IEU Experience


Carlos Loaiza and other students of the Bachelor in Design traveled to the Netherlands for Dutch Design Week 2023. The unique festival went beyond creative exhibits to offer these students a new vision of the future. Here’s their story.

In October 2023, I was part of a group of fourth-year Bachelor in Design students who had the unique opportunity to visit the latest edition of Dutch Design Week in Eindhoven, the Netherlands. Dutch Design Week is well known for its forward-thinking approach and exploration of the design of the future—almost like Disneyland but for fanatics of the creative industries! This trip was organized as part of an ongoing learning experience for our Contemporary Design Trends course, taught by Maria Eulalia Herrero Salas.

Picture This: a window into the future

Dutch Design Week 2023 transformed Eindhoven into a design wonderland, immersing the city in a rich tapestry of creative expression. The event embraced all existing and relevant design disciplines, emphasizing expertise, talent, experimentation, innovation and artistic crossovers. 

The theme for this year, Picture This, served as an urgent call for change, with designers at the forefront of this movement. Though it initially appeared as a call to imagination, it carried a more profound message than we initially realized. It encouraged us to envision a world where our current way of life continues while also considering what that world might look like in 20, 50 or 100 years. Ultimately, the theme was a call to action, urging us to confront this image and take steps to redirect the course of our existence. 

Dutch Design Week 2023 was not just an event; it was a call to action and a celebration of the limitless possibilities of design.

Five missions for a better future

Throughout the week-long event, the top question on our minds was: what is the designer’s role in shaping the future? As design students, we were reminded that we’re entrusted with the unique ability to offer new schools of thought and wield the remarkable power of change. We are experts in formulating and visualizing alternative perspectives, enabling us to lead people to break through paralysis and embark on a process of transformation. 

Dutch Design Week 2023 introduced a series of new narratives that provided a clear framework for both designers and visitors to navigate its rich, diverse landscape. They covered a wide range of topics, or “missions,” from sustainability to our digital future and more. These five missions provided a roadmap for creating a better future, each addressing critical aspects of our world:

  • Our Equal Society: redesigning systems and interactions to value everyone while emphasizing safety, inclusion and connection.
  • Our Health and Well-being: probing design’s role in improving health and our overall quality of life, from the food we eat to healthcare and personal well-being.
  • Our Digital Future: exploring everything from virtual worlds to artificial intelligence and examining global platforms and individual experiences.
  • Our Living Environment: shaping our living environment, mobility and the materials we use, all to enhance our quality of life.
  • Our Thriving Planet: examining design’s role in enhancing the power of nature, or at the very least not standing in its way, for a healthier planet.

Exploring different aspects of design

For this edition, event organizers the Dutch Design Foundation aimed to investigate various aspects of the design profession. As a result, Dutch Design Week 2023 covered a wide range of design perspectives, including speculative and social design, product and craft design, service and innovative design, independent and critical design, and signature and collectible design. These diverse approaches were showcased through various exhibitions and events across Eindhoven.

In a unique move, leading designers Stefan Diez, Yinka Ilori and Sanne and Neele Kistemaker were invited to serve as “beacons” for this year’s event. These trailblazers, pioneers in their own fields, functioned as guiding lights for fellow designers, partners and visitors, leading the way in the turbulent world of design.

Exciting experiments in innovation

The event also experimented with a new method of registration this year, exploring the possibilities of linking specific themes to particular locations. This approach aimed to provide clarity in the overarching program and improve way-finding for visitors amidst the festival’s overwhelming array of creative work.

After a successful launch, each program theme will now form the basis for routes, meet-ups, events, tours and other activities for the next three years. 

A multifaceted experience

Dutch Design Week 2023 promised a diverse range of events that responded to multiple themes, from Isola’s exhibitions at the Schellens Fabriek to Tools & Crafts at Fuutlaan 12c. These shows offered a glimpse into the exciting and innovative world of design across various disciplines.

This was an exciting and inspiring event that challenged us to Picture This—a future shaped by creativity, innovation and design. As design students, we recognized our unique role in crafting a better future, and Dutch Design Week 2023 provided the perfect platform to showcase our talent, share our visions and inspire change. 

The five missions and diverse perspectives offered us a blueprint for our future careers, making this an unmissable opportunity for anyone passionate about the future of design. Dutch Design Week 2023 was not just an event; it was a call to action and a celebration of the limitless possibilities of design, and our journey through it was a profound learning experience.

As design students, we were reminded that we’re entrusted with the unique ability to offer new schools of thought and wield the remarkable power of change.