prof. dr. T.R.A. (Timo) de Rijk

  • Professor
  • Design history

Fields of interest

  • Design cultures in The Netherlands
  • The designer and his role models
  • The theory of evolution
  • Design and unchange
  • Design and entertainment


Design, Culture & Society examines the attribution of meanings to design in the areas of production, mediation and consumption. This research aims at understanding the cultural processes that underlie the design of products. The results of the studies are a critical contribution to the field of theory and knowledge formation of design (history) within the field of the humanities. They are also of direct importance to the understanding of contemporary design and the critical determination of the nature and the position of (industrial) design.

1. design, culture and discourse

This research topic concerns the professional role models of the designer. The most important are: the craftsman, the artist and the engineer. Studies within this theme therefore focus on the emancipation and professionalization of the designer and the views of designers about the future. Emphasis lies on design discourses of the domestic culture and beyond, particularly those of the leisure industry.

2. agents of morality and commerce

The design of the domestic sphere is a material statement of social and cultural ideologies. This research topic focusses on the model house, a designed entity that has been a powerful instrument for more than a century, prompting changes in lifestyle and
pronounced consumption. From units in commercial department stores in the
nineteenth century through to educational examples in museums in the 1950s and 1960s to present-day ʻfeel goodʼ instruments in mass media, show homes or model houses do, after all, reflect the social, economic, technical and ethical agendas of their time.

3. the shape of things that didn't change

Innovation and change are characteristic features of the technical-historic paradigms of design (and design-education). This research topic examines the interplay between design strategies and consumption processes in which products do not change in either the technical sense (the standard) or in cultural-historic significance (the classic). Modernism harbours the paradoxical preference for both the anti-historical ideal of progress as well as the historically motivated search for timelessness and universality. In a post-modern context, authenticity, tradition and nostalgia appear to be both the arch enemies as well
as the self-evident by-products of modernization.

Teaching activities

  • BA 1 Course Inleiding designgeschiedenis
  • BA3 Seminar Beeldende Kunst en Design
  • MA Seminar Sources and Contexts
  • MA Seminar Practices and Debates (coordinator)

Curriculum vitae

Timo de Rijk studied art history in Leiden. After working for a few years at Van Stockum, the oldest art auction house of The Netherlands, he was offered a research position at Delft University. In 1998 he completed his thesis Het Elektrische Huis, on the design and dissemination of electrical domestic equipment in The Netherlands. From the year 2000 Timo de Rijk works as (associate) professor at the Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering at TU Delft where he teaches design history. De Rijk is a regular lecturer and curator of many exhibitions, i.a. Frank Lloyd Wright meets Berlage, at the Beurs van Berlage in Amsterdam and De Haagse Stijl. Art Deco in Nederland and Norm=Form. On Standardisation and Design ( both at the Gemeentemuseum The Hague). In 2006 De Rijk was convener of the Annual Conference of the Design History Society ‘Design and Evolution’, held at Delft University of Technology. From 2008 - 2012 he was editor in chief of Morf, magazine for design of the Premsela Foundation in The Netherlands and he is founding editor in chief of the Dutch Design Yearbook (NAi-010 publishers, Rotterdam). From 2010-2013 De Rijk was endowed Premsela professor at VU University, Amsterdam. The chair Design, Culture and Society is a joint chair of Leiden University and Delft University of Technology.

Last Modified: 10-12-2015