Times are a-changing’, so too are designers


Published in Economy & WDCD by

As marketplace mechanisms change in response to pressure exerted by the crisis, the best qualities of designers come to the fore. Government, business and society must embrace those qualities, WDCD’s director Richard van der Laken writes in an opinion piece published this Saturday in national newspaper De Volkskrant.

By Richard van der Laken

Things have changed radically in recent years. Economic crisis, combined with digital developments, has opened the way to the Designer as Entrepreneur. That is somebody who can solve old problems in new ways. Because, more than anybody else, he unites creative thinking with an ability to translate ideas into products.

Thinking up a FairPhone that contains no corrupt natural materials is one thing, but designing, producing and marketing it successfully is two, three and four. Bas van Abel’s Dutch company did all four.

The first to scan those horizons are often newcomers and outsiders: game changers. These game changers are turning things on their heads, most of them from positions as outsiders.

It’s true that designers cannot solve all the world’s problems. But while the old economy was certainly never going to clear away the smog, Daan Roosegaarde is. It’s a typical example of linking ideas and idealism to action. That is the great quality of the Designer as Entrepreneur.

This all happens under the adage: ‘If the assignment doesn’t come to us, we’ll just go out and create it ourselves’. The Designer as Entrepreneur is now everywhere, adding a contemporary twist to the power of imagination. Good designers will change our environment, mobility, goods, ideas, industry, jobs and whole way of living. What an exiting thought.

The full article, in Dutch, can be found in De Volkskrant of 26 april 2014. Read the english version on our website.

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