Meet Bas Kortmann-Deelen, an experienced spatial designer and educator whose creative journey unfolds at the intersection of design and performance art. For nearly 20 years, he's been in charge of his design studio and the creative theater group Powerboat. Bas focuses on guiding how people interact in both spaces and performances, going beyond the usual rules to understand how design deeply influences how we connect with each other. Now, stepping into a new role as the course leader for product design since this academic year, Bas brings a wealth of experience and a fresh perspective to the product design department. His dynamic approach to design and passion for fostering inclusivity, circular thinking, and addressing the challenges posed by technical developments like AI define his vision for the product design department at WdKA.
PROVOKE game at the RAUM Placemakers conference, May 2022
In Bas Kortmann-Deelen's journey at WdKA, his initial encounter with the institution was serendipitous. He shares, "We had two interns from the design academy, and the third was a WdKA student. This student was super nice but so different from what I was used to from the design academy where I graduated. I was surprised and wondered what their studies entailed. I talked to the intern guide, and she invited me to come to WdKA. Slowly I got more involved."
Over the years, Bas's involvement deepened as he taught at prep courses, joined the teams of interior architecture and spatial design. In 2003, he started combining spatial design and product design, delving into urban interventions. Some time later, he took on the additional role of coordinator of admissions After a brief hiatus, he returned to teaching and pursued a master's in design as a student, eventually becoming the course leader for product design through an internal application.
His experience with Powerboat, a unique blend of design and performance, aligns with WdKA's focus points. Bas emphasizes the importance of being a maker, stating, "I'm always thinking about how to do something. This physical aspect is very important for me, instead of always discussing the why and what. We need solutions, we need actions."
In his new role as the course leader for product design, Bas brings a fresh perspective. He aims to make education more inclusive, stating, "We are a learning community." Three key focus points guide his position: inclusive design, integrating circular thinking into the curriculum, and addressing technical developments like AI. Bas advocates for redeveloping the curriculum to meet the urgency of a circular economy by 2030. He sees the challenge as an opportunity to showcase WdKA as pioneers in design. The impact of technical developments, especially AI, prompts Bas to question the essence of humanity and encourages collaboration between different departments of the academy. He sees multidisciplinarity as an opportunity for enriching the environment through an exchange of values.
On a personal note, when asked about something students might not know about him, Bas reveals, "I really enjoy riding my racing bike. In fact, I'd like to extend an invitation to students to join me on a Saturday or Sunday morning. Perhaps, we could even organize a WdKA group riding session, and who knows, maybe involve our talented fashion students to create some unique outfits for the occasion." He views this as an excellent opportunity to engage in discussions about education while exploring the vibrant surroundings of Rotterdam. Bas adds with a chuckle, "Believe it or not, I often find myself spending more hours discussing the fine details and fundamentals of design education with my colleagues on a bike than we are able to do during the entire week.”