Dezeen and MINI World Tour: Eindhoven designer Miriam van der Lubbe takes us around the fair she co-founded, claiming: "What is visible in Milan in two years, you can see at Dutch Design Week now."

Miriam van der Lubbe
Miriam van der Lubbe. Photo copyright: Dezeen

This year's Dutch Design Week, the 12th edition of the show, was attended by an estimated 250,000 visitors, more than the entire population of the city of Eindhoven where it takes place.

Van der Lubbe, who co-founded the event, remembers its much more humble beginnings when she was "happy with 5,000" visitors.

S-Strijp during Dutch Design Week in Eindhoven
Strijp-S during Dutch Design Week in Eindhoven

She reveals the first Dutch Design Week was borne out of a frustration among local designers over the lack of a proper platform to present their work.

"Why do we always have to go to Milan to show our work, as if you are only something in design if you are there?" she asks. "In Holland there was nothing, so let's see if we can actually pull something off here."

Area 51 skatepark, Eindhoven
Area 51 skatepark in a former industrial building in Strijp, Eindhoven

Van der Lubbe believes that the pro-active spirit of Eindhoven-based designers helped Dutch Design Week quickly get off the ground and grow into the event that it is today.

"There were all kinds of initiatives going on," she says. "There's a good urban culture here; people are actually doing stuff instead of talking, which is a big difference, and it grew up to be this huge event."

Mycelium Chair by Studio Eric Klarenbeek
Mycelium Chair by Eric Klarenbeek, on show at Klokgebouw during Dutch Design Week

The first area van der Lubbe takes us to is Strijp, a former Philips industrial complex that is now one of the central areas of Dutch Design Week.

"The Klokgebouw, one of the old industrial buildings, is the starting point of Dutch Design Week," van der Lubbe says. "This week there are about 400 events of almost 2,000 designers."

Vapor by Pieke Bergmans
Vapor by Pieke Bergmans, on show at Strijp during Dutch Design Week

She then takes us to the graduation show at Design Academy Eindhoven, the school where most of Eindhoven's designers, including van der Lubbe herself, received their education.

Design Academy Eindhoven graduate show
Design Academy Eindhoven graduate show

Van der Lubbe says that current graduates do not benefit from the same economic support that she enjoyed when she graduated.

Precious Plastic by Dave Hakkens
Precious Plastic by Design Academy Eindhoven graduate Dave Hakkens

"The government was very much aware of the importance of creative people," she says. "There were a lot of funds and we did not have to earn our money from day one."

Dystopian Brutalist Outerwear by Martijn Van Strien
Dystopian Brutalist Outerwear by Design Academy Eindhoven graduate Martijn Van Strien

"But when the [economic] crisis came in, that all changed. I think it is now the obligation of companies to create opportunities for creative people to grow. I think that is also the role of Dutch Design Week, to be between culture and the money."

Wire frame of a chair by Nacho Carbonell
Wire frame of a chair by Nacho Carbonell

Next, van der Lubbe takes us to Sectie C, a new design district where young designers including Nacho Carbonell open their studios up to the public. We then head to Eat Drink Design at Kazerne, a gallery and restaurant housed in a former army barracks.

Sectie C during Dutch Design Week in Eindhoven
Sectie C during Dutch Design Week

"[Dutch Design Week] is really different from all the design weeks in the world because it comes out of the designers themselves," says van der Lubbe. "They open up their doors, you're welcome in their studios or in their workspaces. You actually can feel the vibe of innovation and of new developments."

Eat Drink Design at Kazerne during Dutch Design Week in Eindhoven
Eat Drink Design at Kazerne, Eindhoven

"Martijn Paulen, the new director of Dutch Design Week, said: 'what is visible in Milan in two years, you can see that here now.'"

Nola by Studio Drift
Nola by Studio Drift on show at Eat Drink Design

We drove around Eindhoven in our MINI Cooper S Paceman. The music in the movie is a track called Family Music by Eindhoven-based hip hop producer Y'Skid.

You can listen to more music by Y'Skid on Dezeen Music Project and watch more of our Dezeen and MINI World Tour movies here.

MINI Paceman outside Evoluon building, Eindhoven
Our MINI Paceman outside the Evoluon building, Eindhoven
  • ilo sunchez

    And they are all in Ventura Lambrate! Cool sense of humour!

  • Lorenzo Corti

    All this hate for Milan Salone? I wander why every single year it mark records of visitors? In my opinion Milan is where the industrial design sits. Art and crafts is just another story.

    • Steve

      I completely agree. There should be a clearer point of view from Dezeen. Milan is all about the industry, and clients and making money at the end of the day. What is going on in Holland could be almost compared with the Biennale in Venice. I am sorry to say but it’s basically art and not design.

      I find the statements by Miriam van der Lubbe to be very arrogant. She needs to understand that the reason the Milan fair works is because of the actual fair in Rho.

    • ilo sunchez

      Dutch works are shown by Dutch organisations in Milan so I can’t understand two things: first are they insulting their selves ? Second, if they think they are so forward looking even in design art, why they are all presenting the Dutch projects in Milan?

      Milan is still where all creativity is, we just need some more communication power and more Italians who supports their locals!

  • Guest

    London and Eindhoven are fighting to gain more visibility. I personally believe that Dezeen’s journalists are supporting the idea that Milan is losing. 

    For example, in Patrizia Moroso’s interview ‘Milan sitting in the past’ the interview’s extract was only reporting about the negative aspects Moroso said about Milan, while in the full interview she said that production in Milan is the top: ‘Milan has a lot of important human knowledge about making things, and I think we in Italy are fantastic at doing what we are able to do,’ adding ‘in furniture it’s one of the best places in the world and one of the few places in Europe because we maintain these capabilities. In England, for some reason you lost these capabilities. You also were making, now I don’t know. You are great at thinking; that is something important.’ Then she shifts the discourse to culture and to a socio/political critique to Italy.

Thus van der Lubbe’s argument about ‘people are actually doing stuff instead of talking’ referring to Milan is totally foolish. Because Milan, and Italy in general, is undoubtedly a place of making. Made in Italy or Made in NL?! Which one does exist?

    Nevertheless, I wish a lot of success to both, Van der Lubbe and Dezeen editors, in their joint fight against Milan.

  • Ingeborg v. Lieshout

    Looks like you’ve caught Daan Roosegaarde in picture 6, left-hand side :-)

  • andrea

    Industry is in Milan since half of the XIX century.
    If what designers do there is talking, it has been pretty effective for the last 170 years.

    What most of the designers do in the Italian industrial districts is industrial design, a manifestation of thinking and culture finalised for industrial production, a process that from the 50s gave 60min of Italians their bikes, car, houses, furniture and clothing and now is exporting excellence throughout the globe.

    A had a lot of talks with Dutch designers in Milan when they come to get some exposure.
    I find Dutch design is a very interesting current but I too consider it more as design-art or art and crafts… to me it’s more interesting at a conceptual level and for its research on the process.

    It’s very inspiring, it’s “design for designers”, so to say.

    That said, my belief is that the only design that impacts the world, that matters on global scale, that improves and facilitates life, that empowers people to realise their potential and that bring our societies forward in the evolution is industrial process based, it’s industrial design.

    For industrial design, in April, you are welcome to Milan.