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.
For Refuse Magazine I wrote an article about my ideas on modern luxury and sustainability. Luxury is not the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks about sustainability. Sustainability is all about austerity, subduing, lessening: all about harsh measures and methods.
But the tide is turning!
Our new luxury tends to be more and more characterized by sustainability. Think for instance of Tesla cars: they are big, expensive, have a sexy design and driving a Tesla makes you think that you are helping the world become a better place. However, this kind of sustainable luxury is still connected to status. Sustainability should be integrated into modern luxury. It should simply be the norm.
The products that Droog presented during the early nineties were often associated with ‘green design’ and with sustainability. the re-use of waste, the simplicity, the everyday aesthetic and the imperfection triggered people to think of these products as sustainable.
But now it is time for a new aesthetic: It is time for real modern luxury. If we want green design to become effective, it should bring beauty, glamour and pleasure into our lives.
Many young designers are taking the lead in this, and are involved with social and sustainable design, creating for refugees, homeless people, or designing with discarded or organic materials; for example Studio DeMakersVan, Dirk van der Kooij, Eric Klarenbeek and Maartje Dros, and Studio Formafantasma.
The elegant upcycling of trash, the smart search for new organic materials and the frivolous use and re-use of new technology may all lead the way to new luxury. You will not love these products because they are sustainable. You will love them because they are beautiful, seductive, or even glamorous. You will love them because they are the new luxury!
Read the full article here.
Next week, on June 21st, I am invited as keynote speaker at the Design Doctoral Conference (DDC’18) in Lisbon. The event is hosted by the Universidade Europeia and will be attended by students, professors and researchers in design, but is free to visit, so anyone interested in the field of design can join in.
The theme of the conference is transgression – something that is central in almost all of my projects. This inspired me to give my presentation about the process of my work. It all started with the innocence of our presentation Milan, grew into the platform with worldwide impact that Droog is today, and is currently transcending its narrative with the Design+Desires program.
Guided by examples of Droog projects and projects of my own, I will present my ideas of the life cycle of transgression.
Last week, I was pleasantly surprised with the Dutch Royal Honours. In a special ceremony in the Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam, I received the insignia for “Officer of the Order of Orange-Nassau” (Officier van de Orde van Oranje-Nassau) from the Amsterdam mayor. The Royal Honours are awarded to people who have made a personal effort for the Dutch society. Gijs Bakker and me received the Honours for our work with Droog, with which Dutch design has become internationally significant and accessible to a broad audience.
To celebrate the 25th anniversary of Droog, I curated an exhibition in Hôtel Droog called Enter the past and see the future. I selected 32 projects and presented them in the form of a Q&A. The questions, posed and answered by me, show that many of the themes addressed in the projects of the past are still relevant in the present.
Enter the past and see the future is on view until the 27th of May in Hotel Droog, Staalstraat 7, Amsterdam.
April 2018 marks Droog’s 25th anniversary and for this occasion Arjen Ribbens interviewed me on behalf of NRC Handelsblad on Droog’s societal projects, on failure and success, on young designers and on future plans. Read the full article in Dutch only here.
This year I will be jury member of Dezeen Awards, a major new initiative that aims to be the benchmark for international design excellence. Read more here.
Last Tuesday I was invited by Ole Bouman, director of Design Society in Shekou, a fabulous new design museum in Shenzhen (China), to give a lecture. For me it was a great opportunity to tell about Droog’s design mentality of redefining and rethinking fixed notions which diverse people have of their daily living environments and how this mentality could be applied to everything: from screw to city. Actually, this is what we’ve always done throughout the years when creating new products. And now in that same spirit we’re focused with our program Design+Desires on tracing, developing and designing new opportunities for urban living conditions for a variety of people, all with their own dreams and wishes. In my lecture ‘From Screw to City’ I explained this by showing how Droog with Construct Me (2015) has envisioned radical new propositions for simple and dull hardware objects, such as, bolts, nuts, nails, hinges, et cetera. Not only making these objects aesthetically more appealing when applied in furniture, but also enhancing their functionality. Via a couple of other projects, I presented how we could rethink materials, waste and even the act of copying too. After that, I elaborated on how our Design+Desires team with that same mentality approaches neighborhoods and eventually whole cities. To improve the various living conditions, is to respectfully rethink the existing. Key in this process, is to look beyond the concrete, glass and steel by creating smart and elegant solutions with high and low tech for the different social layers which make our daily city life. It is all about revealing the city that is hidden in the city we see on the surface, it is all about harvesting and nourishing the dreams and desires of its citizens!
