Our department strongly believes in the importance of disseminating and sharing research knowledge on the new academic field of Design Cultures. We frequently invite guest lecturers from the Netherlands and abroad, and our staff and students often attend or give lectures in other institutions, both at home and internationally

January 2014

Dr Grace Lees-Maffei, Visiting Professor at the MA Design Cultures, gave the research seminar presentation ‘Looking Good? Aesthetics and Iconicity in Design History,’ at the Estetisk Seminar, University of Oslo, January 9th 2014.

December 2013

Design historiographies and design in academia in The Netherlands.

A mini-symposium organized by NICA (Netherlands Institute for Cultural Analysis) and the MA Design Cultures at the VU University on the 11th of December focussed on the difference between design history (product and graphic) and fashion. Taking this as a starting point the initiators wanted to discuss their historiographic traditions and wondered whether these studies should merge. 

The session was a follow-up on the study day of Designhistory NL and will lead to more explorations in the year to come. Dr. Javier Gimeno-Martinez, assistant-professor at the VU, and Joana Ozorio de Almeida Meroz, currently working on a PhD on Dutch design, invited Dr. Frederike Huygen and Prof. Dr. Anneke Smelik (Radboud University Nijmegen) to give an introduction on these traditions in the fields of design respectively fashion. Questions such as boundaries of subject and discipline, theory and methodology have been raised since design started to be studied academically. Now that this discipline seems to be maturing, the subject of design is continuously expanding and the diversity in approaches augments.
Dr. Ellinoor Bergvelt (UvA) and Dr. Christine Delhaye (UvA) were invited to join the round table discussion held after the keynote lectures.

Please find the report of the symposium here:


March 2013Javier Gimeno Martinez at Middlesex University London. 
On 6th March Gimeno Martinez presented his paper The periphery of Art. Forging the 1980s Concept of Design at Documenta (1987) at Middlesex University, in the context of ADRI Research Seminar. This paper analyses an art mega-exhibition such as Documenta 8 (1987) as a defining agent for design. It explores which side of design was exposed and which was concealed as well as the impact of this exhibition for the inclusion of design in the circuits of art. This paper argues that the consequences were two-fold. Firstly, it redefined design as a cultural issue and made this idea both artistically and academically acceptable. Secondly, as far as contemporary craft is concerned, it presumed craft’s definite exclusion of the art circuit.

February 2013

Museum visit: Design Cultures at Stroom in Den Haag
Students and teachers of Design Cultures visited the Stroom Gallery in Den Haag hosting the exhibition Orban Space: Luc Deleu - TOP office, this visit was an activity of the course 'Design in Words'.

February 2013

Museum visit: Design Cultures at the Stedelijk Museum
Students and teachers of Design Cultures visited the Stedelijk museum, this visit was an activity of the course 'Design in Words'.

January 2013

Irene Maldini at Sheffield Hallam University
On the 16th January Irene Maldini -teaching assistant of Design Cultures and Embedded researcher at VU and Waag Society- presented her research to Master students, teachers and researchers of Sheffiled Hallam University.  

December 2012

PhD Candidate of Design Cultures Joana Ozorio de Almeida Meroz is moderator of "The History of Design History in the Netherlands" lectures, organised by the Dutch Design History Society.

Speakers: Ellinoor Bergvelt, Marjan Boot and Frans van Burkom.
Convener: Frederike Huygen.
"Design history as studied from the institutional framework of art history is limiting since it purely concentrates on stile, aesthetics and the designer as genius. This criticism, often heard from Anglo-Saxon design historians, was the starting point for a study day into the emergence of design history in the Netherlands." (translated from Frederike Huygen, 'History of Design History'

