Archived News

Current Articles | Archives | Search

Within the Veenhuizen Collection, design acts as a connector between designers, detainees, residents and entrepreneurs. To create this unique collection, Design Academy Eindhoven graduates work alongside detainees and the village.


The former paupers’ colony
The Veenhuizen Collection is an anthology of systems, methods, projects and products that originate in the unique prison town of Veenhuis, in the province of Drenthe. Books such as Het Pauper Paradijs by Suzanna Jansen and De Koloniekak by Mariet Meester, have given Veenhuizen national fame.

A village that looks like nothing like other villages, Veenhuizen is a former reform colony whose over one hundred national monuments give us a glimpse of its unique past.

After the end of Napoleonic rule in the Netherlands, there was widespread poverty. Johannes van den Bosch wanted to fight it and in 1818 started a social experiment by establishing a trial 'reform colony'. Offering the impoverished population a new start in life within the protection of the agricultural colony and afterwards returning them to society: this was the purpose of the colony. The paupers were provided with work, shelter, education and care. A few decades later, Johannes van Den Bosch transferred his reform colonies to the state, and Veenhuizen became a well-equipped, government-run reform institute.

Veenhuizen increasingly took on the role of a penal institute. After World War I the first criminals were incarcerated here. And today, two working prisons remain. Fitted, of course, with a well-equipped prison workshop where the detainees work.

The Veenhuizen Collection
The Veenhuizen Collection is the work of two groups: the detainees on the one hand, and Design Academy Eindhoven graduates on the other. The collection consists of projects and products designed by  Design Academy Eindhoven graduates, which are developed and manufactured in the prison.

The past, present and future of Veenhuizen form the central focus. The rich history of the place, ranging from poverty alleviation to historical crafts, serves as a starting point.

Detainees can attend workshops to master various skills. This skills acquisition not only ensures that the products can be produced, it also contributes to  the workman’s self-esteem.

One example of a successful project is Las_Tig. There is a worldwide demand for good TIG-welders, and to meet the need welding workshops were offered at the Veenhuizen prison. Studio UNITT spotted an opportunity and designed a bicycle with a TIG-welded frame. Detainees can now obtain their welding diploma by welding a flawless Las_Tig bicycle frame. The certificate increases their chances of finding employment after completing their sentence. Each bicycle frame features  a unique number: the detention number of the prisoner who made the bike.  

Every spring and autumn, students from different DAE Bachelor programs travel to Veenhuizen to contribute to the Veenhuizen Collection. The designers of the most promising projects are invited to participate in the Veenhuizen Collection after they graduate. 
All of this is part of the Design Deal, which was signed in 2013 by the Province of Drenthe, the Noordveld municipality, the Veenhuizen penitentiary institute and Design Academy Eindhoven. From that moment onwards the Veenhuizen Collection has been an official Friend of Design Academy Eindhoven.

The labour market of the future
For newly graduated DAE students, the Veenhuizen Collection offers many interesting opportunities. They can follow up on their graduation project and continue developing their talents. The programme also has a positive impact locally; the designers work with local entrepreneurs, lending them their innovative take on existing projects, products or problems. Irene Fortuyn, the Head of DAE’s Man and Leisure department and Creative Director of KETTER & Co, who initiated the Veenhuizen Collection, told the Drenthe op Dreef conference that the number of projects and products continues to expand.

Fortuyn: "I look at it as a pebble that we have thrown into the water. It keeps creating new ripples. Right from the beginning, we have had the pleasure of working so well with the municipality of Noordenveld, the province of Drenthe, the Veenhuizen Development Bureau and the prisons. Together, you can really get things done. "

The following designers are currently part of the Veenhuizen Collection: Malou van Dijck, Goof van Beek, Laurentius de Ruiter, Liesje Lokbi, Lisa Hu, Sarah Hutschinson, Thomas Trum, Bobby Dekker, Joost Dingemans, Minseong Wang, Laura Ferriere, Eleonore Delisse, and Studio Siem & Pabon.

Take a look at the website for more information or read the recently published article in Drenthe op Dreef here


Published: 15-May-2017 10:49


Home News, Friends
  • The Veenhuizen Collection

    Weelde from Liesje Lokbi

  • The Veenhuizen Collection

    Las_Tig from Studio UNITT

  • The Veenhuizen Collection

    Turver from Thomas Trum

  • The Veenhuizen Collection

    Veenhuisjes from Adrianus Kundert