‘You look at the value chain model and you think: yes, this makes sense’

‘You look at the value chain model and you think: yes, this makes sense’
11 March 2021 Bertine Aalderen, van

Hendrik Jan Hoekstra has the floor in this third interview about the local value chain model of House of Design. He represents the link ‘knowledge and education’. Hendrik Jan works at Friesland College and collaborates with House of Design on various projects.

In this conversation Hendrik Jan emphasises the importance of well-trained and committed MBO students and talks about the applicability of the local value chain model of House of Design in education.

Could you introduce yourself briefly?
‘I work at Friesland College and as an innovation supervisor I am associated with the D’Drive training domain, the school for Creative Industry, Pedagogical work and everything related to digitisation. In my position, I respond to developments outside the school, in society, and see whether we as Friesland College can and want to do something with these movements. I like to bring different worlds together. An important condition is whether a partnership strengthens the common goals and wishes.’

How did you come into contact with House of Design?
‘The collaboration once started in the Blokhuispoort in Leeuwarden during the festive opening of a ‘creativity hub’, an initiative of NHL Stenden and Friesland College. At the dinner party afterwards, I sat down next to Eileen and we have kept in touch ever since. Later – in the context of the Global Goals – I wanted to run a project within D’Drive with the circular economy as a starting point and I called Eileen. The Craft your Future project was born and with that our collaboration really took shape.‘

What is the added value of the collaboration for you?
‘It is important to have people around you who inspire you and come from another world, who have a different (professional) background. Who are thorough; who know through experience what they are talking about. That is what I think is the case with Eileen. You press a button and a lot of knowledge comes out. She has a container of experience and has done numerous projects behind. Eileen is very good at translating concepts and ideas to a practical MBO level. I think that is the great added value.

It is also important that her story is not difficult to explain, you look at the value chain model and you think ‘yes, this makes sense’. She also has a large network, so we can make connections quickly. ‘

House of Design is keen to collaborate with design and vocational training courses because the designer and maker of the future is trained there. What do you think this designer or maker should know and be able to do?
‘I really want students to be ‘T-shaped’ when they leave our study programme; they should be solid and committed professional who are aware of the impact of their product. In terms of depth – the vertical bar of the T – a ‘T-shaped professional’ is  an expert craftsman. And in terms of width – the roof of the T – he or she is someone who is well able to work with people from other disciplines and is aware of the role he or she has within a group of colleagues, in a chain, in society.’

What role does the local value chain model play in this?
‘The local value chain model contains all the values ​​that are important for our living environment. It inspires you to ask questions such as ‘what position can you as a student – besides being a good professional or professional – take to make the world a little better? As a school we also have the task of providing citizenship education, and with the value chain model of House of Design we can give substance to this in a beautiful way, it offers a good framework for this.

The local value chain model is inspiring for MBO students. We tested this in the project Van vlas tot lap (From Flax to Rag). The challenge is to let the model capture the imagination and make it applicable, seducing students to get out of their comfort zone, think further and to not immediately go for the most obvious solution.

How is the model applied within the study programmes?
From the first week, we let Fashion Design students think about questions such as: do you know where your jeans come from? Do you know about the working conditions in which people work? Do you know what journey these trousers make before arriving at our store from China, for example? In this way, you make a journey of consciousness with the students, as it were.

Another example: our Interior Design students go to Salone del Mobile in Milan in their third or fourth year. It is important for students to know that what they get from that experience depends on how they get there. Are you particularly interested in the new colour for the autumn – to put it bluntly – or do you take a broader view and do you also pay attention to themes such as sustainability? You send students on a quest this way.’

Could you explain the importance of the local value chain model based on a specific project?
‘By having students work with the local value chain model in a project, it becomes transparent and can inspire sustainable thinking and acting. For example, we use the model in the Craft your Future project. This project focuses on the importance of old crafts, new techniques and how you can apply them in the circular economy. In Craft your Future, our students work together with students from other countries, are introduced to professions from these countries and learn about the materials that are used there. They will see the value of crafts and learn to collaborate with students from a different background and culture, and this will broaden their perspective.

A project such as Craft your Future is of value to Friesland College because of the three-way crafts, new techniques and circular economy. These three elements are included in D’Drive’s management contract. At some point, a course must be redesigned, it must meet new requirements and when we get started with developments in this field, these aspects must be taken into account.‘

What does the model mean for the connection with the professional field?
‘Production is increasingly being kept close to home. For example, companies have more insight into compliance with sustainability standards and working conditions. Local production also means that the demand for well-trained, committed MBO students will increase. It is therefore important to pay attention to the importance of a value chain model in MBO. You have to get the MBO student on board if you want to implement changes in any area.

MBO is skipped in many programmes. Research is done at universities, higher vocational education students have to make it applicable and then it often ends. While MBOs make up the majority of staff in companies. If you want to make a difference, make a change, invest in MBO, plant seeds there! In my opinion, you can achieve a great deal with the strength of an MBO student. These are the employees of the future. They have to achieve the plans and ideas.’

What are the plans for the future inspired by this method?
‘We are going to start creating crossovers. At Friesland College we are organised in domains. We have the Commerce and Services department, for example. This domain may very well add something to a project like Craft your Future. D’Drivers are the makers and students of Commerce and Services can investigate how the products can be marketed. We are happy to involve this department in ‘Wad waste – from plastic soup to vegetable soup’, the next project with House of Design. Circularity and chain thinking are of course also important in this domain. We will look at how the students of these programmes can play a role in this project.

We could do more with the model in the future and we want to investigate how we can make it even more applicable for our MBO training programmes.’