Hi, my name is Sam! With my designs I aim to guide transformation and exchange perspectives through a hands-on and open approach. I have a fascination for the past perspective, and the role of the past in the design process. This portfolio is an overview of my development as a designer.


As a Bachelor Student I ...

I was introduced to the Social Design world through my Bachelor Internship at Afdeling Buitengewone Zaken. Here I experienced how design can be used to make impact in different aspects of society. This shifted my interest from product-oriented design to a more service and a more social domain of design practice. Following this internship, I worked on facilitating Transformative Practices (TP) as my Final Bachelor Project. This is where I got entangled with TP and the community around it. My Bachelors thesis investigated ways of supporting the TP community in collaboration and sharing of knowledge.


How the past informs the present and opens up the future

The projects presented previously all contributed to my overall development as a designer. My bachelor activities introduced me to the world of social design and transforming practices.

The project and electives in my M1.1 semester helped me to explore the interests and skills I wanted to pursue and develop in my masters and re-introduced me to transforming practices.

The M1.2 project helped me to explore how my design process can be used in a research context, but also within other fields of practice (Urban Planning) and taught me what it takes to do design research with the goal to publish.

In my M2, the Data-Enabled Design course helped me to further develop my skills in working with electronics and data, and made me reflect on the lack of ownership in target group-data when working in a social design.

Working at Cocosmos helped me to put my developed skills and knowledge to the test, it showed me what it takes to set up a business and how I can use my design (research) approach when working within the social domain.

All these activities contributed to my Final Master project, they helped me in developing the skills and confidence needed to work on the complex topic of exploring how the past can be used as a material for design. Something that I have been interested in since the bachelor but never felt I had the skills and knowledge needed to do such a topic justice.

In the following sections you can read my Identity and Vision that define me as a designer, my interpretations of the competency areas and how they make up my unique profile.

I finish with presenting my future plans; working at Cocosmos, presenting at DDW, a possible PHD and staying connected with transforming practices.

Learn about my Identity as a designer and my Vision on design.


Open approach

I approach the design process with an open mindset. I try to embed myself in the context and question my assumptions: What do I know about the context, and can I trust this knowledge? How does my perspective influence the way I position myself towards the issue at hand and the beings involved? By reflecting on these questions throughout the process I stay aware of my position and continuously address new assumptions.

Highly iterative

In my design process I go through many quick iterations. This high pace iterative process allows me to reflect on my designs and evaluate quickly whether my process is going in the right direction. These many iterations help me to explore the design space and uncover new directions and design possibilities.

Merging perspectives

I design with the beings involved, and not for them. I do not decide for them what the right problem, direction or solution is. In my process I aim to bring together multiple perspectives and create an understanding between the perspectives that are embedded in the context. I create tools to embody these perspectives and make them experienceable for others, and so facilitate the merging of perspectives.

Guiding transformation

The process of transformation is a complex one; it involves many stakeholders and interests. I embrace complexity and try to navigate it through my open approach. I explore the past and present to inform myself on the possibilities for the future to explore and guide the directions of transformation towards the future. To navigate this complexity, I create experienceable futures, and use these as a tool to shape transformation in collaboration with everyone involved.

The past perspective

In my process I question the fundamental assumptions which affect my designs. Since we perceive our surroundings with reference to our past experiences, I believe it is important that we dedicate time to understanding the historical perspective of the context we are working on. As a designer, I ask whether the values that are portrayed as truth contribute to achieving the core needs and desires of the entity we attach them to, or whether they have been assigned as socially desirable values. Through doing this I explore the tension between respecting values and core beliefs that are rooted in history and how the system attempts to operationalize them.


Design has the power to imagine the future and build an example of this future; this imagination is embedded in the history of the designer, the experiences that have shaped their values and core beliefs over time, and the present they are living in. This power can guide transformation to new ways of living and existence and make this process of transformation tangible. The practice of design is slowly becoming embedded in every facet of life: moving from products towards services and from services to governance and policy making.

The practice of design needs to be aware of the past: I believe that through exploring the past we can learn about the consequences of our present-day design decisions. Being aware of the past, that exists as an intersection of experiences and perspectives, creates awareness of the power we have as designers to change the direction of transformation and build interventions that have a long-lasting impact.

