Dutch design thinkers on stage: Erik Kessels at the Design Indaba 2016

Creative director Erik Kessels is one of the Dutch speakers at the Design Indaba 2016 in Cape Town, South Africa. Erik Kessels has served as the creative director of communications agency KesselsKramer (Amsterdam, London, LA) since 1996 and worked for national and international clients such as Nike, Diesel, J&B Whisky and Oxfam. As an artist and photography curator, Kessels has published over 50 books of his ‘re-appropriated’ images: Missing Links (1999), The Instant Men (2000), in almost every picture (2001-2015) and Wonder (2006). In the run-up to the Design Indaba we asked him a couple of questions about what (Dutch) design thinking means to him.


Q: What do you think is a typical Dutch approach to design – and does this apply to yourself too?

“ A Dutch approach to design is often based on a simple strong idea. Generally design and graphic design is pretty ‘decorative’, where Dutch Design lives from its strong basics and ideas.”


Q: How would you define design-thinking?

“In my opinion design-thinking could be better defined as ‘Think before you Design’. Ideas and the thinking behind design have the future, especially now since we can finish everything very beautifully with design tools. Nowadays it’s easy to make something look good, but very often a strong idea at the basis is missing.”


Q: What is the importance of an international conference like Design Indaba?

“It’s important that design and the ideas behind design can be shared face to face on a large scale. To inspire and to learn from each other. Also meetings between students and professionals are very important to pass on (and exchange) ideas for the future.”


Q: How can design-thinking contribute to creating solutions for a better world?

“Social responsibility and awareness is something designers should get involved with more often. Their power to communicate and innovate is crucial for new and better solutions.”

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