International Design Factory Week 2017

October 30th to November 3rd we’ve had the annual gathering of all Design Factory representatives in the world. As tradition dictates, since it was the fourth annual gathering, we went to our fourthly established Design Factory. After the Aalto University Design Factory in Helsinki, Sino-Finnish Centre Tongji University in Shanghai, and Design Factory Melbourne in Melbourne, it was up to Design Factory Korea to host our meetup. Eric and Floris were the lucky ones to go to this Design Factory in Seoul, South-Korea.

View from the hotel

Even though our week had started on Monday, we obviously all arrived at least one day early. So we’ve had our first, informal meeting on Sunday. We were eager to start, so we’ve developed energizers with our friends from Porto and shared research interests with our fellow researchers from Aalto over lunch and drinks.

Presentations at DFK

The week was filled with activities in which we exchanged the various ways we can do education and research. And we’ve also discussed about how to improve our collaboration across the Design Factory Global Network in general. Where last year we were only thirteen Design Factories, we had now grown to twenty-one Design Factories. And most of those Design Factories are also growing within their own university; our shared passion for doing and empowering students seems to catch on! Obviously there was no absence of our passion during the week, there were hugging points in galore, karaoke on every bus (thank you, Korea) and lots of bar hopping at the end of every day: we really do not get enough of each other, especially not when there is soju or makgeolli involved.

Floris singing karaoke in the bus

From all the amazing initiatives that we’ve combined and developed during this week, we’ve also decided to take part in quite a few. First and foremost, the Frisian Design Factory will take the lead in coordinating Rat Relay 2018, in which thirteen Design Factories will participate in April 2018. Rat Relay is a series of projects from different DF’s. Students can participate in a project from the beginning but not until end. They must move to the next project in a different DF. The relay stops when all projects have been at every DF.

We will also start participating in ME310 (https://web.stanford.edu/group/me310/me310_2016/), an international design project in which students from various Design Factories work together. On top of that we will also look for our most talented future change makers and make them part of our Boomerang Tribe. That’s a track for extremely ambitious students to hop around several Design Factories to share and receive knowledge, experience and ways of thinking around certain topics. We will also look beyond our DFGN network, and see if we can join the SUGAR network (http://sugar-network.org). Joining these projects mean more people to exchange information, connections and love with. We are looking forward to it!

Eric getting eaten during one of the activities

Next to these educational initiatives we will also be participating in two major research projects. The first project focuses on the impact of Design Factory collaborations on our partners’ culture; how infectious is our way of thinking and working actually? The second is an attempt to uncover what is inside the blackbox that we call DFGN. We know our toolbox, the projects we offer, and our sandbox, the context in which we play, but what really makes us stand out and be so successful? Clearly we are doing something people love, but how can we capture this and justify our existence to ourselves and others? Is it our way of working, or is it Eric participating in the Movember project and collecting money from all Design Factories? We will find out!

Eric participating in Movember

Last but definitely not least, the next International Design Factory Week will take place from June 17th to 24th in Porto. We will be sending our students to Porto to help with the organisation of this amazing event, which will strengthen the bonds between our two Design Factories even further.

If you have questions or comments about what we have experienced in South-Korea, please do not hesitate to ask us. We love sharing what we’ve done!

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