To mark Droog’s anniversary year 2018, I have brought together iconic designs from the Droog collection in the Kranenburgh Museum in Bergen. For this occassion, Hanneke Groenteman has interviewed me on behalf of VPRO’s Nooit Meer Slapen radio. Listen to the interview in Dutch only here
In April this year I am celebrating the 25th jubilee year of Droog. It happens that this year Museum Kranenburgh in Bergen is celebrating its 25th jubilee as well. To mark this memorable fact, the museum has brought together iconic designs from Droog’s collection in an exhibition entitled ‘Do it Like Droog’. Museum Kranenburgh’s green surroundings formed the starting point for the spatial design that designers Koehorst in ‘t Veld created for this exhibition. It takes shape in a walk through a graceful botanical garden, in which the Droog objects are positioned alongside aluminium borders and flower beds, in full bloom. The exhibition route encompasses the entire museum premises, including the exhibition rooms, as well as the museum shop, the garden and the Kranenburgh sculpture forest. With this first presentation of the discipline design, Kranenburgh once again broadens its scope of art.
For more information please visit their website. The exhibition is on view 18 February - 21 May 2018.
Amongst many other outstanding citizens in the Netherlands, I was asked by Stadsleven to share my city wish for 2018. Here you can find mine, it’s in Dutch!
No to kitchen gardens, Yes to fruit trees, Yes to rocks, and a Big Yes for the tunnel becoming a meeting place. This is the feedback of residents in Amsterdam Nieuw-West on our proposals to enhance their living environment.
Earlier in the ‘Re-dreaming the Street’ project we had asked them how their Derkinderenstraat and beyond would look like when they have the say. Based on their dreams and desires we made several proposals and with these proposals in hand we went back to get their reactions.
Kitchen gardens aren’t valued in Derkinderenstraat, because residents think it will block their much valued parking spaces. They are also afraid nobody will take care of it. But fruit trees are very popular amongst them. It’s less maintenance, they can park their cars and gives them a feeling of a healthy and vital life with more color in the street. Residents also love to have rocks on the grass instead of spring riders and seesaws for children. Mothers say that children get bored to soon with these playsets and that rocks appeal more to children’s imagination and fun. Others including elderly people also value the rocks, reminding them of holidays and sometimes of their home country (most of the residents have a Moroccan and Turkish background). The biggest yes is for the proposal to turn the tunnel into vibrant meeting place where various community programs can be held. They think it will positively change the way the neighborhood looks now, and that it can provide a safer and more pleasant passage from and to the park.
What would your street look like if you actually had your say? This is the question we posed to residents in and around the Derkinderenstraat in Amsterdam Nieuw-West. The replies varied from ‘a pool in the neighborhood’ to ‘more diversity in shops’ however one reply stuck out above the rest, the call for more ‘green’ around the neighborhood.
The City of Amsterdam commissioned Droog to use its’ Design+Desires research and design methods for the above project aptly titled, ‘Re-Dreaming the Street’. To catch the dreams of residents, we met them in a local snack bar and held a micro workshop to making t-shirts and drawing their dreams about their neighborhood on them. An overwhelming majority of the 100+ people surveyed said the area could be much greener. This is remarkable because Nieuw-West falls under the ‘Westelijke Tuinsteden’ or western suburbs that are considered to be some of the greenest areas in Amsterdam.
A Gap between Urban Planners and Locals
The locals surveyed expressed that as their neighborhood currently looks, they think it’s quite anonymous and rather boring. And in general, that the Derkinderenstraat is gloomy and the tunnel on the Anton Waldorpstraat to the Rembrandt Park is feels unsafe. People see the blind walls, empty alleys, straight edges, concrete, gray stone and dark areas all while longing for mountains, hills, color, play and rest areas and especially more ‘green’. It clearly shows a gap between how urban planners and municipal facilities approach ‘green’ versus how citizens experience ‘green’. People expressed the current ‘green’ as being rather useless and in fact, nobody feels personally responsible for it thus facilitating the fact that it looks deprived.
