Piet Hein Eek
© Max Kneefel via Dutch Design Week
Category:Arts & Culture

Be suprised by Dutch Design

With its innovative, pared-back aesthetic and sly sense of humour that draws a smile from its users, Dutch Design is a global sensation. The term was first coined in 1993 at Salone del Mobile, the renowned Milan furniture fair, and now its design ethos is evident not just in interior design, but also in architecture, fashion, industrial design and many other types. Find out how to spot a work of Dutch Design and how up-and-coming designers maintain its relevance today.

  • Discover the instantly recognisable qualities of Dutch Design
  • Find out about its connection to Dutch culture
  • See examples in museums and showrooms throughout the Netherlands

What is Dutch Design?

When you visit the Netherlands, works of Dutch Design are all around you – in architectural styles, furniture pieces, homeware items and art museums. It simply takes a trained eye to spot them. Modern Dutch Design is innovative and often sustainable, for example by involving clever new uses for discarded items or materials. It’s unconventional in its form and it usually has a humorous, playful characteristic – like Marcel Wanders’ Set Up Shades, a lamp resembling a tower of stacked lampshades. There’s also an element of egalitarianism in Dutch Design. Rather than being reserved for the wealthy elite, the pieces are designed as functional items that are accessible to the masses.

What are its roots?

The roots of Dutch Design can be found in the De Stijl movement from the early 20th century. This art and design movement – which counts renowned artists such as Mondrian and Rietveld among its members – is characterised by a desire to return to the essence of objects. Think straight lines, simple shapes and primary colours. Today’s Dutch Design combines this striving for simplicity, functionality and egalitarianism with a penchant for the unconventional and for unexpected combinations. Traditional materials are blended with futuristic ones; classic forms are reimagined with a contemporary approach.

Where to see Dutch Design

You can see many classic Dutch Design pieces – as well as renowned examples of the style’s predecessors – at Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum, which includes a dedicated interior design section. Also in Amsterdam, Marcel Wanders-founded Moooi has a flagship shop that showcases much of the brand’s collection as well as new designs. Another stalwart in Dutch Design is Droog, a collective that is arguably one of the style’s founders, having launched at that famous 1993 Salone del Mobile edition. Droog exemplifies Dutch Design’s typical combination of being playful, yet unfussy. In Amsterdam, the collective runs a shop-gallery-restaurant hybrid space that is certainly worth a visit. Lastly, the annual Dutch Design Week in Eindhoven is perhaps the best experience of the style. It hosts hundreds of events and exhibitions at many locations across the city, with a strong focus on experiments and crossovers.

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