Premsela’s International Visitor programme

Premsela’s International Visitor programme

Premsela’s International Visitors’ Programme helps to refuel the passion and understanding for Dutch Design  internationally. In the past four years, we’ve hosted 95 guests from 26 different countries. They’ve ranged from curators, critics and journalists to all kinds of design and art professionals. The programme helps to get the word out  on what’s happening in the world of Dutch design.

Premsela puts together an itinerary of people and places for each visitor according to his or her professional and personal interests. Although tangible results are never a requirement, visits often lead to magazine articles and invitations for Dutch designers to participate in international exhibitions and lectures.

Premsela sees the visitors’ programme as a direct way to establish dialogue. Two of our most recent participants were a Japanese curator and a design journalist. Kanae Hasegawa and Noriko Kawakami both say the experience was a resounding success.


“It was better than I ever imagined,” says Kawakami, who visited the studios of Richard Hutten, Maarten Baas, Kiki van Eijk and Ineke Hans. “One of my greatest discoveries was just how enthusiastic Dutch designers are.”

Kawakami says her visit with Chris Kabel was one of the most memorable. For her, exposure to the research that happens before the making of a product is most fascinating. “Feeling the atmosphere of the studio and listening to what a designer is thinking and saying midway through the process is terribly valuable,” she explains.

At the time, Kabel was experimenting with plastic and form. “The physical scene was particularly impressive,”

Kawakami says. “I saw prototypes for the Seam Chair series and also at the Milano Salone saw one of the finished pieces. I was really moved, because I had been fortunate enough to witness the creative process firsthand.”

Hasegawa went to the Arnhem Fashion Biennale, where she met the designers Spijkers en Spijkers (Truus and Riet). She also found inspiration in the Gone With the Wind exhibition at the Zuiderzee Museum.

“It was refreshing to hear about how even a seemingly traditional and humble outfit worn by fishermen and rural farmers’ wives could become an inspiration source to contemporary fashion designers,” she says.

Hasegawa also met Willemijn Tichelaar, Wilem van der Sluis, Mirjam van der Lubbe, Jurgen Bey and Wouter Vanstiphout – and says her encounter with Piet Paris, artistic director of the Arnhem Fashion Biennale and a renowned fashion illustrator, was one of the most memorable. Her only regret was not having the opportunity to see more of his illustrations. She also reserves special mention for her time with Martijn Engelbregt.

“Maybe he is more of an artist than a designer,” she says. “But rather than making forms or products, he instead makes a system that forces us to change our mindset.

I found that very refreshing.”

Hasegawa says spending time with the designers has helped her to think more concretely about possible Dutch design exhibitions in Japan. Her next one is scheduled for October . “What I really wanted from the programme was to get a chance to properly talk to designers in order to get a better grasp on how current issues influence the way they create,” she says. Hasegawa talks a lot about the social messages contained in much of the work she saw. Kawakami, meanwhile, was impressed by what she describes as the Dutch designers’ courageous attitude towards challenging society while remaining sympathetic to the human condition. Both say they’re impressed by the strong conceptual base Dutch designers work from, and how it’s taught in the academies.

N ow back in Japan, Kawakami has written about many of the designers she met here for magazines like AXIS. She has also introduced their work and concepts in lectures she has delivered throughout Japan. As well, 21_21 DESI GN SI GHT, a research and exhibition site in Tokyo that she is the associate director of, is organising an exhibition next spring including Dutch designers that will explore creative activities in the future.

“I’ve really tried to make the most of the exchange experience,” she says. “It is so important to deepen the level of discussion and exchange and it is something I hope to continue doing.”

The International Visitors’ Programme is an initiative of Premsela Dutch Platform for Design and Fashion and the Mondriaan Foundation.

Mondriaan dress

In 1965, Yves Saint Laurent showed creations inspired by the work of Piet Mondriaan.

They went down a storm, and journalists from London, Paris and New York predicted the collection would have a

major impact on the fashion world. They were right. In 1966, Saint Laurent was the first fashion designer to start a prêt-à-porter line, YSL Rive Gauche. While researching the Mondriaan dress, we discovered that he had designed not just one but 25 such dresses. Premsela managing director Dingeman Kuilman will talk about Yves Saint Laurent’s special relationship with De Stijl at the symposium The Art of Fashion:

Installing Allusions on 18 th September in Rotterdam.

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