Design Institute

Design Institute (Vormgevingsinstituut, 1993-2000). This institute was subsidised by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science and other parties, and organised whorkshops, seminars and conferences. The annual Doors of Perception was devoted to new media organised in collaboration with Mediamatic, the most well-known. The institute was led by the British John Thackara, who emphasised knowledge, the design of systems, and new media. Themes such as sustainability, new business concepts, communication, European projects and design for the elderly were addressed in the programme.
At the institute Gert Staal, Carel Kuitenbrouwer and Sybrand Zijlstra and others worked as programme managers. Zijlstra left and expressed the widely-held criticisms of the time in Items no. 4 (1998): ‘In theory, the policy looks promising, but its implementation is disappointing. We hardly succeed in reconciling all the elevated reflections with the experiences of Dutch designers. Many people wonder what it is that the Design Institute actually does, whether this is fruitful, and if so, for whom.’ [pp. 67-68] In 1999, there was disagreement between the board and Thackara, who left, after which the Ministry decided to no longer to support the institute. The designers felt that the emphasis on new media was too unilateral and complained about the lack of mutual contact.

The Dutch version of this biography is taken from the book Visies op vormgeving, het Nederlandse ontwerpen in teksten deel 2: 1940-2000 (2008) by Frederike Huygen. The following sources have been used for this biography:
– Vlemmings, M. ‘John Thackara ziet beleid vormgevingsinstituut als belangrijk exportproduct, maar: “We moeten meer tijd besteden aan reflectie”’, Items 17 (1998) 3, pp. 65-71.