Dutch Design Week explores sustainability, flexibility and ‘Robot Love’

Dutch Design Week explores sustainability, flexibility and ‘Robot Love’



A number of key design trends will be at the forefront during Dutch Design Week (DDW), running October 21-29, with initiatives exploring cutting-edge sustainable design, the role of robots and a future of flexible living.

MVRDV’s “The Future City is Flexible” installation will incorporate visitors’ desires into a design for urban living. – ©Courtesy of The Why Factory

Opening in Eindhoven on October 21, the week-long event will include 600 exhibitions and events in all. Here we look at three themes that will be in focus, all shedding light on where design is headed on a global scale.


Sustainability is the name of the game at the temporary People’s Pavilion, which will host the inaugural World Design Event during DDW. 

Dutch studios have devised a structure using recycled materials that will get a new life after the event: colorful plastic shingles are made from local residents’ waste and will be shared among them afterwards, while a construction technique using no nails or glue allows materials to be returned to suppliers and producers after the event.

Sustainability and socially responsible design are key themes throughout the DDW program; they are the focus of a young designer competition sponsored by HEMA, a program of issue-focused talks called Good Design for a Bad World, and many more events.


Flexibility in all its forms is in focus at DDW. In Marktplein square, the (W) egocity installation “The Future City is Flexible” explores design processes that incorporate individual users’ wishes, with visitors participating in the choice of a dream accommodation while involved in a “negotiation between the competing desires of each of the users.”

Flexibility is also expected of materials and manufacturing methods to reduce waste. Thus, fungus is used to make a paint that can be re-used at the end of its life cycle, and household plastics are transformed into products with unique textures and shapes.

Furniture is also flexible: Strata furniture include a mix of long-living and short-living parts to suit changing living situations and varied lifestyles, while a market devoted to no-waste “circular furniture” features items with customizable, changeable parts and upcycle-ready materials.

Digitalization and robotization

At the playfully named Embassy of Robot Love, organized as part of the World Design Event, visitors will learn about the dynamics between humans and robots in a specially designed lab.

“How do we create the perfect setting where robots feel safe, represented and loved?” ask organizers, who will examine humans’ trust in robots, discuss the horizon in AI technology and hold “retro-hackalongs” where discarded robots will be given new life.

Futuristic, high-tech design will be a theme throughout the fair, with other events devoted to virtual reality, emotional data tracking and more.


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