Richard Van der Laken is a creative director based in Amsterdam. He met Pepijn Zurburg while studying at the Utrecht School of Art and Sandburg institute, and together they formed De Designpolitie - a renowned visual design agency, graphic design collective Gorilla, and What Design Can Do. Since forming, they’ve worked with many partners from Rabobank to Artis Zoo, won numerous awards, and feature in the permanent collection of galleries such as the Design Museum London and MoMa New York. At WDCD, they’ve created multiple design challenges, publications, and events hosted across Amsterdam, Brazil and Mexico. If Richard’s not in the office, he’s probably halfway across the world, preaching the What Design Can Do story at conferences like TED, The Next Web or Design Indaba.
Pepijn Zurburg is a designer and art director. During his studies at the Utrecht School of the Arts and Sandberg Institute, Pepijn met Richard van der Laken. Together, they founded renowned visual design agency De Designpolitie, graphic design collective Gorilla, and What Design Can Do. Their work has won numerous awards, and features in the permanent collection of galleries such as Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam and MoMa New York. Working with partners and clients from KPN to Frascati Theatre, and many more. Pepijn is responsible for leadership and strategy, branding, and visual communication for everything What Design Can Do. A true all round designer with a strong hands-on approach. Pepijn is married (to another graphic designer!), and together they have two children.
Lara Snatager develops the programmes for all events and challenges we put together at What Design Can Do. She studied theatre in Amsterdam, following which she became a producer for various cultural festivals and events – such as the Iranian Film Festival and Club Interbellum. Joining artists, journalists and activists alike, Lara’s search for ‘gesamtkunstwerken’ never ends, if not for a good cheesy joke or impromptu sing-along at the end of the day.
Barbara van Gemert is a 24/7 operations genius, mum of 3, and tennis pro - how she fits it all in, we’ll never know. On second thought, maybe it’s those stellar management skills! Before (re)-joining us last to resume her WDCD legacy, Barbara worked for an online agency, creative advertising agency, and WDCD sister company De Designpolitie.
Rosa Kieft is a cultural programmer, researcher and project manager working in our programme team here at What Design Can Do. She studied art history and visual cultures at the University of Amsterdam and Goldsmiths in London, and has a special interest in the field of arts and science. Previously, she programmed Mediamatic’s public events around art, design and living organisms. Rosa’s new boat Helmut has kept her busy this summer, with the list of tour requests growing each day!
Maartje van Dehn is the Office Manager at What Design Can Do. She uses her organisational skills to make everything in the studio run as smoothly as possible and sticks her nose in everybody’s business to find out where she can be of assistance.
In the past she has successfully managed the offices of international architecture firm UNStudio and campaign agency BKB. Maartje is still shaking desert sand out of her belongings, after returning from three years in Dubai and is wholeheartedly getting reacquainted with Amsterdam.
Alison Pasquariello is our online communications manager. Coming from New Jersey, she studied philosophy and mathematics in Boston. In 2015, she moved to Amsterdam to study logic, and hasn’t left since. In addition to What Design Can Do, Alison works as a freelance cultural manager, collaborating with cultural/social projects such as Fossil Free Culture, Verbier Art Summit, and National Network of Abortion Funds. She’s passionate about building community around environmental and social justice using a de-colonial approach. After working hours, Alison is usually inventing new cooking recipes or slaying dragons in video games.
Tomás van Gorp is a researching and designing project manager from the transdisciplinary field of art and science who implements creative thinking and developing processes in societal contexts. During his studies Art & Economics at the Utrecht School of the Arts he conducted research for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands in Tokyo and Istanbul. Previously, Tomás has worked as a design researcher and innovation strategist at innovation agency BDDZ and as a junior producer for film production company De Productie. If you don’t catch him working as a project manager at What Design Can Do, he is most likely making music or learning a new language.
Daphne Schmidt is our marketing & communications manager. She studied marketing in Amsterdam and has been trying to use these skills for a greater good ever since - she’s passionate about sharing the stories, people and projects that make the world a better place.
Previous work includes organisations like the North Sea Foundation and online platform Nudge, where focus on sustainability and societal issues are key. During the weekends, she escapes the city in her campervan for some good ol’ peace and quiet. On a quest to bake a perfect loaf of sourdough bread (tips welcome).
Dagan Cohen is the head of R&D. He is involved in all research, impact measurement and development programs. During his long-term involvement with WDCD Dagan has spearheaded challenge programs. Dagan’s passion in participative culture has proved invaluable to their success. After graduating from Rietveld Academy, Dagan worked as a visual artist, entrepreneur, and has built 15 years experience working as (digital) creative director at agencies from Saatchi & Saatchi to Draftfcb. In addition to his work for WDCD, Dagan is a creative director at Social INC. As well as a keen eye in the creative sector, Dagan’s graphic t-shirt collection is definitely one to be envied.
Damini Bhugwansing is our Junior Project Manager, using her organizational skills to make sure our latest projects run as smoothly as possible. She recently graduated in Arts, Culture and Society at Erasmus University, with a master thesis focused on diversity in cultural policy. Before joining the What Design Can Do team, Damini worked at Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen and studied in Tokyo for a while. Outside of the office, she can be found at Dansateliers as their junior board member or channelling her inner-interior-designer in her brand new apartment.
