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A New Director for DDW

Hans Robertus hopes to add value in his new role as director of Dutch Design Week. His vision focuses on narrowing the gap between author and industrial design and taking into account the Ministry of Economics big complaint about the creative industries - their lack of organization.

By Gabrielle Kennedy / 11-06-2009

Hans Robertus is the newly appointed director of Dutch Design Week.

Robertus, who has been involved at a board level in DDW since it was a small, half-day event, says that although he has a lot of changes in mind, none of them should be called radical.

 “In the last few years we have built a nice community environment,” he says of the DDW’s scope and relevance.  “But now it’s time to take it up a step.  We need to link together with more commercial activities because if people on the business side could somehow be more involved in the design process, everyone would benefit.  I really believe that.”

Robertus calls it added value and talks a lot about commercial innovation, and the way people up and down the design process, from education to retailers, should be more aligned.  

"Companies this century know that they need to work together," he says,  "which is where the design industry should be doing a lot better.”

Robertus says the differentiation between what he calls “author designers”  - big name designers who work independently and sell through mostly galleries - and industrial designers is too big.  “I would like to see much more balance between the two different arms,” he says.

Consequently one of the first things Robertus did on his appointment was set up a meeting with the industrial design agencies.  “I asked them what we should we be doing in order to organize a more interesting event for them,” he says.  “They told us we needed to focus more on commercial contacts.  They said the Ministry of Economics complains about creative industries because they do not understand how we are organized. They can't get a grip on it.”

One example is the worldwide network of ambassadors who are ready and willing to promote the Dutch creative industries abroad, but have neither the background information nor understanding to do it properly.

From a media and PR perspective, Robertus’ changes mean not just attracting the design magazine industry to DDW, but also having the event covered by business publications.  

The idea of taking what already attracts broad international attention and trying to improve on its realistic day-by-day, commercial results sounds very similar to what Alexander van Slobbe has planned for his new role as head of the Design Academy Eindhoven.  “I’m not sure about that,” Robertus says.  “We have so far just shaken hands.  I’d like to meet him in the next few days to discuss it all further.  Maybe we have the same line of thinking.”

Hans Robertus will fulfill his role as director of Dutch Design Week alongside his position as Senior Director Research Development and Innovation at Philips Design.

Dutch Design Week is from 17th to 25th October.

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