VanBerlo at CES2020

It was the Consumer Electronics Show, #CES2020. The city of Las Vegas had been transformed into a Walhalla for tech and innovation. Venues across town showcased projects of more than 4,400 companies.

Amongst the 175,000 industry professionals visiting the consumer and electronics show last week were Han Toebast and Eric Biermann of VanBerlo Agency. Read on to find out more about their experiences.

For many people the CES might seem just another big tradeshow, and tickets starting at the steep price of 300 dollar might be a valid reason to pass. But the CES is more than just a tradeshow. It is an opportunity for networking like no other. This is the place where likeminded meet and any conversation might turn into a new project, where business deals are closed and where startups have enormous opportunity to show their disruptive ideas to the world. The massive media attention in Las Vegas is giving you exposure that really gets you places.


How does this work out, you wonder? Think of Hydraloop, the Dutch water recycling business that won amongst others the “Engadget best of the best CES2020” which led to over 250 orders worldwide. Or Nowi, a Delft based energy harvesting startup, who averaged at 10 follow ups each day. We of course spoke with our partner EVBox, who were represented with two booths and 35 employees throughout this week. Showing some of our designs made us really #EVproud. They told us it because of CES’ networking value a lot of companies send in their CEO or Director. Which means that often the real decision makers are the ones to visit your booth.


Rather than a place to be inspired, this is a place to do business.

When looking for inspiration, one might enter the CES similar to how they enter Las Vegas. In awe of all that shines bright and mesmerised by the lure of chance and opportunity. And so were we. But the bright lights soon wear off when, after a day or two, you’re hit by sensory overload. This is when it becomes clear that the CES, similar to its hometown Vegas, is designed for commercial purposes only.

Even though commercial purposes are a valid reason to visit, we were on the lookout for true and sustainable innovation. To us, this means the product or service is designed with the end user in mind. Even at a tech tradeshow like CES we feel this human centered approach should be a key theme. Fortunately, we have seen really a lot of products that truly add value.


Amidst the self-cleaning litterboxes and toilet paper robots we found a project that we think is worth your while: the Toyota Woven city. This concept city will be home to 2000 Japanese inhabitants, and run pilots of every product that Toyota will bring to market. Through continuous monitoring this will pick up every little detail, to ensure absolute coverage of human needs and desires. This way Toyota’s design process will be driven by its end users. Beyond all controversies and black mirror references this might summon, this concept speaks to us as it shows a shift of mindset. As designers we believe that closing the loop with consumers and/or end users is imperative when you want to add value. So to us, this Toyota initiative, is that is what true innovation should be.


Want to share your thoughts about Design driven innovation or #CES2020? Please reach out to Han Toebast or Eric Biermann.