How a Dutch Manufacturing Town Became a Hotbed of Design

For a week this past October, the population of Eindhoven, Netherlands, more than doubled as nearly 300,000 visitors flocked to the mid-size city for the 15th annual Dutch Design Week. But the quiet manufacturing town—home to the legendary Design Academy Eindhoven and a burgeoning class of emerging and established talents—hasn't always been a place to write home about.

"Eindhoven was a sad city that no one wanted to stay in," remembers designer Piet Hein Eek, who went against the grain and set up shop there after graduating from Design Academy in 1990.

Eindhoven had long revolved around Philips—one of the largest electronics companies in the world, which was founded there in the late 19th century. Breezy warehouses, gigantic factories, and quaint brick homes were erected across the city to accommodate the company and its employees. But when, in the 1970s and ’80s, production moved to China, the city's vigor began to dwindle. By 1997, the company's headquarters was officially relocated to Amsterdam and Eindhoven was deemed, more or less, a ghost town.

The single remaining sign of life? The world-famous Design Academy Eindhoven nurturing creativity in the center of town.

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Victoria Krisman
Victoria Krisman is Interactive Media Specialist and Communications Manager for the Intelligent Community Forum.
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