The Veenhuizen Collection is a social design collection of products and services that have been inspired by the prison village of Veenhuizen. The collection shows a less known aspect of the history, current situation and possible future of Veenhuizen. Young designers of Design Academy Eindhoven work on products that tell the story of the unusual past of the former colony for the poor that Veenhuizen was. There are also products and services that respond to the daily reality of prison life in the prisons of Veenhuizen.


The creativity of the designers can be a powerful addition to redefining the possible future of this monumental village. When doing so, the talents and abilities of detainees and the potential of the well-equipped workshops of the prison in Veenhuizen are taken into account. This way, life in captivity is connected to the outside world. The first eight projects for the Veenhuizen Collection are being developed at the initiative of KETTER&Co. This is done in close cooperation with the Municipality Noordenveld, the Province Drenthe and the Penitentiaire Inrichting (P.I.) Veenhuizen. 


Production Collectie Veenhuizen

client : Ketter en Co

year :  2015, 2016
photographer : Polle Willemsen, Marco Sweering, ontwerps zelf

text : Bo van Bommel
copyrights : designers & Ketter en Co








Las-Tig is designed by the young designstudio UNITT. The bike is part of Collectie Veenhuizen,a KETTER&Co project by Irene Fortuyn.     The frame is TIG-welded, an advanced welding technique. The welders get their training in prison. Skilled TIG-welders are in high demand   worldwide, thus passing the master proof increases the chance of   getting a job after serving sentence.     You can order the Las-Tig bike in this  webshop

Las-Tig is designed by the young designstudio UNITT. The bike is part of Collectie Veenhuizen,a KETTER&Co project by Irene Fortuyn.


The frame is TIG-welded, an advanced welding technique. The welders get their training in prison. Skilled TIG-welders are in high demand 

worldwide, thus passing the master proof increases the chance of 

getting a job after serving sentence.


You can order the Las-Tig bike in this webshop

TURVER - Thomas Trum

Veenhuizen owes its name to the bog that was dug up in order to be processed into turf, a fuel used for the Dutch stoves in the nineteenth and early twentieth century. The water in the ditches of Veenhuizen gets its golden brown color due to the bog that remains there, despite the large-scale peat industry. Designer Thomas Trum used a proces to turn the bog, which was filtered from the water, into ink, that can be used to draw, write, be messy with, strike through and re…peat. 

OUTKAST - Laurentius de Ruiter & Goof van Beek

collaboration with : Penitentiaire Inrichting Vught & René Lievers (Lundia)


The Veenhuizen penitentiary facility has several well equipped workshops where prisoners work daily. During their visit to the workshops, Goof and Laurentius noticed there are many spare moments in between production jobs, moments that are still too short to provide enough time for the next production. As a solution for this problem, the two designers came up with a modular cabinet system that consists from components that can be easily produced within these spare moments.

In order to produce these cabinet components, every workshop in the penitentiary facility is being used: the metal- and wood-workshop, the foundry and the coating department. Every workshop has their specific chores in order to make good use of these spare fifteen minute-moments. This makes for optimal use of the capacity of the workshops.

OutKast can be supplied in various forms: from a pauper variant to prince-worthy item. The slats of the rack cabinet can be made rom waste material, or from oak wood which is formed on the lathe. The detainees can finish the parts to their own liking, which creates a personal touch within the final product.

WEELDE - Liesje Lokbi

collaboration with : EE labels, Print Unlimited, Exposize


In the time of the "Society of Benevolence" the ‘cared for’ in Veenhuizen were divided into Classes A, B or C. Each class had its own privileges and restrictions. For example, only the A-class had the right to keep flowers. The other classes were dependent on picking wildflowers along the fields, ditches and canals.

As a metaphor for this class division, Liesje Lokbi designed three different tablecloths. The cloths are all based on the same bouquet of wild flowers, but the technique is different for each class. The lushly woven tablecloth is meant for the A-Class, while the C-Class gets a cloth with a cheap print. The B-class is put to work; they need to embroider the flowers on the tablecloth themselves.

LANDWERKTUIG - Joost Dingemans

collaboration with : Penitentiaire Inrichting Veenhuizen



LandWerkTuig is a collection of gardening tools produced in the prison workshops of Veenhuizen. For producing these tools, Joost introduces old techniques such as the hardening of steel with use of fire and oil, after which the tools are being used in the modern workshops.

