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Het Nieuwe Instituut, in collaboration with research fellow Ruben Jacobs (cultural sociologist), organised two evenings under the title Soft Strategies, a reference to the way in which designers can make technological objects more 'human'. On July 2 2015, design historian Timo de Rijk and technology philosopher Steven Dorrestijn explored the history and theory behind the - often invisible - morality of objects. What ethical considerations underlie the creation of objects and how can we make this visible? 


The principle of 'humaneering' starts from the notion that technology should have a human face and that designers can mediate between technological capabilities and human needs. The World Expo has always been an important platform for this. Since the advent of the industrial revolution, scientists and technicians have been regarded as the bearers of modernization, but the World Expo has also shown the crucial role of designers in the 'softening' of that same modernization. Humaneering was a successful strategy that was propagated by, for example, Charles and Ray Eames, Steve Jobs, Don Norman and Mark Weiser. Technological objects and capabilities have now penetrated into every fibre of our existence, affecting our behaviour and our standards and expectations in many, often unseen ways.


  • Cultural sociologist Ruben Jacobs (Amsterdam, 1984) is a fellow at Het Nieuwe Instituut. In recent years he has been working as a freelance journalist for, amongst others, VPRO, NTR and various (online) magazines. He is currently a lecturer and researcher at the HKU where he teaches cultural sociology and philosophy, and he is a member of the culture and economy think tank Vizier. He recently published his first book Iedereen een kunstenaar. Over authenticieit, kunstenaarschap en de creatieve industrie (V2_nai10). 
  • Design historian Timo de Rijk (1963) is professor of Design Cultures at TU Delft. De Rijk was trained as an art historian and got his PhD in 1998 with a thesis entitled Het elektrische huis at TU Delft. He made several exhibitions and realized a number of publications in the field of historical and contemporary design (including Art Deco and standardization). De Rijk is editor-in-chief of the Dutch Design Yearbook, president of the Association of Dutch Designers (BNO) and member of the Council for Culture.
  • Steven Dorrestijn studied Philosophy of Science, Technology and Society at the University of Twente. He then worked there in the departments of Industrial Design and Philosophy, and obtained his PhD in 2012 with a thesis titled The design of our own lives. Dorrestijn is currently working as a professor and researcher of the research group Ethics and Technology at Saxion University of Applied Sciences in Enschede. 
20:00 – 22:00

Het Nieuwe Instituut
Museumpark 25
3015 CB Rotterdam