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Energy/Enthusiasm vs Strategy/Polder Model

What can Dutch designers learn from Indian designers and vice versa? We hear from Willem Woudenberg from edenspiekermann who recently gave a design workshop during Design Yatra in Mumbai.

By Jeanne Tan /asdf 29-09-2009 caught up with Willem Woudenberg from edenspiekermann who recently ran a design workshop in India as part of Design Yatra, Mumbai.

What was the aim of the workshop?
The aim of the workshop was helping to create more understanding between Indian and European designers to promote better collaboration and work. We had around 10 Indians and 5 Dutch people in the workshop. They worked in three mixed groups on three 'assignments', conceptual as well as practical.

What were the assignments?

Assignment 1: How can a fisherman go fishing when his buddy (whom he needs on the boat) is ill?
Assignment 2: Create a mood board of living, working and entertainment in 2015
Assignment 3: Design a landmark in Mumbai for the European-Asian Chamber of Commerce

What were some of the differences that you noticed during the workshop in how the Dutch and Indian designers worked?

As far as you identify them as typically Indian (we have to be careful with only 10 Indians in our group who are part of a population of nearly 1,2 billion), the Indian collegues are very creative and express that in a stronger way then we North Europeans mostly do. Indians have a good sense of humour. They are good at making things relative as well.

The Indian designers were very active in communication, they kept on discussing and were very energetic. It looks that the self-steering, structuring or strategic element is more absent, compared to our experience. In Holland we have a long tradition of discussing and deciding in collaboration: our Poldermodel. Where our teams mostly take decisions themselves (and the manager is often seen as 'dirty') the Indian designers seem to know that in the end the "boss" will make a decision. But again we must be very careful with conclusions; its only our observations.

What can Dutch designers learn from Indian designers and vice versa?
Dutch from Indians: energy and creativity.
Indians from Dutch: goal orientation/strategy

Your impressions of design and the design industry in India?
Designers in India are developing to a mature profession, coming from a more craft background. Their creative potential is very high. There is a growing demand for brand-design and retail, internet as well. All the big brands want design and branding. We can add our long experience and seniority. The advantage of the Dutch: we lack colonial arrogance and like poldering.

Photo: Willem Woudenberg

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