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From the late 1980s, design from the Netherlands achieved worldwide renown under the label ‘Dutch Design’. But how much of the history of design from the Netherlands do we remember in 2018? What will we save for the future, and what will be forgotten? Why? Who will decide, and based on what criteria?

Compilation and Selection

The principal idea behind the Speculative Design Archive is that a formal infrastructure, such as exists for architecture, need not be the only solution. An informal structure could also provide a home for orphaned archives brought together through designers, businesses, schools, collectors and heirs. Approached from the perspective of the discipline of design, such a collection could be created – with space for archival items produced by Droog Design or MVRDV, in addition to recent estates in the digital domain – to give an impression of what a national design archive could be. An interesting aspect for discussions with the experts is the question of the extent to which a strictly discipline-based approach to such an archive may in fact not be desirable. It is in any event important that the archive represents the breadth of the sector; both in terms of a broad range of design fields and attitudes, and in terms of different generations.

Within this context, the archive acts not only as a permanent repository, but will above all prove its worth if it is able to generate new knowledge, as was the case with previous activities by the institute (for example, New Archive Interpretations1:1 Period RoomsFinders Keepers). Particularly now, with so much urgency being devoted within the design sector to new models of design, creation, distribution and use, a reliable memory in the form of an archive – however informal – would be of crucial importance. If you want to design the future, you must know the past.

The Speculative Design Archive is being created in cooperation with a versatile network of formal and informal archives, archive creators and custodians, and a wide range of heritage institutions. The team from Het Nieuwe Instituut worked closely with design historian Job Meihuizen on the selections for the archive. Studio Veronica Ditting and photographer Tim Elkaim collaborated on the graphic identity and visual campaign. The spatial design of the exhibition was developed by Roel Huisman with Bart van Merode.

Floor van Ast & Job Meihuizen
Roel Huisman with Bart van Merode
Studio Veronica Ditting
Tim Elkaïm