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The International as National: The Role of International Cultural Policy in the Construction of Dutch Design as Conceptual

Meroz, Joana Ozorio de Almeida;


Today, the idea has become dominant that Dutch Design is conceptual, minimalist, hand-made, and produced as one-off or in small-series. Here, the term Dutch Design is used as a discursive construction (Foucault 2011), and refers to the artefacts construed as ‘Dutch’ and as ‘Design’ by the eponymous discourse. This discourse ‘began’—in Edward Said’s (2003) sense that it gained density, coherence and regularity—in the wake of Droog Design’s success in the 1990s. In this discourse, authors frequently explain the reason why Dutch Design possesses this particular set of characteristics by pointing to ‘Dutch culture’, which they define in terms of the Dutch Golden Age: Calvinism, the artificially constructed landscape, the political Polder Model, entrepreneurship, and a shortage of resources (Taylor 2010). This suggests not only that Dutch culture is static, but also that the Golden Age remains the main source of explanation for events five centuries later. This essentialist conception of culture ignores the globalised flows of people, ideas and goods, and as such obscures more recent and relevant factors involved in the construction of Dutch Design. Following recent constructivist approaches to Dutch Design (De Rijk 2010; Taylor 2010; Ozorio de Almeida Meroz Andamp; Griffin 2012; Gimeno Martínez, Ozorio de Almeida Meroz Andamp; Serulus 2013), this paper traces the actor-networks (Latour 2005) contributing to the production of the exhibition Design from the Netherlands (1980), which historians (Simon Thomas 2008; Hompe 2011) concur is the first discursive construction of Dutch Design as conceptual. Based on archival research and oral history, this paper argues that rather than the outcome of typical Dutch culture, the association of Dutch Design and conceptualism is instead first given as the result of the restructuring of policies concerning the international promotion of design in the 1970s.


Palavras-chave: dutch design, conceptual design, actor-network-theory, design policy, international cultural policy,


DOI: 10.5151/despro-icdhs2014-0082

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Como citar:

Meroz, Joana Ozorio de Almeida; "The International as National: The Role of International Cultural Policy in the Construction of Dutch Design as Conceptual", p. 569-574 . In: Tradition, Transition, Tragectories: major or minor influences? [=ICDHS 2014 - 9th Conference of the International Committee for Design History and Design Studies]. São Paulo: Blucher, 2014.
ISSN 2318-6968, DOI 10.5151/despro-icdhs2014-0082

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