Edelkoort began her career as a fashion coordinator at the Amsterdam department store De Bijenkorf. After finishing her degree at ArtEZ, in 1975 she relocated to France, where she set up as an independent trend consultancy. She soon created the consultancy 'Trend Union', a trend forecasting service based in Paris. Trend Union provides bi-annual trend forecasting books for the fashion and design community with colour and lifestyle information. She then founded Studio Edelkoort, a consultancy bureau, and opened two offices in New York City (Edelkoort Inc) and Tokyo (Edelkoort East). In September 2015 she was hired to oversee a new textile design program at Parsons School of Design, where she currently serves as Dean of Hybrid Studies.
She has helped to shape products for international brands, advising on product identity and development strategy, and her clients have included Coca-Cola, Nissan, Camper, Siemens, Moooi, and Douwe Egberts. In the beauty industry, Studio Edelkoort's has developed concepts and beauty products for Estée Lauder, Lancôme, L'Oréal, Shiseido, Dim, and Gucci.
She is the art director and co-publisher of the magazine View on Colour. This looks at trends in colour taste with a view to their influence on fashion, graphics, industrial design, packaging, cosmetics and many other areas. She is also publisher of Interior View magazine. She launched the photo-magazine Bloom in 1998, which she describes as "horti-cultural", because it charts the changing trends in flowers and the way their images are used. She is involved in the non-profit humanitarian organization Heartwear which helps third world producers market their goods in the west through a mail order catalogue. The profits return to the producers' communities.
In 1999 she was elected Chairwoman of the Design Academy, Eindhoven, Netherlands, where she served until 2008. In 2011, Edelkoort launched the website and social media platform called TrendTablet. The British design magazine i-D listed her among the world's 40 most important designers and Time magazine named her one of the 25 most influential fashion experts of our day. On 22 February 2008, on behalf of the French Minister of Culture Didier Grumbach, President of the French Fédération de la Couture, Edelkoort was invested with the Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres in recognition of her artistic and literary creative contribution to France and international culture. Edelkoort also received an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Art from the United Kingdom's Nottingham Trent University, at the university's awards ceremony on 15 July 2008. More recently, on 26 November 2012, she received an award for her oeuvre of work from the Dutch foundation Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds.
She lives in Paris.
- Euronews August 2008
- Brief biography at Fashionmission, June 2006
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- in one piece Kim DeMarco's blog, 15 May 2007
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- Arts Review 11 July 2008
- Meet trend prophet Li Edelkoort Euronews, Accessed August 2008.
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- Flower! By Suzy Menkes, International Herald Tribune, Published June 19, 2001
- The Forecaster in one piece Kim DeMarco's blog, 15 May 2007
- Brief biography at Fashionmission.nl 1 June 2006 . Accessed August 2008.
- Li Edelkoort to receive honorary degree from Nottingham Trent University Arts Review 11 July 2008.