Resulting from its’ research, Droog proposes to give a different meaning to the concept of green making each green area usable with a transparent function as well as to transform the now experienced as ‘unsafe’ tunnel into a lively passage. Click to find the full report ‘Groener dan Groen’.
Renny Ramakers, Droog Director: “Residents really do know what they want in their neighborhood however their vision lacks a connection with the vision of the city government. So, a new interpretation could make a larger positive contribution to the welfare and wellbeing of residents.”
Re-Dreaming the Street is the second project in Amsterdam and commissioned by the City of Amsterdam conducted by Droog and OSCity’s research-and-do program Design+Desires.
On the January 23rd Design+Desires organized the ‘Dappere Ondernemers’ (brave entrepreneurs) public meeting in Amsterdam. Young entrepreneurs, residents, and business people from in- and outside the Dapperbuurt neighborhood in Amsterdam came together to pulse interest and discuss developing a neighborhood entrepreneurial hub, run by and for youngsters.
The meeting was a continuation of our research-and-do project ‘Me, Myself & My Job’ (2016) conducted in the Dapperbuurt neighborhood of Amsterdam. This research centers on youngsters and their dreams in relation to work and free time. Our findings show that majority of young people surveyed would rather be self-employed than work for a boss under fixed employment. However, the majority also expressed they often lack the necessary tools and feel insecure when it comes to setting things into motion. Our proposal was to create a ‘Hub’ as a launch platform, a space where personal growth, work ambitions and leisure time could intertwine. This hub could be modeled like the high-tech start-up accelerators – such as RockStart and Startupbootcamp- and run by youngsters who would like to start or already run their own business.
Various entrepreneurs and locals attended the meeting held in The Jungle Amsterdam, in the heart of the Dapperbuurt. After her presentation, Renny Ramakers asked the audience for feedback on the framework ideas she has for such a Hub. During the open mic, several youngsters and neighbors expressed their willingness to participate. The evening connected many people in the neighborhood who may have otherwise not known one another. A resident from the Dapperbuurt expressed his joy and noted if he had not come across our Facebook promotion, he would not have known all the young entrepreneurs in his neighborhood. He works as a coach in daily life and said he would be delighted to contribute to the Hub. Another entrepreneur, a lawyer shared his thoughts and offered his support in way of advice to youngsters in their initiatives for the Hub. Several civil servants of the Dapperbuurt were also in attendance. One of them told the youngsters that the City of Amsterdam might explore the possibilities to facilitate such a Hub.
Renny Ramakers emphasized that key to getting the Hub off the ground is that the youngsters themselves initiate its’ creation with plans and needs. Therefore Droog will offer practical support by means of creating a Supervisory Board with seasoned and well-experienced entrepreneurs who will coach the Hub-organizers.
One young entrepreneur, Irene Drexhage was inspired to take the lead. She is now the chairman of a group of 18 youngsters that expressed interest in setting up a hub. The day after the event, Renny Ramakers and Irene Drexhage were interviewed by business radio BNR Zakendoen to talk about the project.
The next step will be a follow-up meeting between the Supervisory Board and the group of youngsters who want to run the Hub. This is just a start. We think the Hub concept could be carried throughout the Netherlands.
What does it really take to be an entrepreneur? The aim of Dapper(e) Ondernemers (brave entrepreneurs) is to create a valuable connection between young entrepreneurs and experienced entrepreneurs in Amsterdam East. To share information, learn from each other and be inspired.
Times are changing. More and more youth would like to run their own businesses instead of working for a boss. However, taking the step to be your own boss takes guts and some guidance. Who better to learn from and be inspired by than those who have already taken these steps? For experienced entrepreneurs it is your chance to share your real life experience and gain value in mentorship.
Commissioned by the City of Amsterdam, Droog deployed the Design+Desires research-and-do method on the dreams and wishes of young people in regard to work and leisure. The research “Me, Myself & My Job” conducted via a social media campaign focused on the main question: Do young people (18-35 years) in Amsterdam East want to create their dream job from their passions?
