Design Country: 5 Hot Spots
Mexx Design Centre and Droog Design
A walk down Amsterdam’s canal district offers one the most diverse cultural experiences in the country, counting at least 172 nationalities in its population, ranging from Turkish people to people of Chinese ancestry. From an attractive nightlife scene to renowned art collections in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam is the largest city in the Netherlands and is a brand in itself. The 9 streets (De 9 Straatjes) located between the Raadhuisstraat and the Leidsestraat are well-known for being a shopper’s paradise and guarantee endless hours of retail therapy, from hosting designer brands such as Onitsuka Tiger to eclectic goods found in Lady Day, a vintage clothing store. Most notably, Amsterdam is also home to the international Mexx Design Centre and droog@home, headquarters to the famous Droog Design.
One of the biggest fashion successes, Mexx is a fashion apparel company with its beginnings in the Netherlands when it was founded by fashion mogul, Kul Rattan Chadha in 1980. As an immensely successful business, it rapidly developed into an international brand with stores in more than 65 countries and was acquired by Liz Claiborne Inc for over $200 million in 2001. Located in the Business Park Riekerpolder, the determining factor for locating Mexx Design Centre in Amsterdam was due to its unique vibe as a cosmopolitan city with an intimate atmosphere, which cannot be found anywhere else in the world. Adu Advaney, co-founder of Mexx mentioned another significant factor in the decision, that is the presence of the ‘Creative Class’ in Amsterdam, as seen by the many creative talents in Amsterdam which serves to create an inspiring atmosphere. True to Dutch style, Mexx Design Centre, headquarters to all of Mexx design divisions, is an innovative and open working space which facilitates communication. Truly an inspiring environment, it enhances learning and interaction to the highest level.
As a globally known design collective founded by Giks Bakker and Renny Ramakers, Droog Design has helped to launch the careers of designers such as Marcel Wanders and Richard Hutten. A visit to droog@home at Staalstraat is an experience in itself and nothing short of inspiring. Besides being a shop, droog@home is also a gallery, a library and a kitchen, all at the same time. One feels as though he is visiting a friend at home instead of going into a commercial store. As seen in the shop, Droog products are simple with a humorous twist, often employing pragmatic solutions to solve design problems. As the functions of certain products are not always obvious, fun is ensued when one is left freely to explore in the store.
Design Country:5 Hot Spots in the Netherlands
Kubuswonig and Euromast
High rise buildings and modern skyscrapers – These are terms one would not normally use to describe the architectural landscape of the Netherlands. Yet these buildings indeed dominate the skyline of Rotterdam, a city starkly different from those of other Dutch cities in terms of architectural elements. As the second largest city of the Netherlands, Rotterdam is a city rebuilt after World War II where it was completely flattened by the German army. It then became a playground for architects which served to explain its modern infrastructure.
Buildings not to be missed in Rotterdam would have to include the Cubic Houses (Kubuswonig) designed by Piet Blom. Though first built in the 1970s, the Cubic Houses remain a cutting-edge architectural wonder to this day. The concept behind these houses is to create a forest, with each tilted cube being an abstract tree. At first glance, the bold design of the Cubic Houses seems to disorient the visitor and a visit indoors will serve to dispel the notion, but only to a certain extent. Nonetheless, it is not difficult to imagine the interesting living experience created by such a design concept. The top level of each house also provides an excellent view with windows all around in the pyramid shape formed by the cube.
The Euromast in Rotterdam deserves another worthy mention. At an impressive height of 186 metres, it is the highest tower in the Netherlands and is often held to be a symbol of Rotterdam. A recently added ‘Space Tower’ launches visitors to a height of 185 metres from the observation platform of 100 metres above ground. Though not a viable option for people suffering from acrophobia, visitors can still enjoy the paranomic view of Rotterdam and a few cities beyond from the observation platform where a restaurant and meeting halls can be found. 2 luxury suites are located above the restaurant for those who can afford to splash out a little for a night of indulgence. The Euromast – such great heights indeed.
Design Country:5 Hot Spots in the Netherlands
Designhuis and Temporary Art Centre
Home to the established Dutch design agency Philips Design and the famous Design Academy, amongst other art centres and contemporary museums such as the revered Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven is a city already well-known in the world design and technology scene. In 2006, the city made an ambitious claim to be the European Design Capital 2006, a title it successfully lived up to when the annually-held Dutch Design Week, with events such as exhibitions, seminars and workshops, attracted no less than 50000 visitors from international backgrounds.
In 2007, the Designhuis opened its doors to the creative industries, holding everything from exhibitions such as the exhibition BOLD, a retrospective exhibition of the work of Job Smeets and Nynke Tynagel (both considered to be in the league of leading designers in the world), to seminars planned in the near future for businessmen and students alike. A former courthouse at the Stadhuisplein to Lidewij Edelkoort, the Designhuis is a building from the sixties in the style of New Traditionism. It is a building that is spacious enough to hold events yet house a design shop at the same time. With a holding capacity of 700 people, the Designhuis is a matured building that has been creatively reinvented with a new function, a style not unlike the Dutch at all. Without missing a beat, this new addition of design abode certainly enhances the design image of Eindhoven and presents to the world a vibrant scene infused with art, design and technology.
Located on more compact grounds, the Temporary Art Centre (TAC) is by no means disadvantaged by its size, and is the platform for experimental design and cultural production. It was also one of the many venues for Dutch Design Week 2007. With a distinct alternative feel, the unique structure of the building draws the visitor in as he explores every nook and cranny. Besides having exhibition spaces, the grounds of the TAC also include a garden and a café, which makes it ideal for holding discussions and relaxing after participation in events.
TRAVEL ALBUM: DESIGN COUNTRY publishes the essential photography subjects of a country. As they say, architecture landmarks denote the progressing development of a country. Design in each and every country speaks in different languages and dances to different cultures. A lot of countries are growing in the design realm but no one would know about this development but the travelers and the locals themselves. Only. The exciting quirks and electrifying eccentricity of Everyday Product, Design Schools, Designers, Resources, Hotels/Buildings, Design Studios/Personalities, Local Galleries, Museums, etc, are found in both secret and obvious places of the country.
We miss out on these simple things during travel or simply during our busy lifestyle in our own country. So the next time you travel, think of TRAVEL ALBUM: DESIGN COUNTRY.
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