Discover Benelux & France | Issue 17 | May 2015

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P R O M OT I N G B E LG I U M , T H E N ET H E R L A N D S , L U X E M B O U R G & F R A N C E

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Discover real Private Banking At SEB Private Banking, we acknowledge that everyone has a unique set of challenges. It’s why we do not offer ready-made solutions, concentrating instead on developing meaningful, long-lasting financial relationships and making the effort to really understand you and your requirements. Our international network of private banking offices will look after all aspects of your family business finances, from daily transactions to long term investments. Its services cover everything from tailored financial management, through to helping you to optimise the legal and tax structures within which your assets are held. As one of the world’s strongest banks and with more than 150 years of experience in private banking, we have just what it takes to ensure your future prosperity. To find out what SEB can do for your personal wealth, contact us in London: Christian A. Hvamstad +44 (0) 20 7246 4307

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Discover Benelux & France | Contents

Contents MAY 2015





Junkie XL Hollywood’s new musical genius Junkie XL is scoring one blockbuster after another. We asked where the multi-instrumentalist finds his inspiration and talked about his latest film Mad Max: Fury Road.


Mini theme – PACA: A land of wonders The French region Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur is a wonderful land worth discovering: the stunning landscapes, charming cities, fascinating history and fine wines.







Regulars and calendar Our columnists explain how visual and written cues can create a tug-of-war and argue that decluttering is the new norm among professionals. PLUS: Business calendar, page 64

Introducing: Pascal Schumacher Vibraphone virtuoso Pascal Schumacher just released his solo album, Left Tokyo Right. Currently on tour, we caught up with the Luxembourg national to hear about his jazz.

Company profiles With more and more digital television, where do the signals come from? Divitel has the answer. Impeccable translations are like music to the ears of Scriptware’s Frank ter Reehorst, find out why (page 62).


Rubens in Private At this exhibition, personal family portraits of the master are displayed showing Rubens as a loving sibling, passionate husband and affectionate father.

Successful women in entrepreneurship In this special, we feature some determined entrepreneurial ladies who know how to turn a good idea into a successful company.



Interior design solutions Dutch interior design is thriving, from spatial solutions to innovative furniture. Artistry is combined with functionality and comfort, leaving no wishes unfulfilled. PLUS: DCCP Architectes, page 38

Discover Belgium: Ghent, a hidden gem Often overshadowed by other Belgian cities, we put the spotlight on Ghent with its cultural heritage, lively centre and gastronomical delights.


Music Interview: Kensington Continuously raising their standards, Kensington has safely secured a spot in the hearts of the Dutch with their catchy brit-pop music.


Fashion Picks | 8 Desirable Designs Out & About | 75 Lifestyle Column

Hotel of the Month, the Netherlands Estheréa, in the heart of Amsterdam, offers guests a unique stay and with its luxurious and stylish interior the hotel is a true sight to behold.


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Discover Benelux & France | Editor’s Note

Dear Reader,

Discover Benelux & France

Simon Woolcot

Issue 17, May 2015

Steve Flinders

Published 05.2015 ISSN 2054-7218

Toyah Marondel Cover Photo Costa Communications / Junkie XL

Published by Scan Group


With its warm, late-spring sunshine, May is a great month to sit outside with a nice refreshing drink. The Benelux and France certainly have plenty to offer in this regard. For delicate rosés and beautiful organic wines, the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur is an ideal destination (see page 16). If beer is your beverage of choice, then put Ghent on your itinerary. Apart from being a very lively, culturally rich (and often overlooked) city in Flanders, it is also a great place to have a local beer on one of its many outdoor terraces.

Print Liquid Graphic Ltd. Executive Editor Thomas Winther

Sales & Key Account Managers Mette Tonnesen Yasmina Haddadi Steven Ebbers

Creative Director

Laura Mirandi

Mads E. Petersen

Sarah Soussi Sophie Plenert

Editor Myriam Gwynned Dijck

Publisher: Scan Group

Copy Editor

15B Bell Yard Mews

Isa Hemphrey

Bermondsey Street

Graphic Designer Joseph J. Ewin

London SE1 3TY

Berthe van den Hurk Bettina Guirkinger Carole Edrich

Apparently, around the time of the start of the American prohibition in the 1920s, similar ideas were circulating in Europe. In Belgium, the problem of alcoholism was blamed on strong liquors rather than alcoholic drinks in general and new laws restricted the sale of spirits. Beer was still allowed and in response, brewers made their beers stronger, filling the gap in the market.

United Kingdom Phone +44 (0)870 933 0423


Speaking of which, Belgian beers have a fascinating history. As the climate is perfectly suited for beer production (far more so than wine) its beer making tradition goes back centuries. The fact that some Belgian beers have such a high alcohol content is a more recent phenomenon, as I discovered during a beer tasting evening organised by Visit Flanders.

Fax +44 (0)870 933 0421 Email:

Caroline Edwards Cathy van Klaveren Emmie Collinge Janine Sterenborg Josiah Fisk Martin Pilkington Matt Antoniak

Another interesting aspect of Belgian beer, and something that is unique to the country, is their ‘spontaneous fermentation’ production style. Instead of adding a yeast culture to start the brewing process, the ingredients are exposed to the cool air outside. The microflora south west of Brussels, contain the perfect mix of wild yeast and bacteria for the spontaneous fermentation to happen. This produces the somewhat acidic ‘lambic’ beers and can be mixed with fruit, like the well-known Kriek or cherry beer. If you want to try out some of these beers, turn to page 54 and find our favourite bars and cafes in Ghent.

Rosanne Roobeek Rupert Parker

Myriam Gwynned Dijck, Editor © All rights reserved. Material contained in this publication may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, without prior permission of Scan Group – a trading name of Scan Magazine Ltd. This magazine contains advertorials/promotional articles.

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Discover Benelux & France | Design | Fashion Picks


Vintage meets modern cuts May brings out the holiday feeling in most of us, but that doesn’t mean fashion needs to be all about flip-flops and beachwear quite yet. Wear a chic vintage knit dress from Le Mont Saint Michel and spice it up with joyous colours. Mix the new with the old in a perfect retro-blend. TEXT: CAROLINE EDWARDS | PRESS PHOTOS

1 1: Country girl in the city A cowboy dress always brings back a bit of nostalgia, even in the best of us. So how about being elegant in the city in this ‘Chambray Dress?’ Legend has it that the chambray material was first created by French weaver Jean-Baptiste around 1300 and today it’s still going strong. €200

2 2: An orange secret Who said your wallet needs to blend in? With this diagonal orange beauty from Dutch Basics, you have the perfect place to keep your money during a night out. €70

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Discover Benelux & France |  Design |  Fashion Picks 3: White and vintage Knitwear  is  much  more  than  just  a  warm sweater worn during the cold winters. This ‘Vintage  Knit  Dress’  from  Le  Mont  Saint  Michel proves  the  point.  Combine  it  with  a  pair  of sneakers and step back in time, but with a modern twist. €250



4: Ready to go These ‘Leila Slip-On Sneakers’ from the Dutch brand  SuperTrash  are  ready  for  a  nice  spring day,  are  you  too?  Comfortable  to  wear  and bursting with exciting prints, they make the perfect footwear for a long walk around town during the sunny days ahead. €100

5 5: Soft and elegant This woven ‘Nessy W’ skirt from Eleven Paris is made from 100 per cent viscose, a material known for its softness and comfort. Wearing it will not only make you look good, you will feel good as well.  €70

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Discover Benelux & France | Design | Desirable Designs


Take back the garden The sun has finally fought its way through the clouds and what better way to celebrate it than in your own garden? Today, more and more designers are developing colourful and stylish furniture for the outdoors. Don’t just settle for a spot on the lawn, reclaim your garden in style. TEXT: CAROLINE EDWARDS | PRESS PHOTOS

A green oasis This green parasol, designed by Chris Kabel, offers you the chance to integrate garden furniture with the surrounding greenery. Allowing just a touch of sun to shine through, the ‘Shady Lace’ parasol from Droog provides the perfect escape from the hot midday sun. €250

Outdoor Belgian luxury The round table from ‘Discus’ is available in various materials, styles and colours, making it the perfect choice for those wanting to put their own mark on things. Enjoy a meal with your family in the garden. Price upon request.

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Soak in the sun Merging the lounge feeling with contemporary and natural shapes, this ‘Organic’ lounge chair was carved to provide maximum comfort. The slim lines created by the French designer Nicolas de Nocher for Studio Paul fits perfectly in the natural environment. €730

Bistro-style straight from France Embrace spring the French way. These chic ‘Bistro’ chairs by Fermob, a patented design since 1889, will certainly colour up your garden even on the cloudiest of days. Just sit back and sip a bit of wine with a good book and your garden will be your new favourite hideout. €65

A bench on wheels The mobile ‘Wheelbench’ is as fun as it is trendy. Dutch designer Rogier Martens has created a piece of outdoor furniture you can take anywhere, just pick it up and move around to find the best spots in your garden. €795

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Discover Benelux & France | Design | Roetz-Bikes

‘We need to get back to the Roetz’ Sometimes it is the down-to-earth kind of man who makes people think: why don’t we all just use better materials, better foods, better everything to sustain and maintain a better earth? The man with this vision is Mark Groot Wassink, one of the founders of Roetz-Bikes, based in the country famous for its cyclists: The Netherlands. TEXT: CATHy VAN KLAVEREN | PHOTOS: ROETz-BIKES

Although Roetz-Bikes is set up in Amsterdam, Groot Wassink says it’s not bound to the city. “We can deliver anywhere. And we do, for instance in Germany where we have a growing amount of dealers. Dutch people are known to thoughtlessly take their bike to do the shopping, but,” he says, “if Germans get on a bike, they make a conscious decision and having a stylish bike is more important.” The bicycles are not typical looking, with dark colours, dark tyres and loads of accessories. Instead, they’re bright with light tyres, have handles made from cork and the fenders are made from beech wood. Groot Wassink says it’s the only bike made from as much as 70 per cent used mate-

rials. They provide three models each for men and women and the retro-feel and bright colours make it a casual but also an adventurous bike. So why Roetz? “Roetz refers to ‘roots’, we need to get back to the basics if we want to make conscious decisions,” Groot Wassink says. “And it’s a reference to ‘roetsjen’, a Dutch word meaning riding a bike is fun.” Four years ago Groot Wassink and his companion Tiemen ter Hoeven started Roetz-Bikes. “Did you know that every year a million bikes are thrown away in the Netherlands? And another million bikes are purchased? That’s why we made an

agreement with municipalities to use the bikes they collect at railway stations and from the canals and so on. We carefully pick out bicycles and pull them apart. If the frame’s good, we can make a Roetz bike.” Most of these frames, Groot Wassink says, were made ten to thirty years ago, but they were created to last a lifetime. “We clean it, coat it, make imperfections go away and we put the thing together. We also hire people who have difficulty getting a job. They are the ones who make the RoetzBikes.” If that isn’t sustainability, we don’t know what is.

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Discover Benelux & France | Outdoor Design | TUUCI

Ocean Master Classic

A touch of the sunshine state wherever you are Calling TUUCI an umbrella design company shoots far short of the mark. From its minimalist parasols to classic pavilions, colourful outdoor lounges and exotic cabanas, TUUCI’s spectacular products can only be described as ‘shade architecture’. TEXT: MyRIAM GWyNNED DIJCK | PHOTOS: TUUCI, KLAUS JORDAN

TUUCI was set up 18 years ago by Dougan Clarke in Miami, Florida, in the United States. He built the first parasols in a small boat workshop and this heritage is still visible. With his roots as a marine rigger, Clarke used the expertise of the ship building industry in the designs. All TUUCI products are made from high quality outdoor materials, such as anodised aluminium, stainless steel and polymers that do not oxidise. Rob Planken, director for the Europe, Middle East and Africa division of TUCCI, says: “The truly unique aspect of our products is the combination of quality, functionality,

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durability and stylish and timeless designs. Using high quality materials means our products will have a high performance wherever in the world they are used. Moreover, they are lightweight, simple to use and each component is easy to replace.”

Inspired by nature To this day, every new TUUCI product is still designed by Clarke and produced in Miami. Their silhouettes are often inspired by the raw beauty of the natural world and life on the ocean. The company aims to create shapes that are in harmony with the surroundings while making a style statement at the same time.

“Take for example the zero Horizon, a model designed to have minimal impact on the view but provide maximum shade. Or our Manta, which is inspired by the gracious movements of the giant manta ray. Thanks to our enormous collection of different colours, sizes, shapes and designs, there is always a product that will fit seamlessly in the surroundings and suit your style,” Planken explains. TUUCI also maintains a close relationship with the natural world in another way, as its employees support many environmental causes and conservation organisations. Love and respect for the environment are

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Discover Benelux & France | Outdoor Design | TUUCI

key for the company. “Everything we do is 100 per cent related to enjoying the outdoors,” Planken continues. “TUUCI does all it can do to minimise its footprint during the production process in Miami. We understand that everything we do today will have an effect on the world tomorrow.”

