DDW21: Things that Matter

Community Couture by Aniela Fidler. Photo: Boudewijn Bolmann

For the 2021 edition of Dutch Design Week I created Things that Matter, a theme to address the search for a new relation between people and products, in a society overflowing with things. Based on this topic I curated the location Microlab Hall in Eindhoven.

The overarching theme of Dutch Design Week 2021 (DDW21), The Greater Number, is supported by four sub theme’s. The sub theme ‘Things that Matter’ addresses the role of products in a society that is dominated by overconsumption, it questions the current relation between people and things and wonders: how do you design value?

Things that Matter and The Greater Number

After Corona, do we continue along the same path that we walked on during the past decades? Or is it time to turn away from our one-sided focus on economic growth? Should we not emphasize wellbeing and happiness? Designers play a pioneering role in the search for a new balance in life. With The Greater Number as this year’s theme, Dutch Design Week gives center stage to this search, the search for a better number. This is done along the lines of four subthemes – It’s in Our Nature, Things that Matter, Cabinet of Collaborations, and One Size Won’t Fit All. Each subtheme explores this search from a different perspective. Here at Microlab Hall, the subtheme Things that Matter is presented.

Trow-away mentality and overconsumption

De opkomst van massaproductie in de 20ste eeuw heeft ervoor The rise of mass production in the 20th century has changed the way we relate to our products. When something stops functioning, we replace it. When something has become abundant, we throw it away. Repairing is often more expensive than buying new. Such behavior has drastically affected how we value and use products. And through producing and consuming, we have increased pressure on the environment we depend on. Fortunately, new sustainable materials and production processes to improve existing products are being developed. This makes production more sustainable, but should we not also critically look at human behavior and the way we deal with objects? Now that every product seems within reach, how has this influenced our judgement whether something is valuable, or not?

Products are carriers of meaning

Products are lot more than mere disposables, or replaceable practicalities. They are carriers of meaning, of personal stories, of societal beliefs, of craft and of knowledge. Products embody our collective history, and we are literally more connected to them than we would suspect. Design determines many aspects of a product, but how does one design to create value? In Things that Matter @ Microlab Hall products that deal with the connection between people and things are presented – from individual work to group exhibitions. These projects explore the meaning of objects, and they challenge you to (re)think what can define value today.

Exhibitors Things that Matter Microlab Hall

Aniela Fidler Wieruszewska, Antoine Peters, Zeeuws Museum, Ineke Hans & Circuform, Christien Meindertsma, Circulair Warenhuis, 100 OPHETO, Dutch Design Awards, Crafts Council Nederland, Studio Nienke Hoogvliet + Tim Jongerius, Centre For Creativity, United Matters, Elisa van Joolen

Curated by

Lisa Hardon for Dutch Design Week

Spatial Design

Tijs Gilde – Studio Guilty

Project Management & Realisation

Romée Beernink

Loes Hermans

Elise de Lange

Audio Visual Supplier


Many Thanks To

Park Strijp Beheer B.V

Nienke Hoogvliet, Ineke Hans en Antoine Peters on Things that Matter