Attracting an estimated 295,000 visitors, Dutch Design Week celebrated its 15th anniversary this year with record attendance figures at exhibitions around Eindhoven. From the former Philips factories in Strijp-S to the galleries of the Van Abbemuseum, Dutch Design Week once again offered a crowd-pleasing (and oftentimes crowded) smorgasbord of art, architecture, and design.
Among the 100 exhibitions on view between October 22–30, the Graduation Show at the Design Academy Eindhoven is arguably the single most important one. While the majority of the 40,000 visitors were impressed by the 171 projects on view—the show was bigger than ever—seasoned veterans couldn't help but notice that some projects lacked originality. A preponderance of fashion and especially performance-based projects reinforced the overall art-school vibe, to the effect that potentially market-ready products seemed out of place.
The Klokgebouw show filled another sprawling exhibit hall, with hundreds of projects and participants showing work either in production, or prototypes on their way to market. Included was Mind The Step, a collection of student work and research projects from three technical schools (Eindhoven University of Technology, Delft University of Technology and University of Twente). The work here specifically included technical aspects, explorations and demonstrations.
Meanwhile, "The Making of" served as an easy catch-all theme for the diverse exhibitions and attractions but didn't quite capture the DDW experience. Upon initial reflection, two trends that ran throughout the event: food and virtual reality. Reduced to these two incommensurate forms of sensory experience, 'design' is conceived as less about making or objects and more about simply being in the moment.
As one of the two DDW Ambassadors this year, Maarten Baas, reluctantly stepped into the spotlight (the other was Bas van Abel) with an exhibition celebrating the 15th anniversary of both Dutch Design Week and the founding of his studio. Widely considered a highlight of the week, "Maarten Baas Makes Time" comprised a retrospective and a group exhibition, with performances, a VR component, and a fine dining experience—all under a single roof.