Movie: Dutch Design Week CEO Martijn Paulen on design and technology

The interface between technology and design holds "answers to the future"

Dezeen and MINI Frontiers: in this movie filmed in Eindhoven, Dutch Design Week director Martijn Paulen explains why he invited technology universities to be a key part of this year's event.

Martijn Paulen, Dutch Design Week director
Martijn Paulen, Dutch Design Week director

Bringing design and technology together "is when the really interesting stuff starts to happen," Paulen claims in the movie, which was filmed at Dutch Design Week in October.

"We've put a lot of effort into inviting the technological universities to the heart of Dutch Design Week," he says. "We did this because we honestly feel that in the overlap between technology and creativity the answers to the future are being made."

Stella by Eindhoven University of Technology
Stella, a solar-powered family car by Eindhoven University of Technology students

Technology universities have exhibited at Dutch Design Week in the past, but this year Paulen put them centre stage.

Projects ranging from solar-powered cars to 3D-printed food from a variety of technological universities across the Netherlands were presented at an exhibition called Mind the Step in the major Klokgebouw venue.

Edible Growth 3D-printed food by Chloé Rutzerveld
Edible Growth 3D-printed food by Chloé Rutzerveld

"The dialogue between the design academies – the creatives – and the technological universities – the engineers – has always been tried but it's always been difficult," says Paulen. "They're really two different worlds and I think we're taking a really big step in bringing these two worlds together."

Algaemy textile dyes made from algae by Berlin studio Blond and Bieber
Algaemy textile dyes made from algae by Berlin studio Blond & Bieber

Other work on show at Klokgebouw included projects by designers experimenting with new biological materials including dyes made from algae and bowls grown with mycelium, part of a fungus.

Vessels made from mycelium by Officina Corpuscoli
Vessels made from mycelium by Officina Corpuscoli

Paulen believes that encouraging an interdisciplinary dialogue between designers and technologists will lead to further interesting materials and products being developed.

"The people from the engineering side bring new ideas and materials for creatives to play with and the other way around," Paulen says. "I honestly believe they will bring the solutions for the future."

From Insects vases made from propolis by Marlene Huissoud
From Insects vases made from propolis by Marlene Huissoud

Paulen gives two of the winners at this year's Dutch Design Awards as examples of projects that combine design and technology in an exciting new way.

Phonebloks modular smartphone by Dave Hakkens
Phonebloks modular smartphone by Dave Hakkens

Dave Hakkens, creator of the Phonebloks modular smartphone concept and Precious Plastic recycling machine, scooped the Young Designer prize, while Amsterdam agency Lemz won the overall award for Sweetie, a virtual 10-year-old created to catch perpetrators of webcam child sex tourism.

"Dave Hakkens' Phonebloks couldn't have happened ten years ago," Paulen says. "Or Sweetie, the avatar that's decomposing paedophile networks. That couldn't have happened even five years ago."

Sweetie by Lemz
Sweetie avatar by Lemz

Dutch Design Week takes place in Eindhoven each year and Paulen believes the small industrial city is one of the few places in the world where design and technology is being successfully integrated.

"This this is happening in other places as well, but I think we're on the pioneering side," he says. "We're a city of builders, we're a city of creatives, so we're making it work here and there are not so many places in the world where you find these ingredients. At least, not in my opinion."

Dezeen and MINI Frontiers

Dezeen and MINI Frontiers is a year-long collaboration with MINI exploring how design and technology are coming together to shape the future.

The music in the movie is a track called Family Music by Eindhoven-based hip hop producer Y'Skid.