Marleen van Bergeijk | Designing with people

“To me, design is a wonderful tool to activate people. To involve them in new interactions that empower them and enable them to discover their own possibilities.” Marleen van Bergeijk does not only want to design for people, but even more so with people.


People gain more and more control over their own body and health. Nowadays, a conversation with your doctor is like a two-way street. Except for children, they often depend on their parents when it comes to communicating with physicians.

For her graduation from the Faculty of Industrial Design at Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e), Marleen van Bergeijk developed a tool for conversations between doctor, parent, and child. Playful and conceived from the child’s point of view. With some sort of coins - based on equality - the three parties give direction to what is being said. A smart table mat registers all the steps and converts them into an understandable visual report, that is printed out for the child to take home.

"Not only do I want to design fór people, but also with people."

Marleen van Bergeijk

Social problems

Marleen van Bergeijk, born in Eindhoven, moved to Maarssen (near Utrecht) when she was 9 years old. Not only did she finish secondary school bilingually - Dutch and English - she also obtained her diploma with two profiles, which offers many opportunities for a follow-up study. Marleen ultimately opts for Industrial Design at the TU/e. “I actually wanted to go to another city, but this study combines technology and creativity with finding solutions to social problems. That appealed to me, just like the international orientation of the program, which is entirely in English.”

Smart Makers Award

She praises the structure of Industrial Design at the TU/e. “You have a lot of freedom to put together your own program, and you learn to search for knowledge.” As a student, she also noticed that the lines of communication in Eindhoven are short. “The university has good networks, companies and other organizations are open to young, creative people.” She also benefits from those skills and contacts when she starts working as an independent designer after her studies. Through the acceleration program Smart Design to Market, she gets support from companies and experts in the development of her graduation idea. Even more so when she wins the ASML Smart Makers Award 2017. “Such a product seems fairly simple, but it’s not easy to take it to the market.”


In addition to further developing the communication tool for children, Marleen has carried out projects at a design studio set up by a few fellow alumni. She also does freelance assignments, including graphic design. “You try to generate enough income to make ends meet, but also make sure you have some room to be exploratory. For example: social design in neighborhoods. Instead of a nice event or a short-term intervention, we want to develop activities that have a lasting positive effect on the dynamics in such a neighborhood. Of course by designing together with the residents.”

Pressure Cooker

Municipalities, housing corporations and other parties involved are slowly exploring the possibilities in this field, Marleen notes. She is very happy with the opportunity to work together with four other women in the so-called Pressure Cooker, for about six months. This temporary building at Strijp-S in Eindhoven was designed by studio Van Eijk & Van der Lubbe and is available as a workspace for young, starting designers. “It’s a great opportunity to thoroughly examine this topic and put it on the map."

Marleen van Bergeijk is a Health innovator, social designer, design thinker. View the website of Marleen van Bergeijk