Creative director Richard van der Laken on WDCD Live’s new format and theme

‘Climate action is about the survival of our civilization’

Published in WDCD by

What Design Can Do is pushing boundaries in 2017. The next edition of the international conference on design for a better world – on 23 & 24 May 2017 – will have a fresh, more dynamic format with lots of room for active participation. ‘It was time for WDCD to reinvent itself’, says co-founder and creative director Richard van der Laken.

‘What Design Can Do is pushing the boundaries again,’ says Van der Laken. ‘Last year we started our transformation from mainly providing inspiration to actually activating our community by the introduction of the WDCD Refugee Challenge. Given that we received 631 entries from around the world, there was an apparent demand for such a scheme. On 7 March we will close of this first challenge in Amsterdam. The five winning cases will present the stage they have reached after going through the Accelerator phase of the challenge. I’m very much looking forward to that.’

New format

‘Now we take a new step in the transformation process towards activation with a new format for the conference. It will be much less sit-back-and-listen. Workshops and breakouts will be more prominent in the programme. There will be a bigger variety in the formats of these workshops too. We’ll have masterclasses, active workshops, hackathons, roundtable discussions, talks with experts and top-designers, you name it. We work with Reframing Studio on the realization of this workshop programme. In between we’ll have several key-note speakers in the main hall, including, I’m proud to mention, Canadian designer Bruce Mau, IKEA’s head of design Marcus Engman, and the former mayor of Mexico City Marcelo Ebrard.’

Climate Action

Also new is the fact that WDCD Live Amsterdam will focus entirely on one theme. ‘This year WDCD will be all about climate change,’ says Van der Laken. ‘This is by far the most urgent issue we as humans have at hand right now. As Marcelo Ebrard put it, this is about the survival of our civilisation. We will never pretend that we as designers can solve this immense problem. But we can neither stand by and look at it. Everyone has to contribute to the solution to its own capacity. So what we aim to do at WDCD is to investigate, together with the audience, what the design community can do here.’

No time to waste

‘But we won’t limit this investigation to the conference audience alone. A month before WDCD Live we will launch a new challenge, the WDCD Climate Action Challenge. Again, we will invite the global design community to come up with their ideas and concepts that help to curb climate change or otherwise adapt to it. We’ve learned a lot from the Refugee Challenge, with the result that we for instance now will have separate student and professional competitions with the aim to somewhat separate blue sky concepts from the more tangible and executable projects.

‘As before, all this will be highly inspirational, but it is also time to roll up our sleeves. We have no time to waste.’

What Design Can Do Live Amsterdam 2017
Tuesday 23 & Wednesday 24 May 2017
Muziekgebouw aan ’t IJ, Amsterdam

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