With a dynamic three-day programme, the Netherlands took the spotlight as the Country Partner of the Business of Design Week 2023 (BODW 2023) in Hong Kong last week, with a special focus on circular design collaboration. The Netherlands’ commitment for its economy to be fully circular by 2050 helped with setting the thematic tone, emphasising the pivotal role of circular design from its inception.
The main stage of the BODW 2023 featured keynotes from (Dutch) game changers in the industry, while there were also Dutch themed sessions organised in the specially set-up space, the “RoomNL”.
With the focus of the Dutch Topsector Creative Industry to stimulate more knowledge intensive partnerships, the Netherlands Innovation Network China (NIN China) co-organised various activities with the aim to stimulate knowledge collaboration between the Netherlands, Hong Kong and beyond. It started with a session about Dutch circular design research practices on the first day. Up next was a tour for researches of ten Dutch educational institutes and the Taskforce of Applied Research SIA around universities in Hong Kong. On the third day, the workshop delved deep into circular design research collaboration ideas concerning different topics.
The Netherlands takes stage as the Country Partner of BODW 2023, presenting an intriguing and captivating programme on the main stage, as well as in the dedicated RoomNL and various other on-site events and venues.
Day 1: BODW’s Curtain Rises – Session about circular design research in the Netherlands takes place in RoomNL
BODW’s kickstart featured Director General for Culture and Media at the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science of the Netherlands, Barbera Wolfensberger’s call for global change in transitioning to a circular economy. Main stage luminaries and innovators set the tone, while RoomNL hosted the inaugural session about circular design research practices in the Netherlands.
Visionaries such as Winy Maas, Ben van Berkel, and Martijn Paulen graced the main stage of the BODW. The main stage also showcased Dutch game changers in circular design, featuring Borre Akkersdijk, Lucas De Man, Nienke Hoogvliet.
Besides, the session in RoomNL on circular design research practices in the Netherlands was being held. Barbera Wolfensberger, Director General for Culture and Media at the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science of the Netherlands, André Haspels, Ambassador of the Netherlands to China, Dewi van de Weerd, Ambassador of the Netherlands for International Culture Cooperation, as well as Arjen van den Berg, Consul General of the Netherlands in Hong Kong, were present to encourage exploring knowledge cooperation in circular design. Freek Jan Frerichs, Counsellor for Science, Technology, and Innovation to China, expressed enthusiasm for the timely dialogue about circular design research at BODW this year.
The session opened with Barbera Wolfensberger’s powerful statement, emphasising shared challenges in transitioning to a circular economy.
“Irrespective of the distance between the city of Hong Kong and the Netherlands in terms of miles, we face the same challenges in the transition to a circular economy. We are convinced that by joining forces, sharing our knowledge, and inspiring each other, together we can initiate global change.”Barbera Wolfensberger – Director General for Culture and Media at the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science of the Netherlands
Led by Peter Joore, Network Applied Design Research (NADR) authored a book on circular design research practices in the Netherlands. The session featured a Saint Nicholas-themed book gifting to Chairman of the HK Design Center Eric Yim, followed by insights from Peter Joore about the book. Five research duo’s pitched ideas on circular frameworks, care practice, architecture, music, and fashion, sharing their aspirations for joint initiatives. Programme Managers Mieke Dols and Johannes van der Vos of Taskforce for Applied Research SIA provided an introduction to the organisation, and Daan Van Eijk, Chair Professor in Industrial Design at Delft University of Technology, led the wrap-up discussion.
Day 2: Discover, Connect, Collaborate – University Tour Unveils Possibilities
A Dutch delegation led by Freek Jan Frerichs, Counsellor for Science, Technology, and Innovation to China, explored knowledge collaboration opportunities during a university tour in Hong Kong.
A delegation of researchers from ten Dutch educational institutes actively seeks knowledge collaboration opportunities during the BODW in Hong Kong. To provide a comprehensive view of ongoing education activities in Hong Kong, a university tour was organised for these researchers and the Taskforce for Applied Research SIA.