November 2012

Meet the 2012 Design Cultures graduates!
On the 19th November we celebrated the Graduation Ceremony of the second group of Design Cultures graduates. 
Design Iconen:
AVRO Kunstuur 2012: Wat is nu typisch Hollands design? Designhistoricus Timo de Rijk kijkt met ons naar belangrijke ontwerpen van toen en nu. Een zesdelige serie over Nederlandse Design Iconen over alledaagse spullen die ons leven verrijkt hebben en wereld voorgoed hebben veranderd. Iconen tegen wil en dank!  Design Iconen:
de ‘Knotted Chair’ van Marcel Wanders
het lettertype New Alphabet
het cassettebandje
een Chinees restaurant
de Bolvaas
de  Hollandse Fiets

October 2012

The sense and non-sense of design criticism according to the designer and the critic.
Interview with Studio Job and Javier Gimeno Martínez. Author: Natasja Admiraal (more)

October 2012

Jules Wabbes. Overzichtstentoonstelling en boek.
Op 17 oktober opent in Bozar de tentoonstelling ‘Jules Wabbes. Furniture Designer’.
Jules Wabbes (1919-1974) is een van de belangrijkste Belgische meubelontwerpers uit de naoorlogse periode. De tentoonstelling brengt voor het eerst een volledig overzicht van zijn werk als meubeldesigner. Curatoren zijn Marie Ferran-Wabbes en Iwan Strauven.
Tegelijk met de tentoonstelling verschijnt ook het boek Jules Wabbes. Furniture Designer. De publicatie is rijk geïllustreerd en bevat essays van beide curatoren en van Fredie Floré. De teksten belichten onder meer Wabbes’ profiel als ontwerper, zijn typerend materiaalgebruik en zijn deelname aan de Belgische Triënnales van Milaan. (more)

September 2012
Embedded research in Creative Industries
Alumnus Irene Maldini was awarded funding for a 9-month research by the program 'Embedded researchers in the Creative Industry' of the VU. This project is a collaboration with Waag Society, Institute for Art, Science and Technology and counts with the supervision of Javier Gimeno-Martinez and Ginette Verstraete. See the blog of the research here

January 2012

Field trip: Design Cultures at the V&A Museum
Design Cultures organized a day-trip to the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Accompanied by Javier Gimeno Martínez and Joana Ozorio de Almeida Meroz, the students started the day with a lecture by curator Lily Crowther about the upcoming exhibition on British Design (due to open in March 2012). She explored how contingent factors surrounding the mounting of a major exhibition at the V&A contribute to defining the notion of British design as offered by the exhibition. Next, we visited the Postmodernism show, curated by Glenn Adamson and Jane Pavitt. This was followed by a long and stimulating discussion with the curators. Some of the questions raised included the postcolonialist perspectives on the representation of postmodernism, the role of the exhibition in educating the public, and the role of the museum vis-à-vis contemporary developments in design scholarship. We ended the day by meeting some of the students following the Design History course of the Royal College of Art and exchanging views and experiences on how to approach design as an academic discipline today. To be repeated soon!

December 2011

Alumnus Selçuk Balamir at Ignite Amsterdam 13
On Wednesday 14 December, alumnus Selçuk Balamir will introduce ‘Green War’ during Ignite Amsterdam 13. 20:30 Mediamatic Bank, Vijzelstraat 68, 1017 HL Amsterdam. 
GreenWar is a sustainable military development company. Making environmentally-friendly, carbon-neutral warfare possible. Balamir will present a few of GreenWar's products.
About Ignite: “Ignite is run by locals, for locals. The events are held around the world. Ignite is fast-paced and merciless, but most of all they're fun, thought-provoking nights, full of fresh ideas and clever insights. Speakers get five minutes to present their idea. They make use of twenty slides that auto-advance every fifteen seconds.”(more)

January 2012

Lecture: de Deutsche Werkbund in Nederland
Design historian Mienke Simon Thomas is this year’s speaker at the annual lecture of the Dutch Design History Society. She will give a lecture on the influence of the Deutsche Werkbund in the Netherlands in the years between 1907 and 1933. The lecture will take place on 09 December 2011 at the Bijzondere Collecties of the UB, Oude Turfmarkt 129 Amsterdam at 14:00. There is a limited number of places left for Design Cultures students, contact Frederike Huygen to enquire regarding availability. NB: the lecture will be held in Dutch.