A global brand Thanks to its innovative designs and approach to shade architecture, TUUCI has experienced a steady growth. At the moment, TUUCI counts over 300 members of staff worldwide, and its products are supplied to almost every country in the world. Planken says: “This happens from our headquarters in Miami or, since 12 years ago, from our Oisterwijk branch in the Netherlands, responsible for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. you could say we embarked on a unique journey around the

globe to supplement and enhance the shade that nature provides us with.” He concludes: “It is our dream to continue to grow worldwide as the go-to specialist in the field of shade architecture. We want to achieve this by continued investments in new designs, innovations and quality development and by delivering a top service from the very start when we advise (future) clients about the perfect product for them.”

TOP LEFT: Mercury Lounge MIDDLE LEFT: Plantation MAX Classic BOTTOM LEFT: Plantation MAX Cantilever BELOW: Plantation MAX Dual Cantilever BOTTOM RIGHT: Ocean Master MAX Cantilever BOTTOM LEFT: Plantation MAX Cantilever

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Discover Benelux & France | Introducing | Pascal Schumacher


Pascal Schumacher Jazz percussionist and vibraphone virtuoso Pascal Schumacher recently released a new album, Left Tokyo Right, his first solo record. Currently on tour, we caught up with the Luxembourg national to tell us about his music. TEXT: MyRIAM GWyNNED DIJCK | PHOTOS: ILLAN WEISS

You’re currently in the middle of your Left Tokyo Right tour, how it is going? Good, we had a pre-release tour in Japan with two shows, which was of course quite special. We will play in both large philharmonic halls to little jazz clubs. This is the cool thing about being a jazz musician, you can play for 80 people, and for over a 1000 people in a totally different setting, but with the same music. Let’s go back to the start, what got you into playing jazz?

How would you describe your music? Jazz had a really great period in the ‘50s and the ‘60s, but this is not the music I play. We work with jazz labels and often play at jazz clubs, but my music has nothing to do with the jazz when it was big. Currently there are the ‘real’ jazz players, the purists, who think jazz has to really swing. But me being from Luxembourg, I don’t have that American heritage. I play my own music and some people call it jazz. So, what would you call it?

While studying classical percussion, I was most attracted by mallet instruments, like the vibraphone and the marimba. They always had a strong connection to jazz and I thought the jazz musicians were the coolest ones playing these instruments. I started listening to them and I fell in love with what they did, which was jazz.

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I try to let go of all the genre limitations and play what I call regular music, full of elements of many different things such as jazz, pop and symphonic music. It is a very natural cocktail of ingredients of my current 2015 life and I try to use these ingredients in a responsible way.

Tell us about your new album, Left Tokyo Right. You visited Japan for the first time in 2012, what was it like? I definitely fell in love with it immediately, the culture and the people, but it was not my first thought that my next album would be about Japan. I was offered an artist residency in Tokyo. I was there for three and a half weeks, so I was more in touch with the city, although still quite far from understanding it fully. The album title refers to the contrasts in Tokyo – ‘right’ is the old, traditional Asakusa district and ‘left’ are Tokyo’s super-modern Akihabara and Shibuya districts, the ‘new’ Japan. How did you express this in the music? The title track, Left Tokyo Right, starts with my version of what could have been a European jazz quartet playing j-pop. Then

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Discover Benelux & France | Introducing | Pascal Schumacher

during the second part, everything breaks away and it gets more spatial and spiritual and I use different effects. This is one of the songs where I combine two different worlds, but not all tracks have this. There is also a disco song, which is more modern, and there is a track called Wabi-Sabi, a Japanese term that describes the beauty of something imperfect. Have you used any oriental influences on the album? I never wanted to copy anything Japanese because I am a responsible musician from Europe. I used elements of Japanese culture and how these reflected on me while was there, how it made me feel. I also refused the request from the record company to do a song with only Japanese musicians. I know that would have been a bad idea, it would not get what I am and what I want to be.

You’ve done several albums under the name Pascal Schumacher Quartet as well as various collaborations. This being your first solo album, how is it different from your previous work? I started my very first album when I was still a student and the following records came very fast after another. Now I have had a three year break from releasing new albums and this helped me to find myself much more. As it’s only Pascal Schumacher, it brings it more to me as a person and I think this makes it a stronger concept. Also, maybe making it was a little less democratic, but we all know democracy has its limits, so maybe it’s good to bring in different things. Talking about different things, you’ve included some interesting instruments on the album. There is Aliénor Mancep on harp, Magic Malik who plays the

flute, saxophonist Sylvain Rifflet and trumpet player Verneri Pohjola. Why did you chose these musicians? I used the harp in two symphony pieces I had written before, and I very much like the combination of the harp and the vibraphone. For the other instruments, I chose Malik because I like his way of making music, this goes as well for Verneri and Sylvain. I was looking for musically strong personalities who had made an impact on me before. I wanted to put these guys together to see what would happen.

See Pascal Schumacher live: 14 May, Jazz sous les Pommiers, Coutances (France) 16 May, Like A Jazzmachine, Dudelange (Luxembourg) 29 May,Gretchen, Berlin (Germany) 30 May, ELBJAzz (two shows), Hamburg (Germany) See for information and more dates.

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Discover Benelux & France | Hotel of the Month | The Netherlands


An unforgettable welcome awaits Located along one of Amsterdam’s picturesque canals and at a stone’s throw away from the bustling city centre, the boutique Hotel Estheréa is the perfect starting point to discovering the Dutch capital. With its colourful and stylish decoration and welcoming interior, the hotel will instantly feel like a second home. TEXT: MyRIAM GWyNNED DIJCK | PHOTOS: HOTEL ESTHERéA

“We want to create a family atmosphere and combine luxurious elements such as mahogany panelling and crystal chandeliers with personal touches such as colourful wallpaper and cosy, woollen carpets and lots of plants and spectacular fresh flowers,” says Arjan Janssen, who works at Hotel Estheréa. Going against the trend of using the clean and minimalist interior designs of many international hotel chains, Estheréa combines a cosy, vibrant interior with a personal and friendly service. Every detail is taken care of at the hotel, from the luxurious fabrics, to the exquisite tableware and elegant paintings and portraits in Maria’s bar (named after the hotel’s founder).

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Each room has a unique colour scheme with matching chandeliers and bed linen. To add to the distinctive interior, the hotel has lush patio gardens with a koi pond, a library and a cosy lounge. Furthermore, its bar is open 24 hours a day and serves delicious cocktails in the evenings.

band. The initial guesthouse counted 12 rooms, but over the years she acquired several of the other neighbouring houses. Estheréa, a combination of the names of her three daughters, Esther, Elly and Ria, is still in family hands and is currently run by the third generation.

“We continually improve and update our interior to keep it interesting and fresh for our guests. The one thing that never changes is our attention to detail and homely, welcoming approach with a nod to the past to encompass the history of the hotel,” Janssen adds.

Janssen says: “In the nearly 75 years of our existence the initial simple guesthouse was transformed into a unique boutique hotel. By now, it consists of eight connected buildings all built in the 17th century.”

The hotel was set up in 1942 by Maria Flieger-Gruyters after the death of her hus-

Adding a rare element to the hotel experience is the fact that every guest receives a tablet to use in the hotel during their stay. Via the hotel’s app, guests can find

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Discover Benelux & France | Hotel of the Month | The Netherlands

recommended restaurants nearby, get the latest weather forecasts and find out about events in the city. “We have had this for a while now, but as far as I know, we are one of the very few hotels in Amsterdam who offer this. Our app gives up to date information and is more flexible and timely than printed flyers. It also helps to get rid of all the paperwork that guests may read once and throw away,” Janssen explains. Around the corner from Hotel Estheréa, guests can find the lively Negen Straatjes (The Nine Little Streets). This group of nine intersecting streets in between several of Amsterdam’s main canals is the ideal place

to find a special souvenir in the many shops, boutiques and vintage outlets. The narrow streets also offer plenty of options for a relaxing coffee break in the cafes. The four-star Hotel Estheréa is located on the Singel in Amsterdam. Visit their website for bookings and more information.

An extra welcoming stay Hotel Estheréa offers special benefits for returning guests who book directly via, this includes a late check-out and a free breakfast.

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Photo: C. Chillio

Photo: C. Chillio

Photo: P. Carrese

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Discover Benelux & France | Mini Theme | PACA: A Land of Wonders


A land of wonders Bordered by the Mediterranean shores and comprising of six different departments in southeastern France, the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur (PACA) region is an exceptional land appreciated for the beauty of its landscapes and the quality of its lifestyle. Blue skies, hilltop villages, lavender scents, vineyards as far as the eye can see and a most remarkable historical heritage, these qualities make it a truly idyllic holiday destination. TEXT: BETTINA GUIRKINGER | PHOTOS: COMITÉ REGIONAL DE TOURISME

It was the dreamy lavender fields and the sophistication of the French Riviera that first captivated the imagination of artists such Van Gogh, Picasso and Peter Mayle. They contributed to shed light on its sheer beauty and enchantment, and turned it into a major tourist attraction as early as the 1920s.

Nature Apart from being the third most populated and third richest region of France, it also has one of the most unique natural features of the territory. One of them is the majestic Gorges du Verdon - Europe’s largest canyon made of an immense ensemble of limestone cliffs reaching up to 700 metres in height and overlooking large turquoise lakes. Further north in the Alps are the breathtakingly beautiful Mercantour and écrins national parks, where you can find some of the richest fauna and flora in Europe. In the South West area, the Rhône delta supports a vast ecosystem of marshes and lagoons known as the Camargue, home to colonies of flamingos and wild horses. With six natural parks

spreading around the region, nature-lovers will find their fill of hikes, bike paths and horse riding circuits.

Cities worth a detour Colonised in 46 B.C. by Julius Caesar himself, the picturesque city of Arles is the meeting point of photography enthusiasts at the yearly international summer gathering hosted among the Roman ruins. With all monuments dating from the Roman Empire classified as part of the UNESCO World Heritage list, there are more than enough memories to catch on film at sunset. The first French port and a historical baggage of 26 centuries of existence, Marseilles stays true to its traditions of commerce and sun-gorging terraces. Famous for its old port, the city offers a stark contrast between the hustle and bustle of its inner city centre with the quiet charm of its old neighbourhoods. Avignon, the unmissable historical town, home to the Palace of the Popes, medieval battlements and birthplace of an

iconic bridge that has been sung about by generations of French children for centuries. Avignon also offers delectable wine tasting of its finest bottles such as Châteauneuf-du-Pape or the Côtes-duRhône.

The French Riviera While St Tropez is probably the ever-fashionable meeting point for celebrities and millionaires, beyond the glitter of its nightclubs, yacht-packed shores and luxury villas, it offers seducing walks among secluded beaches and windswept cliffs. As for Nice, its historic quarters, Russian basilica and beautiful sea front stretch known as ‘la Promenade des Anglais’, make it a compulsory stop along the French coast. Also, don’t miss the world famous Cannes Film Festival, which will be celebrating its 68th edition from 13 to 24 May this year. For this Mini Theme - PACA: A Land of Wonders we have hand-picked businesses that make some of the best products the region has the offer: exquisite wines. Turn to the next pages to find out more.

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Discover Benelux & France | Mini Theme | PACA: A Land of Wonders

Back to the (delicious) future Château Font du Broc is paradoxical: its intriguing wines and stunning architecture are deeply rooted in Provençal tradition, yet both are of relatively recent vintage. In a single generation one man’s vision has created something that feels like a millennium in the making. TEXT: MARTIN PILKINGTON | PHOTOS: COURTESy OF CHâTEAU FONT DU BROC

The best place to evaluate the hopes and ambitions of a winery is in its cellars. A walk around Château Font du Broc’s vaulted cave tells a story. Sylvain Massa, the man behind the arrival of Château Font du Broc on the wine scene, is no dabbling hobbyist. The vast space was built with ancient stones in a style reminiscent of the Cistercian monasteries, that will still stand when most of this century’s monuments have tumbled. It’s a legacy, not a project. The vineyard’s owner, who also makes his home at the property, summarises his philosophy about the wine: “May my vines be raised with endless care, my wine looked after with infinite attention. Never should there be any resort to short-cuts or shady

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strategies on the road to quality. That’s my commitment.”

Short history, long view Massa bought the land in the hills, that are a 25-minute drive from the coast, in 1979. It was originally dedicated to his primary passion, a stud farm raising horses that featured in competitions around the world, including the Olympics. But when a fire ravaged the region in 1988 he saw the opportunity to create something new out of the ashes, a vineyard in true Provençal style. “The vines we grow were chosen as being typical of the region, and thus suited to the

‘terroir’ here and our excellent climate,” says Matthias Buissé, the château’s commercial manager: “And as is frequently the case in this area we grow quite a range of grapes to produce red, white and rosé wines. Our whites use only Rolle grapes, a local favourite that makes a wonderfully refreshing wine.” In 2013 the property achieved organic certification, which was no easy task. “We decided this was the right option for several reasons,” explains Buissé. “It respects the land of course, and it has to be said that there’s great interest in organic wines from connoisseurs. But it also fits what we want to do in a wider way: Monsieur

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Massa is passionate about the natural world, so we have ponds and olive groves and gardens, not just endless vines here.” He continues: “Adapting to organic winemaking has also brought the taste of the wines nearer now to the traditional styles of the area, with the negligible use of sulphites for example, allowing the fruity flavours of our reds to come through better; and the way the vines are tended is in part a return to the methods of several generations ago. The wines are refined in style, with very marked varietal characteristics.”

