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The state and waste of Dutch Design: The Great Inter-Disconnect

Having worked in the creative industry for over a decade I still manage to shock professionals and students alike with a seeming lack of common knowledge and understanding in my field of expertise. Likewise those same peers shock me for the same reason. But what is the cause of these conflicting perceptions? We are all working in the same industry, therefore our paths should be aligned right? Well, not quite.

It's easy to perceive the creative industry as one single entity, not much unlike a family or an office. I too use similar terminology to critique aspects of our industry in many of my other posts. However, from a point of view closer to "reality" (which is always subjective) it makes more sense to imagine the creative industry as a myriad of islands in a vast and turbulent ocean.

Each of these islands varies in age, size, habitability, and uniqueness. Some islands are part of a mighty empire that ships out thousands of proud settlers on a daily basis to colonise the ends of the world. Other islands have been claimed by zealots who worship ancient deities that exist in a permanent state between life and death. Even more islands belong to communities that have long since declared independence or cast down their archaic gods and are nowadays rejoicing in their freedom, wealth and technological advancement. Scattered in-between these islands you'll find small desert patches of sand and dirt populated by sometimes as little as a single individual. Elsewhere you'll see bare stricken rocks that are slowly being swallowed by the ocean while lush virgin islands violently burst through its surface. The only thing that all the islands have in common is that each slowly migrates as the ocean's waves erode away parts of it, and wash fresh sand ashore on other parts.

Most islands have lines of communication running between them and their neighbours. It enables island communities to interact with others (i.e. for trade, warfare, etc) and gives them a sense of awareness on where and who they are. Sometimes islanders have close ties with communities on the other side of the world while other times they remain oblivious of their neighbour's existence just beyond the horizon. Every so often migrating islands collide with one another. The resulting turmoil either merges their populations into something greater, or plunges the both of them into the cold dark abyss beneath the sea.

The one thing that is perpetual in this violent world is the night's sky. Its moon acts as a giant mirror for all the island communities to gaze at. Usually all they see are the reflections of other island communities who think, speak and live the same way as they do. Seldom do they see a glimpse of island cultures that they are unfamiliar with. Whenever a rare occurrence like this happens the wisest among the island community fervently try to interpret these alien ways of life via the only language they have ever known: their own.

Since most of us are limited by choice or necessity to live on one single island at a (life)time we forget how diverse the world around us really is. We cannot assume something is common knowledge because it happens to be so on our island. Nor can we assume that each island should be connected to ours or vice versa. Never should we view our island community as superior to others or seek to do conflict with them. Instead we should embrace diversity, and accept that not every aspect of the creative industry holds the same value to someone else as it does to you. It's indeed true that you can learn something from interacting with others, but it's also perfectly fine to not share the same interests or ideals.

The only certainty all of us have is that sooner or later our islands will swept away by the ocean. But do not dispair, eventually the tides will wash parts of it on other islands. You and your community will be long dead and forgotten (perhaps even within your own lifetime), but your legacy might just survive long enough to become the foundation for the next generation.


photo credit: title and author unknown.