December 2011

Timo de Rijk at Kunststof TV
Wat zegt een nieuwe BMW over aanzien en rijkdom? Waarom associëren we een oudere BMW met louche zaakjes? Timo de Rijk weet alles over de invloed van de alledaagse wereld op kunst. Hij is  designhistoricus aan de faculteit Industrieel Ontwerpen van de TU Delft, hoofdredacteur van het tijdschrift ‘Morf’, en stelt regelmatig designtentoonstellingen samen. See programme here.

 November 2011

Lecture: Brand New EU
The MA in Comparative Arts and Media is happy to announce a guest lecture by Prof. Anikó Imre: Brand New EU: Nation Branding Across Media.
VU University, room HG-14a10, Tuesday 22 November, 16:00-18:00
Anikó Imre is Associate Professor of Critical Studies at the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts. Her work revolves around film and new media theory, global television, national and transnational media, postcoloniality, global consumption and mobility, studies of identity and play, media education, and European media. She is the author of Identity Games: Globalization and the Transformation of Media Cultures in the New Europe (MIT Press, 2009), editor of East European Cinemas (Routledge, 2005) and co-editor of Transnational Feminism in Film and Media (Palgrave, 2007), and Popular Television in Eastern and Southern Europe (Routledge, 2012). 

October 2011

Lecture: Transmedia Activism
Ginette Verstraete will present her paper Transmedia Activism along the Amsterdam Metro Lines on Thursday 27 October at the 10th Nordic Society for Intermedial Studies (NorSIS) international conference, hosted by the Department of Art and Media Studies at NTNU in Trondheim (Norway). 

October 2011

Interview: What is Dutch Design?
Ad Valvas, the independent newspaper of the VU University Amsterdam, interviews Joana Ozorio de Almeida Meroz about her PhD research “A History of the Construction of the Idea of Dutch Design, 1945-2010)”:(more)

 October 2011

Dutch Design Awards 2011
Zaterdag 22 oktober 2011 werden voor de 10e keer de jaarlijkse Dutch Design Awards uitgereikt. Daniel Gross en Joris Maltha, samenCatalogtree, wonnen met de iPad-documentaire Money&Speed - Inside the Black Box niet alleen de prijs voor Communicatie/Best Digital Design, maar ook de Golden Eye Award. De iPad-doc maakt deel uit van een Touch Doc; documentairemaakster Marije Meerman van VPRO’s Tegenlicht maakte een TV-documentaire met dezelfde titel over de flash crash op de Amerikaanse financiële markten. Het project laat zien wat de samensmelting van het televisie- en computerscherm kan brengen.
Timo de Rijk, jurylid in zowel de Product- als de internationale jury, licht de gang van zaken bij de jurering toe. "We hebben heftig maar goed gediscussieerd. Een belangrijk element in de discussie was de vraag op welke manier design in staat is te transformeren. Ingewikkeld, want waar let je dan op: waardeer je de manier hoe een boodschap door design vertaald wordt, of waardeer je de boodschap? Het gaat over de designkwaliteit en de vertaalkwaliteit. The Endless Chair (Dirk Vander Kooij, red.) bijvoorbeeld stelt iets aan de orde wat in het design zelf zit, voor mij was dit een potentiële winnaar." Toch is De Rijk bepaald niet ontevreden over Catalogtree, de uiteindelijke winnaar: "Dat je zulke complexe materie, die ons allemaal aangaat en waar we allemaal over mee moeten praten, met deze techniek inzichtelijk weet te maken, is zo'n indrukwekkende prestatie. Iedereen die deze app gebruikt, is na een uur echt heel veel wijzer."

