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Study trip to Windesheim

Study trip to Windesheim

Back in April, L’École de design hosted a workshop where a group of students from the Windesheim School of Engineering and Design at Zwolle in Holland came to work with our first year Product Design vocational training program apprentices. Now it was our turn to travel and 14 apprentices together with David Balkwill, course leader, headed east by a succession of trains to arrive at dusk.

"We were met by some of the students who had come to Nantes, and taken by bus to our chalets at a very pleasant campsite where we would stay for the week. They had kindly ordered pizzas for us all and provided breakfast for the first morning since we didn’t have time to shop.

Bicycles had been hired for the week, so we headed into town each morning along the safe and efficient network of cycle paths, surrounded by large numbers of locals. Cycling is such an integral part of their way of life, and everything is organised for the bike, with almost no motor vehicles in the city.

The product design department of the University has recently moved into a rambling old building in the city centre. Everything seemed to be either up or down two flights of steep stairs, in contrast to the totally flat landscape. We spent the week working with students from their third year, in their design studio up under the roof. They are the only students using this space, so all project work could be left in place at the end of each session.

Ton Horsten, the Director of product design welcomed us, and was joined by Peter van de Graaf, a visiting product design lecturer..."

Read more on the watch blog of L’École de design

David Balkwill

Course Leader - Vocational Training in Product Design

We went on three visits during the week, firstly to a plastics moulding company making beer crates. This sounds pretty mundane, but for many of the apprentices it was a first view of the injection moulding process with big parts and sophisticated moulds. We moved on to see one of the few Philips factories remaining in Holland, specialising in the design of many of their consumer products and production of electric razors, giving another detailed view of modern production methods, and how the design process has led to easy assembly. We saw some very beautifully developed in-mould graphic decor processes for these products which can be personalised and produced at short notice. Our apprentices are working on a coffee maker at the moment, and were very excited when the Philips people agreed to give them some feedback once their projects are completed.

The final visit to the Red Dot museum at Essen in Germany left us all exhausted from the profusion of the collection. The Red Dot is the German annual design prize and the museum shows many of the winning products. The museum is housed within a 1930s steelworks, where the outside of the buildings have been beautifully cleaned and restored, but the inside, the exhibition spaces, are made of walkways running through the very heart of the machinery, with the products on exhibition hanging from or placed on some of the old equipment. The contrast is striking, and the size of the collection is astonishing.

It was hard to drag ourselves away at the end of the week. This taste of another way of living and another way of working led to many questions and discussions. Links with Windesheim and its team are stronger, and we’re looking forward to the next step in this partnership.

David Balkwill
Course Leader - Vocational Training in Product Design