Co-founder and creative director of Amsterdam-based design company Droog, Renny Ramakers initiates projects, curates exhibitions, and lectures worldwide. Educated as an art historian at the University of Leiden, the Netherlands, Ramakers has since been more interested in making history by stretching the borders of design thinking. Her aim is to deliver cutting edge content and unexpected perspectives in an interdisciplinary and a down-to-earth way.
Design+Desires examines how to link the dreams, desires and needs of citizens to their virtual and real daily experiences. The objective is to find solutions and opportunities that can be implemented in the existing daily environment. The ultimate goal is to upscale these towards a larger infrastructure and to develop a conceptual model for a partly self-organizing city.
The program consist of design projects, educational projects, academic research, citizen surveys, exhibitions, expert meetings, debates and lectures. The website of Design+Desires keeps track of all these data and other input by citizens and experts, it archives and visualizes this.
Social City, a program to be curated by me, will be showcased at UABB 2015 (Bi-City Biennale of UrbanismArchitecture) in Shenzhen (China, 1 December 2015 - 1 March 2016).
The theme of UABB 2015 is “Re-living the City”. UABB will argue that we need to open up, reuse, and rethink the cities, buildings, and spaces we already have. It will survey the best examples of tactical urbanism, showing how we can connect people to each other and their places by design. It will use the Pearl River Delta as an example of such ground-up urbanism.
Social City will examine how to link the dreams, desires and needs of citizens to their virtual and real daily experiences. Social City will consist of an interactive website and a connecting interactive installation at the Biennale exhibition. It will form the introduction to the main exhibitions of the Biennale.
The interactive website will be continually fed by new information, such as opinions, interviews with experts, stories of citizens, uploaded images and videos, case studies, and student surveys. At the beginning, in September, 2015, it will be curated by Renny Ramakers with the help of an editorial team. After the first content is uploaded, the website will gradually generate further content by itself. Social City will keep track of all the suggestions and other input of citizens and experts, it archives and visualizes this.
The interactive installation will be created in collaboration with Mark van der Net (OSCity), and will focus on human activity and human desires in the cities of Shenzhen and Hong Kong. This installation will give insight in city life and its diversity by data derived from the repository of various personal activities, intentions and affections, which users have been putting on the web. These data will be linked to conversations with individual citizens in order to render visible a deeper insight of their dreams, desires and needs.
Designers will translate these desires into innovative design solutions, in which no distinction is made between the virtual and the real. Citizens and visitors of the Biennale will be invited to react to these solutions by using social media. Their comments will be posted in the installation, as well as on the website.
This year, from August 27 till December 12, I will lead an option studio at Cornell Architecture Art Planning Department of Cornell University (Ithaca, NY) together with Aleksandr Mergold (Cornell Arch), Agata Jaworska (Royal College of Art, Design Academy Eindhoven), and Mark van der Net (OSCity). This option studio is part of Droog’s multi-annual program called Design & Desires, Design & Living, Design & The City.
The aim of the studio is to re-think a conceptual model for an urban master plan. We seek to explore the possibility in which the city is not approached top-down, where city dwellers are an abstract “population” and “tax base’ (the Robert Moses model), or as a nodal organism (the Lynch model), or a new urbanism total experience (the Celebration FL model), nor as a pure urban form (the Nolli model). Nor do we intend to be involved in the bottom-up through initiatives of residents, such as life-hacking (the Hipster model) in which case there often is no role for design and architecture. Instead, from the diverse set of needs, scales, aspirations and desires of city dwellers, resulting in a range of spheres, places, services, images and connections, a new radical Design Plan for a (small) city will emerge.
The focus of the DESIGN PLAN will be Trumansburg, a village in Tompkins County, New York, United States. The program aims to anticipate the emerging needs, aspirations and desires of city dwellers in this rust-belt Upstate NY town that in the last 30 years have been dissolving as a traditional urban entities.
The village was incorporated in 1872, in the former Central New York Military Tract. How do the few remaining citizens see their [failing] village? How will they work, how will they spend their free time? How does all shape this village? Is there an alternative way? The PLAN will research economics, demographics, culture, stories, and rumors - as many constraints and inputs as we can find. It is an urban studio. It is an architecture studio. It is a visual identity and data visualization design studio. It is a product design studio. It is a studio on design and desires, design and living, design and the city.
The diversity of needs and desires of citizens is fundamental to the design plan. To this end, we will make a qualitative analysis of individuals from all walks of life (high- and low-educated, hipsters and conservatives, the youth and the elderly).
The ambition is to use the research results in order to create, with a keen eye on technological developments, all kinds of spheres, products, places and services around the needs, aspirations and desires of citizens. This creates a variety of challenges for designers, where there is no distinction between the material reality and the perceived reality, between the real and the virtual, between objects and interactions.
