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5x Social designers

What exactly is social design? And why is it awesome? In this article, we explore the power of social design. Everything you always wanted to know about designers, platforms and developments from Eindhoven.

In short: social designers set social change in motion. Whether it's about major societal issues or how a child experiences a visit to the hospital. In doing so, they work closely with the people who are ultimately affected and often bring about a whole new conversation with unexpected interventions. Social designers work on projects related to loneliness, neighborhood degradation and debt problems, but also in healthcare and business.

A social designer rarely comes up with ready-made solutions. The approach is a combination of listening, observing, testing and experimenting. The result is a product or process that works for the end user.

Tante Netty
Tante Netty

Tante Netty

For ten years, Tante Netty has been working on social challenges in Woensel-West. She pairs young designers and artists with projects to come up with new insights and solutions. Auntie Netty creates mutual connection in the neighbourhood, for example with the 'oldest profession in the world'. For months, designer Tom Loois did research on sex work in Woensel. He spoke with residents, clients, operators, the GGD and the Salvation Army.

He compiled his experiences in a tour through the district, including audio commentary, live poetry by city poet Jessica Bartels, a quiz and a look behind the scenes at the Baekelandplein. It created new space for mutual conversations.


In the middle of the city center, a part of the city is being transformed into a park. Renee Scheepers and Alissa van Asseldonk researched what the 'Victoria Park' should look like according to city and neighbourhood residents. Their approach: in-depth interviews with usual and unusual suspects, from the library boss to the regular guest in the park. 

In addition, they used interventions as a research method. For example, 152 'park desires' served as the opening line for a chat with people passing by about their desired park experience. Experiences and needs were thus made transparent. And a surprising user group emerged that was not previously in the picture: the many local residents who, thanks to their window view, are also among the park's users.

Tante Netty

Anne Ligtenberg & Mats Horbach

Some subjects we find difficult to broach. Afraid of doing the wrong thing, we shy away from a subject such as sexual abuse, for example. Even social workers experience 'a lack of action' in this area, as the Eindhoven social designers Anne Ligtenberg and Mats Horbach discovered. 

With #YOUTOO, they started an accessible platform to make abuse more open for discussion. The online platform should grow into a catalog of experiences and tips from victims for professionals. "Our goal is to help social workers initiate the conversation about abuse in a responsible, respectful way." Anne and Mats designed this project together with aid organization Blauwe Maan

Studio Marleen van Bergeijk

How does a child become an equal interlocutor when it comes to their own health? In medical conversations, children are often unintentionally overlooked, according to social designer Marleen van Bergeijk. Terwijl het nou juist over hun leven gaat. 

She devised DOK Tool, which empowers children and brings symmetry to the conversation. The conversation tokens help the child to express himself. The accompanying software keeps track of everything and at the end automatically provides a visual summary of what has been discussed, so that also afterwards the child understands his own care process. 

Social Design Lobby

Last DDW, two social design collectives from Eindhoven launched the  Social Design Lobby. This initiative of Foundation We Are and Kade Clubhuis is a campaign that facilitates the connection between socially engaged designers and organizations in the Netherlands. And explores how you too can become a lobbyist for the common good. What social issue would you like to raise? On the website you'll discover what you can do for and with social design. 

More social design in Eindhoven

Eindhoven is home to the internationally leading Master in Social Design at Design Academy Eindhoven and hosts the annual Dutch Design Week with the best (social) designers. And did you know that Eindhoven was the first city in the world to employ a social designer?