The Dutch Design Fashion Architecture (DutchDFA) programme aimed to strengthen the international position of the most prominent sectors of the Dutch creative industries – design, fashion and architecture – through a joined-up approach.
The one-off, four-year strategic DutchDFA programme (2009-2012) took place in a selection of focus countries (China, India, Germany and Turkey) and related to topical issues and local demand. The aim was to build long-lasting international partnerships while addressing issues facing today’s world through design.
DutchDFA was a unique collaboration between public and private partners. The programme was funded by the Ministries of Education, Culture and Science (OCW), Economic Affairs (EZ) and Foreign Affairs (BZ). Involved were the sector-specific organisations Premsela and Netherlands Architecture Institute, now united in The New Institute; professional branch associations BNO, BNA, BNI, and MODINT, united in the Dutch Federation of Creative Industries; and the Dutch creative hubs of Amsterdam, Arnhem, Eindhoven, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht.
The programme was temporary, operating in addition to existing infrastructure and support programmes for the internationalisation of Dutch architecture, fashion and design. What distinguished the DutchDFA programme from existing opportunities were its multi-disciplinary approach, its focus on cross-sectoral collaborations connecting cultural and economic agendas and its long-term perspective.
Toolbox of instruments
Over the years the DutchDFA programme developed a ‘toolbox’ of specific instruments for the creative industry. Multidisciplnary, themed travelling exhibitions such as 'Connecting Concepts', initiated by Premsela, provided platforms for international dialogue as well as a basis for scripted trade missions. Matchmaking projects like those initiated by the Netherlands Architecture Institute in China and India established joint models of collaboration for tackling urgent local issues. The Dutch Design Workspaces & Desks helped facilitate the process of doing business in the focus countries while the popular Dutch Profiles video interviews offered valuable, visual insights into the designers’ processes and thinking.
Evaluation and reports
A final evaluation conducted by Berenschot confirmed that the programme’s success lay in creating strong platforms for collaboration, building collective reputations, establishing valuable networks, addressing the needs of designers, and stimulating concrete commercial leads. A major result from the image survey performed by Glocal Strategy was an increase in the awareness of Dutch design in the focus countries: 60% of those surveyed in China identified the Netherlands as the top architecture country in Europe, while in India Dutch design is seen as ‘designed for quality of daily life.’ The results of the activities of the programme are captured in the four consecutive year reports, the last of which, 4/4, was publicly presented on 4 April 2013 in The Hague, with lectures by key players from within the field.
Several successful tools developed in the context of the programme will remain in place. Dutch Design Workspace Shanghai and Dutch Design Desk Europe will continue to provide local support for Dutch design companies aiming to do business in China and the Euregio/Germany in 2013 respectively. ‘Dutch Profiles’, a collection of close to 100 short films on Dutch designers, are available online worldwide. The video series has become part of the collection of Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, which publishes it on ARTtube from June 2013.
The Creative Industries Fund NL administers a follow-up internationalisation programme for the Dutch creative sector for the period 2013–2016. Please contact Niels Engel for more information at email@example.com.