The fabric of change, transformation and creativity at the heart of Summa Fashion.
Flexibility of the Learning Environment









Fashion Innovations

The fabric of change, transformation and creativity at the heart of Summa Fashion. Flexibility of the Learning Environment


2017 - 2020


Member of the interdisciplinary research, design and transformation team


To push the boundaries of vocational education by encouraging institutions to rethink and reform their learning environments, closely aligning education with contemporary and future student needs and labor market demands.

Tasks and Responsibilities

Collaborating with designers and other vocational education institutions as part of one of twenty pioneering projects. Focusing on creating a dynamic and flexible learning environment that seamlessly integrates theory and practice, fostering student creativity and entrepreneurship.

Core Values in Practice

The project "Flexibility of the Learning Environment" emphasized design thinking to not only transform physical spaces but also to introduce new teaching methods and practices. This approach underlines the values of innovation, collaboration, and adaptability, showcasing a commitment to educational renewal that benefits both students and society.

Impact and Results

The collaboration resulted in a learning environment that meets student needs while optimally preparing them for future careers. This initiative represents a collective effort to innovate education, creating a space that benefits both students and the wider community.

Learning Moments

The project underscored the importance of design thinking in education and partners involved, highlighting how collaborative innovation can lead to significant transformations in teaching and learning practices, as well as in the physical learning environment.

Skills developed by participants

Design thinking
Collaborative innovation
Adaptability and flexibility in educational design


Supported by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, this initiative showcases the potential of design and innovation in transitioning towards education that meets the needs of modern students and the labor market.

Publications at the website of the National Fund for the Creative Industry: Learning environment of the future

Download the whole publication Learning Enviroments of the Future in Dutch

Website with researchmaterial from KRILL-o.r.c.a.

Design by Harmen van de Wal from Krill-o.r.c.a. for Summa Fashion

Additional Information

As part of the progressive "Learning Environment of the Future 2017–2020" programme, I had the opportunity to contribute to the Summa College project. Supported by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, this initiative aims to push the boundaries of vocational education and training (VET) by encouraging educational institutions to rethink and reform their learning environments. This programme emphasises the power of design and innovation in transitioning towards education that more closely aligns with the contemporary and future needs of students and the labour market.

Collaborating with designers and other VET institutions, I was part of one of the twenty pioneering projects that were established with the goal of connecting education with the world outside. Specifically, the project at Summa College focused on creating a dynamic and flexible learning environment that seamlessly integrates theory and practice, thereby stimulating the creativity and entrepreneurial spirit of students.

This collaboration illustrates how design thinking can be applied not only to transform physical space but also to introduce new teaching methods and practices. By innovating together, we created a learning environment that not only meets the needs of the students but also optimally prepares them for their future careers. This project reflects a collective commitment to renewing education, creating a learning environment that benefits both students and society.

The Experimental Fashion Hotspot project at Summa College embodies a forward-thinking approach to education in the creative industries. The project seeks to foster an innovative ecosystem where students and startups coexist, sharing resources and ideas. It highlights the importance of adaptable and dynamic spaces in education, ready to meet the challenges of the future, including unforeseen changes like a pandemic. This collaborative effort showcases the potential of breaking traditional boundaries through design and partnership, setting a new standard for vocational learning environments.

Overall impact and outcomes of the program

The impact and concrete outcomes of "Learning Environments of the Future," as detailed in the document, encompass a broad spectrum, focusing primarily on vocational education and training (VET). The significance of designing flexible and agile learning environments capable of adapting to the rapidly changing demands of education and the job market is essential. By emphasizing hybrid education that combines practical and theoretical learning, and integrating with local businesses and communities, students are better prepared for their future careers. This not only benefits students but also positively impacts the local economy and society by fostering a more engaged and skilled workforce.

One of the main points is the transformation of educational institutions into vibrant, multifunctional spaces that serve not only as places for traditional learning but also as centers for innovation, collaboration, and community development. Creating learning environments that are both flexible and agile allows VET institutions to quickly respond to changes in society and the economy, contributing to the sustainability of the education system and society as a whole.

The societal impact of this approach is significant, as it aligns education not only with the needs of students but also with those of the local and regional economy. This fosters a strong connection between education, the business world, and the community, leading to innovation, entrepreneurship, and lifelong learning within society. Additionally, it promotes social cohesion by offering inclusive learning environments accessible to a wide range of students and community participants.

This approach has led to tangible results, such as improved educational outcomes, higher student engagement, and strong partnerships between educational institutions and local businesses. It also encourages the development of new educational methods and technologies, further enhancing the quality of education and better preparing students for the future. This means that the transition within our existing learning ecosystems needs more than just changing educational curricula or working on the relation between education and industries. It needs a systemic, multi-level and multifaceted approach. Since 2010, I have called this the Whole Ecosystem Approach (WEA) at three levels: the ecosystem in and around the learners, the ecosystem in and around a regional networked community of learners, and the ecosystem in and around transnational networked ecosystems learning with and from each other.


Building on the foundation of the program, here are 10 concrete practices that have been researched, implemented, and realized:

1. Flexible and mobile classrooms: Utilizing mobile containers as pop-up learning spaces for logistics training, moving education closer to the business sector.

2. Interdisciplinary meeting points: Creating specific areas within educational institutions for students from different disciplines to meet, learn, and work on joint projects.

3. Bricolage method: Encouraging teachers and students to make modifications to their learning environment, based on the principle of working with what is available, to foster creativity and ownership.

4. DC Care Lab: A special space focused on new technology in healthcare, where students, teachers, and external professionals collaborate and experiment.

5. Integration with the local community: Opening up school buildings for local residents and businesses, for instance, by hosting events or offering facilities like a café or store.

6. Adapting to student population changes and space needs: Modifying the spatial layout and usage of school buildings in response to fluctuating student numbers, ensuring efficient use of available space.

7. Social and environmental considerations: Integrating sustainability principles into the development of learning environments, such as using green spaces and encouraging environmentally responsible behavior among students.

8. Open-ended spaces: Designing educational spaces with an open end, allowing them to be easily adapted to new teaching methods, technologies, and user needs.

9. Design Thinking and creative problem-solving: Promoting a mindset of design thinking among students and teachers by designing spaces that encourage creative thinking and problem-solving abilities.

10. Hybrid learning environments: Developing spaces where practical and theoretical learning are integrated, for example, by incorporating practical labs directly within schools or through projects in collaboration with local businesses.