We live in a world in which polarization seems to be ever present. Design is a means to counter this and bring people with different backgrounds closer together through taking a dialogical approach; one that is not based on finding consensus but on creating possibilities of coexistence for different perspectives. Design is a universal language spoken by anyone who likes to change things for the better. I believe the future for designers is to use this language and collaborate to shape society and industry with sustainability, sociability, and quality of life as the foundations for future generations.

Read how I define my compentency areas and how they make up my unique profile as a designer.

Overall competence in design

Design & Research Processes encompasses my approaches and methods as a (social) design researcher. I believe this is the background of all my activities and all expertise areas have their place within this larger competency. In my unique profile as a designer my expertise is situated at the intersections of User & Society and Creativity & Aesthetics. I aim to create aesthetically pleasing experiences that open up new perspectives on complex (societal) issues. In this process the competencies of Technology & Realization and Math, Data & Computing help me in building, researching, and analyzing design propositions. The competency of Business of Entrepreneurship supports me in anchoring and positioning successful designs within current trends in design.

Below I discuss what every competence area entails for me.

Design & Research Processes.

My design (research) process is anchored in the methods and approaches I use in my work. I am hands-on and open in my design process; I try to incorporate multiple perspectives to create innovative solutions. As a social designer I try to uncover the hidden perspectives and highlight their importance and relation to the dominant perspectives in the design process. My design process is highly iterative, through which I can test a multitude of design propositions and through reflection can define the design space. I select design methods based on their relevance for the issue at hand and for the value they bring to the design process.

User & Society.

We make impact with design, impact on different scales. It can be individual impact, but also impact on societal and environmental scale. Being aware of the impact you create and your assumptions and perspectives that you use to create this impact is one of the most important things as a designer. We design with our target audience, and not for. I do not decide for them what the right problem, direction or solution is but I help them in the process of discovering what needs need to be addressed. As a designer you need to be aware of the processes that influence the functioning of the environment and society you operate in.

Creativity & Aesthetics.

Aesthetics are found in many aspects of design, from interaction to graphic. Aesthetics make the design approachable; they determine how users interact with the design, they can support appropriation and illicit reflection. They can uncover hidden perspectives and create meaningful experiences. Aesthetics are found in the interplay between different elements of the design, if one of these elements is aesthetically underdeveloped it can distract from the experience and a design becomes ineffective. Therefore, it is essential that every aspect of the design is aesthetically balanced in the whole.

Technology & Realization.

As designer you need to be able to not only conceptualize but also create. Making aesthetic experiences also depends on the designer’s ability to create high fidelity designs that demonstrate the full interactivity and purpose of the concept. Being able to work in different materials and use different digital and technical tools, is essential to this. You often build on the work of other disciplines, therefor it is important that you are able to understand and communicate your concepts and ideas within these disciplines.

Math, Data & Computing.

Analyzing, interpreting, and presenting data is an important part of the design (research) process. Data is a valuable material for design, that helps in uncovering the design space and create meaningful, grounded designs. Being able to handle different types of data as a designer is essential for being able to interpret the world around you. Working with data brings ethical responsibility in the way you handle and present it, especially when it involves vulnerable target groups.

Business & Entrepreneurship.

Design often takes place in large organizations or multi-stakeholder environments, as a designer you need to be able to understand and manage the processes that are part of this. As designer you often need to communicate the value of design and the design process to your clients, especially in social design, the value is often not tangible at the start. Being able to communicate your process to your clients and include them in this process is essential in showing them the value of design and helps in guiding transformation in organizations and society.

Do you want to know what my future plans are?

Future plans.

Recently, I have signed at Cocosmos as a design researcher. Starting in September, I will use my design (research) approach to explore social issues, and guide co-creative processes.

I enjoyed exploring the past perspective in my final master project a lot and I would like to continue working on this topic, both within my work at Cocosmos and within academia. I want to further explore the options of doing a PHD on the topic of the past perspective in design and design practice, and see how I can stay in touch with the transforming practices community. I was also asked to present my Final Master Project at this years Dutch Design Week.