Scaling up circular design: Exploring Dutch-Chinese collaboration


During the Dutch Design Week in October an online conference about circular design in China took place. Program Manager for CIRCO International Pieter van Os, together with creative director for Orange Creatives Mariet Schreurs, and Secretary for the Top Team Creative Industry Marijke Reuver, discussed the importance of China as a partner for the Dutch creative industry.


“A larger market like China’s offers great opportunities. The Netherlands is very focused on innovation but scaling up is the next step.” – Marijke Reuver, Secretary Dutch Top Team Creative Industry


Dutch-Chinese design collaboration for scaling up circularity

“Design is the driver of innovation and China is the factory of the world, so you must be there to make a difference” van Oss added. Even though China can be an important partner in the circular transition, currently circularity in China is very much about waste while circularity in the Netherlands prioritizes a system change that starts in the production phase. Schreurs agreed: “If you look at the Sustainable Design China Summit in Beijing, for example, you see that the drive is comparable to the Dutch’s, but it is still much about recycling. It is important to get the circular designer to the table in the briefing phase. Design should increasingly be about sustainability and then aesthetics.”


Collaboration for a circular world: keeping our eyes on the ball

When it comes to making an impact together with China and the Netherlands, the experts do see some obstacles. Reuver: “We Dutch are sometimes impatient and direct. It takes time to learn to speak each other’s design language.” According to Schreurs obstacles can also be found in the Netherlands itself: “Some people think that we should not do anything in China because of human rights violations. But the trade volume is so large – the impact from a resource perspective is huge.” According to van Os we should not get too involved in politics and keep our eyes on the ball “If we continue like this, the earth will only have 80 years to go. Besides, we can learn a lot from the Chinese.”


Video: Architecture and Innovation: A Dutch Perspective

During the event a 12-minute video on projects of Dutch companies in both the Netherlands and China facing major challenges, including problems related to climate, rising sea levels, but also migration and agriculture, was launched. By showcasing innovative projects, the film aims to spark discussion about industry opportunities, social innovations, and solutions in both the Netherlands as in China. View the video here.


The full event was live streamed and can be rewatched here.


Photo by Kevin Kwee: From left to right Marijke Reuver, Pieter van Os and Mariet Schreurs