In October of each year, Dutch Design Week (DDW) takes place in Eindhoven. The biggest design event in Northern Europe presents work and ideas of more than 2500 designers to more than 275,000 visitors from home and abroad. In more than eighty locations across the city, DDW organises and facilitates exhibitions, lectures, prize ceremonies, networking events, debates and festivities. DDW is different from other design events, because it concentrates on the designs of the future.
Eindhoven (210,000 inhabitants) is the 5th largest city in the Netherlands. However, the economy of the Eindhoven region is the 2nd largest in the Netherlands. The Eindhoven region is widely regarded as one of Europe’s high tech hotspots. 40% of Dutch investments in R&D are spent in this region. The region has a unique ecosystem in which the entire value system is represented: from fundamental research, education, development, design and engineering to production, marketing & sales. This strength is essential in its policy to boost innovation and economic development and to tackle its social, economic and spatial issues. Eindhoven was a finalist for World Design Capital 2012 because of the presence of world famous knowledge institutes, as well as a large base of designers and industry (from multinationals such as ASML and Philips Design to SME’s). But more important: because of its policy to search for innovative solutions for complex human-centered social and spatial issues through design. By using the city’s design powers, Eindhoven can solve her own social tasks, such as safety, health care, social cohesion, etc. From experience, Eindhoven knows that using a design working method results in creative solutions focused on the final user. The designers make sure that the final user is involved, and exactly that is important for Eindhoven. The municipality of Eindhoven subsidizes structurally the DDW (Dutch Design Week), the DDA (Dutch Design Awards) and the Design Academy for its Graduation Show. Besides that, the municipality provides yearly subsidies for occasional design-related projects focused on social questions. These projects can be about many different themes, from how to make it possible for elderly people to live longer independently in their own home and to prevent isolation, to themes like improving the safety of nightlife and making it safer for young woman to get home after a night out.
The public sector in all European regions is facing new challenges due to i.e. digitalisation and ageing of population. This workshop aims at encouraging public sector actors, i.e. cities, to actively use design-thinking and a strategic design approach and methods to support effective and innovative problem solving. Eindhoven and Rovaniemi as European cities in their respective regions (Central Europe versus High North of Europe) have created two different design strategies to solve challenges through design and design thinking.