Looking Back at Li Edelkoort Before She Leaves


The lady of great design wisdom, Alice Rawsthorn, has a terrific piece up about Li Edelkoort, her work as the head of the Design Academy Eindhoven, and her role as one of the primary figures in the explosion of the design-as-art phenomenon. Also of note, she’s decided to retire soon, hence one reason to tell her story. And she really has had an incredibly impressive career, responsible for such things as launching Maarten Baas into rockstar designer-esque celebrity and helping the Milan Furniture Fair become one of the preeminent events of the year, in addition, to running a whole academy, of course. Here’s a bit about her career:

Now 57, Edelkoort cuts an imposing figure in part-futuristic, part-medieval flowing robes – “a queenly presence,” as [Ilse Crawford] describes her. After studying fashion, she became a trend forecaster for the Dutch retail chain De Bijenkorf before founding Trend Union, a Parisian forecasting consultancy that she still runs. Her first stab at teaching was in 1993 when she became a department head at Eindhoven. “Rumors spread about this distinguished and brilliant lady coming from Paris by limo,” recalled Job Smeets, co-founder of the Studio Job design group, who was then “a bored student.” “She entered the room – the first avant-garde cosmopolitan I’d met. It was an eye opener.”