The programme included three immersive visits to various Hong Kong universities, all expressing a keen interest in collaboration with the Dutch educational institutes.
The first visit, after a scenic 30-minute bus drive from central Hong Kong, unfolded at the picturesque campus of The Chinese University of Hong Kong. The delegation explored the Architecture and Journalism faculties, warmly welcomed by Inge Goudsmit and Nishant Shah. After a comprehensive tour, the day continued with an in-depth meeting session, discussions, and a lunch.
The journey continued to The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, nestled in a similarly beautiful mountainous area. Benjamin Steuer extended a warm welcome, and the delegation engaged in discussions with relevant researchers from the Division of Environment and Sustainability, exploring potential collaboration opportunities.
The final visit returned to the well-known metropolis area of Hong Kong at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Barbera Wolfensberger, Director General for Culture and Media at the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science of the Netherlands and Arjen van den Berg, Consul General of the Netherlands in Hong Kong and Macau, joined this visit. The day concluded in a lab focused on sustainable and 3D-printed concrete research, leaving a vivid impression on the delegation after a day filled with fruitful visits and meetings.
Day 3: Innovation in Action – Igniting Ideas in the BODW Finale
On the final day of the BODW, a workshop was organised in RoomNL, exploring circular design research cooperation between the Netherlands, Hong Kong and beyond. Counsellor for Science, Technology and Innovation to China Freek Jan Frerichs kicked off by emphasising the added value of collaboration. Participants brainstormed in groups about themes like circular frameworks, fashion and architecture. Participants expressed keen interest to turn these ideas into joint initiatives.
On the main stage of the final day, an engaging session featured keynotes from Dutch innovators, including architect Francine Houben, Roland van der Vorst, writer and head of innovation at Rabobank, José Teunissen, Director of Amsterdam Fashion Institute, Babette Porcelijn of Think Big Act Now, and designer Jurgen Beij.
What happens when you put 50+ circular design enthusiasts together? Fresh ideas keep coming up! We still feel their creative energy radiating. Simultaneously to the keynotes, a workshop in RoomNL led by Peter Joore of NADR and Daan Van Eijk of Delft University of Technology, took place. Participants engaged in brainstorming sessions, exploring potential research collaboration projects on circular design with different type of organisations in the Netherlands, Hong Kong and beyond.
The workshop began with opening remarks from Freek Jan Frerichs, counsellor for Science, Technology and Innovation to China. The Netherlands has set a bold target: its economy to achieve full circularity by 2050. This commitment is supported by a comprehensive national plan addressing various sectors, from the built environment to consumer goods. While circularity is often associated with recycling, circularity in the Netherlands takes into account the entire value chain — from design to recycling to recovery. The Dutch emphasis on circular design arises from its pivotal role as the starting point, where the most significant impact can be made. Hence, the Netherlands chose circular design as the theme for this year’s BODW. This thematic focus is timely, given the shared challenges faced by the Netherlands and Hong Kong, transcending borders and requiring innovative solutions. The Dutch Topsector Creative Industry actively encourages international knowledge cooperation, leading the Netherlands and Hong Kong to the gathering at the BODW.
Following this, participants were grouped to brainstorm about ideas and steps to establish joint initiatives. Led by educational institutions from the Netherlands and Hong Kong, each group focused on a different domain: circular frameworks, architecture, fashion, care practice and music.
Upon sharing the results of the brainstorm sessions, Freek Jan Frerichs, Johannes van der Vos of Taskforce for Applied Research SIA, and Syb Groeneveld of Creative Industries Fund NL outlined the potential roles their organisations could play in facilitating collaboration.
The diverse array of game-changing organisations in one space, enthusiastic about circular design, created a promising atmosphere. Anticipation is high as we look forward to witnessing these ideas evolve into joint initiatives soon.
By collaborating with partners, the Netherlands Innovation Network China looks forward to fostering more Netherlands, China and Hong Kong connections centred around the theme of circular design in the coming year.