Moving Dutch Design Week online

Insights ○ 0 min read

The Coronavirus has forced the world to think differently. Everyone is searching for a new balance, without losing our human touch. How can we, designers, help facilitate this? In a way we know best: by continuing to inspire with beautiful, innovative design.

Designers solve problems, create new ideas, and new opportunities. Sharing positivity and creativity with the world. An intriguing challenge, that we, as Dutch Design Weeks digital partner, happily took on. Together, we make Dutch Design Week 2020 a (virtual) reality. 

We started to think about the concepts 'room' and 'space’. What makes a room? What role does light play? In our research, we build upon the pioneers of virtual experiences in gaming, VR and 3D experiences like Nite Hotel by, Mibo App by Q42, Playbour City Engines by Tetem & De Rodina, VanMoof by Resn and Mozilla's Mixed Reality Platform.

Michael Danker, co-founder and Digital Director Verve

"This was an exceptional year. But under pressure, the most beautiful things are created."

From hybrid festival to a virtual design exhibition, in just two weeks

When The Netherlands entered a lockdown in March this year, we realized that the actual physical festival might be at risk and we needed to look at alternative (virtual) scenarios. Our starting point was a hybrid event. A digital platform that could function as a stand-alone, but also act as an add-on to a slightly smaller physical Dutch Design Week. We aimed to create an online environment where you could have a taste of what the festival was going to be like. However, at that time, it was never the intention to replace the real-life event altogether. 

That happened when the organization had to make the decision to cancel the physical event due to the changed circumstances in late September. In just two weeks we went from hybrid to 100% virtual.

750 designers created their own digital content platform.
To create sensory spaces in a virtual world

Our aim was to virtually mimic an incredible sensory, physical design festival, and transform it into an online experience that is equally exciting. How to facilitate connection and discovery in a virtual environment? Two elements so characteristic for Dutch Design Week. How to recreate the endless wandering, amount of inspiration and interaction with the makers and other visitors? 

We got excited by the idea of losing yourself in a maze of pixel heavy brick walls like you would when watching the Windows 95 screensaver, and to make the maturing of web-based 3D technologies that make displaying 3D in your browser a reality available for more and more users. 

Yira Rodriguez Garcia, projectmanager Verve

"How do you create virtual light? Where does the light come from? The subject of long, interesting discussions here at Verve."

To define the aesthetics of the rooms we were fascinated by what parameters can influence one's experience of a space. The influence of light and colors in the works of Turrell, Yayoi Kusama, Olafur Eliasson and Drake's Hotline Bling kicked off an experiment on how to translate natural phenomena like sunlight and fog into design parameters for digital spaces.

Online you will need to address other senses, by using sound, light and colour to recreate a similar feeling. We wanted to create a feeling of excitement. To feel totally inspired and surprised by everything you see and everyone you talk to. To become hungry for more. Just like you would at the physical festival.

Explore 500+ digital exhibitions

We created a custom build interface with presets so designers can personalize their 3D rooms with ease. They set an ambiance by playing with colours, the shape of the room (sharp and edgy or round and warm) and the amount of light, sound and video. Matching the mood of their work in the best way possible. This makes each of the 500+ digital exhibitions design objects on their own. Beautiful, colourful virtual (and functional) spaces. 

The virtual DDW experience: an endless journey

The virtual experience leaves space for exploration and wonder but is personalised too. You can explore the extensive online programme by means of various tours or just embark on a journey yourself. The starting point: a virtual information desk where you can choose what or who you would like to see. Decide on your path and next steps with a click of a button. Look for the story behind every image that intrigues you or join a conversation with a designer via livestream of live chat. At the end of the exhibition the platform will introduce other designers or tours based on your interests. The experience is endless. 

Mark de Greeff - CMO DDW

“A collaboration of this kind requires enormous trust in each other’s abilities. We had to build the bridge while walking on it.”

What’s next?

We are very excited to be sharing all the beautiful spaces created, and to wander around the Virtual Dutch Design Week 2020 ourselves. This project is a milestone in our strong and ongoing digital partnership with Dutch Design Foundation. With the first virtual Dutch Design Week being more accessible (open 24/7 to everyone) and bigger than ever (with infinite rooms and space) - we already start thinking: what’s next? We look forward to solving more creative challenges in the future by using the inventiveness and power of Dutch digital design.  

Dutch Design Week is a collaborative effort between Dutch Design Foundation, Vruchtvlees (Digital Design & Web Development) Yorit Kluitman & Johan Moorman (brand identity), Damon van Drimmelen (CGI), Blickfänger (Video), Niels Groenendijk (motion) and Frank Sens (sound).