On January 23rd 2016, Droog in collaboration with the City of Amsterdam organized the first public meeting for a Start Up Accelerator. During the Start Up Accelerator, young and experienced entrepreneurs had the chance to meet one other, share knowledge and identify each other’s wants and needs.
The public meeting was organized via a poster campaign of the same name shown the weeks prior in 40 bus stops throughout Amsterdam East. Via a Facebook promotion, Droog interviewed and hand-selected 17 young, proud and successful entrepreneurs to showcase on the posters.
The poster campaign “Dappere Ondernemers” by Droog was commissioned by the City of Amsterdam, Stadsdeel Oost and in collaboration with the City of Amsterdam’s Social Return, outdoor advertisement company JCDecaux, and photographer Stefanie Grätz.
Young people would rather be self-employed than work for a boss under fixed employment. This is In sharp contrast with Dutch government policy that is aimed at creating more fixed employment.
This is just one of the many results Droog/OSCity uncovered in its’ research on youth in the Dapperbuurt (a neighborhood in Amsterdam). The report was commissioned by the City of Amsterdam.
In an effort to identify the aspirations, needs and desires of the Dapperbuurt youth, Droog/OSCity developed a playful online survey that spoke to young people in a similar way they express themselves online. For this, 800 Instagram profiles of youth were scanned. Our campaign on Facebook and Instagram to fill in the survey, reached 11,500 people.
The most important question posed in the survey was: “Do you want to turn your passion into your job?” No less than 366 young people from Dapperbuurt took the survey. The majority of respondents reported valuing freedom and independence in their careers over working for a boss under fixed employment. Most surveyed prefer to work independently in the creative and care sectors in particular.
Remarkable to note, although these young people are mainly occupied with their own identity (especially online), they also feel very connected to their local neighborhood. Many respondents expressed they would like to actively help and collaborate with others in their community.
While the Dapperbuurt youth aspire to work for themselves, they often lack the necessary tools and feel insecure when it comes to setting things into motion. Many lack financial resources, contacts and basic knowledge of regulations and commercial experience along with a physical workplace.
Droog/OSCity’s advice is to create a neighborhood “Hub” as a launch platform, a space where personal growth, work ambitions and leisure time intertwine. The Hub would take center stage to coach youth on nurturing the aforementioned tools they lack to realize their dreams. The model of the high-tech start-up accelerators – such as RockStart and Startupbootcamp can also be applied to other sectors. Our aim is to connect the notion of start-ups to the core values of the city of Amsterdam: creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship. In this way, new opportunities for new generations of self-aware youth will follow: from smart city to smart societies.
The survey in the Dapperbuurt is part of the Design+Desires program by Droog/OSCIty. Click to find the full report “Me, Myself & My Job. Space for starters”.
The Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism/Architecture (UABB) in Shenzhen invited me to be the co-curator of Re-Living the City - the 6th edition. Here I am presenting Social City, which consists of an online platform and large-scale installation filling approximately 1000m2 of the former Dacheng Flour Factory in Shekou, Shenzhen - a declining factory complex built in 1980s. Social City advocates a new way of city-making based on the diversity of dreams and desires of city dwellers. Since urban life is so diverse and changing, it beckons a new way of city creation that is shaped by its citizens - one that embraces their desires and diversity.
Social City is dedicated to exploring how the diversity of citizens’ dreams and desires can shape the city of the 21st century. This is in response to a number of frictions: the gap between the city that people want to live in and the city that people end up living in. There is a gap between the way professionals envision the city and how people in fact organize their lives. This means that citizens are generally reduced to an abstraction in an urban planning that leaves little room for diversity of dreams and desires of citizens.
Our exhibition in Shenzhen presents various ways of how to learn about the dreams and desires of citizens. In two interactive installations, called ‘Babel’ by architect and computer programmer Mark van der Net (OSCity), we are directly tapping the social media (Weibo and Twitter) in Shenzhen and Hong Kong. We do so, because digital technology and social networks have drastically changed city life. With standard statistical methods it is hard to conduct research on the increased fragmented society. But through tapping the social media we can better explore how people are simultaneously connected with each other through the virtual and the real, what they talk about and where they are while using social media.
In Social City we do not perceive citizens as abstractions, for us the diversity of their dreams and desires are pivotal. Therefore artists Jan Rothuizen has taken the digital data mapping as starting point. From this data he selected and contacted people to meet in real life. Based on his encounters with a retired investor, a travel office employee, an Uber taxi driver, and a factory worker, he made drawings of their individual behaviours and desires.