A warm and civilised welcome Above the cellars and their huge oak barrels stands the Château, its pink-tiled roof emblematic of the region, the honeyedstone walls as warm as a June day here. It belongs to the country. Accordingly the whole domaine feels at ease and welcoming, characteristics not arrived at accidentally, but certainly enjoyed by the wedding parties and business gatherings hosted now at the Château.

“Everything has been built using the right materials, the best materials, old stone, weathered beams, terracotta tiles that fit the region and the terroir, just like our wines,” says Buissé. “We decided to incorporate into the plans created with our architects the idea that the space could be used for receptions and meetings, so we can for example accommodate up to 450 people for a meal in the covered space that is at other times the covered manège. Additionally there’s a room that takes 200 people, ideal for weddings, with fine French gardens in front. We work with about ten traiteurs so couples marrying have a choice of top quality suppliers in tune with the area and with whom we’ve built up good working relationships.”

“Along with the meeting there will usually be a meal catered by one of the traiteurs we recommend, so it’s a social thing, not just business,” says Buissé. “Very often there’ll be a wine tasting arranged as part of the day too. you can see people who’ve been in tough talks visibly relax with a glass or two of our wines. For some reason it’s a particularly popular part of the experience!”

Location, location, location With St Tropez and Saint-Maxime a half an-hour drive away and beautiful historic villages far closer, the Château’s location helps in attracting business meetings, but the prospect of sampling some Font du Broc wine may also exert a little influence:

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Discover Benelux & France | Mini Theme | PACA: A Land of Wonders

Rosé wines and blue blood The wines, the land and the architecture of Château les Crostes are all very true to local tradition, but the domain is now home to members of Luxembourg’s Grand Ducal family. TEXT: MARTIN PILKINGTON | PHOTOS: CHATEAU LES CROSTES

Château les Crostes has built links with the Benelux countries over decades, exporting its wines to high-end outlets like Brasserie le Phare in Knokke, the Sart Tilman Royal Golf Club and Mamy Louise in Brussels. But when the owner’s daughter Claire married Prince Félix of Luxembourg two years ago, those links became markedly closer, the couple opting to make the domaine their home and to take a hand in its running.

“Since then the wine has established an excellent reputation,” says sales director Linda Schaller-Gallet. “Our main offering is the Côte de Provence rosé. Delicate, very elegant, easy drinking wines perfect as aperitifs and through lighter meals. They show the expected regional qualities but have a character special to the domaine: fruity but not overly so, and some fine mineral notes.”

It’s easy to understand that choice. The property is beautiful in itself, surrounded by vast forests and a stroll away from the medieval town of Lorgues, with Tourtour, Provence’s celebrated ‘village in the skies’ nearby too, and the Mediterranean coast half-an-hour by car. And then there’s the wine.

Developing wines with characters unique to the property has been helped by the continuity provided by Ted Garin, the head oenologist who has worked there for 21 years, and Schaller-Gallet, present for just five years fewer. Les Crostes also produces red and white wines, the latter with the Rolle grapes, a much favoured variety in the area: “And we make a small quantity of méthode traditionnelle sparkling rosé, Cuvée Claire, named for the owner’s daughter, who is now Princess Claire and the chatelaine here,” says Schaller-Gallet.

The wine business here dates from the middle of the last century. When a severe frost decimated its olive groves, the previous owner opted to replace most with vines.

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A formidable list of Luxembourg restaurants stock the results of Garin’s skills. It would be hard to imagine a more apt way for their patrons to have celebrated the marriage of Prince Félix than with a glass of Château les Crostes rosé, especially perhaps of Cuvée Claire.

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Discover Benelux & France | Cover Feature | Junkie XL


Hollywood’s new musical genius Scoring blockbuster films, creating a worldwide hit and working with Hollywood’s top composers; there is nothing multi-instrumentalist Junkie XL cannot do. After a successful run as an artist, he has now turned to the world of film, where his career as a film composer is taking rapid flight. TEXT: MyRIAM GWyNNED DIJCK | PHOTOS: COSTA COMMUNICATIONS / JUNKIE XL

Music has been a major part of Junkie XL’s life (real name, Tom Holkenborg), his mother was a music teacher and violinist and his father was a talented harmonica player. As a child growing up in Lichtenvoorde, the Netherlands, he started playing the piano and the drum set when he was very young. He played in various school bands and took a job in a music store by the time he was 16. “Many synthesizers and music computers hit the market in the period of 1984-1985. From that moment I fully dove into the world of music,” he recalls. By the late 1980s he landed his first international record deal and started touring the world. In 1997 he released his first Junkie XL album. “By the mid ‘90s I got really interested in music for video games and films, and I slowly tried to see what it would be like to do this.” It wasn’t until 2002, after his hit A Little Less Conversation came out, that he really turned to the film industry. The Elvis remix became a number one song in 27 countries and was a turning point in Junkie XL’s career, as well as in his personal life. “This was a very emotional time for me, I lost both my mother and my sister that same year. It was very intense. I decided to do something radically different, and moved to Los Angeles.”

Entering Hollywood In Los Angeles, Junkie XL made the con-

scious decision not to use his fame as an artist to pitch himself as a fully-fledged composer. With much still to learn about the trade, he made the choice to start at the very bottom of the ladder. “I worked as an assistant for a well-known composer and slowly I learned everything and I studied a lot. At the same time I was still busy with my Junkie XL career,” he says, reminiscing the strange double life he had from 2002 to 2006. “During that period I had a number one hit, a Grammy nomination and did a song with Madonna, but at the same time I was a composer’s assistant. It was not glamorous at all, but I did learn a lot.” His tenacity certainly wasn’t in vain. Around five years ago, Oscar-winning composer Hans zimmer, (famous for films such as The Dark Knight, Pirates of the Caribbean, Inception and The Lion King) called Junkie XL out of the blue. “When he called he said, ‘everyone says I need to meet you but I have no idea who you are!’ So I came round to his house and we connected immediately,” he remembers. Starting by doing small assignments for zimmer, the collaboration grew and turned into a very fruitful partnership. In 2013, on Man of Steel, they did the score in full collaboration. “We worked very closely together for two years and then my career as a film composer really took off,” he says. Currently, Junkie XL and zimmer are work-

ing on the highly anticipated Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice movie, due to be released in 2016.

The artist and the composer While Junkie XL feels he has more creative freedom as a composer, it is also a much more demanding job. “There is a lot of music that I made for films that if I’d put them on a record, people would think I’m nuts or wouldn’t listen to it, but in the films they have a beautiful role,” he says, but explains that being a film composer is not for everyone, even if you are very talented. “The pressure and stress is enormous, and the days are very long. Sometimes I work 16 hours a day, at months on end, including weekends.” But thanks to his long career in music and extensive experience, Junkie XL has found a way to manage the workload. “Many times in my life I thought to myself, ‘I work so hard I don’t think I can handle it any more’. When I look back now, 15 years later, I think 'boy, did I have an easy ride'. It was just in my head that I couldn’t handle it,” he says. “It gets much easier when you’ve done it many times, and age also helps. you don’t really see film composers of 22 years old in LA, they don’t exist.” His fame in the music scene also helped him to land jobs, or set up meetings with directors because they knew of him

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through his music. But it also had a downside. “you get a stigma of what kind of musician you are: ‘isn’t that the guy that makes club music? We don’t need that for this film, we want a string orchestra’,” he says. “I’ve had to fight against this for 20 years now, and I still hit this problem now and again. But I’ve built up a big network here and I just did six big movies, so now I’m known to everyone as Tom, the serious composer that you can ask for anything.”

Scoring a movie Having recently finished Hollywood blockbusters such as 300: Rise of an Empire, Divergent and Run All Night, his career is certainly taken a leap. But big movies by famous directors is not the thing he looks for in a project and variety is also important. “I love films with very strong characters that appeal to my imagination,” he reveals. “If you look at the films I did in the last five years, they are all over the spectrum; from Man of Steel, a DC Comic, big action movie to the Dutch drama, De Gelukkige

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Huisvrouw and I just finished a British satirical comedy called Kill Your Friends, based on the book, and now Mad Max will be released, a sort of rock opera.”

look at the suspension arc in the movie; and how much do you show musically at the start and how do you end it. you try to tell a whole story via music.”

Junkie XL explains that for a film composer there are two different types of project, one where the film is nearly finished and the director knows exactly what they want, and one where the composer is involved at a very early stage. He says: “This is when a director wants to discuss ideas with you. you develop musical concepts that he can deliberate on and sometimes even play it to the actors, to show: this is the kind of music we have in mind during this scene.”

Curiosity and inspiration

Close contact with the director is very important to eventually come up with a score that will convince them, which takes a lot of back and forth communication. “First you search for the right feeling in the music, then you put it under a scene and then you see how it works with the dialogue and the setting,” he says. “Also you need to

Despite his long portfolio, inspiration for new music is never hard to find; from doing new things, to reading the script or simply hearing a film title. “When I was initially asked if I was interested in Mad Max, immediately, all kinds of things exploded in my head, and I didn’t even know the storyline,” he recalls. “I’m naturally very curious. I often buy new instruments and try to learn to play them and always look for new things to try out. This urge keeps me fresh.” This also includes changing up his everyday life now and then. “I always look for things that are different, that place me in a new setting. I’m also someone who needs my studio, where I work, to be changed every year, so it feels like I’m somewhere new again.”

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Discover Benelux & France | Cover Feature | Junkie XL

Finding novel sounds is also an important source of inspiration, and Junkie XL is not afraid to create some instruments of his own. “For 300: Rise of an Empire, we bought an old piano and cut away the entire casing with an axe. What is left is a sort of piano harp; a metal contraption with strings. We placed this in a new casing and turned it into a sort of giant guitar. I connected it to amplifiers with guitar effects and played it with timpani sticks or with my hands,” he explains.

The crazy world of Mad Max George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road is one of Junkie XL’s recent projects, which will hit the international cinema scene this May. The film is set in an apocalyptic future world, where parts of the Earth are turned into scorching deserts and it's chaos that rules the population. Protagonist Max (Tom Hardy) and Furiosa (Charlize Theron) enter on an explosive and dangerous journey to restore order. To fit these fiery visuals and volatile storylines, Junkie XL decided to pull out all the stops. “I literally used every single instrument I had at my disposal in the score. From drums to world music, to strings to a huge choir to woodwinds and synthesisers, sound designs, guitars, bass, sitars, you name it.” To make the sounds even grander he used a 26-strong brass section and a 68-strong string section, far bigger than you’d see in any orchestra. “Because it is so theatrical, the music had to compete with the violent visuals. you just can’t get away with a simple string quartet or a flute and a harp. you have to think over the top, and that is what we did.” Finally, we ask him if there is anything on his professional bucket list that he hasn’t already done. “I would love to do a cool scifi movie, like 2001: A Space Odyssey or Star Wars, that would be incredible,” he muses. J.J. Abrams, are you listening? RIGHT: Mad Max: Fury Road with Tom Hardy. Photos: Jasin Boland © 2015 Village Roadshow Films (Bvi) Limited

Mad Max: Fury Road is released globally on 14 May.

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Discover Benelux & France | Special Theme | Interior Design Solutions

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Discover Benelux & France | Special Theme | Interior Design Solutions



Dutch interior design solutions Interior design is thriving all over the world, but if there is one place that demands our immediate attention, it’s the Netherlands. Here, innovative minds combine pure artistry with functionality and comfort, leaving no customer’s wishes unfulfilled. This Special Theme highlights some of the most mind-bending interiors and modern solutions, companies that are not just following the current path, they are creating one of their own. By CAROLINE EDWARDS | PRESS PHOTOS

The demand for well-functioning interior solutions is greater than ever. Modern technology and progress has given way to a new generation of innovative solutions within the field of interior design, giving more people the opportunity to purchase top-quality products. Starting with your home and moving onto something as crucial as bedding and radiant lamp designs, the Dutch truly live up to their reputation in a field that never stands still. From identitycreating designs to top-notch furniture and unique oriental tearooms, practicality meets playfulness in an energising blend.

tors when it comes to finding the right design solutions, they are also on the forefront when it comes to selling their products. Why do things the old way, when there is a better and more efficient method available?

When you combine the perks of modern technology with a fresh, cutting-edge attitude, you have a Dutch interior design company. The Netherlands certainly has a lot to add to the international design scene. Read on to find out why.

Pioneering strategies are being put forward. It’s the Dutch way of doing things, and it’s working. Feeling at ease in the places where we live and work is vital, not just for our bodies but for our minds as well. Interiors need to tick all the boxes and beauty can no longer stand alone. As this Special Theme will prove, these companies are not only innova-

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An exercise in interior design Creating efficient and intuitive homes is the objective of the innovative Rotterdam-based Interior Issues. Its principle notion of ‘practicality and functionality first, followed by the designer’s artistry’ results in interiors of any scale that are agreeable, relaxing and more than fitting for the user. TEXT: EMMIE COLLINGE | PHOTOS: INTERIOR ISSUES

Do you know the feeling of returning home, slinging the keys down and plonking the post on the kitchen table? We all know that dumping our possessions haphazardly around our homes isn’t productive, but we do little to resolve the issue, prompting shouts of ‘where are my keys?’ and ‘what did you do with yesterday’s post?’ Fortunately, there are solutions to this disorganised chaos, you just need a little direction.

