Let’s Face the Future!

Op donderdag 5 april 2017 organiseerde het Nederlands Consulaat in Milaan en Crafts Council Nederland de expertmeeting ‘Let’s Face the Future! Concerning challenges for the education in crafts’ in het kader van de Salone del Mobile.

Zie hieronder het volledige programma (in het Engels).


In crafts you will find the fundamental building blocks for product manufacturing and designing. Without craftsmanship there is no excellent design. Dutch design education has an international reputation and Dutch designers are internationally recognized and successful. Many foreign design students are studying in the Netherlands, mainly because of its high quality design education: the Dutch design scene has been fuelled by a strong education system for designers. Traditionally, Italy has always been a leader in design and is well known for its thriving manufacturing industry and expertise.

Learning specific craft techniques, for example in textiles, wood or clay, is rather an exception than the rule in the Netherlands. Until the eighties, art education was based on the Bauhaus principles and took place in a workshop environment. After this decade design education has made a drastic change. The emphasis was placed on conceptual thinking and (digital) design rather than making. Today however we do see a renewed interest in craft techniques, and the making process is regaining a central place in education. Designing from (new) materials and techniques is considered important again. Craftsmen are becoming designers and the designer is emerging more and more as a craftsman.

Questions raised are: what is needed in education to support this development, where can we find the expertise, what are the best places to learn crafts and what are the right learning methodologies?
Both, in the Netherlands and in Italy, professional knowledge is primarily present among the older generation. This group has been trained in a traditional way and has put time and effort in developing their skills. They needed these skills to practice their profession, but nowadays all these professions have disappeared. Craft techniques can no longer be directly translated to an existing career.

During this expert meeting we will discuss some examples of how education is responding to the way we train and prepare students for the future, whether students are becoming a maker, a maker-designer or a designer. We will reflect on the apparent hurdles and obstacles, we are questioning if the school will be the right place to learn, and how we can deepen and consolidate acquired knowledge.


9.30 welcome coffee/tea
10.00 Start. The morning will start with introductions by Jan Boelen, Alberto Cavalli, Cor de Koning & Dorien Verdier and Tessa Moroder. They will reflect on the topics, followed by a round-table discussion with a selection of invited Dutch and Italian entrepreneurs, designers and representatives of schools and professional organisations. We welcome your comments on the presentations and we invite you to share your visions and ideas based on your perspective, expertise and professional practice.
– Introduction by Crafts Council Nederland on the infrastructure for crafts education, Meet the Master and Crafts exchange.
– The Museum as a School, Jan Boelen (Design Academy Eindhoven) on collaborating with the Zuiderzeemuseum (Enkhuizen)
– The Workplace as a School, Alberto Cavalli (Fondazione Cologni, Milan) on their programme Mestieri d ‘Arte
– No School, Cor de Koning (Cibap vocational college, Zwolle) and Dorien Verdier (St Lucas, vocational college, Boxtel) on the individual learning path for the creative practitioner
– The Lab as a School, by Tessa Moroder (Lottozero, center for textile design, art and exchange with an open lab for textile production, experimentation and research, Prato) on the experiment with material and machine

Sandra Rietveld, (HMC vocational college) and Maria Christina Hamel, (designer, professor in Design at the Academy of Fine Arts in Verona) will comment on the presentations, followed by the roundtable discussion with all attendees led by Tim Vermeulen, design critic.
The meeting will end at 12 o’clock, followed by a lunch offered by the Consulate General.


Crafts Council Nederland is the all-encompassing platform for contemporary craft. It is the place where art, fashion, design and heritage all unite and where craftsmanship is nurtured and passed on to a new generation. As a key unifier, concept developer, initiator, Crafts Council Nederland is building an infrastructure to help preserve and encourage intangible heritage and to make craft techniques future-proof. Crafts Council Nederland operates at an implementation level, hands-on; because connecting the world of creative crafts with the worlds of fashion and design is fruitful and necessary.

The Dutch creative industry has a particularly strong reputation in interior design, architecture, fashion and electronic dance music. The Dutch diplomatic missions in Italy support the presence of Dutch design during the Milan Design Week. The Embassy and Consulate General support promising initiatives in Italy, strengthen networks between Dutch and Italian professionals and foster a continuous dialogue on future challenges and urgent questions for the design sector.