We also capture the dreams and desires of citizens all over the world via the quiz on www.socialcities.org. People are invited to answer questions about their ideal city life. This generates a unique avatar that will have its virtual home in Social City, which is built according to the given answers in the quiz. We invite experts in the field of architecture, urban planning, sociology and economy to reflect on the content generated by citizens and to start a dialogue with them. We also make visualisations of the results.
The data from the platform will have to result in design solutions: the building stones for the future city. The challenge is to combine all different desires in one city model. Architect office TD did the first exercise, which is based on one of the questions in the quiz: “how would your house in Social City look like?” So far it turns out that most people want to live in a tree hut, a building block or a detached house. But there are also quite a few people who would like to live in a house boat or a mobile home and there are even people who do not want a house at all. TD’s ‘Treehousewaterboatappartmenthammocktower’ is a free interpretation of this diversity of desires, illustrated in a condensed example for one building block. It is no science fiction, but actually tested on technical feasibility.
Social City will be on display till March 1, 2016 at UABB, No.3 Gangwan Road, Shekou, Shenzhen (深圳市南山区港湾大道3号).
See more photos here.
Social City is a first full-scale exercise of the Design+Desires program, which I have initiated in 2014. Design+Desires examines how to link the dreams, desires and needs of citizens to their virtual and real daily experiences. With Design+Desires I created a research-and-do-program that combines the output of social media, active participatory citizen research, technology, and innovative design solutions.
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.
Sign up for the newsletter to hear about upcoming events. firstname.lastname@example.org
photocredits: Jouk Oosterhof
“Rethink everything!” (2017)
do ho suh constructs a home within a home at MMCA
UP and Qatar
Why Material Matters
“Sorry, but we don’t trust you architects”
Join us: WIJkonomie Tarwewijk
Copying is good for design
What is design today?
preview: Fiction is Survival
Open House: what a concept
The suburbs: no big investments necessary
Open design: an interesting but tricky concept
Why are you doing this?
Do we need a Dutch label?
Ornamentation is like gardening
Interview by iFly magazine
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.
On Monday February 8, 2016, I was invited to speak at the Dutch Masters series of Pakhuis de Zwijger. During the event I was giving the opportunity to talk about my ambitions and motivations as Dutch Master and was asked to share the aims of my latest program Design+Desires. Part of the series is that I had to bring along a fresh and promising Dutch Talent. Therefore I invited Mark van der Net (OSCity) to meet on stage to exchange thoughts. Because together we are working on the Design+Desires program which I initiated in 2014 and which is dedicated to explore how dreams, passions and needs of city dwellers can shape the city of the 21st century. The Dutch Masters series is a monthly program by Pakhuis de Zwijger for which they invite designers, creative makers and storytellers of Dutch descent, who work internationally and are known worldwide, on stage to tell about their career, sources of inspiration, realized and future projects and the highs and lows of their craft.
I am very delighted to invite people all over the world to express their desires via a virtual platform and quiz at Socialcities.org.
People can create an avatar and see the city grow. Socialcities.org is also a think tank. Quizzes on a variety of topics generate visual data maps, research, reflection and discussion. The project is part of a broader research-and-do-program which I have developed. The program examines the world’s city life starting from small scale to the larger whole by acknowledging the passions and needs of people. Social City is the first exercise.
The average person intimately knows 50 people. These people probably met through a predestined network – a network of people limited by nationality, income, school and work. Next to this, the world is changing fast and it’s splintering. Mohammed in Africa probably has more in common with David in the UK than he does with Ibrahim in his same-city friendship circle. Bringing Mo and David together not only nurtures shared interests, but also individual diversity due to their birthplace heritage.
Everything has changed around us. We embrace internet, technology, social media, globalization. Yet, the way cities are designed is surprisingly similar to 50 years ago. Cities do not keep up with this fast-paced status quo and its fragmenting diversity of lifestyles.
Imagine cities built like matchmaking sites, connecting like-minded people with shared dreams and desires. Imagine our social circles not being designed by top-down decision making, but by our mutual passions. Imagine desires designing our cities.
