At the beginning of 2016, Design Flanders, Flanders Fashion Institute and Flanders DC joined forces and merged into one organisation. In 2017, they started operating under one name: Flanders DC. A bird’s-eye overview of how these three organisations got together.
- Design Flanders can be traced all the way back to a Belgian organisation called the Economic and Social Institute for the Middle Classes, which in the sixties and seventies comprised a Dutch and a French-speaking team. In 1992, the Dutch-speaking team became a part of VIZO, with the explicit purpose of promoting Flemish design. Several initiatives that are still very much alive today, like the Henry van de Velde Awards or the Design Triennials, saw the light around that same time. In 2004, the organisation changed its name to Design Flanders. It became a part of Enterprise Flanders a little after that. Design Flanders aimed to expand the concept of design, focusing on service design, among other areas. As of January 1st, 2016, Design Flanders started operating under the umbrella of Flanders DC.
- Flanders Fashion Institute (FFI), which was founded in 1998, has its origins in vzw Mode Antwerpen. Its aim was to support Flemish fashion designers in starting their own business. In addition, FFI invested in young designers, giving them the opportunity to prove their worth at international fashion weeks. FFI has been a part of Flanders DC since 2009, though the two organisations continued to operate independently. In 2016, they joined ranks with Flanders DC.
- Flanders DC was founded in 2004 to support the creative economy in Flanders by stimulating creativity in enterprises. This meant that Flanders DC was among the first to stress the importance of non-technological innovation. In 2009, the organisation was entrusted with the additional task of stimulating and supporting entrepreneurship in the creative industries. They teamed up with FFI as well. In 2016, the year of the merger, the focus shifted entirely to the creative sector.