The Design domain page focuses on overarching figures. Data on the various design professions and annual turnover within the design sector are examined. The Culture Monitor follows the distinction made through government policy between design as an overarching sector and design (or design) and architecture as subsectors. With the domain page's Architecture en Design further zooms in on specific developments.


Design is an extensive domain. Subsectors such as communication, design and architecture offered jobs to 2020, 71.600 and 42.800 employees respectively in 13.400. 81.000 people actually had a design profession in the period 2017-2019.

Based on the first available figures, the influence of the corona crisis on designers in 2020 appears to be less than expected. Design agencies had higher average turnover in 2020 than in 2019, and they employed more people than before the pandemic. The average turnover of self-employed people decreased in 2020 compared to 2019, but this average was still higher than in 2017 and 2018.


From landscape architecture and urban planning to product design, graphic design and fashion. The design sector is connected to the neighborhoods where we live, the chair we sit on, the magazine we read and the clothes we wear. No other domain within the Culture Monitor is so ubiquitous in daily life.

In the advice Design for the future (2018), the Council for Culture states that the design sector is characterized by 'its concrete significance for current developments in society and the need to collaborate with different parties in creation, realization and dissemination' (Council for Culture 2019, 4). On the domain page Architecture it is therefore discussed how architects and designers are seen as experts in the field of transition tasks such as climate adaptation, while in the domain page Design the importance of design in addressing, solving or researching social problems is highlighted. 

Key figures

Job market


Source: CBS and Creative Industry Monitor

The fact that the design sector is extensive is also evident from the available data on the cultural labor market. The Monitor Artists and other workers with a creative profession 2021 CBS reports, for example, that in the period 2017-2019, almost half of the total number of artists in the Netherlands were designers: 81.000 design professions within a total of 164.000 active artists. The previous periods show the same ratio (see the figure 'Number of design professions'). In the period 2017-2019, graphic designers and multimedia designers were in the vast majority (40.000), followed by building architects (19.000), product and clothing designers (18.000) and landscape architects (3.000) (see the figure 'Types of design professions '). 

Also in the Creative Industry Monitor 2021 relevant figures can be found about the labor market in the design sector. However, this does not look at professions, but at the main economic activity of companies, classified according to the SBI codes. On this basis, the Creative Industry Monitor in the year 2020, a total of 367.800 jobs within the entire creative industry - from makers to support staff.  

Most jobs are in the arts and cultural heritage subsector (137.800), a broad category that includes, for example, performing arts and creative arts. Design falls within the Creative Industry Monitor almost entirely within the creative business services subsector, which includes companies in the field of architecture, design and communications. In 2020, creative business services accounted for 127.800 jobs, of which communications accounted for by far the largest share with 71.600 jobs, followed by design with 42.800 jobs and architecture with 13.400 jobs (see the figure 'Distribution of jobs in creative business services'). 

Design is next to that the fastest growing industry within the entire cultural and creative industries: in ten years the number of jobs in design has more than doubled. This means that the number of jobs in design in 2020 is comparable in size to the number of jobs in the performing arts and creative arts. When explaining this growth, the Creative Industry Monitor points out, among other things, 'the realization that designers can play a key role in meeting social challenges, in bringing about transitions and in realizing missions' (Rutten et al. 2022, 34). 


Source: BNO Industry Monitor

The last Industry monitor of the Professional Organization of Dutch Designers (BNO) focuses on 2020. The impact of the start of the corona crisis that year seems to be less than expected when we look at turnover. Because compared to the average annual turnover of independent designers and design agencies in 2017, the figures for 2020 still show a slight growth of seven percent and one and a half percent respectively (see the figure 'Average annual turnover per FTE'). Also, almost half of the design firms surveyed for the Industry monitor currently more staff than before the pandemic (Hattum, R. van et al. 2022, 13). 

The design sector is categorized by the BNO as follows: communication and/or graphic design; service and/or experience design; industrial and/or product design; and spatial and/or interior design and architecture. Independent designers whose main activity is spatial and/or interior design and architecture had the highest average turnover in 2020, while design agencies earned the most with the main activity of product and/or industrial design. For both independent designers and agencies, the average turnover is lowest in the main activity of communication and/or graphic design (see the figure 'Average annual turnover per FTE by main activity').  

Unfortunately, it is not possible to compare the various key figures in more detail for a more layered picture of the design sector. Various demarcations and categories are used. Value Industry monitor for example, uses the category communication and/or graphic design, graphic design is defined by the Creative Industry Monitor grouped under design, while communications as an industry mainly includes advertising and PR agencies. On the domain pages Architecture en Design However, more data can be found that are relevant to these two subsectors, for example the number of architectural firms, gender relations in the architecture sector and the subsidy distribution from the Creative Industries Fund NL. 


CBS (2021) Monitor Artists and other workers with a creative profession 2021. The Hague: CBS. 

Hattum, R. van et al. (2022) BNO Industry Monitor 2022: the Dutch design sector in figures for 2020. Amsterdam: BNO. 

Council for Culture (2018) Design for the future: a plea for creative reflection on social issues. The Hague: Council for Culture.  

Rutten, P. et al. (2022) Creative Industry Monitor 2021: The Netherlands, Top 10 cities, Consequences of COVID-19. Hilversum: Media Perspectives Foundation. 

Accountability image

BlueCity Rotterdam / Photography: Lisa Maatjens