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Coffee with And The People

 

Coffee with Joris Kramer en Jip Nelissen: the two founders and owners of And The People (2007)

According to their website And The People is ‘a strategic design and consultancy firm that functions as a catalyst for positive change’.

During their studies at the TU Delft, Joris and Jip became convinced of the fact that end-users and their intentions are determinative for the implementation of meaningful and durable social innovation. ‘As designers we have to start with the people who need the solution, instead of just creating ideas on paper or in our minds that seem great to us. Of course people in Haiti want a roof over their heads right after an earthquake, and we can comprehend why aid organizations resolve to build as many houses as possible with as little money as possible. But if there is no participation from the inhabitants around the why, what and how of the construction of their houses, an essential ownership is missing and we cannot speak of a lasting impact.’

Jip and Joris create strategic solutions that integrate social relevance with technical opportunity. As designers they strive for tangible and scalable solutions: a training center for young entrepreneurs in Kenya or a toolkit for homeowners to contribute to a climate-neutral city by adjusting their energy use. But we know from experience that solutions only start to work when the user himself has lived through the creation process. When the customer becomes (co-) owner of the shop, as it were. The results are self-evident: the growing entrepreneur begins to coach himself and his neighbors to remodel with the purpose of creating a ‘greener’ home.

And The People is a small club with grand ideals and a practical approach. Many of their projects exceed their initial territory. A project that started out locally may be scaled to function for cities, sectors or countries. This vision is also what brings Jip and Joris to Spring House. This is their clubhouse, a community of like-minded people, who each have their own discipline. A place where all members want to create social innovation. “The sharing, collective thinking and discussion during a Spring House event, workshop, during lunch or at the coffee machine, broadens your horizons. That is just what we need as entrepreneurs to remain critical of who we are and what we do. The only way we can take on grand projects is if we feel connected to a bigger picture. That is what we hope to find at Spring House.”

While Jip and Joris have a worldwide network and collaborate with numerous international clients, they feel like they are just starting out at Spring House. “Within Spring House, And The People needs to gain more insight, but that will happen over time”, say Jip and Joris. “The collaborations with other members have yet to emerge.” They look forward to organizing a project focusing on a current issue, to which the input of Spring House members will undoubtedly add value.

Jip and Joris, we wish you luck!

Interview by Kitty den Boogert