Eindhoven, prostitutes and Service Design

Wednesday June 23th was the day that the students of the Design Academy Eindhoven and Köln International School of Design presented their idea’s on how to tackle the problem with drug addicted prostitutes in Eindhoven. The challenge (/problem) is that the city of Eindhoven decided to close an specially designated area for the prostitutes. If nothings happens in the mean time the closing of the area won’t fix the problem, it will at most move it. It’s a though issue thats been people busy for quite a while. In order to get fresh ideas the city of Eindhoven decided to apply a “design approach” to the problem. Utilizing designers as problem-solvers.

The day started around 11 o’clock in the city hall of Eindhoven. It was pretty crowded with +/- 70 people attending including the depute mayor, several police officers, many students, members of the city council, various humanitarian organizations and some citizens of Eindhoven.

The students of Design Academy, lead by Gijs Bakker, presented the projects they worked on and that were display in the main hall. There were 6 projects in total ranging from new “street”-fashion to a “fuck-truck”. Unfortunately due to the somewhat poor audio setup parts of the presentation were unclear. The rather interesting thing was that none of the Design Academy students was Dutch and that gave rather nice insights in how different cultures handle the topic of adult entertainment. In my view there were some interesting ideas but it was mainly a presentation of what you can archive with creativity and out-of-the-box thinking rather that providing an actual solution for the issue.

Introduction of the P3 concept

After the lunch Professor Birgit Mager and her students took the stage and presented the outcome of their Service Design approach. First they presented a confronting movie that gave an insight in the live of the prostitutes. The Köln students did a 3 week field study to develop insight in the scene, the people and involved organizations. Part of this study were visit to the “de keet”, the prostitutes savehouse to talk with the women. The students also set out toolbag that included a diary, photo camera and a dicataphone, unfortunately no bag made it back.

They presented a proposal for a new service that is a framework aimed at helping the women get out of the environment. The service is labeled “levenskracht” what translates to “force-of-live”. The service was build up on a few core-values such as:

  • provide a framework not a solution
  • get the women involved to co-create their own program that helps best
  • apply a holistic approach, get all the stakeholders involved in the process

It's all about the holistic approach

Although the service was a concept it was already very clear and worked out. Of course the details would have to be filled and prototyped. But it looked like it would take very little time and money to actually realize the levenskracht service. They city council of Eindhoven received “levenskracht” very enthusiastic. We’ll have to wait and see what actually happens with the proposed ideas.

Update: Jeff from has posted the levenskracht presentation by stripping it down from the city tv broadcast

Marc Fonteijn

Marc Fonteijn

Marc is co-founder of 31Volts and helps major private and public organizations to grow by designing services that cultivate a sustainable relationship with customers.

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