The LandWerkTuig tools are visibly connected with the history of Veenhuizen. One of the goals of the Maatschappij van Weldadigheid (the Society of Benevolence), founded in 1815, was to cultivate the waste lands of Drenthe in order to make them fertile and suitable for growing crops, resulting in the self-sufficiency of the paupers who came from the big cities. The design of LandWerkTuig is based on the original tools that were used for land cultivation and invites contemporary autarky. 


VORMT / Moduloo - Bobby Dekker

collaboration with : Penitentiaire Inrichting Nieuwersluis & Knitted Knots & EE labels & Jakerz


The strict hierarchy that highly influenced life in Veenhuizen is still visible on the façades of every house in the prison village. Subtle differences in rhythm, design and decoration provide information about the social status of the former inhabitants. Even the smallest details, such as the exterior shutters, were indications of the position you held exactly. Bobby Dekker studied these details and designed a system that provides endless ways to generate different patterns, which were based on the architecture of Veenhuizen. With these patterns, Bobby discovered an extensive range of applications; screen printed doors for cupboards byModuloo, beautiful abstract knitting patterns, ribbons, wallpaper and packaging for the products of Collectie Veenhuizen.


ISBN 9789082325508


Veenhuizen and her specific history can easily remain a closed book to the non-Dutch speaking visitors. This became clear to the South-Korean Minsung Wang when he visited the village. Despite the international ambitions of the place, everything, from the websites and brochures to the explanatory museum texts, is written in Dutch.

In order to cater to the foreign visitors’ needs, Minsung created the book “Tales of Veenhuizen”, written in English. Tales of Veenhuizen is an illustrated book about the unique history of the heritage and cultivation of every aspect of Veenhuizen. The history of the village is explained in seventeen short stories, which are written on the basis of the moralist texts originating from the age of the Maatschappij van Weldadigheid (the Benevolent Society). Examples of these texts are Orde en Tucht (Order and Discipline), Werk en Bid (Work and Pray), and Rust Roest (Rest makes Rusty), that can be found everywhere on the house façades of Veenhuizen.


collaboration with : Penitentiaire Inrichting Nieuwersluis, Van Halder, Jakerz. 


For incarcerated fathers, it can be difficult to maintain a strong, stable connection with their visiting children, regarding the few hours they get to spend together. SamenWerkt is a beautiful cardboard do-it-yourself kit, something that fathers and children can work on together during visits. Being able to create something beautiful; to build, glue and paint together, provides structure during these visiting moments and gives both father and child something to be proud of. Such tangible memories of spending time with their father can mean a lot to these children. This project anticipates their need for a healthy father child-relationship and the family reintegration of the father after the period of incarceration.


collaboration with : Lundia, de Vesting, van den Berg Meppel


The colonies of Veenhuizen were established in the nineteenth century in order to transform beggars and tramps into ‘decent people’. A programme was developed and named ‘decent things make for decent people’. Every pauper family was provided with a package containing decent items in order to furnish and shape the household. By giving decent items to the people, it was expected that their behaviour would improve.

The packages often contained a wash tub and a mirror, to encourage better grooming.

Malou van Dijck revives this method by designing two cabinets, inspired by furniture from the nineteenth century, that receive their personal touch by the attentive care of the owner. The cross-foot base cabinet is treated with tinted wax and the linen cabinet is treated with soap. After every treatment the exterior and colour of the cabinets become thicker and more intense, displaying the owner’s good efforts and thus rewarding his good behaviour.

VILLAGE SEAT - Sarah Hutchinson

collaboration with : van den Berg, Meppel


In the wood-workshop of a prison in a small Dutch village called Veenhuizen, a prisoner created a small table out of scrap wood, which was then used for playing card games during coffee breaks. This small impulse of creation was turned into Village Seat, a fully designed seating system made out of beech wood. Veenhuizen possesses a rich social history. The village used to be a colony for the poor and eventually it became a penal colony, isolated from the outside world. By focusing on one small, seemingly insignificant part of Veenhuizen, this project frames an intimate story of this unique village. Village Seat is constructed with tusk mortise and tenon joints that enable this system to easily be disassembled and reassembled. Village Seat is a piece of flat pack furniture that can be easily stored and carried in its original packaging. It becomes a traveling part of Veenhuizen, something that can spread the name and history of the village throughout the world.