DVDL Design Decisions forecasts where communities, cities, and cultures are headed. From there, we help develop vision scenarios for organizational programs and matching space programs for buildings. We create and implement design selection processes and we help clients meaningfully collaborate with designers throughout the process. Our services vary from project to project and are often centered around three simple components: Research, Selection Process Development, and Collaboration. For many projects we contract external partners from our network to provide our clients and collaborators with services in project and construction management, financial planning, legal structuring, community engagement, communications and branding, and fundraising, among other fields.In addition, we consult with design firms globally to help them and their clients understand context and help them make decisions on (space) programs and design issues.

Leadership Reference Trip visiting Toshiko Mori’s Collection Space for Sean Kelly in Upstate New York. Photo by David van der Leer


– Forecasting through qualitative and quantitative research
– Interdisciplinary public and private research workshops and events
– Competitive analysis
– Leadership Reference Trips to explore projects nationally and internationally with organizational management, boards, and funders.
– Vision scenario development for organizational programs

Selection Processes

– Space program development
– Design brief development
– Team structuring (from project managers to capital campaign consultants)
– Selection process development from invited design competitions to open RFQs and RFPs
– Jury and Advisory Committee development
– Direct commissioning process development
– Match-making of all kinds

Design Collaboration

– Workshops and training (from groups to individuals) on design decisions
– Vision and program refinement with designers and clients
– Design reviews and guidance
– Management of design processes
– Intermediary services with core consultants on design issues


DVDL Design Decisions clients and collaborators range from institutions (educational, cultural, museums, and health care), to corporations (real estate developers, hospitality, and retail), to individuals and families, and design firms.

Leadership Reference Trip visiting the art park at Inhotim, Belo Horizonte, Brazil. Installation by Doug Aitken. Photo by David van der Leer

Current and recent clients and collaborators include:

Museum/Cultural—Mexico City, Mexico
Band of Outsiders
Retail—Los Angeles, CA
The Fitler Club
The Forman Family Foundation Family
—Philadelphia, PA
The Guggenheim Museum
Museum—New York City, NY and Bilbao, Spain
The Kennedy Center
Culture—Washington, D.C.
Real Estate developer/museum—Rosmalen, The Netherlands
Philadelphia Contemporary
Museum—Philadelphia, PA
Van Alen Institute
Culture—New York City, NY
White Architects
Design firm—Stockholm, Sweden
Design firm—Copenhagen, Denmark
Some of our projects are confidential or in the planning stages, and, for that reason, not listed.


“In 2017, we contracted David van der Leer to lead our design selection process for a new, dynamic, multi-disciplinary art center in Philadelphia. Not only did David create a world-class search process that was all about getting to know people and their design skills, he helped us develop an exceptionally creative program brief, and a series of trips that helped mobilize funding and strategy and gave us new insights into what we wanted from our building. David’s contributions are so valuable that we have retained DVDL Design Decisions to consult with us during the actual design process.”Harry Philbrick, Founding Director, Philadelphia Contemporary

“David van der Leer advised us for almost five years while we were conceptualizing a new foundation focused on art and literacy in Mexico City. David took me to far flung places around the world and taught me about the value of design. He created a selection process that connected us to fantastic designers, but, more importantly, his creative insight helped us shape our programs. For instance, he suggested that we create a library bus connecting us to underserved communities around the city. I would work with him and his new agency again in a heartbeat.” Moises Coscio, founder, Alumnos

“I met David van der Leer on a jury competition in DC and felt the process had integrity and focus. I subsequently invited him to advise us on design direction for the visitor experience at the Kennedy Center. David developed a very inclusive process that brought together various constituents including patrons, cultural leaders and our staff and board to envision how to activate our building further and bring together new and diverse audiences. We are in the design and future implementation now and excited to realize the full potential of the Kennedy Center”Deborah Rutter, President, John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

“I run a successful business and have a great affinity for art and design. We collaborate with DVDL Design Decisions on various design projects. It is a pleasure working through the research and selection processes with David. His approach is always surprising, yet solid, and educational. He helps us see new program possibilities in both our existing and newly acquired properties, and he has introduced us to great designers along the way.”– Michael Forman, The Forman Family Foundation

“When I was dreaming up a retail concept for Band of Outsiders, it was vital for it to be fresh, modern, thought-provoking, and outside of the norms and tropes of typical fashion retail. So, naturally, I went to David for advice. He was sensitive to my pragmatic needs and creative goals and was able to guide me through the process of vetting architects, and, ultimately, lead me to LOT-EK, a wonderful firm who worked on two of my stores and have become like family. I couldn’t have found them without David’s guidance and foresight.”Scott Sternberg, founder, Band of Outsider

“At Pennings, we develop and build buildings every day, but conceptualizing a cultural building within a historic structure was something we needed help with. David van der Leer helped us think through scenarios and presentations for what we believe can become a major new art institution in The Netherlands.”Frank Homburg, Director, Pennings

“Sometimes as designers you need an informed outside voice to give you new ideas, shake things up, and bring people together. Over the years we have occasionally brought in David van der Leer to do exactly that. David is a great listener, strategist, and moderator. He gives great design direction that helps us develop our ideas further.”Kim Herforth Nielsen, founder, 3XN

Philadelphia Contemporary Leadership Reference Trip visiting the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort-Worth, Texas. Photo by David van der Leer