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Looking back at the Design rounds: what gives a project added value?

13 march 2019

What do the advisors pay attention to and what do they find important in a proposal? We are using this review of the latest Design rounds to highlight a number of aspects of project applications that the committee considers important in a project plan. What were the strengths of the projects that received grants in the latest Design rounds? And what can you learn from them if you want to write an application yourself?

Here are 8 examples with the findings of the committee.

what does the project mean for your practice?
Jef Montes applied for a material and technical study, as part of the development of his new Marinero fashion collection with innovative materials and applications. In the proposal he described very precisely what he was going to do, which partners and knowledge he would utilize, and what this step in the process would mean in concrete terms for the further development of the collection. This specific and well-thought-out design gave the Committee insight into the intended result. The grant gives Montes space to carry out a special research project, the results of which will enrich his collection. The committee expects that a grant for this part will allow Jef Montes to take a new step in his practice.

what special contribution do you make to your field of expertise?
The committee considers it a daring proposal by fashion collective modecollectief Das Leben am Haverkamp to investigate new definitions and the positioning of fashion practices, such as their own practice, which is not aimed at selling clothing. As an example, to gather knowledge the collective invites several experts to visit its studio. The results of these discussions are translated into a methodology for other fashion practices. The committee believes that the collective knows how to position their own practice well within the design field and that they reflect seriously on the meaning of fashion. The committee expects that their sharp analysis and research can contribute greatly to the further development of the collective's own practice and that of others.

what new step are you taking in your practice?
Scenographer and costume designer Joost van Wijmen wants to make his observations about body awareness visible with the project 'ENCOUNTER'. This practice-oriented research project is about experiencing physical contact through performative work. For this, he uses elements from his practice as a costume designer and working method as a scenographer, such as visual language. Van Wijmen is trying to allow 'ENCOUNTER' to grow further and would like to use design research in other domains, such as the care sector, where the body is central. He is using the starting grant to analyze the project and share the results with partners and other stakeholders. In this proposal, the committee sees a special step from a designer who, from a very personal approach, is achieving a more broadly applicable method within a topical theme. The grant will help him to strengthen his position in relation to the partners from other domains and, in so doing, pave the way for other designers as well.

  • Joost van Wijmen, ENCOUNTER


  • what is your special position?
    The committee describes the portfolio of social designer, communication designer and dentist Kuang-Yi Ku (Studio Ku) as special and idiosyncratic. It is also intrigued by the proposal for 'Millennium Ginseng Project'. Kuang-Yi Ku is developing a futuristic agricultural system to cultivate ginseng under extreme conditions. The project aims to protect endangered plant species and preserve traditional Asian medicine as heritage. The committee appreciates how Kuang-Yi Ku is developing new interdisciplinary research methods that link design and science. In this proposal, it saw Kuang-Yi Ku's various qualities come together.

    what makes your project urgent?
    Commonplace Studio is working with the Kunstgewerbemuseum in Dresden on a study of ways to utilize design for a new, more social role for museums and a new, relevant narrative about the history of applied art. For this purpose, they are designing new digital media that can be used flexibly and sensitively to tell a more topical and agenda-setting story about the museum's permanent collection. The committee sees finding new forms for telling stories about design and applied art as an urgent task. It expects the research to generate important information for this task.

    for museums and institutions
    The projects by institutions and museums that are receiving grants show how designers are deployed to add value to an exhibition where design plays a central role.

    For the 'Family' exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum Schiedam, designer Manon van Hoeckel was asked to carry out research and to set up a project to bring various families in Schiedam in contact with each other. The research eventually led to the establishment of a hairdresser's in the museum, where visitors could get a free haircut and enter into conversation with other visitors. Hairdressers play an important social role in society; they provide a listening ear and give space for conversation and encounters with 'the other'. The committee sees the role of Manon van Hoeckel as a distinctive contribution to the public reach of the exhibition.

    In the Amsterdam Museum's application for 'Fashion Statements', an exhibition with a peripheral programme on fashion, identity and statements from past and present, the committee appreciated the involvement of the curator and designers in the composition of the exhibition programme. Eight contemporary fashion designers were invited to respond to fashion statements from the past and show how these expressions play a role in their own design practice. The committee was positive about the way in which the designers draw on their own experiences to reflect on themes such as identity and diversity. On display in the Amsterdam Museum from 18 April.

    In Sundaymorning@EKWC's research project 'Ghosts', the committee appreciated the focus on makers, craftsmen and the workplace. Fifty works created in the work centre over the past fifty years were selected by design historian and critic Glenn Adamson. This selection represents different aspects of and tensions between craftsmanship, technology, experiment, failure, innovation and design quality. The white reproductions of the works, which were created using new digital techniques, are a reflection on fifty years of making, experimenting and innovating with ceramics. In the committee's opinion, this set-up provides relevant new insights into technology and developments for the discipline. The result of the project can be seen in the Design Museum Den Bosch until 19 May.
  • Kuang-Yi Ku (Studio Ku), Millenium Ginseng Project


  • deadlines 2019
    The following are the closing dates for the Grant Programme for Design in 2019: 27 March, 5 June, 14 August and 16 October. The total budget available for 2019 is € 1,200,000.


    Photo: Jef Montes, Marinero