Holland, Pioneers in International Business

In January, an ambitious three-year design and business program has been launched aimed at the Turkish market. The Yard 9 consortium is achieved with a 2g@there subsidy from the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, Innovation and Agriculture. The objective is to develop a new and challenging proposition for strategic design. The 2g@there subsidy scheme is executed by NL EVD Internationaal and offers public support for clusters of Dutch companies with international ambitions, provided that the alliance is active in a sector or niche in which Dutch parties have a reputation. The program will be  coordinated by Designlink.

The Dutch creative industry is currently gaining considerable international acclaim and has particularly strong profiles in interior design, gaming, fashion, and architecture.

For centuries, Dutch creativity has inspired and informed. Geniuses, such as Dutch Masters Rembrandt and Van Gogh transformed the world around them. Today’s masters include iconic figures such as fashion designers Viktor & Rolf, architect RemKoolhaas, illustrator Dick Bruna and DJ/producers Armin van Buuren and Tiësto. They exemplify the strengths of Dutch design: pragmatic, open-minded, conceptual, out-of-the-box, and adhering to the principle ‘less is more’. Dutch design also embodies innovation, creativity and business acumen. Dutch creative thinking demonstrates that creativity can make businesses more innovative, attractive, competitive and prosperous.

Today, Dutch creativity is producing pioneering architecture, design, music, TV, gaming and fashion. Rotterdam is the city of architecture and urban design. Eindhoven, the technological heart of the nation, is home to the Design Academy, declared the ‘School of Cool’ by Time Magazine. Delft hosts the largest and oldest academic programme in industrial design. Utrecht is home to the Gaming Institute and Amsterdam is a creative melting pot of communication, interactive design and fashion. The ArtEZ Institute of the Arts in Arnhem is known for its Fashion Biennale and internationally successful fashion designers.

Dutch Design

Dutch design enjoys worldwide renown thanks to its originality and functionality, blending creativity with innovative technology. Dutch designers are making a mark with everything from furniture and fashion to automobiles and appliances.

‘Dutch Design’ is gaining widespread popularity all over the world and has become synonymous with quirky, out-of-the-box thinking, application of new technologies, highly-distinctive forms and far-reaching involvement with the (experience of) end users.

The design sector in the Netherlands maintains a highly-respected status within Dutch culture and falls under the umbrella of the greater creative industry. Premsela, Platform for Design and Fashion, is the Dutch sector institute for design and fashion. Premsela concentrates its efforts on improving the cultural design climate in the Netherlands and strives to stimulate opportunities for the growth of Dutch design from a cultural viewpoint. To aid the efforts of the design industry there also exists a public-private platform for design, fashion and architecture; combining sector-based (industry) organisations, and various ministries: EL&I (Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation); OCW (Education, Culture and Science); and BuZa (Foreign Affairs). The major cities also collaborate. The platform develops and guides the DutchDFA programme – a strategic, multi-year programme (2009 through 2012) focused on three specific countries: China, Germany and India. The central goal of DutchDFA is to strengthen the sustainable position of the three Dutch design disciplines (design, fashion and architecture) abroad, both economically and culturally, and to promote cross-sectoral cooperation.

Key aspects and strengths

The Netherlands is particularly strong in product design, where an individual designer’s vision is often the key focus, such as Marcel Wanders, or via the work of collaborative initiatives such as Droog Design, and is also strong in the field of high-quality design services (BNO). Design management is also highly developed in the Netherlands. Concrete examples of these products and services include:

  • Interior products, such as furniture and lighting
  • Graphic design, brand design, typography and illustration
  • Signposting/Wayfinding (Airports, Railway Stations)
  • Designs for public spaces, incl. street furniture
  • Design of medical equipment
  • Mobility design, incl. bicycles and recreational yachts
  • Design for museums and exhibitions
  • Interactive design: incl. gaming, serious gaming, web design, viral movies, and animation
  • Communications design, such as for government public information campaigns (i.e. Tax Administration)
  • Complex visual identities for public organisations such as ministries and municipal governments.

Facts & figures

In 2009, the Dutch creative sector comprised 43,000 companies. This accounts for 5 per cent of the total number of companies. More than 172,000 people are employed in the creative sector the majority in the creative services branch.In 2008, the added value was estimated at 16.9 billion euros. This is more than 3 per cent of GDP. The annual export value is estimated at more than 5 billion euros, which is around 1.7 per cent of the total Dutch export. The top three export countries for design are Germany, Belgium and the United Kingdom.


Deputy Prime Minister Maxime Verhagen, Nurten Mericer (Director Dutch Design Desk Istanbul), Christine de Baan (Director DutchDFA), and Victor van der Chijs (Chairman Dutch Creative Industries).

The Dutch architecture and design industry has opened a local support desk in Istanbul. The Dutch Design Desk Istanbul aims to be the first port of call for Dutch designers and design companies aiming to enter the Turkish market, and for Turkish parties interested in collaborating with Dutch designers. Its services include tailored matchmaking, a knowledge bank, advisory services, presentation and networking. It is located at the heart of Istanbul’s design, fashion and architecture district in the Building Information Centre (YEM).

“The creative industry is one of the ten top sectors of the Dutch economy, providing cutting edge products and services worldwide,” said Dutch Vice Prime Minister MaximeVerhagen at the opening of the Dutch Design Desk. “The Dutch government strongly supports researchers and companies in the creative industry to foster innovation. Partnerships with Dutch creative companies can provide Turkish entrepreneurs a competitive advantage in their home markets and the region.”