Back where it all began: On 3 June 2022, What Design Can Do made a triumphant return to Amsterdam with the long-awaited tenth edition of its annual festival. A sold-out crowd of nearly a thousand creative activists and innovators gathered at Internationaal Theater Amsterdam to explore how design can help us reshape our lives in the face of our planetary crisis.
Leading the conversation with a potent mix of urgency and optimism were a dozen of the world’s finest changemakers, including graphic designer Eddie Opara, architect Marwa al-Sabouni and filmmaker Josh Fox. Besides showing examples of what design can do for society’s problems, speakers also laid out a blueprint for how: looking at the kinds of processes and practices that we must adopt if we want to expand our impact as creatives. During the afternoon series of breakout sessions, visitors and speakers met in smaller groups to dive deeper into specific themes like circular planet, gender equality and decolonising design.
The day ended on a high note, with the crowd gathering on and around the yellow stage for a round of drinks at the afterparty co-hosted by BNO and ADCN. Below, we look back on a few memorable moments from our first event back in Amsterdam in nearly three years.
A beautiful day for a design festival. Photo: Enrique Meesters.
Visitors arriving at the Internationaal Theater Amsterdam. Photo: Laura Ponchel.
Moderators Ikenna Azuike and Saskia van Stein opening the festival, with music by the Marmoucha Orchestra. Photo: Laura Ponchel.
The sold-out audience at the Rabozaal. Photo: Laura Ponchel.
Fashion designer Adebayo Oke-Lawal on stage. Photo: Laura Ponchel.
“Part of my belief as a designer is that community is everything.”
— Adebayo Oke-Lawal.
Architect Julia Watson on stage. Photo: Enrique Meesters.
Pussypedia creators Zoe Mendelson and Maria Conejo on stage. Photo: Laura Ponchel.
“Images shape our reality.” — Maria Conejo
The Design Council on stage with moderators Ikenna Azuike and Saskia van Stein. Photo: Laura Ponchel.
Architect Marwa al-Sabouni in conversation with Saskia van Stein. Photo: Laura Ponchel.
Taking notes in the audience. Photo: Laura Ponchel.
The bookshop by Athenaeum. Photo: Laura Ponchel.
A breakout session on Gender, Design and Power. Photo: Enrique Meesters.
A breakout session on Decolonising Design. Photo: Enrique Meesters.
Back on stage with graphic designer Eddie Opara. Photo: Enrique Meesters.
“Design and spirituality are intertwined,” said Eddie Opara.
Filmmaker Josh Fox on his banjo. Photo: Laura Ponchel.
“The cardinal sin of capitalism is to separate us from nature. I am not separate from the land. I am not separate from the planet.” — Josh Fox
The crowd at the end of the day. Photo: Laura Ponchel.