The unique DNA of Eindhoven is at risk

9 May, 2024

A possible departure of Design Academy Eindhoven (DAE) from this city, raises serious concerns with us. About Eindhoven and about the future of the academy.

Thanks to Philips, the inventors’ DNA of technology and design has formed the core of our city and shaped our region for over a century. That DNA is characterised by qualities that are much-needed for the social challenges we face: our top technologists develop new possibilities and designers excel in both visualising and helping realise possible futures. People from all over the world view the lead Eindhoven has with envy.

The creative sector is of serious economic value. Municipality research shows: around one billion euros of added value per year for this region. Yet the space for creativity in the city is under pressure, topped off by a possible departure of DAE. Away from Brabant, to Roermond!? It’s an almost unimaganabel scenario. Firstly, without DAE, Eindhoven will lose a piece of its unique inventor DNA forever. Plus, in Roermond the academy would be uprooted from its vibrant ecosystem: the very dynamics of this region on which it thrives.

DAE Graduation Show DDW23 - © Max Kneefel

Design Academy Eindhoven students rank among the top internationally. Precisely this up-and-coming talent is an important engine for the creative ecosystem, which also drives events like DDW and GLOW. DAE alumni can be found everywhere, in our city and far beyond; they all carry a piece of Eindhoven with them. They lead large innovation teams, work as creative entrepreneurs, on social issues in neighbourhoods, on strategy assignments for our Brainport companies, but also for companies like Nike and Ikea. They present worldwide as far as MoMa NYC and the United Nations. They offer new perspectives ––on broad social prosperity and equal opportunities for example––  with design that puts people, residents and ecology at the centre, for that future we want to live in.

Vice versa, we really worry for the future of the academy, if it detaches itself from this fertile ground. The community will not just move with it. The proximity of that community to incubators, workshops, manufacturing companies, knowledge centres and events, not to mention its many peers, is simply invaluable. The creative ecosystem may be under pressure in Eindhoven ––and we need to work on that!–– it is still more present, more vibrant and more connected here than anywhere else. Especially with a municipality and province that actively promote and apply the importance of design.

DAE Graduation Show DDW22 - © Max Kneefel

Both the Eindhoven ecosystem and the ecosystem of design thrive on biodiversity: a monoculture will not last. Just imagine this city ten years from now, when technology may be thriving but the wonder, inspiration and vibrancy ––in the form of a thriving design community and the creative economy–– have subsided. And imagine the academy as an educational institution with no vibrant habitat, no shell of potential, no design DNA around it.

Eindhoven is seen as an international hub of progress. Last edition, for instance, DDW featured in more than 4,000 (inter)national publications. The word most mentioned by far: ‘future’. This has an impact on the business climate for companies and future residents; attraction for the so-scarce talent that every company needs for competitiveness. Homegrown and educated in Eindhoven, city of inventors. Right?

Our heartfelt cry to everyone at the decision-making table of this dossier: please pull out all the stops to keep this valuable Eindhoven DNA intact for our future. Let’s not make an irreversible mistake.

A solution to this crisis requires flexibility and an open mind, from both sides. We will continue to cooperate and offer our strength and expertise until that solution is found.

So buckle down! Because once gone, it will be lost forever.

Miriam van der Lubbe | Creative Head Dutch Design Week
Martijn Paulen | Director Dutch Design Foundation
Katja Pahnke | Director Dutch Design Foundation