Get more out of existing space This is where Sven van Buuren enters the scene. The knowledgeable 35-year old interior architect founded Interior Issues in 2010 as a response to the growing demand for home improvements. People decided to renovate, extend, or refurnish, he

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explains, and this is where his substantial expertise slots in perfectly. “People often believe that an extension is the answer to their spatial problems, complaining their house is cramped. But there’s usually a reason behind this alleged lack of space and I intend to find it. There’s nothing I enjoy more than providing solutions.”

mind and guarantees that the following day will have one less stress factor,” he explains. His solution: wisely crafted furniture, plenty of handy but stylish toy boxes and smart hallway storage solutions to name but a few. But, he adds, every projects is different and no two solutions are ever the same.

Adhering to the popular American timemanagement system of ‘getting things done’, Van Buuren recognises the value of tidiness and the positive influences this has on an individual’s approach to life and work. “Having specific places for items in the home, whether it’s when you’re home from work and emptying your pockets, or tidying up the kids’ toys as they go to bed, the visual impact of the tidiness frees your

Expert in interiors After graduating in 2007, Van Buuren immediately found work at a prominent Dutch interior design firm, Bullhorst Architecten Stedenbouwers, which was followed by a lengthy stint at Keijsers Interior Projects. These experiences not only enriched his portfolio and introduced him to various approaches to residential interior design and hospitality design (a further field of expert-

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Discover Benelux & France | Special Theme | Interior Design Solutions

ise), but also built up a network of contacts and fine-tuned his skills, developing a highly considered way of working and becoming known for his refined and sophisticated style. Designing custom-made smart furniture or (re)moving walls excites Van Buuren, and he’s got a veritable wealth of professionals within the interior design world with whom he collaborates on projects. Testament to his vast network, Van Buuren also heads one of the world’s largest interior design groups on LinkedIn connecting over 60,000 professionals. Subsequently, the result of each project that Interior Issues undertakes is unique, drawing on the particular aesthetic of both its users and their immediate surroundings for design inspiration.

The focal point For the Rotterdam-based designer, practicality is the first priority, closely followed by beauty. “Think about what’s in your vision at eye level when you’re on the sofa, or at

the dining room table. What do you see? Every function you perform in your house, be it sitting, eating or relaxing, needs its own focal point, whether it’s the view, a vertical garden, the fireplace or even the television. We’re often overloaded and this can be stressful. Introducing one singular focal point is a potential stress-reducer.” On the website of Interior Issues, Van Buuren encourages potential clients to download the free ‘WoonAnalyse’, a step-bystep guide in either Dutch or English that prompts you to analyse your living space from various perspectives. “Often this is enough to spark clients to undertake their own changes, inspiring them to alter the position of furniture or change the layout of a room,” continues Van Buuren. “What’s the best way to get from the front door to the kitchen when you’re laden down with shopping?”

quires an expert touch. “After the WoonAnalyse, I arrange an ‘Interior Scan’ with the client, discussing the most suitable approach. It varies from a gentle nudge to an entire renovation.” Getting to the root of the client’s wishes remains at the core, and a brief glance at Van Buuren’s completed projects to date is testament to the fact that this is one designer who really listens to his clients. Not confined to trends or fleeting styles, Van Buuren is a logical thinker, one who creates space in otherwise cluttered homes and one who creates areas of relaxation where once stress reigned. The company name does it a disservice in fact, as Interior Issues has the potential to improve far more than just the visual aesthetics of your home.

Such simple actions can spark noticeable improvements, but often the solution re-

Photo: Venuez Magazine

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Discover Benelux & France | Special Theme | Interior Design Solutions

SNURK’s beddings are playful, elegant, sturdy and fit in modern homes perfectly

Elegant and playful Diving into your bed and indulging in soft and beautiful high quality bedding. Who wouldn’t want to do that each night? SNURK designs playful yet elegant beddings for many different bed sizes. TEXT: JANINE STERENBORG | PHOTOS: TIM STET

SNURK’s bedding stands out for its high quality cotton, unique photographic prints and clean designs. “We aim for the best of the best in every possible aspect,” explains co-founder Peggy van Neer. This is visible and tangible: the fabric is strong, yet soft and the designs are one of a kind. Every print on the beddings originated from an idea of Van Neer. “I could never find a bedding to my taste,” she explains. “Most bedding prints included flowers and stripes. Quite boring, if you ask me!” SNURK’s designs are mainly white and are always serene and playful. “The designs we make for kids are like that as well. The most common designs for kids are uneasy and filled up with bright colours, they have no character.” SNURK's approach is different. “We

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take the way children experience the world more seriously by focusing on their dreams. To become an astronaut, for instance. Plus, our designs fit in a stylish home.” All prints involve more work than you can imagine. “For every design I conduct a lot of research and I am always looking for collaborations to attain the highest attainable standard, by connecting with excellent partners.” The ballerina design for instance, was made with help from the Dutch National Ballet. “They helped me select a tutu and a ballerina from the ballet who posed for the photographic print.” It is clear: only the best is good enough for SNURK. SNURK came into life in 2007, when Van Neer’s partner Erik van Loo had the chance

to help execute the first of Van Neer’s many ideas: a sheet with cardboard box print. “It became a big success. We collaborated with a foundation for homeless youth that gets part of the profit.” When conducting this project, Van Neer and Van Loo noticed a high demand for high quality bedding with a playful look, so they continued with more designs. “SNURK beddings are fun, playful, sturdy and down to earth. That’s who we are and what we stand for!” SNURK ships all over the world, the designs are available in many different sizes, and besides beddings, SNURK also designs cushions, in SNURK style of course!

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Translating design In our surroundings, the places where we live and work, there is a need to feel good and at ease. At the same time they have to be functional and practical. According to Gerrit Schilder and Hill Scholte, founding partners of SchilderScholte Architects, this is achieved in their designs by listening carefully to their clients so that they get the question behind the question. TEXT: BERTHE VAN DEN HURK | PHOTOS: RONALD TILLEMAN (zENS), KWIKzILVER (OFFICE)

Over the years SchilderScholte have shown the logical coherence between the disciplines of architecture, interior design and furniture design. They see themselves as translating designers. SchilderScholte Architects always wants to create an environment that shows who the client is. Schilder: “The final product must be pleasant, comfortable and useful. It must become an experience. This is essential to our interior designs. In our view, no assignment or client is the same and thus the motive and starting point to the specific task.” “Architecture is made for functionality,” adds Scholte. “We start designing from the inside out. We encourage our clients to

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not picture the outside first but share their dream of the interior. For us functionality begins inside the building.” SchilderScholte’s work focuses especially on spatial experience and emotion in which innovation, functionality and durability play a significant role. Scholte: “Each translation of the client's brief into a unique and refined design is a wonderful challenge.”

Zens showroom The translating design skills are clearly visible at the zens showroom in Amsterdam. The award winning Chinese high-end design brand zens Oriental Lifestyle Design wanted to expand their market to Europe. Their product line of ceramics and glassware products is a reflection of oriental cul-

ture with contemporary sensibilities. This year the brand received a prestigious Red Dot Award for a travel tea set designed for BMW. zens asked SchilderScholte Architects to create their first European zens showroom. Hundreds of soft green-blue wooden bars along the walls and ceiling embrace the visitor in this modest yet very stylish showroom. SchilderScholte architects designed a sacral-like atmosphere as a reflection of the sophisticated collection of this Asian design brand. Scholte: “It became a trendy place in the city center, a display for beautiful things. The shop does not necessarily exist for sale only; it is an actual showroom. zens Lifestyle wants the visitor to

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Discover Benelux & France | Special Theme | Interior Design Solutions

feel and experience something special and exceptional; reflecting the brand’s philosophy. In only 32 square meters we created such an experience.” Schilder and Scholte translated and combined the Chinese tea culture with western design. The architects initiated a special feature, a mural (by artist Roger Cremers) painted with different strengths of Chinese tea. Schilder: “Chinese and European retail concepts merge in this store. It should move you.”

Pani community centre Another project close to the hearts of Schilder and Scholte is their pro bono project Pani community centre in Rajarhat, Bangladesh. Scholte: “The starting point for this project was: ‘What can we learn from another culture?’ Together with only local craftsmen and materials (as well as close to zero electricity), we’ve realised a regional vocational school. The building has everything; classrooms, a workshop with a store, collective lavatories with a courtyard and a water pump for the local people.”

She continues: “Everything is placed under one large corrugated iron roof supported by a bamboo frame. The final design has only a western nuance. It’s like a large house composed out of separate buildings. Children can play and locals can gather and shelter from the rain and sun for example. It’s hyper-functional, but a public friendly building for the whole area.” The design of the Pani community centre is a finalist for the 2015 Az Award in Toronto, Canada.

Design without finery SchilderScholte Architects designs from a human functional vision. A purposeful dialogue with the client or user is indispensable. Orientation, well-being, material expression and colours have an important role in their work. “‘Ordinary’ can also be ‘particularly,’” says Scholte. “Less truly is more sometimes. We want to create wonderful places for the user(s), places that makes someone happy and proud. Not so long ago, we were asked to create the interior of a vastly growing communications company in Rotterdam. They wanted the office to be industrial as well as homey. We came up with the plan to create a huge room divider (32 metres long, 3.2 metres high), constructed from several hundred Ikea Lack tables. With these simple square tables we were able to divide the space for different uses, without losing the spacious feeling, and still keep the corporate identity in the design.” Besides the special room divider they also created an exceptional floor pattern. The carpeting throughout the office represents the Rotterdam skyline. Schilder: “There must be recognition. As a result we believe our designs should achieve a sense of happiness and meets the need. All we really want is making our client happy.”

Gerrit Schilder and Hill Scholte

Award winning design by zens

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Quality designer furniture made accessible is taking the furniture industry by storm. With their innovative way of selling stylish and high quality designer products at low prices online, it is little wonder orders are going through the roof. TEXT: MyRIAM GWyNNED DIJCK | PHOTOS: MADE.COM

What makes unique is the fact that it doesn’t hold any unnecessary inventory. All orders are sent to the factories once a week where the items are made as requested. Julien Callede, co-founder and chief operations officer, says: “Having no inventory keeps cost down because we don’t need large warehouses for storage. It is also more sustainable, if a product doesn’t sell then we’re not left with hundreds of chairs that then become wastage.” This dynamic production strategy means can continuously update its product range, adding new collections every week, at a low risk. Popular items will remain available and less popular ones are eventually phased out. “We add two completely new collections to the site every week. This keeps the range fresh and attracts new customers to our brand,” Callede says.

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Working closely together with factories located all over the world, has the entire supply chain in their own hands. “We can operate with very reduced margins because we cut out the middle men, the traders and agents. This is why we are on average 50 per cent cheaper than high street stores but we don’t have to compromise on quality and design,” Callede adds.

“We actually get very few items returned to us.” After starting five years ago with just two products, a table and a chair, the catalogue now counts over a thousand items. It recently also launched in Italy, France, Germany and the Netherlands.

While has recently opened a new flagship showroom in London, all products are bought directly from the website. Therefore Callede and his team make sure the online images do the products justice. “We invest a lot in our photography making sure we don’t undersell or oversell an item. Moreover, we offer customers free fabric samples so they can feel the texture and see the colour in real life,” he says.

Thinking outside the box just launched a new platform in the United Kingdom called ‘Unboxed’. Here, customers can upload photos of the product they bought to show how it fits in their homes and to inspire others. The feature will soon also be available in mainland Europe.

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Discover Benelux & France | Special Theme | Interior Design Solutions

Bespoke rugs and radiant lamp designs TEXT: CAROLE EDRICH | PHOTOS: DESIGNJUICE

Made By Hand acquired the original lighting designs of the ‘50s, reinvigorating them with modern quality production methods. In the same way, Limited Edition creates luxury carpets combining Belgian craftsmanship with global influences. Rather than decorative accessories, these rugs and lighting designs are the vital creators of your own special space. For Ann Debosschere, starting the Designjuice label was a natural evolution. She came into contact with Made By Hand during the ten years she worked for Limited Edition. It enabled her to design products for both companies, offering a contemporary portfolio of tried and tested excellence in Danish lighting and innovative Belgian carpets. It is clear from speaking to Debosschere, director of Designjuice, that she stands for

the quality of her products. “In my ideal home, of course, I would love to have most of the pieces by Designjuice and I do have some because they are so unique. Choosing just one of each is hard nonetheless the copper Workshop Lamp is my favourite. Originally created by A. Wedel-Madsen in 1951, it is a real classic and the copper gives it a nice warmth. My favourite rug is the Pinto Quality, it is an exclusive custom-made leather rug which comes in square patterns.” Designjuice’s clients come from all areas of business and Debosschere believes it is important that they choose the right carpets and lighting for their environment. Limited Edition carpets need just a single glance to attract attention, but that is only because they are the result of hours, sometimes even days, of intensive manual work. While the leather rugs are perfect for residential use, boutique shops and

hotels can also use them; not just on floors but also on walls or to cover doors and panels. Global brands such as Hugo Boss, IWC and Burberry are some examples of the many companies that work with Limited Edition. A woven rug, such as one from the Extreme or Groove collections, is made from luxurious and lavishly woven PVC broadloom, which works perfectly in commercial environments. The right lighting and carpets really finish a room or other interior spaces. Once you’ve selected your sofa and other furniture, it is the rug and the lighting that creates a particular atmosphere. Designjuice’s care to detail, belief in the importance of luxury and its product range of technically beautiful designs can help you achieve this.

