Studio Jeffrey Heiligers x Driving Dutch Design

Last year I was one of the 22 participants in the Driving Dutch Design class of 2020. Driving Dutch Design (DDD) is the professionalisation and networking program of ABN AMRO, the association of Dutch Designers (BNO) and the Dutch Design Foundation (DDF) that helps passionate designers on their way in the world of entrepreneurship.

Studio Jeffrey Heiligers, Re-Engineer

Why did I feel like I had to participate? 

I graduated from the Design Academy Eindhoven in December 2014. Both my graduation projects got picked up on quite fast and within one month my work Momentum was on show at the Kazerne in Eindhoven during Dutch Technology Week 2015. My other graduation project Posture was published soon after by online design blog Dezeen. This was followed by a tsunami of e-mails, interviews and requests when the products would be available to purchase. As a recent graduate this was super exciting but at the same time overwhelming and stressful. Although Design Academy Eindhoven is a really good design school, they don't teach you anything about how to deal with press, enquires and most of all how to run a creative business. 

After 5 years of working several projects, trying to battle and learn the business side of things on my own I decided I needed help and I applied for the Driving Dutch Design Course. I was creating a lot of work but I wasn't being paid properly for the work I was processing. (This is a really big issue in the design industry in my opinion, but that might be a topic for an other time). Also I wasn't that good in explaining my design super power to clients to generate work that would suit my company better and create work that would bring me and my company to a next level. 

How did Driving Dutch Design help me?
The masterclass programme was set up so you can follow them while continuing working on daily jobs in your own studio. Before each class we would get homework assignments that we had to send to the master hosting the class. Each class had it's own topic touching lots of different business topics that you need to understand to make your company successful. Some of these assignments really messed with my head. Every time you think you are on the right track you'll find out new things in class that you had never considered or thought of. This (sometimes painful) process really kept me on top of things, made me bring back focus to my studio and helped me making decisions to take my studio forward. I was also matched with a personal coach (Erna Lammers) by ABN AMRO. Erna kept me focussed on my personal goals and ensured I stayed on track to reach them.

It wasn't just my personal journey but the journey of all designers together in those classes that really opened my eyes about so many things. Listening to their  stories while being in the same process and the feedback they got from the master hosting the class was very inspiring. Sometimes because they had a breakthrough and I was happy for them and sometimes because it was a similar struggle I had and gave me insight from a different perspective that I could use for myself. The power of a group, learning from and listening to peers made this journey very special. I'm still in contact and even started collaborations with some of the people I've met during the course.

What did Driving Dutch Design bring me?
Most of all focus, a network of inspiring people, confidence, re-thinking the projects I've done, why I've done them and finding out what my super power is.

I found it quite hard to put my finger exactly on what I do best. When you are working on projects you just naturally do what you do best, but putting this in to words is something completely different. By working more focussed I found out that my strength is dissecting production and design processes and using the gained insights to show these products or processes in a new light. By designing off-the-shelf products that are future proof or with conceptual proof of concepts I showcase what these products should look like in 10 years from now. The outcome of this research and re-engineering process has a high commercial value for businesses and brands that want to innovate towards a more sustainable future and need to refresh their brand image to prove they are willing to be a pioneer. The environment, craftsmanship and the human being are key in my work. I only want to collaborate with companies that want to make a positive change without the use of greenwashing.

The outcome of Driving Dutch Design was the collection I've designed for Dutch Design Week 2020 named 'The New Standard 2030'. A future speculative perspective showing off-the-shelf examples of different lifestyle products designed with minimal impact on the environment. Most projects have been done in collaboration with different parties in the industry.

Below you can find an overview/portrait video of my personal Driving Dutch Design journey.

Let me know your thoughts on this blog via e-mail or get in touch when you have any questions. 


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