top of page


Collection Veenhuizen





In 2012, the collaboration between Veenhuizen, the Province of Drenthe, PI Veenhuizen, Design Academy Eindhoven and KETTER&Co started in the form of a 'design deal'. KETTER&Co, the initiator of this design deal, continued and professionalized many projects together with Design Academy students after their graduation. In the book 'A Place To Stay', published by Onomatopee, this method is highlighted to encourage its application elsewhere.


Order the book, 'A Place To Stay, here.


Collection Veenhuizen

The collection originates in the peculiar prison village Veenhuizen in Drenthe. Young designers, graduates from Design Academy Eindhoven, immersed themselves across time, in the historic, future and current Veenhuizen. This resulted in a collection of systems, methods and products.


At the beginning of the 19th century, a large-scale social experiment took place in the United Netherlands. To contain poverty, urban paupers were sent to the north of the country be re-educated into 'good citizens'. Starting in 1818, the Maatschappij van Weldadigheid[1] bought up large, undeveloped tracts of land and in over a period of seven years seven Colonies of Benevolence were established: five in the north of the Netherlands, including Veenhuizen, and two in the south.


Veenhuizen has now become a unique and creative breeding ground where inmates, designers, entrepreneurs and municipalities work together to develop a distinct collection of stories. With Collectie Veenhuizen, KETTER&Co harks back to the authentic landscape and its qualities, by telling a unique story about the environment through these products. Resulting in a collection as diverse as the area itself.


[1] Society of Benevolence


For more information:


Over the years, young designers each explored a different aspect of this extraordinary village and its surroundings. The history, the landscape, craft, architecture, role divisions and current prisons were all discussed. The designed products which resulted from this research tell these stories and findings.​ 

Master-Apprentice & Landscape

Collectie Veenhuizen focuses on two important themes: the master-apprentice relationship and the landscape. The first involves designers and craftsmen working together with inmates to help teach them a new skill that they can utilize upon their return to society. This learning process, in which apprentices are taught the trade of and by the expert, is called "master-apprentice" and has a long tradition. It was already taking place among painters in the Renaissance, as among other craftsmen, such as goldsmiths and sculptors. The Kolonie Collectie[1] applies this same principle: by teaching inmates skills they can apply in the future during the production of the designs for the Kolonie Collectie. The second theme, the landscape, was the main source of inspiration for products in the Veenhuizen Collectie, such as the turver.


[1] Colony Collection


During the warm summer months of 2016, Veenhuizen was completely dominated by paupers.  During this period I foundn Veenhuizen the theater performance Het Pauperparadijs takes place. This performance tells one of the most dramatic, hidden histories in the Netherlands. In the 19th century, poverty in Amsterdam and other cities was enormous. To counter this, tens of thousands of orphans and paupers were put on a ship to Drenthe to be re-educated there. In Het Pauperparadijs one follows the Amsterdam orphan boy Teunis, who ends up here. The performance was well attended by people from all over the country.

The Pauperparadijs Foundation has entered into a partnership with KETTER&Co. The Pauperhotel, the Paupersoup and the Pauperdialogues originated from this. The Pauperhotel was a temporary hotel in the stables, gardens, gazebos, tree houses and canteens of the residents of Veenhuizen, where visitors could spend the night. This was realized together with hotel Bitter en Zoet.

During the Pauper Dialogues, the main themes from the performance were portrayed by socially engaged designers and addressed in a stimulating way. Exclusion and inclusion were discussed in detail. Because, in view of the two prisons and the asylum seekers' center that can be found in present-day Veenhuizen: when is someone a pauper, and when is a prince in a paradise? 

On the map

KETTER&Co wants to put Veenhuizen on the map, literally and figuratively. Signage work was done for the area by focusing on maps that tell the story of this village. More information about what to see and do in Veenhuizen can be found

bottom of page