More ‘design thinking’ after Dutch Design Week

'You get different kinds of questions when you place your work in a design context.’
The WUR project Plant Pixel was exhibited during Dutch Design Week. Inspired by cliffs, it is a concept for combining greenery and urban buildings. Plant Pixel is a project run by Professor Sandra Lenzholzer and PhD candidate Maricruz Solera Jimenez. Photo Resource

WUR was in evidence in various ways at last week’s Dutch Design Week (DDW) in Eindhoven. Gert Jan Veldwisch, who co-coordinated Wageningen’s contribution, was pleasantly surprised by the dynamic generated by the event. ‘You get different kinds of questions when you place your work in a design context.’

Various Wageningen projects, both well-known and less familiar, were showcased at DDW. Sigrid Wertheim-Heck, for example, repeated the Great Food Dilemma, the food experiment she carried out at the Lowlands festival. ‘Space farmer’ Wieger Wamelink’s work was part of the Spacefarming: the Future of Food exhibition at Evoluon. And artist Arne Hendriks presented a project inspired by his time as artist in residence at WUR (in 2021), which he worked on with Wageningen emeritus professor of Philosophy Cor van der Weele.

WUR was also represented via 4TU Design United, the design collaborative venture of the four Dutch technical universities. They organized dialogue sessions that attracted a lot of technical scientists interested in doing more with design, says Veldwisch. ‘You get very different questions when you examine your field of work in a design context. That is incredibly inspiring.’


Professor of Landscape Architecture Sandra Lenzholzer is already leading a WUR initiative to set up a community of scientific ‘design thinkers’. Veldwisch: ‘There are quite a few WUR studies that apply design thinking, but they are usually problem-driven. The design process is not always explicit.’ The same applies in teaching, he thinks. ‘WUR now has the Engineering Doctorate (EngD), which is geared to design. But there is definitely room in our Master’s programmes for more on design theory and methodology.’

There is definitely room in our Master’s programmes for more on design theory

If you want to find out more, the Wageningen design thinkers who took part in Dutch Design Week are organizing a Design Dialogue in Impulse during lunchtime on 13 November. This will be a kind of summary of their DDW contributions. And at lunchtime on 28 November, they will be organizing a meeting about design thinking and the education at Wageningen. If you want to get involved, you can contact Gert Jan Veldwisch.

Design thinking is a method for tackling issues that assigns a key role to the design of concrete solutions. This approach often leads to a redefinition of the problem. If the design is intended to bring about social change, it is termed ‘social design’. A well-known example from Wageningen is the WUR study of the Netherlands in 2120: a country designed to allow room for climate change, urbanization, biodiversity, rising sea levels, extreme weather and increased food production.

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