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Interior design with a WOW effect WOW is not only the abbreviation of the Workshop of Wonders; it is also the reaction the owners want to evoke in their audience. By highlighting interior identity, owners Gerrit Vos and Jennemieke van der Schoot have managed to create a unique form of architecture and furnishing. TEXT: ROSANNE ROOBEEK | PHOTOS: : KASIA GATKOWSKA, JR IMAGEWORKS, CONDEPT AND MARUNI

The Workshop of Wonders is a high-end shop, integrated with their interior design studio in Utrecht, just south of Amsterdam. The shop showcases international top designers and brands seldom seen elsewhere.

Translating identities to interior Identity has been a central theme in private and professional modern life and also in the creations by Workshop of Won-

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ders. From the company's founding in 1993, Vos and his team have put creating and translating a fitting identity central to their interior and furniture designs. “Our residential clients, as well as our business clients, are individuals in their hopes, dreams and character. They want their surroundings to say something about themselves and their activities,” says Vos. By studying their private and

professional identity thoroughly, Vos creates ways to translate their uniqueness into the physical spaces they occupy. “The end-user is the focus of our studio. Where architects have their focus on the structural part and façade of buildings, it is the mission of an interior architect to focus on the person or community who will eventually make use of the space,” he adds. “It is our job to get under the

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Discover Benelux & France | Special Theme | Interior Design Solutions

Located at the heart of Utrecht, Workshop of Wonders creates a unique form of architecture and furnishing by highlighting interior identity and mixing traditional classics with innovative design and technology.

skin of our clients and to discover their DNA.” Vos explains how they tell spatial narratives, next to creating innovative office environments. Their projects for Nike for example focused on sport, competition and sporting equipment. Also heritage, like the history of Nike’s co-founder Bill Bowerman, gives them a great deal of material to design the new central ‘eat and meet’ area at Nike's European Headquarters in Hilversum.

ing collection, every show presents different aspects of the fascinating field of furniture and lighting design by telling stories of how the objects came to be designed, produced and from which sources they were made.

Creating memories Uniqueness of Workshop of Wonders What makes Workshop of Wonders distinctive is that their showroom is also used as their design studio. “Working in the gallery itself makes you get to know the ins and outs of the pieces much better,” says Van der Schoot.

Themed showroom Every three months, the Workshop of Wonders transforms their showroom based on a themed exhibit. Their current show Northern Delights, which can be seen till 31 May 2015, features new creations from Northern Europe, including Denmark’s Noergaard-Kechays, Stefan Diez of Germany and the Netherlands (eQ+, Jacco Maris and NotOnlyWhite). But with the Grand Départ of the Tour de France taking place in Utrecht this summer, the duo promises that the next showroom will have a completely French character. Making use of the numerous brands and designers that contribute to their furnish-

Japanese craft products find their roots in a Scandinavian tradition. Like in our interiors, it is a mix between the classics and innovative design and technology,” Vos says.

“Instead of ordering stock, we’d rather invest in our partners and their brands via the different shows. you can see our showroom as a 3D business card,” Van der Schoot adds. In their collection they have great classics from Danish designer Hans Wegner from the ‘50s and the newest creations by the French Bouroullec brothers. Workshop of Wonders is also the only dealer in the Netherlands to sell the exclusive brand Maruni Wood Industry from Japan. “Maruni offers a contemporary translation of pieces from the ‘50s and ‘60s. It is thrilling to see that these new

Workshop of Wonders is about creating memories and designing experiences. Interior architecture and furniture design form the medium to express a part of the emotions that people feel, a tool to connect with the wants and necessities of living. Workshop of Wonders is a studio that desires to translate immaterial matters as directly as possible into a tangible environment. “We want to see the character of the users reflected in our spaces,” Vos says. The duo does not limit itself to residential and office environments for their clients. It is also active in the space in between. They will also remain focused on hospitality in the future, in which they can express their love for the good life. Therefore, we can expect wonderful hotels, restaurants and spas, all with a special WOW effect.

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Discover Benelux & France | Architecture | Atelier DCCP


Founded in 2011 by two ambitious young women, Pauline Cabouret and Caroline Delolmo, Atelier DCCP Architectes stands out for its multidisciplinary approach to every project it undertakes. Based in Paris, the duo has built on their national and international experience bringing creative solutions to new challenges, and they are on the lookout for more. With the breadth of projects ranging from renovation and urban planning to private constructions, Atelier DCCP puts its creative energy into bringing to life a structure that is tailored to the client’s needs. From initial sketches to the end result, Cabouret and Delolmo aim to engage their clients in a dynamic architectural adventure of cocreation. Their expertise is expressed through building a space that fits its environment, bringing together simple and authentic materials which remains timeless. From graduating at the architectural school of Versailles in France, the complementary

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nature of the duo was the reason that brought them to establish Atelier DCCP after extensive experience on different projects spread over France, Colombia, Italy and Spain. Joining forces, they demonstrated their capabilities when they won the competition to work on the expansion of the Buenos Aires Museum of Contemporary Arts. Playing with light and shadow, a wooden structure was put into place to take visitors into an indoor/outdoor environment that guarantees a comfortable temperature throughout the year, mixing gardens and exhibits. As for the project ‘Maison V’, it turned a former stable into a modern living space. Rising to the challenge, the team put emphasis on keeping the soul of the space alive through incorporating original elements into the new décor: the horse feeders were turned into bathroom sinks and the saddle holders became the separation between the bedroom and the bathroom. An elegant and simple way to keep the authenticity of the space.

The resources and creativity of Atelier DCCP do not end there. The duo is currently building 60 living spaces in Rouen, as well as collaborating with French craftsmen to produce a new line of design furniture. Eager to expand their breadth of activities and evolve towards new markets, Atelier DCCP is available for new innovative ventures and can be contacted directly on their website.

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Constantly raising their standards Starting out as naive young men who firmly believed they would make it in the overcrowded music industry, Kensington has grown to become one of the most popular new bands in the Netherlands. Their catchy, up-tempo indie pop with heavy guitars stormed the Dutch music charts and stole the hearts of music-loving youngsters. TEXT: JANINE STERENBORG | PHOTOS: PABLO DELFOS

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Discover Benelux & France | Interview | Kensington

Thanks to the hit songs Streets and War, Kensington’s critically acclaimed album Rivals received platinum status in the Netherlands. Earlier this year the band toured throughout Europe and in November they will play at one of the largest music venues in the Netherlands. But first, the four will hit the European summer festivals. It sounds like they cannot fit any more in their schedule, but writing a new album is already on top of their minds as well.

Europe-sized oil stain During their tour in February they visited as many as eight countries, including Germany, Poland, Czech Republic, Belgium and Hungary. Casper Starreveld, guitar player and second vocalist says: “It was our first step in many of those countries and we’re looking forward to going back this summer. We’re spreading over Europe like an oil stain!” After spending nights in their van and hotels, Kensington is always happy to be back in their hometown of Utrecht. “Fans in Utrecht seem to be a tad more enthusiastic during shows, because they’re proud we hail from their city,” says Eloi youssef, singer and guitar player. Recently they even played in Utrecht’s main landmark and centuries old Dom tower. youssef: “That place is the holy grail of Utrecht. We played in a chapel of the tower at midnight.” This certainly was a unique opportunity, he describes: “The atmosphere was mysterious and intimate. And our music was supported by strings for the first time. It fitted very well and judging from the audience’s response, it created a very moving sound.”

Slow and steady grow Starting in 2005, the band was confident they carried gold, a confidence they now look back on with a slight sense embarrassment. youssef: “I recently listened back to some old recordings. It is actually not that good. But we were naive, we always said we’d make it and didn’t care for probabilities.” In the last ten years, Kensington emerged from a local talent to the Netherlands' new favourite band. This slow and steady grow was good for their

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development. Starreveld: “This way we had the chance to create a steady foundation for our music.” Kensington’s upcoming show in the ziggo Dome in November sold out within a few hours. The venue in Amsterdam is a huge concert hall with a central stage that can host a crowd of 17,000 people. “We were surprised it went so quickly. It didn’t make sense to us!” Starreveld recalls. “Then we added an extra show. It sold out within two days. We’re looking forward to playing there. Usually the crowd is in front of us, but at the ziggo Dome they are all around. It’s very exciting. But we will keep playing smaller stages, because we like the alternation.”

is about. It’s the most fun period and it generates the best memories.” Starreveld: “I don’t like knowing what I’ll be doing next week on Wednesday morning. I love the unexpected.” Soon, Kensington will start writing a new album. We asked if this was something they look forward to. “It’s always exciting,” says youssef, who continues a tad insecure. “Maybe the next one will flop, you never know.” Focussing back on the band’s goals, he knows exactly what he wants: “We want to renew ourselves. Not just for us, but for our fans too. And we aim to reach more and more people.”

Indie pop to dance to Rivals is Kensington’s third and latest album released in late 2014. Despite constantly being compared to Britpop and rock bands such as Kings of Leon, U2, Editors and The Killers, Kensington found their own sound on this record; indie pop with a positive vibe, catchy lyrics and strong guitar riffs, that are also perfect to dance to at a summer festival. The album is also a reflection of where Kensington is now. “It’s definitely our best album so far,” says Starreveld. “Its predecessor Vultures has a few flaws, like a too spread out bridge. On Rivals, the production and mixing all fell into place. The process went very smoothly as well and it was the most fun album to write. We gave each other space to fill in our own musical territories.”

Raising the ceiling With milestones like a platinum album and playing at the revered ziggo Dome, you might think Kensington has reached their top. But for this band there is always more to discover. “We feel we can always raise our ceiling," says Starreveld. "Across Dutch borders is a big area to explore. I would love to go on a night-liner tour through Europe some time. I love the displaced feeling of getting out of the bus and not knowing where I am.” Bass player Jan Haker adds: “Touring is physically exhausting, but it’s also what being in a band

Photo: Rutger van der Bent

Upcoming tour dates: 2 May, Gothardusfest, Gotha 5 May, Bevrijdingsfestival Wageningen, Den Haag and Flevoland, Almere 14 May, Dauwpop, Hellendoorn and Oerrock, Ureterp 29 May, Muziekweekend Pesse, Pesse See for tickets and more dates.

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Discover Benelux & France | Interview | Kensington

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Discover Benelux & France | Special Theme | Successful Women in Entrepreneurship

How to create a world without cervical cancer All over the world women are at risk of dying unnecessarily of cervical cancer. This can be caused by infections such as the sexually transmissible human papilloma virus (HPV) as well as other factors. We can prevent this by screening with vinegar. TEXT & PHOTOS: FEMALE CANCER FOUNDATION

The bad news is that every year approximately 260,000 women die of cervical cancer. This is only the tip of the iceberg. In developing countries, where often no screening facilities are available, cervical cancer is a silent killer as there are no symptoms up to the stage when it is often too late for treatment. Due to the lack of knowledge and awareness, skilled staff, financial resources, health care infrastructure, medicines and good nutrition, most of the victims live in developing countries. In the more developed world screening programmes are available and affordable, like pap-smear tests and prevention by vaccination. Even if a women is diagnosed with cervical cancer, effective treatment is still available. yet women living in less fortunate areas don’t have access to these treatment facilities and they die of this terrible disease. These women are often young mothers, who play a crucial role in their families, or within the local communities and the local economy. The good news? With a simple and affordable method we can keep these women healthy.

Screening with vinegar For less than ten euros the Female Cancer Foundation screens women with vinegar and, if necessary, treats them by freezing the precancerous cells. This is called the ‘see and treat’ method, which is recommended by the World Health Organisation for low resource settings. Electricity is not required as the vinegar solution and liquid nitrogen for freezing are sufficient. The beauty of it is that the screening and treatment can be done in a single visit and 90 per cent of the women who are treated are said to have recovered in three months.

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Female Cancer Foundation

What is educated and investigated lasts

Prof. Dr. Lex Peters, a gynaecologist from the Netherlands, founded the Female Cancer Foundation to reduce the high death rate among young women. While working as a tropical physician in Kenya, Peters witnessed the situation and realised the need for help. The Female Cancer Foundation derives from a collaboration with the Leiden University Medical Center, an expertise centre on cervical cancer in the Netherlands. Since 2004 he has been implementing the ‘see and treat’ programme in developing countries.

Transferring knowledge and skills to high incidence regions is vital to create a lasting impact. The Female Cancer Foundation promotes research and education on cervical cancer prevention. Strong partnerships with local universities and institutions are established in Indonesia, Bangladesh and in six countries in Africa from where the local teams are working on raising awareness, screening, treatment, education and research. “What people have been taught or what they have been researching will leave a lasting impression,” Peters says. “If men would have been prone to this illness, this disease would already belong to the past in every country on the globe. Women and their families deserve a world without cervical cancer.” BELOW: Midwives on a mission in Nepal is the next project. The ambition is to reduce cervical cancer to a rare disease in Nepal. With your help we can keep the Nepalese women healthy.

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From left to right: Martijn van der Veen, Marja Ruigrok, Kjell Massen, Barbara Tan, Hans Onkenhout, Marit Klooster.


