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Archives at Risk builds on the research theme behind The Speculative Design Archive (September 2018 – March 2019), an exhibition in which Het Nieuwe Instituut explored and visualised possible approaches and interpretations of a (so far absent) centrally organised, national design collection. This eventually led to the establishment and support of the Network Archives Design and Digital Culture which works to improve the accessibility and visibility of the design heritage spread across the Netherlands with the aim of making visible the relationship between design and social innovation. In the exhibition Archives at Risk, the pain caused by disappearing archives takes centre stage. What is taken for granted in art and architecture still seems unacknowledged in design: its value as Dutch heritage.

Photos and interviews from five designer archives are on display. The archives include those of industrial designer Emile Truijen (whose archive is currently being kept by his heirs pending a formal arrangement), graphic designer Lies Ros (who lives in her own design archive and collection), and industrial designer Hella Jongerius (who admits that parts of her well-maintained archive will go abroad as there is no Dutch option). Then there are artists Jason Page and Karen Huang, who work and live with the archive of textile artist Elma Beks, and textile designer Borre Akkersdijk, who in his practice treats a digital archive as a shared source.

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Podcast Archives at Risk

What should we do with designers’ own archives? What should – or should not – be preserved for posterity? In the Archives at Risk podcast, curator Annemartine van Kesteren from Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen sits down with the designers and their heirs. Apart from episode 3, Karen Huang & Jason Page, all episodes are spoken in Dutch.

Opening and How to archive better event

The opening of Archives at Risk was marked with a gathering on the first day of Dutch Design Week 2022, on October 22. In addition, a public event took place on Oct. 25 at Philips' Toneel: How to archive better, a crash course light, aimed at designers and institutions who want start archiving and are looking for practical tips, experiences and inspiring examples from, among others, Guido Jansen (project leader Het Archieftraject), designer Borre Akkersdijk, Wendy Plomp of Dutch Invertuals, and Nico Thöne from EKWC. 

About Network Archives Design and Digital Culture

The Network Archives Design and Digital Culture (NADD) is a collaboration of currently 40 partners focused on Dutch design heritage, including Het Nieuwe Instituut. NADD illuminates the relationship between design and social innovation and aims to demonstrate the vital importance to society of archiving and opening up design and digital cultural heritage. NADD aspires to develop an accessible memory of design and digital culture and a dynamic place for knowledge sharing. The network’s mission is to play a connecting role in social innovation and transition issues, and also simply to inspire. To achieve these goals, the current and future heritage of design and digital culture must be visible, sustainable and usable by professionals, researchers, educators, students and the general public.