The face of the future

The overall winner of the Dutch Design Awards is 'Sweetie', a project that fights sex tourism online through an avatar that has the appearance of a young girl.

The big winner at this year's Dutch Design Awards, which were presented in Eindhoven on 18 October, was Lemz design studio, whose project "Sweetie" won in the category of Service & Systems and also carried off the Future Award. This year, the design prizes were awarded in six categories. In addition, there were prizes for young talent (Young Designer Award) and for the best client (Best Client Award). 

The annual awards are internationally renowned for their selection of the best Dutch design. Together, the awards ceremony, an exhibition of the work of all the finalists during Dutch Design Week, and the annual edition of the Dutch Design Yearbook (in collaboration with nai010 publishers) constitute a platform for Dutch design across its full scope.

Here are this year's winners:

Future Award and Service & Systems winner

"Sweetie", developed for the Terre des Hommes international federation of children's rights groups, fights sex tourism online through an avatar that has the appearance of a young girl. It was created by Lemz advertising agency, which counts IKEA, Coca-Cola, Unilever and Doctors Without Borders among its clients. With the Future Award for Lemz, the international jury rewarded a design project with a strong journalistic approach that touches on a relevant theme and raises both legal and ethical questions. According to the jury, "Sweetie" is not only a convincing example of what design can do for us, but it also questions the role of design. Jury members commented: "A design doesn't always have to be comfortable: 'Sweetie' proves this and in doing so exceeds the standard of design. This eyeopener gave the jury goose bumps."

Young Designer Award

The jury said it had never witnessed a graduation project receiving as much attention as Dave Hakkens’ modular telephone project, Phoneblocks. "Like Hakkens himself, the jury does not see the product as a ready-made solution, but rather as an effective and innovative way to pressurise large producers and make them think about modular systems," they said. "With his open source approach and clever use of social media, Hakkens succeeds in sharing knowledge and mobilising a huge group of people." Read more about Phonebloks here and watch our interview with Hakkens here.


"The Sochi Project" by Kummer & Herrman is a 'slow journalism’ project about the region around Sochi (Russia), where the 2014 the Winter Games were organised. Stories come together in a monumental publication and in traveling exhibitions. The jury was impressed by the dedication, courage and perseverance that the researchers showed in the completion of their project. "The result is a meaningful, authentic story translated into various means of expressions and rich in depth. In The Sochi Project, information about an important and politically sensitive issue is not only unlocked, but also preserved for future generations."


Viktor&Rolf was the winner for its Fall 2013 Haute Couture Collection. The label presented its first couture show in 13 years in an innovative format: rather than strutting down a ramp, the models, wearing flat sandals and high-necked, often wide dresses with asymmetrical bulges were arranged to created a living Zen garden. “The refined presentation made a great impression; although slightly theatrical, it is experienced as a performance,” said the jury.


Benthem Crouwel, MVSA Architects and West 8 won for Rotterdam Central Station. The new station hall is built of glass and wood, and has a pointed roof orientated towards the heart of the city. The more modest northern entrance is in keeping with the character of the neighborhood behind it. “The usage of material and light has created clarity and spaciousness, which makes traveling with public transport more agreeable.”


The Rescue Tip-Board by Spark Design & Innovation is an inflatable life-raft that enables rescue workers to reach a drowning person faster and offer help more effectively. As the raft is tiltable, the rescue worker can pull the victim out of the water more easily and start stabilising him / her immediately. The jury commented: “Aesthetics is secondary to functionality, which is appropriate in the (rescue) situations for which the application has been designed. Its effectiveness is underlined by the fact that the design not only is approved by the Fire Department, but actually used by aid workers.”

Design Research

”The In Vitro Meat Cookbook” was created by Next Nature as aThought-provoking vision of the future of food in the form of a cookbook in which one single ingredient – cultured meat – keeps coming back. The book covers topics such as sustainability, food shortage, animal suffering and culinary innovation. “The beautifully designed book is a speculative research acquiring extra significance through the contributions of scientists, activists, philosophers and experts in several disciplines,” said the jury.

Best Client Award

Amsterdam zoo Artis, short for Natura Artis Magistra, won in the client category. It is one of the oldest zoos of mainland Europe, encompassing an aquarium and planetarium.