Amsterdam, Things I Saw, Where I've Been

Elle’s In Design Amsterdam

Elle’s In Design Amsterdam was this last weekend. It cost 12E for a yellow wristband and the book pictured in this display. I’m still not sure what else that cost covered since none of the venues looked for the wrist band and all welcomed the public – including the non – yellow wristband toting ones. Nonetheless, it was a great way to explore design stores and galleries in the city. Lots of new discoveries and plenty of opportunities for free booze and snacks.

Lobster House
Confetti covered floors in a studio exhibiting paint by Farrow & Ball, bubble like lamps by Alex de Witte (right) and vintage furnishings from FrabriekNL (upper left).

We picked up our tickets at the Lobster House + Studio and sat down for a coffee while trying to decipher the walking tours in the book. Good thing the coffee was decent because the guide was not very clear.

We decided to check out the tours in Utrechtsestraat and De Oude Binnenstad on Saturday and parts of De Jordaan, De Leidsebuurt and De 9 Straatjes on Sunday. Here are some highlights:

Ruigwerk – Kerkstraat 404 –
home of Wijnlab, where you can make your own wines! There were some food meets architecture related exhibits in there but my fave was the paper menu – origami meets food. They did hand out 50E discounts for the wijnlab so I’m assuming that the costs are fairly high – but hey you do make your own jug!

Mobilia Woonstudio – Utrechtsestraat 62-64
This design store is huge and a great source of ideas. The table (pictured) by student Liza Pater of Houten Meubilerings College was worth the climb up the winding stair cases. Loved the movable pieces.

This was a random contemporary art gallery we walked into on Warmoestraat located next to the infamous condom store. Don’t recall the name of the gallery but just look for it adjacent to the masses of tourists pointing and laughing at the collection of condoms at the Condomerie on Warmoesstraat 141.

Chris Kabel – Warmoestraat 145 –
This was the highlight of the whole weekend for me. Chris Kabel designed this façade for a residential building by Abbink X de Haas architects and housing cooperation de Key. Aluminum sheets are perforated with a pattern that allows the shapes to be bent up or down. When bent up the surface catches the (sun)light and bent down the surface is shaded. In this way intricate graphics can be applied onto the building using cheaply produced perforated panels without the use of expensive laser cutting. If I had taken better pictures, you could see that the faced of the building had an eye on it created by the light and shadows of these panels.

The Oude Kerk was an interesting juxtaposition of old and new – and an excellent example of the disorganization behind the Elle event. By the time we arrived, around 17h, the church was being set up for Nuit Blanche Amsterdam, an event listed in the Elle booklet, but not scheduled to start until 19h. It was unclear what was part of the Elle event and what was not and it was just a bit chaotic in there – as one would expect when setting up an event. While I would have loved to enjoy a Vedett in the Oude Kerk, by the time we returned (at 19h) there was a long queue and the staff was still unable to tell us if our wristbands would allow us entrance.

Lensvelt – Herengracht 178
One of our stops on Sunday and also quite the treat. 15 designers/brands were featured inside this canal house, including 3D tiles by D-tile, clever bathrooms by D-Line, penis sculptures by Joep van Lieshout, the iconic mirror Ultrafragola and a collaboration between Karl Lagerfeld and Cassina.


In Design Amsterdam is in its 10th year. I would think by now it would be better organized. Such a shame because there were so many great up-and-coming designers with projects on display that just got lost among the frenzy. The City Guide was poorly constructed with randomly placed dots for a walking tour instead of providing a clear path to be able to truly explore the hard work and creativity of the artists and designers that were part of the program. I may be biased – as organizing these types of experiences is what I do for a living – but there really was a missed opportunity by Elle and the participants here that could have been avoided with just a few simple adjustments. Perhaps it will improve next year.



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