"Design is not a profession but an attitude / Laszlo Moholy-Nagy"

The designLAB is the ideal place for bold dreamers, independent researchers and dedicated inventors. This is the department in which collective and individual research is done on the opportunities that the eclectic profession has to offer designers and makers. Our programme consists of a balanced mix of universal, current and timeless design themes combined with individual, private fascinations. Our goal is for students to develop work with a strong autonomous signature. After graduation you may use the title Bachelor of Art & Design (BA).

Besides design research, the programme focuses on the creative process: ‘designing and creating things’. The design profession is regarded as a form of applied creativity that can be deployed in a wide range of different areas. Both abstract dreams and concrete problems are explored and resolved, on the basis of cross-media interventions or working machines, for example. We tell stories, ‘create belief’ and check reality. In our laboratory, ideas are transformed into three-dimensional pieces of tangible work. These transformations result in original, critical concepts and conclusions and are responsible for intriguing encounters between truth and fiction.

In the multifaceted and critical context of the Rietveld Academie, our programme draws on all relevant workshops and opportunities offered by the various departments. Our students, lecturers and guests share a common interest in visual art, design, experiment, science and discoveries. They are familiar with the past, are able to relate to current events and also explore the future. At the designLAB, design is a tool that can be used to understand, criticise and intervene in the world around us and shape and transform it - where necessary.

The work produced in the designLAB features humour, fantasy and realism. It is work that can 'grate' too or create an uncomfortable feeling. However, the common denominator shared by each and every piece of work produced is the subject of a great deal of consideration and awareness and also complete dedication and commitment. The work produced is the result of trial and error and the end result may even sometimes surprise the makers themselves. However, it is important that work always forces makers to take a position and relate to reality. Here at the designLAB, we believe in individual opportunities and serious, critical and intuitive research. The work created relates professionally to the world around us and creates awareness. Students and graduates from the designLAB will be researchers, visionaries, sculptors, activists, inventors, entrepreneurs, critics, storytellers, craftsmen and makers. However, above all else, they will always have the ability to answer the fundamental design questions; what, why and how?

The department works with assignments that highlight the various aspects of the design profession in an innovative and personal manner. For example, considerable attention is devoted to the design process, research & experiments, material & properties, form & function, realisation & production, communication & representation, analysis & reflection. Work is assessed on the basis of a number of different aspects: concept, potential, process and presentation. In their day-to-day lives, lecturers are employed in very diverse sectors: industrial design, art & design in public spaces, academic research, exhibition design, product design, graphic design, publication, strategic design, curatorship, visual art and art and design reviews.

Courses Offered

Design research, Technical research, Social research, Design critique, Visual communication, Material, Shape, (3D) Drawing, Editorial design.

Study structure

First specialisation year

LAB1: 'experiment & invent'. In the first specialisation year, students familiarise themselves with the workshops, the field and the basic skills necessary in relation to concept development, realisation and presentation via various small and larger assignments.

Second specialisation year

LAB2: 'take a stand'. Besides concept and realisation, the second specialisation year will focus primarily on reflection and application: students will be confronted with more complex design assignments and learn to steer the design process independently. Students will also learn how to handle the economic, social, cultural or ecological implications of their designs. A three-month placement at the end of the second study year is a compulsory part of the study.

Third specialisation year

LAB3: 'hello world'. In the final examination year, students will work on a thesis and on two final projects: a set assignment and an autonomous assignment. The last of the above will be key to the final presentation, in which students present themselves to and position themselves in the professional world beyond the Academie.


The designLAB department regularly presents itself both within and outside the academy. This year’s partners are Centerparcs, DAMn Magazine, KDDI Japan and the Van Abbe Museum in Eindhoven. There are many other presentation opportunities throughout the study programme. During the final examination year, you will work towards the final examination exhibition.


In view of the research-oriented character of the study programme, theory is an important part of designLAB. designLAB has a permanent theory lecturer in design theory and design history. In addition, the Studium Generale is a standard part of the designLAB curriculum. The Studium Generale provides a general historical context concerning current themes in the world of contemporary art and design. The Studium Generale brings in prominent speakers from the Netherlands and abroad to give lectures. For more information, see Studium Generale

Work placement and exchange

A work placement is a compulsory part of the study programme. This takes place at the end of the second specialisation year. This work placement lasts a maximum of three months. It is also possible to participate in exchange programmes at academies in other countries, but this is not compulsory and may only be done in consultation with your lecturers.

Marjan van Aubel awarded 'Radicale Vernieuwer 2015'
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Waly Seck – DesignLAB 2016

Pierre Niviere – DesignLAB 2016

Darius Blokker – DesignLAB 2016

Yoojin Lee – DesignLAB 2016

Sjoerd Schunselaar – DesignLAB 2016

Kristine Sørensen – DesignLAB 2016

Kjersti Alm Eriksen – DesignLAB 2016

Anton Karlsson – DesignLAB 2016

Nicolas Chuard – DesignLAB 2016

Students 1st year

Jonas Hejduk
Léon Bloch
Marie-Louise Schmidlin
Nicolas Rotta
Patrycja Beliniak
Pauline Rip
Puck van Donselaar
Sien van Look
Tjacco Bakker

Students 2nd year

Alexander van Bakel
Alice Sprascio
Asefeh Tayebani
Irina Djojoatmodjo
Jamillah Sungkar
Margherita Soldati
Marit Heinen
Rosita Kær
William Eckerstein

Students 3rd year

Abigail Mac Phee
Alice Héron
Bella Randel
Eva Verheul
Jens Toni Willumsen
Joe Crestinu
Kyefa Park
Naigel Vermeulen
Pénélope Hémon
Siyou Chen
Sophie Wartenbergh