Next month, Dutch Design Week 2021 kicks off with an exciting programme dedicated to ‘the search for the better number’. With this theme, the event is first and foremost calling for less. Less consumption, less production, and less waste. On the other hand, it also asks for bold new ways to define expansion, growth and value. What possible futures can we imagine beyond ‘business as usual’? And how could designers help to build them? 

These are just some of the questions that will be explored at the nine-day festival, which begins on Saturday, 16 October. Here, we pick out some of the most intriguing projects you need to see on the topic of circular design and sustainability. We also take a look at the No Waste Challenge exhibition planned as part of this year’s Rethinking Plastic programme. Grab a notebook and let’s get started!

Sparkling Plastic

All week at Yksi Expo

This workshop invites students and young creatives to experiment with waste plastic. But unlike many other plastic workshops, Sparkling Plastic does not want to be a producer of small trinkets like keyrings or paperweights. Instead, participants will be guided into more sustainable applications such as street furniture, but also spatial structures such as pedestrian bridges. In exploring the good, the bad and the ugly of plastic waste as a resource, the hope is to engage more makers with larger conversations around its production, processing and disposal.

Circulair Warenhuis

All week at Microlab Hall

The Circular Warehouse is an ambitious and collaborative effort to show that reuse is not only possible but of great value. The project was launched in collaboration with the second largest thrift store in the Netherlands, with an annual collection of 3 million kg of secondhand goods. For the showcase, designers like Nienke Hoogvliet, Max Lipsey and Fraser McPhee were invited to research new uses for different residual flows from this onslaught. Their prototypes will be presented alongside examples of worldwide traditions of reuse from Museum de Lakenhal and Museum Volkenkunde. 

Waste Based Glazed Brick

All week at Yksi Expo

This year, design alchemists at Studio Mixtura started a new partnership with StoneCycling, the company making beautiful bricks out of demolition waste. At DDW, they will be premiering the special glaze they developed using waste from local quarries and ceramic factories. ‘In order to transform our current economy from a linear one to a circular economy, it is essential to show that waste can and will be the resource of the future, both technically and aesthetically,’ writes the team.

Temperature Textiles

All week at Raw Color Studio 

Sometimes, sustainability is not about what you make but how you make it. In this exhibition, textile experts Raw Color opens their studio to show their latest project, Temperature Textiles. This collection of knitted blankets, scarves and socks are designed to carry climate data, in an effort to make them tangible to the wider public. Working with technicians at TextielLab and Knitwearlab, the designers were also able to come up with a new method of knitting that reduces waste during the production due to its made-to-measure capabilities. Applied at scale, small hacks like these could help nudge the fashion industry in the right direction. 

DDW Talks: Eco Pioneers

23 October at Fifth

Can we imagine a different biodiversity based on design? Can we use technology for a natural future? Together with moderator Ruben Baart, editor in chief of Next Nature Network, this talk will discover how to design for a world where biodiversity is declining and where the boundaries between design and science have begun to blur. The perfect time to unpack some of the ideas and binaries we take for granted, like ‘man-made’ or even ‘waste’.

No Waste Challenge Exhibition

All week at Yksi Expo

Last but not least, we are extremely proud to be celebrating some of the most exciting talents in circular design as part of this year’s Rethinking Plastic programme. Earlier this year, WDCD launched the No Waste Challenge, a global competition calling for imaginative solutions to reduce waste and its enormous impact on climate change. We will be presenting the winning projects of the No Waste Challenge to the public in an interactive installation located at the Yksi Expo. Expect a tour through 16 provocative strategies by innovators from around the world, from carbon-negative tiles to the world’s first living coffin.

To learn more about the event, and see the full programme, visit 
All images: Dutch Design Week. Top image: Studio Nienke Hoogvliet for Circular Warehouse.


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