A Picture of Dutch Design Week 2019


When it comes to design style, many people would think of the scandinavian style — clean, concise, simple lines and minimalism. While scandinavian design holds staying power, other types of design are thriving too, such as the Dutch design. Dutch design is experimental, innovative, minimalist, unconventional and with a sense of humor. These features are seen everywhere in the Netherlands, such as  in cities like Eindhoven and Tilburg — the breeding grounds of the Dutch design.  

Every year in October, Dutch Design Week (DDW) —  the biggest design event in Northern Europe — takes place in Eindhoven. Due to the pandemic, DDW was held in the form of an online festival this year. Despite this, it presented us with great works, ideas and exhibitions from talented designers worldwide. One of the areas that DDW 2020 focused on is sustainability. This blog will illustrate how sustainability — another important characteristic of Dutch design — is embedded in Dutch products. We will review some of the relevant topics and interesting exhibitions mentioned during the event and discuss how to build a sustainable future for us and also for the generations to come. 


DDW 2020: Embassy of Rethinking Plastics 

Plastic brings us so much convenience in our daily life, but also causes considerable damage to the environment. It litters the land, blocks the waterways and clogs up the oceans. Statistics show that plastic production worldwide has increased to more than 9 billion metric tons since the 1950s and approximately 5 billion metric tons have ended up as waste. Moreover, the recycling of plastic was not available even in developed countries until the 1980s. How to deal with a large amount of plastic waste is a serious challenge that needs to be tackled urgently. The “Embassy of Rethinking Plastics” section in DDW 2020 addressed this question in detail and illustrated a few examples in which plastic waste is turned into valuable raw materials used in green and sustainable products. 


A screenshot of the virtual tour about Rethinking Plastics at DDW 2020


A 30-min virtual tour was provided for people who are interested in plastic products. The audience could explore the exhibition using the arrow keys on the keyboard. Listening to the pleasant and relaxing background music, you could wander around and encounter the latest designed objects made from recycled plastic waste. Detailed information about the designer, the product or the inspiration can be found when clicking the info icon. The exhibition contained more than 20 objects and showed us what a plastic fantastic world would look like if we have innovation design. 

Among all the examples, the Dutch company Dutchfiets stands out. After a long period of designing and testing time, the company successfully achieved their goal — to produce bicycles that are made of 100 percent recyclable plastics and that do not end up as waste. This latest model has ergonomic grips, integrated rechargeable lights, and 100% recyclable plastic unibody and wheels, and is designed to be indestructible and low in maintenance. After a successful crowdfunding campaign, Dutchfiets can now be found not only in the Netherlands but also abroad. As Johannes Alderse Baas, the founder of Dutchfiets, says that Dutch bicycles are actually not only bicycles but a concept of circular mobility (“The DutchFiets is eigenlijk niet eens een fiets, maar een circulaire mobiliteit concept”). This concept not only contributes to a sustainable society but also raises people’s awareness of environmental protection.   


DutchFiets, the circular bicycle made of recyclable material


Similar to the company DutchFiets, the material designer Paula Nerlich presented us with her innovative and unconventional circular biomaterials made from food surplus. Aiming to support the elimination of food waste, she created new materials like COCOA. COCOA is made with 40% waste from industrial chocolate production and other vegan and composable ingredients. The material is solid and water-resistant with a shiny surface. Even though it is still under development, COCOA shows great potential for 3D-printing. Besides, Paula offers virtual workshops, teaching people to make their own circular materials from food waste at home. 

Turning unwanted waste into valuable materials is a great way to preserve our environment but definitely not the only way. Different from DutchFiets, the company Greenify makes contributions to a sustainable society by offering us an online platform for green products. Understanding that buying is voting, Greenify strongly advises people to purchase green products that are friendly to society. They aim to create the largest open database where people not only share their knowledge about sustainability but also rate, compare and promote sustainable products. They believe that simply choosing green is the most direct and effective way to build a sustainable future.


Introducing Greenify


DDW Talk: Sustainable Products

Apart from plastic waste, another commonly used material — glass which is often seen as a better choice than plastics — was also discussed in the section DDW Talk: Sustainable Products. Two main problems about glass were mentioned. The first one is that as the main raw material of glass, sand is becoming more and more scarce. Even though we see sands everywhere around us, not all types of sands can be converted into glass products.  The shortage of high quality sands pushes us to think about how to recycle and reuse glass to a greater extent. Secondly, the current technology is not advanced enough to recycle all types of glass. Different types of glass have their own characteristics, colors and melting temperatures, and therefore cannot be treated in the same way. Despite all the effort put into glass recycling, there is still a long way to go. 

Building a sustainable future is a huge project that needs everyone’s contribution. The Dutch Design Week this year reminds us again how important it is to preserve our environment by introducing new ideas about sustainability and new green products like Dutchfiets. Hopefully, we will work together to create a zero waste and sustainable world in the near future. 

Want to read more about circularity and sustainability? Check this out: The Circular Economy: Implementing a New Economic System in the Netherlands and China. Or you can contact us for more information about circularity in the Netherlands. 


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