Rotterdam – At the 14th edition of MaterialDistrict Rotterdam, which took place last week, nine internationally respected ambassadors were cherry-picked to represent six market sectors, curating exhibitions and helping to select the most promising start-ups and designers to showcase. Each spoke about the most important themes and innovations in their sector.
Ambassadors: Ben van Berkel (UNstudio) and Filippo Lodi (UNsense)
Themes: Technology, Health, Social Impact and Media
Their position: The digital revolution is driving change in every part of our lives, except within the built environment. It’s time to catch up. Besides performance and efficiency, technology offers a great opportunity to return to the essence of architecture, which is people. Our aim is to humanise architecture, to improve people’s physical, mental and social health. Artificial Intelligence and digital and sensorial technologies allow us to create buildings and cities that adapt to the needs of individuals and populations at large.
Ambassador: Anouk Groen from RNA Design, a trendwatcher and industrial designer for the automotive, textile and consumer-electronics industries
Themes: Eat Me, Fold Me, Love Me and Reuse Me
Her position: The future of battery power and moving towards electric are important. For the consumer electronics market, it is important to create products that are easily disassembled, so the parts can be reused or recycled. This is especially relevant to the phone industry because the average user changes phones every two years.
SECTOR: PRINT & SIGN
Ambassador: Annemarie Kleve from Anders2, expert on paper and printed matter
Themes: Digital and Effects
Her position: Making choices is one of the most important themes in this sector. As a graphic design company, you have to choose which sector you focus on. Because there are so many printing techniques available, you also have to choose a specialty. Which printing press or printer are you using? What do you want to achieve? The client also has to make choices, but because of the many options, often cannot see the forest for the trees.
SECTOR: URBAN & LANDSCAPES
Ambassador: Former municipal architect Cees Donkers, who oversaw Eindhoven's transformation from an 'ugly duckling' of a city into a 'design pearl' from the 1990s
Themes: Urban Lab, Water, Green and Social Design
His position: Transformation is the most important innovation in this sector, including the re-use of old buildings, rather than demolition. We used to invent new ways of living by demolishing the past and building updated versions, but over the past 30 years, we have discovered that we have been using the planet ‘for free’ without feeling responsible for future generations. Transformation makes it possible to change and re-use the past.