The online platform Socialcities.org addresses all of this by using play and techno culture to capture the dreams and desires of ordinary citizens. This makes for a city that understands changing global culture, a city without borders, or rules or top-down planning. Socialcities.org is an exercise in individuality and explores how countless identities can make up a diverse whole. It is a think tank based on the desires and dreams of citizens. The world has changed, now it’s time for the city.
Socialcities.org is created by me Renny Ramakers and Mark van der Net (OSCity) in collaboration with Thonik (design). It is part of the broader Social City project at Shenzhen Urbanism/Architecture Bi-City Biennale (UABB, 1/12/2015 – 1/3/2016), of which I am the curator.
During the talkshow Stadsleven (Oct. 26, 2015) with the theme ‘Make no small plans’ I was interviewed by Tracy Metz about the Social City project, which is part of the broader Design+desires program. The interview can be seen here.
Cities are becoming larger and larger, smarter and smarter. Technology is supposed to solve all city problems. Governments, companies and urban planners are eager to do so. But what about citizens? What do they think? Can they have a say? In Social City they have!
The online platform will be worldwide for both citizens, as well as for professionals in architecture, urban planning, and other disciplines. Citizens are invited to share their dreams, desires, and needs via a quiz. The results of the kick off quiz will shape the virtual city. The more people participate, the more Social City will grow. The next quizzes will focus on such topics as local economy, public space, mobility, governance, and community building. The platform is a unique online combination of shared dreams and desires of citizens, hard data and discourse by professionals. The beta version of the platform will be launched at the Beijing Design Week in September 2015. The final version will be presented in the installation at Shenzhen Urbanism/Architecture Bi-City Biennale (UABB) 2015 in Shenzhen.
In Social City citizens take the lead, and experts in architecture and city planning are invited to reflect on the shared desired elements which constitute Social City. It challenges top down city planning, bottom-up utopias, smart city naivety, superficial urban solutions, traditional lifestyle categorizing, and big data misuse.
Social City platform is curated by Renny Ramakers in collaboration with Mark van der Net (OSCity). Technical implementation: OSCity. Graphics: Thonik.
Exhibition venue in Beijing: The Nurturing House, Sanjing Hutong No. 21, Dashilar, Xicheng District, Beijing, 100051
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.
Cities are getting bigger and bigger, smarter and smarter. Technology is supposed to solve all city problems. Governments, companies and urban planners are eager to do so. But what about CITIZENS? What do THEY think? Can they have a SAY?
Social City consists of an installation in the UABB exhibition and an online platform. The installation will give insight in the city life of Hong Kong and Shenzhen. Its diversity will be caught in information which is derived from the repository of various personal activities, intentions and affections, which users have been putting on the internet. These soft data will be extracted and visualized in digital maps with the OSCity web-tool developed by Mark van der Net. Complementary to the digital data are the drawings which artist Jan Rothuizen is making of real life in Shenzhen and Hong Kong.
The digital and real mapping will be linked to in-depth conversations with individual citizens about their dreams, desires and needs by students of Design Academy Eindhoven and PolyU Hong Kong. All this information together will be the start from which innovative solutions for local problems will be designed, and new opportunities in the two cities will be explored. Visitors of the exhibition can directly react to the proposals.
The online platform will be worldwide for both citizens, as well as for professionals in architecture, urban planning, and other disciplines. Citizens are invited to share their dreams, desires, and needs via a quiz. The results of the kick off quiz will shape the virtual city. The more people participate, the more Social City will grow. The next quizzes will focus on such topics as local economy, public space, mobility, governance, and community building. The platform is a unique online combination of shared dreams and desires of citizens, hard data and discourse by professionals. The beta version of the platform will be launched at the Beijing Design Week in September 2015. The final version will be presented in the installation at UABB.
In Social City citizens take the lead, and experts in architecture and city planning are invited to reflect on the shared desired elements which constitute Social City. It challenges top down city planning, bottom-up utopias, smart city naivety, superficial urban solutions, traditional lifestyle categorizing, and big data misuse.
Social City is curated by Renny Ramakers (Droog Foundation/Design+Desires) in collaboration with Mark van der Net (OSCity), Jan Rothuizen, Design Academy Eindhoven and PolyU.
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