Kenneth is our Global Development & Partnership Director and always on the lookout for opportunities to grow the work of WDCD around the world. She studied Journalism in Utrecht and worked as a news producer in Indonesia for several years. After returning to Amsterdam she moved to the international development cooperation sector, specialising in institutional fundraising, strategic planning and program development. She worked for international NGOs with programs in Africa, Latin America and Asia focusing on a variety of sectors such as media/press freedom, health, sustainability reporting, education, agriculture and emergency response. Always in for a good discussion on how to sort out the world and a big believer of collecting memories not materials.
Orla Hennessy is our Impact Manager based in Amsterdam. She studied Conflict, Security and Development in King’s College London and has spent her career working in international policy and development. She’s interested in reducing social injustice and inequality and making the world a fairer place for everyone. Previously, she has worked at The Clingendael Institute for International Relations in The Hague and at The Smith Family - Australia’s largest children’s education charity. When she’s not stuck in a spreadsheet analysing data, she’s probably reading or hiking; ideally near a mountain or a beach.
After graduating from the Grafisch Lyceum (Mediacollege) in Amsterdam, Wout worked at various agencies, including De Designpolitie and dawn. In 2015 he started working as a freelancer. At What Design Can Do, Wout converts sketches into pixel-perfect artwork. Applying his graphics skills to sustainable and impactful projects is what moves him. He is the proud father of two sons and always chasing after the perfect wave (or pizza).
Marieke den Ouden is our designer from Rotterdam. During her studies in graphic and social design at the Willem de Kooning Academy, she looked at the relationship between the Netherland’s clothing industry, consumerism, and graphic design. Photography is an important aspect in her work, and wherever she goes - the camera goes too. Can’t find Marieke on land? Probably because she’s sailing across the ocean on a pirate ship, teaching youngsters about sustainability and telling everyone she was a vegetarian before it was cool.
Designer born in João Pessoa, Manaira moved to São Paulo in 2002, where she lives until today. In 2010 she funded the design and cultural production studio Mandacaru with her sister Bebel. Together they have organized exhibitions, seminars and multiple projects in graphic design. In the last years, she has been working as creative director, scenographer and producer in many projects for private companies and public institutions.
Graduated in Cultural Production at the Federal University of Bahia, she has more than 15 years of experience in the area. She moved to São Paulo in 2010 and since then she works at Mandacaru in the production of projects, visual arts exhibitions, conferences and training activities.
Alexandre is an international cultural developer driven by social and environmental justice. Born and raised in Recife, Brazil, but lived and studied in several countries abroad, he earned his Economics and Business degree in 2007 at the Deggendorf Institute of Technology in Germany. Alexandre founded MOTI New Planetary Narratives in the Netherlands, a living lab derived from the Museum of Tomorrow in Rio de Janeiro. He aims to inspire, empower and connect people around the world to join new narratives that build a future that is trust-driven and regenerative for all. Currently, Alexandre serves as our business developer at WDCD Brazil.
Writer, digital expert, journalist, traveler, feminist and extremely curious person. Livia creates strategy and content for social profiles, newsletters, podcasts, and websites. Since 2006, she has worked for different publishers, agencies and cultural institutions, talking about varied subjects, from climate issues to classical music. Lívia is innovation-oriented, be it in writing, photography, mobile video and audio.
A global citizen from Mexico and Canada, Alain is a public affairs and strategic events specialist with an international network of contacts in government, business and civil society. Alain believes that public debate is vital to any democracy and, as such, he has devoted most of his career to building thought leadership platforms and discussion forums that defend and promote social causes. He has founded and directed global initiatives on freedom of expression, diversity and inclusion, and environmental issues. Currently, Alain is the Director General of What Design Can Do Mexico.
Job van der Pijl studied Dutch law at VU University Amsterdam. He became a lawyer in 1991 and in 2004 he joined DingemansVanderKind as a partner.
With expertise in all aspects of employment law, Job delivers practical and pragmatic advice for both employers and employees. This may involve reorganisations, but also performance issues or (potentially) damaged working relationships. Professional partnerships is a special area of attention in his practice. Job regularly assists parties in the field of business services (lawyers, accountants, consultants), the creative sector (advertising/design agencies) and healthcare professionals.
In 2019 he obtained a PhD for his thesis “Labour Law and insolvency – about the position of the employee of an insolvent employer” at the University of Amsterdam (UvA).
In 1992, Jeroen van Erp was one of the founders of design agency Fabrique. Under Jeroen's joint leadership, over the years Fabrique has grown into a multifaceted design agency with international clients like the Design Museum in London and The Ocean Cleanup. Jeroen is currently a partner in Fabrique and innovation strategist. He is the chair of the Dutch Creative Council and in November 2015 he was appointed Professor of Concept Design at Delft University of Technology.
Eliane is the head of development for Leiden University Fund, the foundation that raises money for research projects and student grants at Leiden University. She has a background in marketing and fundraising. She has led fundraising campaigns for different organisations in different fields: most recently for Amsterdam UMC and before that for the National Maritime Museum en Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ. Eliane started her career in advertising, having worked at Leo Burnett Chicago and TBWA Amsterdam.
Petra Stienen is a Dutch politician, writer and former diplomat. An Arabist by occupation, she was elected in June 2015 as a member of the Senate representing the Democrats 66 political party. Having been based in Egypt and Syria during her diplomatic career, she is known for her political commentary on the Arab world, particularly during the Arab Spring.
Aida is a Partner in Deloitte’s Risk Advisory practice based in the Netherlands. Aida is currently leading the European and the Netherlands’s Life Sciences and Health (including MedTech) Risk Advisory and Regulatory practice. She has over 20 years of experience in the area Risk management , Regulatory and Compliance.
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