Premsela Chair: Timo de Rijk

Professor Timo de Rijk, the first Premsela Chair in Design Cultures at VU University Amsterdam, delivered an inaugural lecture on Wednesday 25 May. A Premsela Design Cultures symposium took place before the talk. Participants included Guy Julier, a researcher at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, professor Jan Willem Drukker of the University of Twente’s design history faculty and junior teacher Anneke Beerkens of the University of Amsterdam.

Prem_Leerstoel_TdeRijk_460x310.pngTimo de Rijk, Photo: Lizzy Kalisvaart

The design history professor Jan Willem Drukker discussed the methodology of the study of design culture. Two accepted models currently exist, each with shortcomings. Drukker proposes combining them, which he argues could be done in a straightforward manner.

Guy Julier discussed the dynamics of design culture. Design culture arises in the relations between objects, people, business and organisations, Julier argued, and thus it makes more sense to talk about changing and relational design cultures rather than design objects.

Anneke Beerkens talked about her research project in Japan, entitled Fashionable Futures: Japanese Youths' Hopes in Precarious Times.

Jan Willem Drukker, professor of design history at the University of Twente, studied quantative economics and the history of economics. He later taught quantitative economic history at the University of Groningen and design history at Delft University of Technology. He has been a professor of design history at the University of Twente for two years.

Guy Julier, principal research fellow in contemporary design at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and author of The Culture of Design (2000), combines a background in design history with experience as a professional designer. He is also affiliated with the Design Museum in London.

Anneke Beerkens studied cultural anthropology at the University of Amsterdam, focusing on fashion and youth in postindustrial urban societies.

Premsela Chair

Professor Timo de Rijk became the first Premsela Chair in Design Cultures at VU University Amsterdam on 1 September 2010. Premsela and VU’s Faculty of Arts established the chair to further research and teaching related to the position and functioning of design in society.

The Premsela Chair is the Netherlands’ first chair devoted to the field of design culture. “Design is present everywhere in society and determines to an important degree how a product is valued,” De Rijk says. He guides his students in exploring the meanings of various kinds of design. “For example, how did it happen that the BMW 3 suddenly became so popular among Moroccan boys, or that the organic design of the Paris metro entrances was so well suited to what was then a futuristic mode of transport, or that all Chinese restaurants use the same visual identity?”

De Rijk answers questions like these by taking a historic and sociocultural approach to design. He has been appointed as the Premsela Chair for a period of four years.

Timo de Rijk

Timo de Rijk is an associate professor of design history at Delft University of Technology. He was previously a guest lecturer at the Design Academy Eindhoven. He regularly curates exhibitions, and his writings on Dutch product design, 1920s interiors, and standardisation and design have been published internationally. De Rijk serves as editor of the Dutch Design Yearbook.

Design Cultures
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To receive a printed copy of De Rijk's lecture, email Bart Heerdink at