preview DDA15 with Richard van der Laken

February 27 2015
Richard van der Laken, DDA Awardshow 2014 © Sjoerd Eickmans
Richard van der Laken, DDA Awardshow 2014 © Sjoerd Eickmans

A look ahead to DDA 2015 with communication and service & systems chairman Richard van der Laken.

What was last year’s design highlight for you?

The landslides in the Middle East have exacerbated the refugee problem. One of the major problems surrounding refugees is that although what they are going through is enormously tragic, the refugees themselves are not or are rarely seen as human beings. Refugees are numbers, cases, dehumanised. Artist Jan Rothuizen, journalist Martijn van Tol, photographer Dirk Jan Visser and developer Aart Jan van der Linden travelled to Iraq and literally and figuratively mapped out a refugee camp. An incredible interactive experience resulted, which sketched a profoundly human picture of today’s refugees. Words fail.

Refugee Republic[in Dutch]

What do you hope to be surprised by in this year’s selection?

During the last few years, we’ve heralded the social meaning of design. I was most guilty of this :-). I do think that’s important. That you ask yourself as a client and as a designer why you do things, and that you always have a good reason for slinging new products, services and communication into the world. However, a good design starts with an idea, an opinion, with imagination. That’s where it starts and that’s what will convince other people. In brief, I hope that, again this year, we will be surprised by imagination, by the sparkling of ideas. Not by lust for form, but by the lust to create, to do things differently, just because some people can’t help but want to do things differently.

Last year, designers appeared to increasingly profile themselves as content managers, considering a holistic approach is required to solve today’s complex problems. What development do you expect to stand out in 2015?

Difficult to say. Developments do not stop and start within a year. I do expect a lot of changes in the editorial, journalistic and politically engaged fields. Which is of course due to the terrible events that took place in Paris in January. As co-founder of the weekly visual column Gorilla (Groene Amsterdammer), I take it very personally and I’ve been thrown slightly off balance. Freedom of speech is immensely important. Something that, especially as creatives, we take for granted all too often here in the Netherlands. But I doubt that this will show in the submissions. It’s too early for that.