Nina Sandford
Nina Sandford

Maker: Kennisland



Social designer

Nina Sandford

LinkedIn profile

Nina Sandford is social designer at Kennisland. She uses her creativity to stimulate people to go off the beaten track. In her eyes, systems are too often designed based on averages, which causes people to fall outside the boxes and generates new problems or increases existing ones. The distance between these systems and the outsiders are only increasing. To tackle this, Nina searches together with the people it’s about for new solutions to humanise the systems in place (or dismantle them if necessary). This way, she works on an equal and climate just++Climate justClimate just rather than sustainable, as this places the responsibility on the polluting companies and governments instead of the consumer. Read more (in Dutch) society, in which solidarity and empathy are central. 

During her studies Industrial Design at the TU Eindhoven, Nina learned how to go through design processes herself. How do you go from a problem statement to an applicable solution, but also leave room for creative processes and learn from your mistakes? These studies transformed her from a thinker to a do-er, which is why she dares to try things out and consistently reflects on her work. This is where she discovered co-design, a design methodology in which, next to the designer, especially end users own the process. As a volunteer for foundation Move++Foundation MoveCollaborates with students on projects for children from ten to sixteen years old who receive less opportunities than their peers. These projects show pupils how much they can contribute and in what ways they would like to do it. Read more she experienced this technique for the first time in practice, by designing together with a class of primary school students. She organised sessions in which the students went out on the street and brainstormed about which innovations were possible in the neighbourhood surrounding their school. 

Even though her studies were broad enough to tailor them to her own interests, Nina wanted to focus more on social innovation. In order to branch out of the technical realm, she started as an intern at Kennisland during her studies. Here, she experienced in practice how necessaryNina searches together with the people it’s about for new solutions to humanise the systems in place (or dismantle them if necessary). it is to look at questions together with all relevant stakeholders and tackle societal issues at their core. Industrial designers start from individual users, but the core of societal issues can usually be found in the policies of corporations, institutions and governments. Kennisland’s approach, which connects system parties with citizens and professionals, inspired Nina to her graduation project. In this project, she experimented with different methods to include unusual suspects in running Kennisland projects. Through e.g. the execution of street interviews accompanied by an interactive installation on a cargo bike, she stirred projects in fresh directions already during her internship. Because of this, she realised what is possible if you stay critical on which opportunities you create for whom and dare to try something new. This fit well with Kennisland’s standpoints, which Nina reinitiated with her activism. 

In addition to her work at Kennisland, Nina follows the master Sociology at the University of Amsterdam to deepen her knowledge in social affairs. In her spare time, she travels throughout the Netherlands by train. She visits theme parties in Eindhoven, dances to hiphop music in Woerden and strolls through the beautiful forest Amelisweerd++AmelisweerdUnfortunately, this forest is threatened by the broadening of the highway A27. Read more (about the actions done against this, in Dutch). in Utrecht. In between all of this, she experiments with new crafting techniques and edits long aftermovies of her summer holidays to relive them.

Deze tekst heeft een Creative Commons Naamsvermelding-licentie (CC BY) en is gekopieerd van de Kennisland-website. Ga voor de volledige versie met afbeeldingen, streamers en noten naar

This text has a Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY) and has been copied from the Kennisland website. For a full version with images, streamers and notes go to