The Dutch creative industry is currently gaining considerable international acclaim and has particularly strong profiles in interior design, gaming, fashion, and architecture.
The Netherlands is a hot-bed of innovation, creativity and design due to a strong education system for designers. Famous Dutch designers include Marcel Wanders, Tord Boontje, Jurgen Bey and Hella Jongerius.
Currently the Netherlands is ranked fourth in the world by the 2013 Global Innovation Index report, ahead of the United States, Finland, Germany and Japan.
The Netherlands is particularly strong in product design, where an individual designer’s vision is often the key focus, such as Marcel Wanders, or via the work of collaborative initiatives such as Droog Design, and is also strong in the field of high-quality design services (BNO). Design management is also highly developed in the Netherlands. Concrete examples of these products and services include:
- Interior products, such as furniture and lighting
- Graphic design, brand design, typography and illustration
- Signposting (Airports, Railway Stations)
- Designs for public spaces, including street furniture
- Design of medical equipment
- Mobility design, incl. bicycles and recreational yachts
- Design for museums and exhibitions
- Interactive design: including gaming, web design, viral movies, and animation
Dutch Design Week, taking place in Eindhoven each autumn, is the Dutch design event of the year.
According to Forbes, Eindhoven, a mid-sized city located in the southern region of the Netherlands, is hands-down the most inventive city in the world. For every 10,000 residents in Eindhoven, there are 22.6 patents filed. To put this into context; the second city on the list, San Diego produces 8.9 patents for every 10,000 people.
The HTC (High Tech Campus), a technology centre started by Philips houses over 100 different tech companies of over 60 nationalities (including IBM, NXP, Intel and Philips). These companies employ over 8,000 developers, engineers, technicians, scientists and researchers. According to the HTC website, “Here, every 20 minutes a patent is created.”
Eindhoven Design Academy, which offers courses in art, design and architecture, has been described as “the best in the world” and designer Hellas Jongerius is an alumnae.
Hanze University of Applied Sciences offers a programme within the field of Graphic Design and Illustration/ Animation.
If you wish to study Industrial Design in The Netherlands there are several good universities that are closely connected to industry. Eindhoven University of Technologyand The Hague University of Applied Sciences both offer Industrial Design and Industrial Design Engineering respectively.
Willem de Kooning Academy (WdKA), one of the 14 institutes of the Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences, follows a media-oriented approach and highlights the commercial aspects of art in their programmes. The Academy currently offers 10 bachelor degree programmes in various subjects, including Photography, Advertising and Product Design.
For budding game developers, NHTV Breda University of Applied Sciences’ 4-year Bachelor in Games Architecture and Design will prepare you for a career as a visual artist, programmer, designer, producer or developer within the Games industry.
What grades do I need to get in?
Grades are not usually the issue for design courses. In common with British universities, greater emphasis will be placed on your portfolio and any practical skills you have already amassed.
What else should I bear in mind?
Not all design schools will be strong in all areas. Just because a university is good for graphic design, it doesn't necessarily follow that it will be good for industrial design.
Ensure you do your research – find out what current students and graduates say about the course and what the employment prospects are.
Will my Dutch design degree be recognised in the UK?
This is not really an issue with design degrees. You are far more likely to be judged on the quality of your work than the quality of your university. However, there are still universities and design schools that are better than others and it is worth considering this when planning to study design abroad.
Does it make sense to study design in the Netherlands?
This really depends on you. There are many good design schools in the United Kingdom so it is not necessary to go to the Netherlands in order to find a good quality education.
For all design subjects, from graphic design to fashion design, it is important to ensure that your university offers you plenty of practical experience of the working environment. You should look for a university that can offer you excellent work placements and internships. This will assist you in finding a job after you graduate.
Design and technology is one of the largest sectors of the UK economy but it is also one of the most competitive. It is worthwhile investing in your skills to ensure that you have a competitive advantage.