October 2011

Meet the 2011 Design Cultures graduates!
Today we celebrated the graduation of the first generation of Design Cultures graduates! We wish them all the best and look forward to how they will further develop the field of Design Cultures through their future research and activities.

 October 2011

Mosaic scholarship for Ozorio de Almeida Meroz
Joana Ozorio de Almeida Meroz (Visual Arts, Media and Architecture research MA student, specialising in Design Cultures) has been awarded an NWO Mosaic PhD scholarship to carry out her research 'A Socio-Cultural History of Dutch Design, 1945-2010'. This is the first time a Mosaic scholarship is awarded to the Faculty of Arts of the VU University Amsterdam. She will also be the first PhD student at the new MA Design Cultures at the VU. She will be giving a presentation on her research at the official Mosaic award ceremony on 17 October 2011 after the speech by VU rector magnificus Lex Bouter.
The Mosaic Scholarship Programme
The VU University Amsterdam student population is very diverse in terms of cultural, religious and ethnic backgrounds. The intake of students from minority groups is on the increase, while the numbers moving on to academic careers remain limited. Mosaic is an NWO grant programme aimed at encouraging more graduates from ethnic monitories to enter the academic profession. VU University Amsterdam assists candidates with the submission of their Mosaic research proposals: Mosaic support programme
As the name already indicates, Design Cultures and its multi-cultural staff and student body is highly encouraging and supportive of this mission.

October 2011

Lecture: Re-Mixing Criticality
Joana Ozorio de Almeida Meroz will present her paper Re-mixing Criticality: Materiality as the New Medium of Social Critique at the 2nd International Graduate Conference in Communication and Culture: The Culture of Remix. Lisbon, 13-14 October, 2011. (more)

October 2011

Interview with Timo de Rijk
Jeroen Dirks interviews Timo de Rijk about the influence of design on culture. 
How is it possible that a BMW3 suddenly becomes very popular among Moroccan youths? And why do Chinese restaurants always use the same house-style? 
Premsela Endowed Professor Design Cultures Timo de Rijk examines design from a historical and social cultural framework.
Listen to the interview here.

July 2011

Lecture: Juan Ricci
At the OSK Section Meeting Italian Art Studies 2011, which focused on the influence of the patron in Italian art (ca. 1400-1800), van Beek presented an iconographical case study of a canvas by Juan Ricci (1600-1681). He argued that the very canvas in Italy was created in a similar commission situation as a series of canvases in the cathedral of the Spanish city Burgos. As a consequence, the known iconographical problems which arose in Spain could have been reflected in the iconography of the canvas in Italy. Van Beek presented the findings of this thesis, in which he showed the possible iconographical development of the depicted motif, and its parallels to contemporary theological debate.
Illustration: Juan Andrés Ricci de Guevara (1600-1681), Motif of Eucharist with Christ and Mary, ca. 1665, Biblioteca del Monumento Nazionale di Montecassino codex 469, p. 69. 

May 2011

Lecture series: design, architecture, advertising
Dutch design has become an internationally acknowledged notion. From industrial to graphic design, from architecture to advertising: the international interest for Dutch and Belgium design is big. The NRC Academy and the Arts & Culture Department of the VU University Amsterdam are organizing a series of lectures about design. Scholars from the field of design, advertising and architecture history explain the cultural, social and economic factors behind buildings, objects, advertising and fashion. Designers’ ideas and ideals, commissioners’ desires, users’ needs, the (im-)possibilites of production and distribution: all of these factors together determine the end-product. And in the midst of all this Dutch designers occupy a unique position.
This series comprises the following lectures (all in Dutch):
Nederlandse vormgeving in mondiaal perspectief (Dutch Design through an International Perspective)
31 May 2011
prof. dr. T. R.A. de Rijk, Endowed Professor Design Cultures
Van ontwerp tot advertising: over de haat-liefdeverhouding tussen design en reclame (From Design to Advertising: About the Love-Hate Relationship Between Design and Advertising)
14 June 2011
drs. W. H. Schreurs, guest lecturer Advertising History
Handel in avant-garde. De ontwikkeling van Antwerpen als modestad aan het eind van de twintigste eeuw (Business in the Avant-Garde. The Development of Antwerpen as a Fashion City at the End of the 20th Century)
21 June 2011
dr. J.C. Gimeno-Martínez, assistant professor Design Cultures
Designklassiekers in huis (Design Classics at Home)
5 July 2011
dr. F. Floré, assistant professor Architecture History
Het aanzien van de stad (The Face of the City)
12 July 2011
dr. F. H. Schmidt, assistant professor Architectuurgeschiedenis

