What Design Can Do 2014 is over and what a thrill it was. During the conference we asked attendees for their reactions. Here’s what they said. ‘The heterogeneity of the conference is fantastic. It’s very energizing,’ said Marian Counihan last week at WDCD14. With a masters in logic and a PhD in philosophy, Counihan, who is originally from South Africa, teaches at University College in Groningen in the IC2I (Imagination, Creation, Invention, and Innovation) programme, which ‘teaches students to ask ever better questions, to examine these questions, and to deliver concrete and relevant answers and solutions,’ according to the website.

‘What I enjoyed was that lots of big questions came up,’ Counihan added. ‘And I think the critical note by Lucas Verweij on the design bubble was very important too. It’s important to hear that kind of critical reflection here. You would expect such a note to be programmed at the end of the conference, after the bubble has grown to the maximum. But it is great that they pushed near the start, because it gave the whole conference a solid critical foundation.’

Graphic designer Max Kisman attended for the second time and liked the programme. ‘This conference has lots of quality,’ he said. ‘Thematically it offers a strong blend, and the selection of speakers elicits many links between them that offer food for further discussion. I don’t have time to go everywhere or read all the blogs, so WDCD is for me an opportunity to catch up for a year.’


For Ad de Hond, vice-president design Europe, Middle-East and Africa at Starbucks, the conference offered many eye-openers: ‘Paul Smith was fantastic, Synthetic Biology amazing, Google Glass interesting, and “Design in the Bubble” challenging. Verweij made us look at ourselves in the mirror.’

‘I brought along my third-year students,’ said Mariëlle Wichards, a teacher of Fine Art & Design in Education at the Amsterdam School of the Arts (AHK), ‘because I think it’s time for them to start thinking about design and design principles. They have to look beyond theory: it’s time for them to form their own opinion.’

Clearly the conference had the intended effect on the students, as student Amber Moonen remarked: ‘The field of design has fewer boundaries than I imagined, although I think the word ‘design’ has its limits for what it currently embraces.’

And Ben Castra, another student, said: ‘I’m surprised. WDCD has provided me with new insights into social engagement and ways of thinking about design, even more than I expected it to.’

For Annieck Brouwer, also studying at AHK, the conference was even more overwhelming: ‘WDCD is enormous! Everything comes at you and you want to absorb it all, but you can’t. Everything is just so cool!’


Here’re some more reactions from the public at WDCD14:

‘I’m here to get inspired. Although most subjects aren’t truly related to the field of illustration, it’s the way of thinking that inspires me.’
Kelly van Binsbergen, student of illustration, Minerva Academy

‘I just moved from Dublin to Amsterdam and it’s really nice to see this Dutch event on design. I’m especially amazed by all collaborations that are happening between designers. We don’t have that.’
Tony Matthews, designer

‘In my opinion it’s necessary to step out of your comfort zone once in a while. Otherwise you could get tunnel vision.’
Hans Drenth, (online) marketer

‘I’m enjoying it a lot. It’s amazing to see how design can relate to almost anything. It is much broader than most people usually think.’
Maria Crucera, graphic designer

‘WDCD has been really interesting, with good speakers. As a web designer, I got to see that design could be more than the Internet. I really like the approach of food design.’
Jeroen Guichelaar, web designer

Pictures by Leo Veger

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