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.
In 1993 Renny Ramakers and Gijs Bakker started Droog as an anti-statement; a no-nonsense, down to earth design mentality that opposed the high style and form-based world of design. In contrast, Droog proposed a highly conceptual approach, one captured by the Dutch word “Droog,” meaning “dry”.
At the historical heart of Amsterdam, Ramakers initiated Hotel Droog, the hospitality experience that has turned the hotel concept on its head. Hotel Droog is a place where people can eat, shop, debate, relax and even stay the night.
As curator, Ramakers creates highly interactive design festivals around the world, establishing new collaborations and experiences inspired by the location. Her aim is to deliver cutting edge content and unexpected perspectives in an interdisciplinary and a down-to-earth way.
As a critic, Ramakers has contributed to international magazines, books and catalogues, and has authored several books. Her latest book is ‘Here, there, everywhere’ (2014) which speculates how people in daily situations worldwide can inspire new directions for design.
Ramakers is a judging panellist on various boards and has advised on governmental advisory boards, amongst others as a member of the Dutch Council of Culture (1995-2001). She was also member and chairman of the board of THNK, Amsterdam school for creative leadership (2012-2014). In 2012 Newsweek has named her one of the “150 Women Who Shake the World”.
In 2014 Ramakers initiated Design+Desires. Dedicated to explore how dreams, passions and needs of city dwellers can shape the city of the 21st century, the program envisions user-centered urban planning on a human scale. Through a range of design projects, educational projects, academic research, exhibitions, citizen surveys, debates and expert meetings, the program aims to tackle existing problems in the city and create new opportunities, both in theory and practice, with the ultimate goal of creating an alternative model for urban planning.
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.”
“Less is more, but only if it adds something of meaning, if it makes space for something else.” (2002)
“The design world has become too inward-looking. It needs to look outside the world it has created for itself for new impulses and inspirations from the world.” (2009)
“Many designers are too introspective, are concentrating on unnecessary solutions and on design as a therapy for themselves.” (2010)
“The need for new products is growing, but the systems in which design functions today are obsolete.” (2010)
“I am after sensible innovation. Starting with what’s easily available can save some steps in the design and production process, with surprising outcomes.” (2010)
“Intellectual property rights will be one of the greatest challenges to the design industry moving forward.” (2010)
“My design events are not only about showcasing new products. They are about establishing new relationships between designers and non-designers, about experiencing new notions of luxury, visitor participation and having fun.” (2010)
“True luxury changes as society changes, in response to changing scarcities.” (2010)
“I am not an idealist by any means. It is not my goal to create social design, but I do like it when social renewal results in innovative design.” (2010)
“The capacity of design does not only express itself through products, graphics or garments but also through tools, services, scenarios, new business models and other ways of benefitting society.” (2012)
“The world has recently changed so much due to globalization and technological developments, it’s now time to change the city.” (2014)
“With Social City we explore how a city would look like, when it is built with dreams and desires as starting points and without the limitations of a physical reality.” (2015)