Market research company Ruigrok | NetPanel is at the forefront of innovation in its field. Using the latest technologies, the company, lead by Dutch entrepreneur Marja Ruigrok, offers qualitative, in-depth surveys as well as comprehensive, quantitative research, both online and offline. Its services range from online communities, face-to-face research such as indepth interviews or focus groups and online customer questionnaires, tools such as ‘tag-it’ (see fact box) and many more. Ruigrok | NetPanel continuously looks for new ways to compile information to help other organisations improve their communication, products and services. This pioneering approach was established early on as founder Marja Ruigrok explains: “In 1995 we were the first market research agency to assemble an online panel for web surveys. Ruigrok founded the company when she was just 25 years old. Now, over two decades later, it employs a

team of 20 full time staff. “At the time, I had little to lose so I didn’t see it as a risky decision. I first set up in a small attic room and slowly started to build up the company.” For a long time, Ruigrok was the sole owner, but a few years ago she decided to change this. In 2008, she offered her staff the opportunity to buy company shares of up to almost five per cent. “This way I can make sure the company, as it is today, will continue to exist in the future; independent, with our own business culture and fast and innovative approach,” she says.At the moment, five senior members of staff have each bought a nine per cent share. “I’m very proud that I have such a dedicated team that was keen to invest in the company they work for. In the future a shared responsibility and ownership will mean continuity for the company and more security for our customers. I believe this is a perfect alternative to selling to an international firm.”

Tag-it – the digital post-its Tag-it is one of Ruigrok | NetPanel’s new qual/quant online research methods. Using a custom interface, participants can drag and drop coloured emoticons over a document, for example a newsletter or an advert. The colours (green, yellow and red) correspond with emotions (happy, neutral or unhappy). Participants can instantly pin point what they think about a certain section, and add a comment to elaborate. Ruigrok: “This makes it fun and easy to give specific, in-depth feedback, and gives our clients an instant overview of the results.”

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Travelling VAT free Every year, up to two billion euros of tax refunds are left unclaimed in Europe. is trying to change this, by making it easier and more convenient for travellers to rightfully claim back their VAT when they leave Europe. TEXT: MyRIAM GWyNNED DIJCK | PHOTOS: VATFREE.COM

The unique service that provides stands out by being comprehensive and hassle-free and customers get a great return. “We process all your VAT tax return claims in one go, from products bought in the Netherlands as well as other European countries,” says company founder and director Joni Smeenk. Tourist and business travellers are two key groups for the company, but also international students, diplomats and military personnel (when stationed abroad) can claim their tax back. Smeenk explains: “The reason behind it is that VAT is a usage tax. If you actually use the product abroad, out-

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side of Europe, you shouldn’t pay this levy. That’s why you can, and should, get it back.”

Easy and comprehensive Most claims received by are paid out within eight weeks. By processing multiple receipts at the same time and paying directly into the customers’ accounts, it also keeps transaction costs down. Smeenk adds: “While there are faster alternatives, such as Global Blue and Premier Taxfree, they are also more expensive as they charge a handling fee per receipt, sometimes as high as half the VAT amount. We, on the other hand,

only charge a one-time service fee calculated over your total gross spent, starting at one per cent with a maximum of seven per cent. We take the fuss out of getting your money back and you receive the highest refund.” It is not just individuals who benefit; shops do so as well. Because collects receipts and sends them off in bulk, processing the refunds is much more convenient for shop owners. “We maintain excellent relationships with the shop and with some of them the refund will be paid out automatically. If you go to our service desk at Schiphol

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Discover Benelux & France | Special Theme | Successful Women in Entrepreneurship

Airport, we can sometimes give cash in return for a validated receipt,” Smeenk says.

ellers don’t know they can reclaim their VAT and added to that, globally, VAT rates are the highest in Europe. So there is a lot to be gained,” she says.

From contest to company Smeenk came up with the idea during an entrepreneurial contest just after she finished her Master’s degree. During the week-long challenge she had to write a business plan for which she took inspiration from her uncle, who was living in Tanzania. During his visits back to the Netherlands, it turned out to be a real hassle to claim back the VAT he was owed over the products he purchased and took back to Tanzania. Smeenk: “It involved individual cheques for each rubber stamped loose receipt, so I thought there must be an easier, digitalised way to do this. While tax is not a very ‘sexy’ subject, I decided to look into it and came up with a plan.” This didn’t just land her the title of young Entrepreneur of the year, but also became the foundation for “We operate in a growth market because an increasing amount of people travel internationally and across continents. Moreover, around 70 per cent of trav-

A digitalised future At the moment Smeenk and her team are working on an app that will be launched after the summer. With it, customers can get an instant overview of the money they can claim back over their purchases, and it allows shopkeepers to promote their products. But Smeenk is also looking at the long-term future: “Currently we still require customers to send us physical stamped receipts, but we are developing a way to do everything digitally. This would make it even more convenient, so watch this space!”

How works: Thanks to, it is now a lot easier to claim back your VAT after you leave Europe. To get the money you are owed, you need to follow a few simple steps: - Collect all the receipts you have of purchased goods you are taking with you abroad (including online buys) that are above the threshold amount for the country*. - Before you check in at the airport, visit the Tax Free Validation office to validate your receipts and get them stamped. - Register your receipts online at or visit the desk in terminal three at Schiphol Airport. will contact the shops to collect the VAT and then automatically pay back your tax into your account. * Many countries apply a threshold for the minimum amount of money spent in one shop: for example €50 in the Netherlands and €125.01 in Belgium. For more information please call +31 88 828 3733 (+31 88 VAT FREE) or visit

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Discover Benelux & France | Special Theme | Successful Women in Entrepreneurship

Specialised and personal: care that is as unique as you are Small specialised teams, comprehensive care and aftercare and a personal approach; this is what makes Care Company unique. The Dutch private homecare provider offers services across the board, from uncertified support, to specialised and terminal care. TEXT: MyRIAM GWyNNED DIJCK | PHOTOS: CARE COMPANy

Care Company prides itself on its ability to deploy care swiftly and keeping a single contact person throughout the entire process. Founder and CEO Dianne Luykx says: “Because we are a private company we are fast and flexible. If needed, we can offer care within hours of a phone call.” Luykx started the company in 1991 when she worked as a certified nurse. She felt that some patients were moved to care homes prematurely while they could have a happier life with the right homecare. Now, 24 years later, Care Company employs a dozen full-time office staff but Luykx never lost track of her initial goal. “We try to enable our clients to continue their normal lifestyle for as long as possible, at home. We always talk to friends and family to find out about their habits, characteristics and routines. This way we

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can match them with a nurse who fits their personality, as well as their care needs,” she says. One service in particular that Luykx is eager to point out is their international care. “On one hand, we offer holiday care, when someone will come along on a trip offering support where needed, to any destination in the world. The other service we offer is aimed at expats particularly in England, France, Belgium and Portugal. We find that clients prefer to receive homecare in their native language and we can provide.” Another area Care Company recently started to specialise in is blanket care at residencies. Comprising care and support as well as housekeeping, the company uses its expertise to offer a top service for all the residents.

In order to keep their carefully screened nurses and care support staff up to date, Care Company offers regular courses in collaboration with V&VN and Calibris. With constant development in the areas of medicine, support equipment (like pumps and lifts) and patient care, training is essential to continue to offer the best service possible. “Our staff has to be aware of new developments. Each year we offer several courses and everyone has to partake in two of them,” Luykx adds. Care Company is part of industry body BTN (Branchebelang Thuiszorg Nederland) and is certified by HKz, requiring all processes to be listed and verified.

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Discover Benelux & France | Special Theme | Successful Women in Entrepreneurship

Revolutionising the world of marketing The age of one-directional advertising pushed to the unengaged consumer is over, at least if it was up to Rens Plandsoen. She is the founder and director of strategic marketing collective RLVNT. With its progressive, data-driven approach to communicating with the public, it certainly is a new kind of agency. TEXT: MyRIAM GWyNNED DIJCK | PHOTOS: RLVNT

RLVNT doesn’t take a message or product as a starting point for their client’s campaigns, instead it starts with people and their actions. Plandsoen explains: “We look at behavioural data and combine this with opinions by actively involving people in the process, this way we know what they are most susceptible to and when they are most susceptible. This way, the campaigns become truly relevant.” Through a team of 35 creative and media specialists, RLVNT uses people’s feedback to test and improve its marketing campaigns. “We call this ‘magic and logic’,” says Plandsoen. “Take for example our campaign to promote a merger between two firms. The goal was to create a broad support base among employees for the merger, so we gave every member of staff

an active role to show how they would create added value for the new company. Synergising multiple online and offline media channels, this resulted in a very inspiring and engaging campaign that perfectly encapsulated the aspirations of the new company but which were created by the employees themselves.” Being innovative is in Plandsoen’s blood. In 1995, when the internet was still in its infancy, she was part of designing adverts for one of the Netherlands’ major newspapers, the Volkskrant, focused on viewings rather than millimetre spaces. In 1999 she founded .bone, the first online advertising agency in the Dutch market, and last year she started RLVNT. She says: “We live in the ‘age of abundance’, so pushing a message out to the public and hoping for a re-

sponse just doesn’t work anymore. Being interactive and data driven is now part of our nature. We can create marketing strategies that deliver the messages at the right time in the right format. But there is more to RLVNT than just innovative marketing. As a more general mission, the company wants to make people more aware of the value of personal data that modern life leaves behind. Plandsoen concludes: “Nowadays, everything is digitalised. Many people don’t realise that we create a trail of data about us wherever we go. This data is worth something and it’s time people get control over this private data.”

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Trust is everything Imagine becoming the head of a company that once stood as a symbol for all that is wrong with Dutch company boards; a regional business embroiled in a national scandal. It definitely does not sound like an easy job. Nevertheless, Hester van Buren took on the challenge and became one of the three directors of the social housing corporation Rochdale. TEXT: BERTHE VAN DEN HURK | PHOTOS: ROCHDALE

Rochdale was founded in 1903 to build good and sturdy houses for people with low incomes in the Amsterdam region. In 2008, a national newspaper reported that one of the board members was driving an Italian car. The brand of the car (Maserati) did not suit the image of a social housing corporation.

Van Buren was appointed to continue the recovery plan for Rochdale in 2010. Van Buren: “The reconstruction was heavy, and it took longer than I’ve hoped for. We had to go back to the basics and reset some goals. There were a lot of good things going on, but we had to eliminate the bad elements first.”

After investigations, more details came to light and he was prosecuted for taking and paying bribes, committing forgery, tax evasion and money laundering. Obviously, all of this does not fit the social housing picture and the Dutch were outraged. Due to this, Rochdale became the national trademark for bad and corrupt corporations. After an interim-CEO put things in order,

Living in a glass cage

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While Rochdale became the face of corrupt (semi-public) businesses, many other companies underwent the same kind of reorganisation. Van Buren: “Initially, the primary tasks of the organisations were for the citizens. Ever since the ‘90s, when the market philosophy changed and up scaling became important, many organisations

grew and became more autonomous. It has brought a lot of good at the beginning; these originations became more businesslike and more efficient. But during the last several years things went wrong.” She continues: “Instead of quality, organisations were often judged by quantitative targets, like universities delivering as many graduates or doctors doing as many operations as possible.” Social media is also something to be reckoned with; people gratefully express their dissatisfaction with products or services, and in many cases the reactions are understandable. We live in a glass cage where everything becomes public

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Discover Benelux & France | Special Theme | Successful Women in Entrepreneurship

eventually. This development should be considered by everyone, but especially CEOs. Only sending a message is no longer possible, businesses and organisations have to be involved. They only survive when they are sufficiently prepared to listen and identify the issue.

man, things do go wrong sometimes. Just admitting it and sharing it with the outside world, creates the necessary trust. Do not brag, just show what you do. you must have a sense of identity, organise and accept criticism and be involved with the employees and the customers.”

Van Buren: “If we do not act in a proper and correct way, or when we show something different from what we say, it leads to dissatisfaction, confusion, misunderstanding and a lack of trust. And when you lose the trust, you become implausible.”

The current Rochdale board consists of three people. Van Buren: “We create time for self-reflection and ensure that we hold each other accountable for our behaviour. We are three very different personalities and complement each other because of this. Our variety of backgrounds also prevents tunnel vision in the decision making process.”

Be the eye witness Regaining public trust is one of the most difficult things to do. According to Van Buren you have to be vulnerable, realistic and honest. “As a leader, you are a member of a team. It is not your own company, but a temporary honour. We are all hu-

Being involved also means taking internships within the company, speaking with the residents and employees, and really listening what they have to say. In other

words: be the eye witness of what is going on. Van Buren: “Also very important: do not make any promises you cannot keep. It does mean that I have to say ‘no’ to people, a lot. Especially in my first years as a leader we had to remediate, only nowadays we are financially able to make choices and, for example, protect the poorest of rent increase.”

Present trust Van Buren is pleased of where Rochdale stands these days: “Employees and residents are proud and have faith again. There are still always people who make remarks about the former administration. The difference is that nowadays there are also always people who stand up for Rochdale, telling them that it is not the reality anymore.”

