When I started as a designer, I was still developing a vision. And I still am. How you look at things is something that constantly changes. As life does. Throughout my career as a graphic designer I have always been more interested in the impact of the things I make—the effect design has on people rather than the aesthetic side.Is that what inspired the creation of WDCD?
I have always focused on concrete things. That’s what designers do. Translate ideas into something tangible. When the economic crisis hit the Netherlands in 2011, we were sort of out of work—a good reason to initiate something instead of waiting and sitting on your hands. I just wrote down a one-pager, invited some friends and design colleagues, we drank a lot of beer, had a conversation, and the rest is history!How do you deal with the magnitude of the topics you address?
It’s important that you’re very aware and stay open; everything is about societal and environmental issues. Sometimes it’s also about beauty or poetry or fun. For us it’s important that it’s very energetic, that there is great fun and good energy because that’s the only way to address those issues. It doesn’t start with the societal issue; it starts with the fact that you want to make stuff and you have to use that energy and channel it in the right direction.
It’s a methodology: We think we can have more impact if we focus on a few specific issues—within those we need to find our own specific identity. The topics are so huge, so omnipresent, that you have to make these choices to make it understandable again.How does that approach take shape on the ground?
First and foremost, it includes a lot of research, interviews with experts, and workshop formats with experts, designers, and stakeholders. In Mexico City we dealt with waste and involved a local team with members of the municipality of Mexico City, designers, and experts in the realm of waste. With them we work out the real issues, and how we can translate that into issues that are relevant for designers.Where do you see WDCD moving in the future?
I see a need to become a platform for designers and creatives in areas or countries that don’t have such a strong infrastructure as the Netherlands or Germany does. For example, we worked in Nairobi for the Clean Energy Challenge. There is no magazine, no events, or festivals; no infrastructure for these people. Of course, there are designers and creatives but there is no context. It is super difficult for them to use their skills and channel that creative energy in the right direction. In the long run, it would be great if WDCD could offer that to countries where it’s much more difficult than in developed countries.
Text: Ann-Christin Schubert
Photography: Jordi Huisman