CLOSED – Open call for designers and design critics

Read the Dutch version here
Deadline entry Tuesday 1 August 2023

It’s a huge challenge for product designers: Virtually every product you design becomes part of global industrial processes. How can a designer relate to growing wealth differences worldwide that may result from this? And what options does the designer have to use their impact for good?

Designplatform Rotterdam calls on writing talent to sign up for a writing assignment. You apply by submitting a synopsis of up to 250 words. If you register before the deadline and your synopsis is selected, you will receive 1,000 euros for writing your essay based on the synopsis. Your essay reflects on the relationship between design and poverty. In addition, you will be asked to write a summary of your essay that is suitable for presentation to the public. We also make 600 euros and travel allowance available for participation in a public podcast recording about your essay at one of four locations.

The podcast conversations will take place at Z33, Hasselt (BE, Friday evening 29 September, dates subject to change), Designmuseum Den Bosch (Saturday afternoon 7 October), Groninger Museum (Saturday afternoon 4 November, date subject to change) and Het Nieuwe Instituut, Rotterdam (Thursday evening 16 November). Two authors participate in each of the editions. The eight authors as a whole give voice to various groups within Dutch society. We emphatically invite authors in less privileged positions to participate. This includes people with a migration background, people with a disability and, of course, people who know or have known poverty themselves.

Designers write 2023 is made possible by the Creative Industries Fund NL.

Frequently asked questions

What is the purpose of this open call?

With the Designers write program, we encourage reflection on the field of design through the writing of design criticism.

Who is this open call for?

Designers who like to write as well as journalists who feel like exploring an appealing subject in depth.

Which theme does the essayist follow in this round?

In 2023 we have chosen the theme: poverty in relation to design. Is a designer in a position to reflect upon what consequences their processes have on growing differences in prosperity on our planet? Is the designer given the space to look for design solutions that match with a diverse society? Or is a designer hindered by clients who are in a hurry to build their business?

In what form do writers cast their application?

Candidates provide an English or Dutch synopsis of a maximum of 250 words in which their view is offered on an interesting execution of the writing assignment.

What is the synopsis judged on?

a. Relevance to the theme of poverty in relation to design

b. Demonstration of systemic understanding of design processes

c. Demonstration of insight into our multifaceted society

d. Originality

e. Show pleasure in writing

f. Suitability to have a podium discussion about this

Who are the jury members?

Three text curators, appointed by Designplatform Rotterdam, namely Aminata Cairo, Hajo Doorn and Lua Vollaard. In addition, there is a regional text curator for each edition, appointed by the University of Groningen, Design Museum Den Bosch, Z33 and Het Nieuwe Instituut. These are:

  • Yassine Salihine nominated by Design Museum Den Bosch
  • Anna-Rosja Haveman nominated by the Groninger Museum and supervisor of two Master’s students at the University of Groningen, who make the actual selection
  • Annelies Thoelen (LUCA School of Arts C-mine/Genk) nominated by Z33 Hasselt (BE)
  • Delany Boutkan nominated by Het Nieuwe Instituut

When can the writing assignment start?

Immediately after selection the writer can get to work. The writer will then receive an email stating the assignment.

What is the form and scope of the essay?

After the writing assignment has been awarded, the writer submits two documents.
a. The Dutch or English essay will be between 2,000 and 2,500 words.
b. A summary thereof, suitable to be read by the author in about 5 minutes, will be a maximum of 650 words.

When are the podcast conversations held and where?

The podcast conversations will be held on the dates and locations listed below. Each essayist may choose in which language the conversation will be held: Dutch or English.

  • Friday evening September 29, 2023: Z33, Hasselt (BE) (date subject to change)
  • Saturday afternoon 7 October: Design Museum Den Bosch
  • Saturday afternoon November 4: Groninger Museum (date subject to change)
  • Thursday evening 16 November: Het Nieuwe Instituut

Where will the essay and podcast be published?

The essays and podcast episodes will be published and/or promoted on,,,,, and possibly on media partner sites. All essays will be published in both English and Dutch. The organisation will take care of translations.

When will the fees be paid?

a. 1,000 euros within 14 days of receipt of the essay and its summary and receipt of the invoice. This amount is invoiced without VAT.
b. 600 euros within 14 days after the podcast recording and receipt of the invoice. VAT can be added to this amount (21%), bringing the total to 363 euros.