Rochdale at a glance - Rochdale is one of the ten largest social housing associations in the Netherlands. - Its mission is to provide affordable housing of adequate quality in safe and liveable neighborhoods for people with low incomes in the area of Amsterdam. - Rochdale has over 40,000 homes and 2,000 commercial properties. - Board of Directors: René Grotendorst, Nico Overdevest and Hester van Buren. In July 2015 Hester van Buren will become chair of the Board of Directors.

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Designing a dream Simone Van Trojen, founder and CEO of the Dutch luxury brand LaDress, says the most important aspect while setting up a business is to have a clear focus. The mother of two, with a law degree, started to contemplate about her future endeavours in 2006, while she was working as corporate executive and raising two babies. TEXT: TOyAH MARONDEL | PHOTOS: LADRESS

Van Trojen was facing a re-occurring problem that many women know too well: What shall I wear today? How can I resolve the desk-to-dance floor dilemma? Thus the Dutch businesswoman came up with the concept for LaDress, a label that is designing flattering and easy to wear dresses, the ultimate look for any occasion, 365 days a year. Van Trojen’s vision was to develop a business plan for timeless and ageless clothing with only minor styling needed. Even though she didn’t have a background in fashion, Van Trojen began her entrepreneurial journey with a strong business perspective and worked on a detailed concept for ten months. She be-

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came so successful that nowadays she is selling her creations on the international market. LaDress offers 300 different styles and every week the label launches two new variations of dresses, almost all made from Italian fabrics. “I consulted good advisers. Effective advisory definitely plays an important part in pursuing your business goals,” Van Trojen states. “The company flourished and grew over time and at some stage I needed some help to run the business. Since 2012 I also work with a chief operating officer. I started selling the dresses via a webshop because online

shopping is easy and accessible for almost anyone.” Currently women can purchase the dresses in high-end shopping centres like De Bijenkorf in the Netherlands, Breuninger in Germany or Brown Thomas in Ireland. The dresses are made in different ateliers in Romania, Poland and the Netherlands. Van Trojen wears each new design herself to make sure it is absolutely perfect in every way before it is officially launched. “LaDress empowers women by giving them fashion that enhances their feminine features, regardless of figure or age. And

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Discover Benelux & France | Special Theme | Successful Women in Entrepreneurship

when a woman understands her beauty, she has the courage to do whatever needs to be done,” the head of design notes. Van Trojen said she had no preconceptions about what she could achieve. “Flexibility is a necessary trait not only to the start-up environment, but to life in general,” she says. “When I’m on vacation with my family, I usually get up very early in the morning to do some work and I continue working when my children are going

to bed. It is all a matter of organisation.” Van Trojen combines motherhood, marriage, social life and LaDress all into one. “It’s very important to stay in balance. When I’m with my children, I try to fully concentrate on motherhood and not think of work.” Most successful entrepreneurs are inspired by other successful entrepreneurs. However Van Trojen’s role models are women that are timeless icons such as Brigitte

Bardot, Sophia Loren and Catherine Deneuve as well as more contemporary icons such as Angelina Jolie, Julia Roberts and Kate Moss. “I admire strong and independent women that express femininity in a classy and fabulous way,” she states. “But also the wonderful people I’m surrounded by inspire me: My family, friends and my mother. LaDress is not about me, it is about us.” She also takes inspiration from La Dolce Vita and places like SaintTropez, the island of Capri and Portofino are powerful influences for the design of her collection. “The key is to make sure you are in an environment where you can succeed. A supportive team at work will champion your success and help fuel your creativity,” she says. “My vision is that you are good the way you are.” LaDress is currently working with 80 team members. The company’s vision is simple and clear: accept and embrace who you really are and you will feel empowered and be able to get things done. This March, Van Trojen launched the LaDress Girls. A collection for girls from the age of four that is based on the existing LaDress designs. Lise, is one of the amazing creations, named after her daughter. Van Trojen’s website also offers a handy styling section with inspirational mood boards on how to best complement your dream dress.

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Photo: Simon Van Boxtel

Photo: Carly Wollaert

Funding creativity The last couple of years have been a bumpy road for the cultural sector. Cuts in funding have been made which make it harder for cultural events and for the people behind the scenes to make their mark in this sector. For Performing Arts Fund NL in The Hague, a fund who aims to put the spotlight on performances and stages, it’s not a reason to keep their head down. TEXT: CATHy VAN KLAVEREN | PHOTOS: COCO DUIVENVOORDE

yes, it’s a bit inconvenient with less money to distribute and the demands becoming harder. “However,” says Henriëtte Post, director since 2013. “When applications have a solid argumentation, there’s no reason for the fund to deny the request.” An advisory board filled with specialists regarding the subject look at the application. Festivals, music performances by choirs and orchestras, concerts and theatre productions can all try to make their way to the public easier by getting help from the fund. “We also give applicants help when they want to go abroad,” Post says. “It’s not just here where we have to deal with lesser resources, but everywhere.

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But we try to make contacts abroad and make it possible for applicants to go there.” It looks like there’s a need for it. For example the famous Matthäus Passion, held every year on Good Friday in the Grote Kerk at Naarden, and the Netherlands Bach Society, who gets help from the fund, leads that performance. It’s also a way to make it accessible for people, most projects use the funds to keep the ticket price affordable. “Of course we look at how much the performance can move people, if they will find it interesting. We give a lot of associations the chance to apply for funding, and if they do, we do our best to help them in every

single way. But they need to show us that they can make it work. Funding alone can never be the only source of budget. Associations mostly have to get sponsored, or be crowdfunded, and often times they then have a solid budget.” Mostly there are a lot more applicants than there is money for, but that only means the best ones make the cut. On the website the multiple kinds of funding are displayed and show clear deadlines for the cultural applicants. “To apply maybe feels as a bit of a hassle, but it’s really worth it,” says Post.

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Discover Benelux & France | Special Theme | Successful Women in Entrepreneurship

From breathing gases to breathing culture What once was a polluted area in Amsterdam is now a beautiful, green, city park bursting with creativity and culture. The Westergasfabriek has become a place to meet people, work and relax. The historic factory buildings serve for large and small events, various restaurants, a movie theater and exhibition venues. TEXT: BERTHE VAN DEN HURK | PHOTO: ARJEN VELDT

“The strength of the Westergasfabriek is not about the historical buildings. One of our biggest strengths is the cultural and event programming,” says Maya MeijerBergmans, owner of the Westergasfabriek. “We always keep the concept in mind, and accordingly adjust the programming.” Making a profit is not the main purpose of the Westergasfabriek; they aim for a sustainable and cultural use. Any additional profits will benefit the Westergasfabriek BV and Stichting Westergasfabriek, and thus to the development of the entire organisation. Meijer-Bergmans: “I’m not here to ‘pimp’ locations and sell it with a huge profit. I strive for a long-term partnership.”

Businesswoman at heart While she closely follows the ins and outs

of the Westergasfabriek, Meijer-Bergmans is also involved in many other social and cultural institutes; she is a member of several boards, fundraising committees and many more organisations and foundations. “I started as an art historian,” says MeijerBergmans. “And so my interests are in cultural affairs. Doing business in cultural events is a lot of fun. I like it that my businesses have a creative coating. But it does not mean I don’t have to make difficult and hard decisions.”

Westergasfabriek The Westergasfabriek was completed in 1885 and the gas was initially used for urban lighting. In the 1960s production decreased more and more until eventually the factory was closed. A heavily polluted area was left behind, but the land was

cleaned up and since 1992 the buildings have been used for creative and cultural activities. Since the year 2000 the Westergasfabriek exploits the spaces for creative, cultural and innovative entrepreneurs. They want to offer a wide audience inspiration and relaxation in an adventurous, sustainable and friendly environment. Locally, nationally and internationally the Westergasfabriek is a meeting place for enterprising people with innovative ideas. Meijer-Bergmans: “No matter how much of a cliché it is, biggest strength of all is the team. Without them it would be so much harder to achieve all of this.”

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Discover Benelux & France | City Feature | Ghent

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Discover Benelux & France | City Feature | Ghent


Uncovering a hidden gem: Ghent When you think of Belgium, you think of Antwerp and its modern architecture. Or Brussels, the heart of political Europe, with its distinctive multilingual inhabitants. Or Bruges with its medieval sights. However Ghent, Belgium’s hidden gem, is also certainly worth exploring. So let’s go on a tour and give Ghent the appreciation it deserves. TEXT: CATHy VAN KLAVEREN | MAIN PHOTO: VISIT FLANDERS | PHOTOS: MILO-PROOFI.BE

Ghent is the second biggest city of the country, after Antwerp, with around 250,000 inhabitants. With several universities, it also has the highest population of students, making it a lively, bustling place. The University of Ghent, called ‘UGent’ by students, has the most applicants and is ranked as the best university in the country. It was created at the beginning of the 19th century to educate the southern parts of Holland (what would later become Belgium). It was a bilingual institution after Belgium gained independence in 1830, giving lessons in Dutch and French. But in 1930 it became the first university in country to teach exclusively in Dutch. Two rivers in Ghent, the Leie and the Scheldt, converge as one to create an island. This became the heart of Ghent, commonly referred to as ‘de Kuip van Gent’ (the tub of Ghent), because of its location. At around 630, Ghent was known as Ganda, meaning ‘convergence’. Other sources state it was named Gond, a Celtic name that refers to water. From here on the Germanic form ‘Gand’ was formed. Ghent became known for its cotton and flax and the city thrived. From roughly 1000 to 1550, Ghent was one of the biggest cities of Europe, at one point second only to Paris in terms of the number of inhabitants.

We started our trip at the Gravensteen, or the Castle of the Counts, the only medieval castle in Flanders with an almost completely intact defensive system. The current structure was largely built by count Philip of Alsace, who greatly expanded the stone castle in 1180 after it was hit by a fire. At the time many wealthy and respected people such as aristocrats, jurists and doctors settled in the surrounding area called Patershol, the oldest neighbourhood of Ghent. With their houses becoming bigger and more extravagant, Philips used the castle to emphasise his dominance. In medieval times the Gravensteen was used as a justice court and was the seat of the Count of Flanders. In the 18th century the castle largely lost its function and parts were publicly sold and used to house factories. Due to new safety regulations, industries had to move out in the mid-19th century and plans were made to demolish the desolate castle, but they never went ahead. Instead, the castle was restored and opened in 1907 as a museum that features weapons throughout the centuries and torture techniques used by the counts for criminals who were kept in Gravensteen’s infamous dungeons. Nearby the Gravensteen, in Patershol, we find many cosy restaurants and cafes that

give the area a buzzing atmosphere, especially in the evenings. In the 1960s and 1970s, a home in Patershol didn’t cost much and many labourers lived in the area. Now, thanks to the many restaurants and special cafes that have emerged, it has become one of the most desirable areas in the city. The winding streets with their high walls make it feel like you’re in a maze, and Patershol is the perfect setting to get lost among the bars and have an unforgettable night out in Ghent. We decided the leave Patershol behind and headed to the Kraanlei, where we found Julie’s House. This small bakery is known throughout the country for its exquisite cupcakes and sweet tarts, that are served with coffee. It is so popular, people sometimes line up outside to get their hands on some of the baked goods. Owner Julie Stampaert uses the simplest ingredients and she has a way of making it taste like magic, like her delicious tarts that mainly consist of sugar. Only Julie knows how to make them taste the way they do. Make sure you plan your visit, because Julie’s House is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. For other treats, you can find many vendors in the city centre who sell the typical Gentse neuzen or cuberdons, a very

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Discover Benelux & France | City Feature | Ghent

Coming to the end of the Korenlei we are rewarded with a magnificent view. Looking to the left we see Ghent’s three towers, the Sint-Niklaaskerk, the Belfry tower and the Sint-Baafskathedraal. The 91-metre high Belfry tower, the highest of the three, can be climbed for some impressive panoramas of Ghent. At the latter, also known as the Saint Bavo’s Cathedral, we view The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb by the Van Eyck brothers. The altar piece, made in 1432, consists of twelve panels, each depicting a common Christian theme, like the dove of the Holy Spirit. In 1934, two panels were stolen, one of them was returned but the other is still lost to this day. It is one of the most infamous art thefts in Belgian history and this is why the piece can only be viewed behind glass now.

Julie’s House. Photo: Joost Joossen

sweet, cone-shaped, purple candy filled with forest fruit jam. But it is the smell of waffles that really sparked our interest and we spotted dozens of waffle shops. In fact the waffle house Max, on the Goudenleeuwplein is credited as the birth place of the Belgian waffle. For generations Max has been run by the same family and still uses the same waffle irons as they did when they first began. Last year, it celebrated its 175th anniversary.

Refuelled by the delicious waffles, we continued to the Korenlei town square marking the beginning of Ghent’s shopping district and the biggest pedestrianised shopping area in Belgium. Peeking into the nearby Veldstraat, we saw many fashionable outlets including the biggest brands. It is not very common in Belgium for shops to open outside of business hours and Saturdays, but there are plans for Ghent to open shops on Sundays too.

The Sint-Niklaaskerk, built in the 12th century, is dedicated to Nicolaas van Myra, the saint who inspired the Sinterklaasfeest (Saint Nicolas celebration), a typical festive day for children in Belgium, the Netherlands and parts of Germany in December. The church is free to visit, but it also offers tours. At the church’s shop we saw many examples of Ghent’s iconic nooses. The inhabitants, or Gentenaars, are known as the ‘stroppendragers’ (noose bearers).

