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Dutch Design Week 2017 explores sustainability, flexibility and how to make robots feel loved

The Dutch Design Week (DDW) will explore cutting-edge sustainable design, the role of robots and the future of flexible living.

art and culture Updated: Oct 16, 2017 16:07 IST
The People’s Pavilion, the main venue for the World Design Event, is made from recycled and reusable materials.
The People’s Pavilion, the main venue for the World Design Event, is made from recycled and reusable materials.(AFP)

A number of key design trends will be at the forefront during Dutch Design Week (DDW), with initiatives exploring cutting-edge sustainable design, the role of robots and a future of flexible living. Opening in Eindhoven on October 21, the week-long event will include 600 exhibitions and events. We look at three themes that will be in focus, all shedding light on where design is headed on a global scale.

* Sustainability

Sustainability is the name of the game at the temporary People’s Pavilion, which will host the inaugural World Design Event during DDW. Dutch studios have devised a structure using recycled materials that will get a new life after the event: colourful plastic shingles are made from local residents’ waste and will be shared among them afterwards, while a construction technique using no nails or glue allows materials to be returned to suppliers and producers after the event.

Sustainability and socially responsible design are key themes throughout the DDW program. They are the focus of a young designer competition sponsored by HEMA, a program of issue-focused talks called Good Design for a Bad World, and many more events.

MVRDV’s The Future City is Flexible installation will incorporate visitors’ desires into a design for urban living. (AFP)

* Flexibility

Flexibility, in all its forms, is in focus at DDW. In Marktplein square, the (W) egocity installation, The Future City is Flexible, explores design processes that incorporate individual users’ wishes, with visitors participating in the choice of a dream accommodation while involved in a “negotiation between the competing desires of each of the users”.

Flexibility is also expected of materials and manufacturing methods to reduce waste. Thus, fungus is used to make a paint that can be reused at the end of its life cycle, and household plastics are transformed into products with unique textures and shapes.

Furniture is also flexible: Strata furniture include a mix of long-living and short-living parts to suit changing living situations and varied lifestyles, while a market devoted to no-waste circular furniture features items with customisable, changeable parts and upcycle-ready materials.

* Digitalisation and robotisation

At the playfully named, Embassy of Robot Love, organised as part of the World Design Event, visitors will learn about the dynamics between humans and robots in a specially designed lab. “How do we create the perfect setting where robots feel safe, represented and loved?” ask organisers, who will examine humans’ trust in robots, discuss the horizon in AI technology and hold “retro-hackalongs” where discarded robots will be given new life.

Futuristic, high-tech design will be a theme throughout the fair, with other events devoted to virtual reality, emotional data tracking and more.

Dutch Design Week runs October 21-29. Find out more at www.ddw.nl/en.

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