Dutch Design Week announces plans for digital alternative

Large physical events "unrealistic" as Dutch Design Week announces plans for digital alternatives from 17 to 25 October

Dutch Design Week will go ahead in October but with digital activities replacing most of the physical events due to coronavirus, organisers have announced.

Visitors will be able to book places on pre-planned visits to designers' studios in Eindhoven, but all other activities will take place online from 17 to 25 October.

Dutch Design Week (DDW) is one of the key design weeks in the international calendar, attracting around 350,000 visitors to events at over 100 locations around Eindhoven.

Live public events "unrealistic"

However this year, safety considerations in the light of the Covid-19 pandemic make a physical design week "unrealistic," organisers said.

"A DDW such as we are used to, with more than 350,000 visitors, large central locations and various organised transport options, is unrealistic, based on current circumstances," said Dutch Design Foundation, which organises Dutch Design Week.

"As a consequence of the coronavirus, DDW 2020 will not be able to take place as a large live public event."

Instead, this year's event will be "a combination of a live and online festival, with the focus on relevant matchmaking for the designers," said the foundation.

Major events will take place online

"A limited number of people will be able to visit the participating designers in the form of pre-planned studio visits. Alongside this, the major public event will take place online."

Dutch Design Week usually features several large exhibitions plus satellite events including the annual Design Academy Eindhoven graduation show, the Dutch Design Awards ceremony plus numerous exhibitions, parties and talks across the city.

"Although this has been on the cards for some time now, it has been hard for us to take this somewhat inevitable decision," said Dutch Design Foundation director Martijn Paulen.

"For the last 19 years, we have been building our design community together with partners and friends," Paulen said. "Reaching a decision like this has an enormous impact on the dynamics for designers and creators, our partners, but also the broad chain of suppliers and of course our loyal visitors".

Events around the world impacted

The announcement follows the cancellation or postponement of architecture and design events around the world due to Covid-19. Almost all events due to take place in the spring and summer have been affected and several fairs planned for the autumn have been postponed, including September's London Design Biennale and October's Biennale Interieur.

Other events are reinventing themselves in the digital sphere. Fuorisalone.it, an organisation that serves as a platform for fringe events taking place alongside Milan's Salone del Mobile each April, will host an online version called Fuorisalone Digital from 15-21 June.

The initiative follows the cancellation of this year's Salone del Mobile and the concurrent Milan design week.

Dezeen's Virtual Design Festival, the world's first online design festival, launched on 15 April and runs until 30 June. For full details of all architecture and design events impacted by the pandemic, visit the dedicated page on Dezeen Events Guide.

Main image is of the Biobasecamp at last year's Dutch Design Week. Image courtesy of Dutch Design Week.