches to exhibition ideas, like the giant fabric-role style rip off programme sheets for the Vlisco unfolded exhibition, the studio collectives at Section C, everything in and around Capital D, including the Design Innovation Space, and imaginative ideas at Objects to Play.

We also explored the city parks with Helen by bike. Seeing Eindhoven’s approach to play equipment was a great experience and added to our understanding of the needs of Helen’s work.

At the PROUD Grand Co-Design Café Leon and Gemma presented the ‘Mess and Success’ of our co-designing tools for creative consultation project. We had the opportunity to hear about the variety of experiences and interpretations of co-design across Europe within the PROUD partnership.

Having previously worked on the Beyond The Castle project and of course working on our current project with PROUD, it led to our own reflections on what we might understand as co-design at this point. Particularly, it helped us to consider what, for us, differentiates co-design from a normative designer/ client experience.

For instance, it could be argued that design practice is inherently pre-disposed to collaborative working given the need to work closely with clients and stakeholders. However, perhaps the difference partly lies in how design is likewise used in the context we’ve seen to support and facilitate interactions between stakeholders in order to generate ideas and develop solutions to challenges facing communities. Is co-design therefore about sensitively designing the tools and structuring the optimum conditions for co-creation?

With respect to how this project might develop following our visit to the PROUD café, it may be that the next stage is to explore the new consultation tools with other PROUD partners, working with their local authorities in tandem. This could include working with designers from Eindhoven or other partner cities to develop the products further, picking up on some of the elements we had to shelve in this phase and move towards larger scale production.

Hayley Alter & Sarah Pickard