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TR + NL collaborations


The flexibility of production units in Turkey, the artisanal skills that they have together with the country’s rich cultural heritage seems to attract the Dutch designers. Dutch designers and students have shown the possibilities that could be generated by matching creative design input and production capabilities of small manufacturing ateliers.


It is expected that the Turkish-Dutch relations continue to develop either visibly or invisibly (see for example Fieldhouse, 1978 and Jones, 2006 for the presence of Unilever in the Turkish market since the 1930s) since design is relatively a new subject of collaboration and opportunities exist in this area.


The Turkish designers are expectedly critical of efforts by foreign design consultancy companies to enter into the Turkish market. The negative approach can be turned into a positive one by generating business proposals which would benefit all parties involved. One approach may be to form alliances aimed at a certain target market. Alliances on the basis of complementary know-how in special areas of expertise such as in usability studies, human factors, sanitary ware or office furniture design may be another form of collaboration. The work experience of Dutch design companies for the leading companies of the World and in advanced market economies with demanding and sophisticated consumers puts them in an advantageous position for potential Turkish clients wanting to have a presence in those markets. On the other hand, the differences in work styles, language and cultures constitute barriers for collaboration. Factors mentioned by earlier studies on the nature of relations between design consultants and client companies such as the existence of trust and personal chemistry are also very important in the Turkish context. Word of mouth recommendation, previous credentials are also very important factors to be connected with Turkish company owners. Establishing local connections seems to be essential for any foreign parties to do business in Turkey.

It would be fair to say that Turkish designers are not very knowledgeable about the Dutch design scene or the developments occurring in the Netherlands in relation to the promotion of design. The general tendency among Turkish designers is to follow the Milan Furniture Fair or other prominent design fairs in Germany. They learn about the products designed by Dutch designers as they are exhibited in these fairs in an indirect way. The work of some Dutch design companies such as Pilots Design for Turkish companies (Pilots Design is a company that the prominent sanitary ware manufacturer VitrA has collaborated for some projects in the past) is not very visible as they are more directed towards solving technical problems and therefore receive little press coverage compared to the work of reputed designers such as Ross Lovegrove’s designs for VitrA (see Topaloğlu and Er, 2010).

As Turkey has been an official membership candidate to the EU since 1999 and an associate member since 1963, Turkish universities have formed relations with European institutions and among them with the Dutch design schools over the years within the context of Erasmus exchange programme.

Istanbul Technical University (ITU) Department of Industrial Design Department has an exchange agreement with Delft University of Technology. Middle East Technical University (ODTÜ) Department of Industrial Design in Ankara has started a joint Master of Science Programme entitled 'Design for Interaction' with Delft University of Technology (the Netherlands).