May 2011

Lecture: Design, Culture and Immutability
Professor Timo de Rijk, the first Premsela Chair in Design Cultures at VU University Amsterdam, will deliver an inaugural lecture on Wednesday 25 May. A Premsela Design Cultures symposium will take place before the talk. Participants will include Guy Julier, a researcher at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, professor Jan Willem Drukker of the University of Twente’s design history faculty and junior teacher Anneke Beerkens of the University of Amsterdam. Watch the summary of symposium here.

May 2011

Lecture: Locating Design Cultures
Talk given at Premsela Design Cultures Symposium VU Amsterdam.
Dr. Guy Julier discussed the dynamics of design culture. Design culture arises in the relations between objects, people, business and organisations, Julier argues, and thus it makes more sense to talk about changing and relational design cultures rather than design objects. (Download paper)
Dr. Guy Julier, principal research fellow in contemporary design at the Victoria & Albert museum, London and author of the survey The Culture of Design (2000), combines a background in design history with experience as a professional designer. He is also affiliated with the Design Museum London.

May 2011

Lecture: The Speculative Proposal and the Craft of Social Critique
Student Joana Ozorio de Almeida Meroz presented her paper,The Speculative Proposal and the Carft of Social Critique, at the 2011 Conference ‘Material Culture, Craft & Community: Negotiating Objects Across Time & Place, organized by the Material Culture Institute at the University of Alberta, Canada.

March 2011

Lecture: Economies of Design
Design Cultures is happy to announce a guest lecture by Prof. Guy Julier: Economies of Design. Deregulation, New Economy, Financialization.
VU University, room HG 10a00, Wednesday 16 March at 13:30: In his lecture Guy Julier will address the ascendancy of design since 1980. The economy of design has not just been about an increasingly pervasive consumer culture. An accumulation of economic turns has provided new territories and working practices for the designer. This talk opens a discussion about how we think about design in terms of value and where we could go next in terms of its economic processes.

January 2011

Lecture: Underground Visions
Ginette Verstraete presented the paper 'Underground Visions: Spatialities of Resistance along the Amsterdam Metro Lines' during the Paris-Amsterdam Underground conference in Paris, 21-22 January 2011.

September 2010

Conference: Design and Craft
ICDHS 2010
20-22 September 2010
Brussels, Belgium
Conveners Javier Gimeno-Martínez, Fredie Floré
The conferences of the International Committee of Design History and Design Studies (ICDHS) aim to assess the current state of affairs of design history and design studies. The seventh ICDHS conference, “Design and Craft: A History of Convergences and Divergences”, will bring the relation between design and craft to the fore.

May 2010

Exhibition: Norm=Form
Gemeentemuseum Den Haag
8 May - 15 August
Curated by Timo de Rijk
From shoes and kitchen cupboards to coffee mugs and computer programs: they are all standardised. Never before have so many consumer products that surround us been the same. And that has many advantages. With its interchangeable parts and its conveyor belt production the T-Ford paved the way to an affordable car for everyone. Standardised clothing sizes offered affordable and well-fitting clothes to many. The exhibition shows a world of standardisation, of progress and the critical comments that designers make about it in the process.