The anticipated outcome of these projects is a variety of products, places, environments and services, which will become building blocks of a larger whole. The “small to large” approach will ultimately be scaled up to create a conceptual model for a micro-city, a smaller, self-organizing unit in which sustainability seems to be more readily achievable than in a big city. This will establish a conceptual model for a micro-city arising from an unbiased assessment of latent needs of individual citizens, their desires and their dreams, which will be translated into products, environments, places and services. The result could be seen as complementary to urban planning based on the more general knowledge about demographic, sociological and economic shifts, along with abstract trend descriptions from consumer research.
Cornell students can refer to the following literature:
Harman, Graham. 2010. Towards Speculative Realism: Essays and Lectures. Winchester, UK: Zero Books.
Bryant, Levi, Graham Harman, and Nick Srnicek. 2011. The Speculative Turn: Continental Materialism and Realism. Melbourne: Re.Press.
Rossi, Aldo. 1979. Architecture of the City, Oppositions.
Caro, Robert. 1974. The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York.
Munari, Bruno. Living (game)
Piloton, Emily. 2009. Design Revolution, 100 Products that Empower People. Metropolis Books.
Lynch, Kevin. 1960. The Image of the City. Cambridge MA
Papanek, Victor. 1984. Design for the Real World. Human Ecology and Social Change. Academy Chicago Publishers.
Fletcher, Alan. 2006. Picturing & Poeting. Phaidon.
Vossoughian, Nader. 2008. Otto Neurath: The Language of Global Polis. NAi Publishers.
At the 2013 Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism/Architecture (UABB) in Shenzhen, Droog and TD present SZHKSMZ – an imagined Shenzhen Hong Kong Special Material Zone designated to stimulate alternatives to material depletion. A sequel to Material Matters as presented in Milan and Eindhoven in 2012, SZHKSMZ aims to stimulate progressive business models urged by material scarcity and to broaden the discussion on material culture and policy. On December 7th Droog director Renny Ramakers opened the Zone, which will remain on show until 28 February 2014.
It is predicted that the global middle class will double from two to four billion by 2025. While we are optimistic about the greater access to a “good life”, it is impossible that our world’s material resources will keep up with the growing demand – unless of course we change our modes of material production and consumption.
The Shenzhen Hong Kong Special Material Zone aims to encourage innovation surrounding all dimensions of material culture – from extraction to processing, design, production and consumption – in order to meet our growing demands. The setting is a series of presentations and demonstrations by imaginary companies, each of which deals in an alternative manner with material of the basis of scarcity and creativity.
The 5th Shenzhen & Hong Kong Bi-city Biennial Urbanism / Architecture opens its doors on 6 December 2013 and runs until 28 February 2014. Urban Border, the biennial’s theme, refers not only to the border with Hong Kong, but also to the borders of the discipline of architecture and complex social conditions within the city.
SZHKSMZ was developed as part of Droog Lab, which raises topics and initiates projects in collaboration with designers, clients and partners worldwide with the aim of stimulating innovation and debate in design and society.
Droog is very excited to announce the opening of our Hong Kong branch. Our second location is a small building in the heart of Soho, Hong Kong. The entire building is dedicated to Droog, from ground floor to the rooftop terrace. Next to a store, Droog Hong Kong offers a gallery, dining room, outdoor kitchen, rooftop terrace and The one and only bedroom number #2.
Droog curated several limited edition accessories for its Hong Kong customers. We will introduce one product every two weeks, and each item is limited to 100 pieces. The items include a bomb-shaped candle that reveals three star brooches when it melts. All the items are based on the process of upcycling. Droog Hong Kong will be serving the Hong Kong, Macau and Chinese mainland areas.
We hope to see you soon at Droog Hong Kong.
Droog Store Hong Kong
47 Square Street
Tai Ping Shan Street
The public living room of Hotel Droog, ROOMSERVICE is more than a daytime café and tearoom. During evenings it is also a place full of happenings. Daring speakers stand up to share their dilemma with the public. Writers read and discuss their recently published books. Films are screened and discussed. There is a lot of debate around all kinds of topics, such as design, architecture, art, food, science and politics. Members of the public, design enthusiasts and special guests can join for the talks, the laughs and the special dinner events.
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Amongst great influential women such as Angela Merkel and Oprah Winfrey, Renny Ramakers has been named one of the “150 Women Who Shake the World” by Newsweek. As stated by Newsweek:
“Art historian turned curator turned environmental trendsetter, Renny Ramakers has put a different kind of green conscience into design with UP, the Dutch innovator’s latest venture. Initiated by Droog, a firm she cofounded that took the design world by storm, UP is a collaborative effort among companies to cut down on waste by using surplus materials to create new goods. The movement’s many partners have created a rapidly growing line of chic “leftover” products from dead-stock items repurposed in inventive ways.”
About copying China and the Rijksmuseum historical collection. Watch the video here.