Co-founder and director of Droog, Renny Ramakers initiates projects, curates design exhibitions, and lectures worldwide. She is a judging panellist on various design boards and has advised on governmental advisory boards, amongst others as a member of the Dutch Council of Culture (1995-2001). As a critic, she has contributed to international magazines, books and catalogues, and has authored several books. She is chairman of the board of THNK, Amsterdam school for creative leadership.
Ramakers was educated as an art historian University of Leiden. During her studies she was more interested in a break than in continuity. After her studies she decided to specialize in design and to make history herself by creating projects which can stretch the borders of design thinking.
In 2009, Ramakers launched the Droog Lab series, ‘Here, there, everywhere.’ In collaboration with designers, consulting experts and local partners, Droog speculates how people in daily situations worldwide can inspire new directions for design. Current and past project locations include Dubai, New York, the Canadian North, Moscow, Belgium, Mumbai and China, where themes ranging from ambition to survival and copying have resulted in outcomes ranging from imaginary brands to future city concepts and new business models.
As curator, Ramakers creates highly interactive design festivals around the world, establishing new collaborations and experiences inspired by the location. Ramakers curated Pioneers of Change, a festival of Dutch design, fashion and architecture that took place in New York in 2009, attracting over 25,000 visitors in two weekends. In 2010 with Saved by Droog, Droog began purchasing dead stock for creative re-interpretation. UP, a new economic model for bringing dead stock back into circulation through re-design was launched in 2011. In 2012, Renny Ramakers was been named one of the “150 Women Who Shake the World” by Newsweek.
Ramakers focuses on establishing new collaborations and developing new tools and scenarios grounded by societal relevance, but always with a twist. She believes conceptual thinking with the focus on a different perspective can not only solve problems, but also open up new possibilities.
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)