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This attention to traditional methods is a response to the threat hanging over our society; threat in the form of pollution, deforestation and global warming.

This has forced designers to create new visions concerning their profession and has inspired them to develop a critical attitude to design, in which they hold up a mirror to the consumer as well as themselves. Be aware, says the present-day designer. Know where the potato on your plate has come from; know what is needed to make the chair you are sitting on. This is a movement that transcends generations. Those in their twenties inspire their masters, and vice-versa; they join forces. For example, designers Rianne Makkink and Jurgen Bey (Makkink & Bey) invited young designers to come to their farm situated in a single hectare of land, to stay for a year and carry out research. For the young designers Maarten Kolk and Atelier NL, this resulted in a study of the local vegetation, documented in a book and a greenhouse.

Designer Christien Meindertsma spent three years researching which products are made from pigs – ranging from medicine to lipstick, from beer to brake discs – and made a book of her research: PIG 05049. Her book provides an insight into the origins of products and made her the overall winner of the Dutch Design Awards 2009. The jury called it ‘a good example of how aesthetic quality can be bound to a social message’. It is not the financial value of a product that is important, but rather the story that the designer tells with his or her product.