The ordinary kettle

My parents have an ordinary kettle as long as I remember and they don’t seem to think about replacing it. It is a simple and timeless kettle and was bought at a typical Dutch warehouse, namely HEMA. HEMA is famous for its Dutch simplicity, medium price and quality. HEMA has famous products like their typical Dutch ‘rookworst’ and also the kettle from my parents, called ‘Le Lapin’ (the rabbit, see figure 1).

Figure 1: The HEMA kettle ‘Le Japin’.

You might think that some brilliant product designer from HEMA designed Le Lapin in 1989, but that isn’t the case. This timeless kettle, is the result of the 1989-1990 design competition from HEMA. For the last 30 years HEMA organizes a design competition for Dutch (industrial) design and art students . In the early 1980s, the Dutch education system needed more practical training. At that same time, HEMA chose a more trendy approach towards their designs and packaging. Together it resulted in the first HEMA design competition in 1983-1984. In 1990 the competition became a yearly competition because of its success and Le Lapin was the first winning design that actually got into production (1).

What makes the HEMA design competition a success for 30 years now?

Malone, Laubacher and Dellarocas indicate three motivations for people to participate in crowdsourcing; money, love and glory (2). The HEMA design competition offers all three elements. Money for the winners, love for the craftsmanship and of course the glory of winning and the chance that the product will be produced by HEMA. Next to money, love and glory, HEMA also offers a qualitative good competition, probably due to their closed competition policy. The competition is only open for students from certain design academies in the Netherlands, which makes it more attractive for design students. They get the chance to show their skills and get the publicity that can help them to expand their professional network (3).

Take for example the designer of Le Lapin Nikolaï Carels. He studied industrial design at the Rietveld academy and was only 23 years old when he designed Le Lapin. After he won the competition he also designed a line with different pots and pans for HEMA (4). Carels acknowledges the impact of the competition on his own career and is happy how it all turned out (5). Not every winner will probably have as much success as Carels had, but it illustrates the benefits of the competition for participants.

So in order to have a successful crowdsourcing competition, HEMA doesn’t only offer money, love and glory, they are also able to address the right crowd. By addressing the right crowd, HEMA is able to keep the quality of the competition high, and as a result HEMA gets great new product designs. Over 30 products from the competition have been produced  by HEMA, with Le Lapin as the most famous product (6). In my opinion both the kettle and the competition are timeless, so I’m curious about the winners of next year!


  1. HEMA design competition (2014). Retrieved from:
  2. Malone, T.W., Laubacher, R., and Dellarocas, C. (2010). The Collective Intelligence Genome. MIT Sloan Management Review, 51(3), 21-31.
  3. HEMA design competition (2014). Retrieved from:
  4. Geert, P. (June 6, 1992). Succesvolle fluitketel begin van een carriere. Het Nieuwsblad. Retrieved from:
  5. Schaap, H., and Mastrigt, van, S.. Leven na ‘Le Lapin’. Retrieved from:’LifeAfterLapin’.pdf
  6. HEMA design competition (2014). Retrieved from:

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