Design Exhibition Scotland gives Dutch designers a platform

Two Dutch designers who spoke at Design Exhibition Scotland in 2019 have been invited back this year. Don Yaw Kwaning, who developed a new material from the plant Common Rush, is now developing it for the commercial market, supported by Green Chemistry Campus in Bergen op Zoom (the Netherlands). He will speak about this on 3 December. A week later, on 10 December, Robert van Middendorp will talk about his project in Zwolle (NL) to build a community hall that is completely made from 'hand me down' materials.

DES debates 2019
DES Debates 2019: Don Yaw Kwaning (middle) and Robert van Middendorp (right) are being interviewed by Susanna Beaumont (left)

Exploring new materials for our contemporary age

Both talks are part of the series ‘Design for our Times’, which brings together designers, experimenters and academics from the Netherlands and Scotland who explore new ways of working with everyday resources, to create new materials for our contemporary age. The series was kicked off by Alice Twemlow, Design Lector at the Royal Academy of Art, The Hague. Watch a recording of that first talk here.

Yet another speaker from the Netherlands lined up

Susanna Beaumont, founder and director of Design Exhibition Scotland, keeps discovering more interesting design connections between Scotland and the Netherlands. For instance, Scottish designer Catriona Brown, who will speak during the same event as Don Yaw Kwaning, gets the supplies for her bio-based materials from the Dutch company

Brown uses the very versatile material to make plastic-free seedling protectors. The eco-friendly material, produced with agricultural waste and fungus, is not just completely bio-based, it is also completely biodegradable. Fortunately,’s material can also be made a lot less easily degradable, which makes it suitable for outdoor usage, exactly what Brown was after. Beaumont has approached’s director Jan Berbee to join the conversation on 3 December.

By the way, The Growing Pavilion at Dutch Design Week 2020 had cladding made of the same fungus-based material.

Supported by the Dutch Embassy in the UK

Design for our Times’ is supported by the Dutch Embassy in the UK. It was one of 19 projects that received funding from the Embassy this year for enabling British audiences to enjoy arts and design from the Netherlands in times of lockdown and travel restrictions.

Contact the Embassy’s Culture Department

To get in touch with a Cultural Attaché at the Dutch Embassy in the UK, please send us an email ( or give us a call (+44 20 7590 3269).