The Dutch Design Week; inspiration for your future organization
Why design helps with your vision of the future
Anyone who is thinking about the future and vision for its organization has to be willing to think out of the box, if anything. Being inspired by designers at the Dutch Design Week is a fantastic exercise. Tikor Kroes took a group of SAMR clients to Eindhoven.
by Tikor Kroese
In my diary, every late October is blocked for the Dutch Design Week. I wouldn’t want to miss a single edition. Because design shows us what will be happening in the near future. For organizations as well as anything else.
Design: more than a cool chair
This year, I took a group of SAMR clients to the Dutch Design Week and acted as their guide for the day. All members of this group were people involved in creating the vision for their organizations. They were expecting cool chairs, strange materials, peculiar stuff (which they got), but at the end of the day, they were all convinced that the story behind the Dutch Design Week was so much more than that. It’s a look into the future of organizations. Let me explain by showing you a few examples.
Repurposing: mussels and tomorrow’s cement
Some designs your see at DDW may seem a little strange at first sight. Or not at all beautiful or special. But that’s just because you don’t know the story behind them. And DDW is all about these stories. Sometimes, it may seem a little far-fetched, like a 3D-printed lamp shade made with ground mussel shells. ‘Cute’, you may think. Until you learn that every year some 20 million (!) kg of mussel waste is produced in the Netherlands alone.
The designer found out that she could mix in finely ground mussel shells with a sugar jelly to get a kind of cement you can use to build things with. If you no longer want to use the product, it’s easily dissolved in water, so that the ‘cement’ can be used for something else. Entirely circular. But more importantly: it makes you think about repurposing, waste and all the things we could use as raw materials.
The 3D-printed bridges and spotting possibilities
Another great example: the 3D-printed bridge. Of course, 3D-printing is not a real novelty, but did you know that an actual 3D-printed bridge will shortly be placed in Amsterdam? That bridge was shown at DDW. With its gleaming, undulating steel appearance it may look like a typical piece of design. Technologically and economically interesting: with 3D-printing, organic shapes can be formed that are impossible to create in the current steel industry, it is relatively cheap and no material is wasted. But there’s even more to it. They showed the entire development in 3D-printing. From instant scale models for architects to many meters of steel objects, strong enough to serve as a bridge in Amsterdam. It’s a lesson in dreaming up new possibilities and applying high-grade innovation. Again, if you don’t know the story behind it, all you might say is ‘nice bridge’ or ‘fancy design’.
Vloggers are tomorrow’s customers
What can you take away from an installation with the first vlogs made by some children? Amateurish editing, and sometimes impossible to understand? It shows you that the world is changing. Kids these days no longer want to become astronauts, policy officers or journalists: they want to become vloggers. Vloggers are the icons that set the tone in their lives. The opinions of vloggers are seen as the truth.
My colleague Bas Peters gave me a great example of this. His kids were able to tell him exactly what annoyed him. YouTuber Dylan Haegens had set this out in his item ‘ten things that annoy your dad’. It’s on the Internet, you can see it, therefore it’s true.
This new generation has totally different wishes and role models. These are developments you have to take on board in the future vision of you organizations, from advertising to management. And also when it comes HR, for that matter: these kids are tomorrow’s employees.
Thinking about the future
Designers don’t just come up with wild, arty objects. They are trained to think years ahead. What you see at DDW will be mainstream in two to three years’ time. It gives you something to think about. It is a must-see for anyone who is involved in the future of their organization. Sure, interpreting the designs of all these ‘woolly characters’ and applying the insights to your own organization is a skill in its own right. Not everyone has it, but not everyone need to have it themselves. There are plenty of ways in which you can get help.
SAMR actually does it in all of its development projects: interpreting the latest developments. You see this reflected in our models: in 360SAMR it is the P of starting Point, in Proposition Development we bring in experts from unexpected fields and industries and in Future Tables we look at major developments. In all of this, design thinking serves as a driving force.
Are you interested in thinking about and thinking through the future of your own organization and don’t you want to wait until next year’s DDW? I’d be happy to act as your sounding board. Or why not join one of our monthly Future Tables or the Master Class in Design Thinking in February.