Gijs de Vries' story
Industrial designer Gijs de Vries (33, Arnhem) is the first to admit he’s ‘a bit of an odd one out’ among the countless number of civil engineers. It motivates him to do what he likes best: innovate digitally and use design thinking to create experiences for Witteveen+Bos’s information and services.
‘Industrial design is about people’s relation to technology: an industrial designer devises solutions to problems in which people are central. During my graduation project, I applied design thinking – the basic principle of my degree – to a building instead of a product. Witteveen+Bos found that very interesting. I now work here as specialist in and ‘evangelist’ for digital innovation. Paying attention to design really helps make our technical designs and information clear and understandable for users. Neighbourhood residents may not want things to change – until they put on a pair of VR glasses and see how the future could look.’
‘In 2021, together with my communications colleagues – among others – I developed a digital corporate style in the form of a design system. It’s a kind of toolbox of digital building blocks and gives Witteveen+Bos a universal and also user-friendly look, including online. We’re now applying the same approach to updating our corporate website. I’m also involved in developing digital twins – virtual representations of existing structures. By making a digital copy of a tunnel, for example, we can conduct virtual tests of things like camera configurations. That saves time and money: the tunnel only needs to be closed once to install exactly the right number of cameras in the right places. It’s a great example of functional digitalisation.’
Putting the puzzle pieces together
‘Construction is behind the times in terms of digitalisation. And yet, we’re at the dawn of a digital revolution. We’re building with 3D printers, linking platforms and data sources to each other and increasingly adding a user-friendly layer to our technical designs and services. Most people don’t go into banks anymore – customers only want to know if the app works properly. Engineering firms are heading in this direction, too. Design will become an increasingly important component of how we work and how we present our work. My ultimate dream? A digital copy of the entire world. Then there’d be no stopping us.’
'We’re at the dawn of a digital revolution'
- Gijs de Vries -