Design thinking as a means to prevent crime

Vera Winthagen

Session info

Half the topics in the news are about fear, risk or unsafety, says intercultural designer Vera Winthagen. The conventional responses to issues ranging from bike theft to terrorist threats – security cameras, fences, tougher punishments – only contribute to a climate of fear. She advocates a more in-depth approach to crime prevention: design thinking.


One of the successful ‘design thinking’ projects worldwide initiated by Sydney-based professor Kees Dorst, DOC looks at everything from urban planning to product design but steers clear of the conventional crime-fighting armoury.

Alongside her academic work, Winthagen brings the DOC mind-set to design in practice at the well-known Eindhoven design agency VanBerlo. “I’m the bridge between different ways of thinking and different worlds,” she says. “I’m a catalyst.”

Previously Winthagen worked at social and sustainable design cooperative Ideal&Co. She owns Enjoy the Difference, a fair trade label that designs and imports lifestyle products from Kenya, where Winthagen lived and worked. She studied at The Hague University of Applied Sciences and the celebrated Design Academy Eindhoven.