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Design Bridge Visits: Dutch Design Week 2016

Last month, 2,500 designers presented their design processes, experiments, ideas, answers and solutions in 100 locations across Eindhoven for Dutch Design Week (DDW) – the biggest design event in Northern Europe. With a focus on the designs of the future, and celebrating the exceptional attention to detail that goes to the work of young talent, the event attracts almost 300,000 visitors from all over the world.

I was lucky enough to visit DDW and did exactly that: I concentrated on the young talent. A big part of DDW has always been the graduation show so, after an interesting morning organised by the BNO (Dutch association for Designers) about packaging design, I went to De Witte Dame where the Design Academy Eindhoven Graduation Show 2016 took place. 171 graduates from DAE presented 197 projects and I’d like to share some of my favourites with you…

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Kids playing safely

Designed by Snir Gedasi, Safe Ground showcases real out of the box thinking. The design focuses on children growing up in a war zone, and addresses the question of whether parents should keep their children indoors or even underground in a shelter for their safety. Safe Ground is a modular system of tubes with climbing holds, slides, holes, a sand pit and race track, all of which allows kids to play outside safely. The modules are made of reinforced concrete, offering a strong shelter and an adventurous playground at the same time. Gedasi said of his design, ‘All the elements come at a very low cost, allowing NGO’s to easily invest in the mental and physical wellbeing of children in times of war.’ I’m really loving this idea.

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Communicating without talking

For her project, Laura van de Kruijs collaborated with psychologist to research how to deal with emotional stress at an early age. Monitoring several families, she lived with them like ‘the nanny’ and tried out different types of intervention. She found that family members were often unable to express their feelings towards each other. Kruijs’ design solution was ‘And I FEEL’, a toolkit that playfully breaks down communication barriers. The wooden message boards with complementary labels, love signs, honesty sticks and a mood meters allow parents and kids to communicate without words.

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Being safe and connected

The final young designer who caught my eye was Thomas Kool and his BOLT parka, a jacket that offers a smart solution for the safe transport of laptops, tablets and mobile phones. The parka has pockets for any device up to a 15-inch screen. The integrated spine of high tech foam and 3D mesh distributes the weight of the tech cargo, making it comfortable to carry. It also has two built-in batteries to charge devices on the go. It’s a great solution for urban nomads who prefer to travel light by bike or public transport, but want to carry their electronic devices safely and easily.

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Obviously there were many more beautiful, thoughtful and creative designs to see. So if you have the chance, I’d definitely recommend you go and check out Dutch Design Week for yourself next year. You’ll get home pretty tired, but also fully inspired. Totally worth it if you ask me!

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