designday, what’s that?
Designday offers a platform for design and is based in the south of the Netherlands. The platform is intended for (eu)regional and (inter)national designers that manufacture their own designs. Designday represents independent and accessible designs. Design in which originality, common sense, craftsmanship and sustainability are combined. Current developments show that this adds meaning to designs, more than designs based on aesthetics alone. Design which shows the individual applicability of utensils and is developed parallel to technological developments. Design in which modern technology is not the goal, but a means.
There are not many direct connections left nowadays. Parts are fabricated separately in low income countries on the other side of the globe. Our food is being flown in from all over the world. The generation that is currently growing up often has no connection with the origin of products. Designers that participate in Designday on the other hand, manufacture their own designs. The process of their designs is readable and traceable. Visitors of Designday are able to talk to manufacturing designers directly. This is enlightening in a world in which everything is outsourced and organisations are no longer approachable. The organisation of Designday is therefore straight forward and approachable: it has been initiated by designing manufacturers themselves. Designday supports the local manufacturing industry, once flourishing in Maastricht. This is achieved by connecting designers to local and national companies and linking professionals to each other. Designday advices, directs and mediates with authorities including local government and organisations in the cultural field.
sustainable through meaning
Sustainability is a current theme for many designers. Materials are remeasured on usability. Popular are themes like recycling and upcycling, which lead to developments in new materials. Designs are also sustainable because designers only create commissioned works. They reverse the process of supply and demand, since they only produce what is requested. There is no surplus production. Moreover, Designday has its own definition of sustainability: meaning. Products gain personal meaning when you know who has created them, how and why they are made, when they have been commissioned or when they are rare. This added value of meaning makes them more sustainable.
Every person has the need to differentiate themselves and to develop his or her own identity. Designday is the platform in which this specific demand meets supply.
hester coolen, founder of designday
The founder Hester Coolen says that the genesis of a design and the importance that a designer gives to it constitute the DNA of Designday. Over the years, Designday has grown from a daring initiative into a professional event.
‘The main goal is still to bring consumers and designers together.’
Hester Coolen received her art training at the Art Academy in Maastricht. For twenty years she was responsible both for the design as well as for the production of interiors and furniture for private individuals and businesses such as the ‘Theater aan het Vrijthof’ and the ‘Centre Ceramique’. She worked from the beginning with differing materials such as wood, metal and glass, but often with materials which already had a life behind them and which inspired her to a design. Hester currently engages in bringing designers and consumers together in a new form: Designday.
‘I would like to dispel the notion that design is only reserved for the elite. Of course, custom-made design is more expensive, but it is durable and unique.’
‘Design with a personal meaning is not easily discarded.’
Hester explains: ‘During my professional practice, I realized time and again how exciting it was for people to get to know the designer and manufacturer of the product. Some even came over every day. This personal contact also contributed substantially to me. I could integrate the customers´ stories in the design, so that it gave meaning to the client. Thus, for instance, I made cabinets for an elderly couple, true music lovers, in the form of a correction marks as they occur in music notation. They were really touched.
The ideal takes shape
Hester came up with the idea for Designday during a short, multi-day Marc de Vree art exhibition with a playful auction as conclusion. ‘I had already been looking for a long time for a way to realize my ideal, namely, to bring consumers and designers of various disciplines together. I considered an auction a good opportunity. I further elaborated on the idea for two months and asked Limmy Scheres to be the auctioneer for the first edition of Designday in May 2010. The first venue was Ainsi. There were 700 visitors, which exceeded our expectations as we did little advertising for the event. We started with three enthusiastic people. Over the years the team has become bigger and bigger, but solidarity and enthusiasm have remained in every team member. There is constant interest from people who want to participate. Under our own power we have become increasingly professionalized. I do not want to become dependent on subsidies. The field of participants is growing – not only in terms of numbers but also in quality.’