The Gravensteen medieval castle

St. Bavo’s Cathedral Photo: Cathy van Klaveren

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Photos: Cathy van Klaveren

Discover Benelux & France | City Feature | Ghent

Photo: Joost Joossen

The noose signifies the resistance of the Gentenaars in 1540. They didn’t want to live under the harsh rule of Emperor Charles V so there was a revolt. Charles humiliated the arrested resistance leaders by forcing them to walk around town with a noose tied around their neck. It now symbolises the courageousness of the Ghent people against misplaced authority. Crossing the bridge, we arrived at the Groentenmarkt to visit the Dreupelkot bar, a favourite among locals. It serves hundreds of kinds of gin, and as music is only played sparingly, people are encouraged to talk to each other. If it’s Belgian beers you’re looking for, then go to the Waterhuis aan de Bierkant. Ghent has a way of making beer a little more special by combining flavours, for example with Gentsestrop. This local specialty, blonde beer, has a hint of fruit and a subtle taste of hop and is served throughout the city. On the other side of the street is 't Galgenhuisje, the smallest café of Ghent with only five tables, seating 27 guests. It also is the oldest café in Ghent, opening in 1776. Before that, it used to be a tripe shop, as it is situated next to the Groot Vleeshuis or meat house, where intestines couldn’t be

sold because of hygiene standards. Its name, the gallows’ house, refers to the fact that convicts would line up behind it before being hung at the gallows at the back. The terrace outside ‘t Galgenhuisje is bigger than the inside, so luckily we didn’t have to miss the chance to have one of the 18 different beers served here before coming to the end of our journey.

There was hardly enough time to see all that Ghent has to offer in one day. But certainly don’t forget to sit, look and listen to really take in the atmosphere of this remarkable city. And of course, finish with a drink as you can’t leave Ghent without having one.

EVENTS IN GHENT Gentse Feesten 17 July to 26 July During this free, ten-day festival, podiums are built throughout the city to host a whole variety of acts and music. Singers, street performers and shows for children are all part of the event. This year, the Gentse Feesten will be held from 17 July to 26 July. Ghent Light Festival Every year from late January Next year, Ghent will organise this lightshow for the fourth time, when most of the major buildings are lit up. It is a way for artists to bring attention to existing architecture and express their work as an artist. This year it was held from 29 January until 1 February and a record of 640,000 people saw the lights.

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Discover Benelux & France | Business | Divitel

The geniuses behind the screen When we switch on the television or watch clips on our tablets or phones, we do not realise that there is a highly complex infrastructure needed for the video. We have become accustomed to be able to watch high quality television anytime and anywhere. TEXT: BERTHE VAN DEN HURK | PHOTOS: DIVITEL

Creating systems which enable digital television definitely does not seem like an exhilarating job. But as soon as Hans Kornmann, owner of independent systems integrator Divitel, starts talking about his company, there is nothing else to do but share his enthusiasm. “We provide tailor-made solutions from content to screen. Watching digital television must be as self-evident as getting water from the tap,” says Kornmann. “The market of digital television develops and

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changes rapidly, and we have to keep up with those changes to provide the absolute best to our customers.” The world of television has become more and more interactive and personal. Elements such as hyper-targeted advertising and linking with social media are common practices these days. Divitel is able to respond quickly to the customer needs; design, build and deliver high-tech television platforms in a short time-to-value. The spe-

cific technical knowledge and its independence of products and suppliers created a very special leading position for Divitel in Europe. With a reach of more than 200 million people on a daily basis, it is safe to say Divitel has succeeded so far.

A steady revolution Kornmann: “Before internet became accessible to everyone, I knew that digital television would be the future. At that period in time not many people shared my

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Discover Benelux & France | Business | Divitel

vision; the world of digital television had yet to be developed. It took more time than I hoped for the world to get the same view on digital television.” Kornmann persisted and successfully started Divitel almost 20 years ago.

An overview of Divitel - Divitel was established in 1996 and provides television solutions for any business scenario. - It was the first Dutch company to realise a digital video connection. - Divitel created the interactive video connections for the Big Brother television programme.

One of the strengths is that the company does not go along with hypes. Because of this, Divitel is able to grow and expand calmly but steadily. Regardless of this, at this moment they are one of the fastest growing companies in Europe. Kornmann: “In 2008 we launched a growth scenario, exactly when the worldwide economic crisis hit us. We have carefully thought about it and implemented it with precision. Don’t do anything too fast, you have to grow steady.”

- Creators of: liveTV on your iPad, (un)managed television platforms and advanced, multiscreen video solutions. - Its customers include ziggo (Netherlands), zDF (Germany) and Telesur (Suriname). - Nominated for innovative television platforms; MKB Innovatie Top 100 and won the FD Gazellen Award twice.

Business of knowledge To become the best video solutions provider of Europe, Kornmann believes one has to be able to take good care of his employees. “Some people think it’s something extraordinary and exceptional, but to me it is really important to take care of my employees. We are a business of knowledge. I need their brains, so they have to feel good about their work and life.” Divitel has no middle management, the company therefore has a flat corporate structure to make things easier and more humane. “We have a Human Development Department, instead of a Human Resources Department. Most of our workers are highly educated, but foremost ambitious people,” says Kornmann. “We want to provide the best circumstances for them to work. Let them grow and the company grows. ”

Centre of Excellence for New Media Technologies In search for new top talents, and to accelerate the developments of advanced expertise, Divitel became the initiator and driving force for the Centre of Excellence; a place where students or young professionals get a chance to prove themselves as the next best thing, and at the same time create new solutions. The concept, supported by VNO-NCW (the Dutch foremost employers’ organisation), assumes

broad co-operation, not only with the world of teaching and education, but with wellestablished international businesses as well. Kornmann: “The centre organises events such as hackathons. Which are perfect opportunities for people to prove to us that we need them. It is a great chance for young people to go international at the beginning of their career.” The programme is extra special because the initiative did not come from governmental or educational circles, as most similar programmes are. Kornmann: “The goal of the initiative is to accelerate the development of advanced expertise by sharing knowledge. A lesson learned from Silicon Valley: sharing knowledge means innovation and innovation leads to economic growth.”

The Engineers behind the Screen Divitel is a high-tech knowledge company that enables digital, interactive television in the Netherlands and far abroad. Divitel delivers services and systems to cable companies, internet providers, radio and television broadcasters and the hospitality industry. Without Divitel there is no on-thespot video, which makes them the geniuses behind the screen.

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Discover Benelux & France | Business | Bohemian Birds

Escaping to your own, private island Owning a private island is no longer just for the rich and famous. Dutch entrepreneur Jasper Mutsaerts is currently running a campaign to crowdfund the purchase of an island in Sweden, which will become a hub for a new international community of like-minded people. TEXT: MyRIAM GWyNNED DIJCK | PHOTOS: BOHEMIAN BIRDS, RICHARD MOUW

Launched late April, the crowdfunding campaign is now in full swing. When we spoke to Mutsaerts it was too early to predict whether it will be successful, but he is not worried about failure. “If we don’t generate enough interest and we don’t have enough money to buy the island, then that would mean it’s just not a very good idea and we probably shouldn’t do it anyway. I’m actually more concerned there will be too much interest, and that we will have to say ‘no’ to people. In which case we might look at other islands to buy in the future.”

professionals and innovative creatives who want to escape their busy lives for a while. The island will be their personal getaway to relax, reconnect with nature, recharge and meet new people. “We want everyone to get to know each other and form a real community. This is why we have a limit of 100 members, enough to get to the target amount of money but not too many so it becomes anonymous. This number is also well within the limit of 150 people, which according to the philosophy of Robin Dunbar, is the maximum amount of personal relationships you can form,” he says.

A unique community The idea behind the pioneering venture is to create a community of entrepreneurial

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The inspiration came from a fellow globetrotting entrepreneur, Ben Keene from Eng-

land. He is the founder of Tribe Wanted, which offers off-grid experiences that empower local communities around the world. Mutsaerts: “Ben started an online community and brought them together, physically, on an island that he leased in Fiji. I thought that was really inspiring, so I came up with the idea to buy an island. It is quite innovative, it will be the first crowdfunded island in the world.” The choice fell on a small island in northern Sweden called Stor Grötholmen, newly christened ‘Böhemia’, which combines a bohemian spirit with ö, the Swedish word for island. Mutsaerts: “This was the best choice, in terms of accessibility, price and

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Discover Benelux & France | Business | Bohemian Birds

Jasper Mutsaerts (left), Joost van Schie (right), owners Bohemian birds and Rolien Sandelowsky (middle) project leader Böhemia.

location. you can get there within a day from anywhere in Europe, but it is still very far away from normal life. It’s the perfect place to go back to basics.”

tween 25 and 45 years old who look for a unique experience, Bohemian Birds offers unusual trips to off-the-beaten-track destinations around the world.

If successful, they aim to open the 2.5 hectares island to its members in August this year. Campaign manager Rolien Sandelowsky adds: “The facilities on the island are very primitive, there are only two log cabins with no electricity and no running water. So there is still some work to be done, but we are very excited. We are not trying to make a profit, we want to build a community and inspire people.”

Combining a theme with an exceptional location, their experiences include a road trip through Iceland, (heli)skiing in the Caucasus, visiting North Korea during the famous Victory Day military parades, sailing across the Atlantic and traveling through the Californian High Sierra. The mission of Bohemian Birds is to help people empty their bucket lists. With Böhemia, they will make the dream of owning your own island a reality

Uniting global travellers Böhemia is a sister project of the global travel society Bohemian Birds, founded by Mutsaerts in 2013. It is aimed at ‘curious minds’, international globetrotters with a zest for life and an appetite for the unknown. Targeting busy professionals be-

By bringing international groups of likeminded individuals together, they also want to inspire and help people follow their passions. Mutsaerts: "We don’t have any evidence yet that we really changed people’s lives, but one girl who joined us on one of

our trips said she always wanted to be a Clini Clown. After coming back, she actually did it, and made the job switch. That’s what we’re about, to offer something far more interesting than a normal holiday and to help people find the spark to achieve their dreams.” Buy a slice of paradise Bohemian Birds are looking for 100 crowdfunders to each pay 2,000 euros towards the purchase of the island. Being part of Böhemia means co-owning and getting access to your own private island in Sweden. Because the island has limited facilities, a maximum of 18 users can stay at there at one time for a maximum of 35 days spread out over the year. If the target amount of 200,000 euros isn’t achieved, all participants get their money back. The crowdfunding campaign is now live on Leapfunder and will close on 1 June 2015.

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Discover Benelux & France | Business | Scriptware

Scriptware is based in an old recording studio once opened by world-famous soprano Maria Callas (see image below). According to Frank ter Reehorst, the unique office façade almost resonances his beating of the language drums.

The heart of every industry As we are able to translate any language online in a matter of seconds, it seems translation agencies are no longer necessary. But nothing could be further from the truth. Many websites frequently provide literal translations which are often just not good enough. TEXT: BERTHE VAN DEN HURK | PHOTOS: SCRIPTWARE

“The translation of the message must communicate as good as the original,” says Frank ter Reehorst, director of Scriptware Translations. “If you want to conquer foreign markets and want to be taken seriously, you must ensure the translations are perfect.” Scriptware is a leading player in the translation industry because of their 25 years of experience and insightful use of innovative technology. With local teams in many countries, Scriptware is always close by, highly accessible and has a short timeto-market. Ter Reehorst: “We use translation memories and deploy terminology to ensure consistency, reuse previous translations and save time. The heart of every industry is terminology. We always make sure that each text is translated and reviewed by local, native speakers and whenever possible involve (local) customer proof readers.” Translations for a brochure or advertisements are very different from translating a

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manual or a contract. Marketing texts do not need accurate representations of the source text. Ter Reehorst: “In marketing, texts, metaphors or even colloquialisms are used to trigger the reader. A literal translation can cause very peculiar sentences; therefore the translator needs to understand the reader and the specific tone-of-voice.” Well translated and creative content is vital for a website. The translation is not simply done by replacing one language with another. There are wonderful content management systems (CMS) to ensure that your website looks slick and features advanced functionality. However, some languages are ‘longer’ than others, which means that the web designer has to customise the website for each language. Not so effective when you want your website translated into multiple languages. yet Scriptware knows how to handle such issues, and with expertise in simple HTML

editors to advanced CMS systems, the translation agency project managers know how to overcome any obstacle.

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Discover Benelux & France | Business | Columns


Why words should never challenge visuals to a tug-of-war. As my colleague and I left the café in Libramont, Belgium, he grabbed the handle to pull the door open. The door didn’t budge. “POUSSEz,” I said, reading from the large sign on the door. My colleague is no idiot. His reading skills are top-notch and his vision is perfect. He’s been to university, run successful businesses and raised three amazing kids. He can beat every one of you at pétanque (the addictive French version of bocce) and his first language is French, so there was no language barrier involved. So what was involved, exactly? Very simply, it is a battle between a word and a visual cue. When we humans see a handle, we instinctively want to grab it. In fact, that’s not even limited to humans. Some other primates have the same instinct. It’s a handle. If we’re not supposed to grab it, why is it there? Sometimes, of course, it’s there so we can push rather than pull. But a sign has never been invented that can reliably overcome the power of a visual cue as strong as what a handle sends. So many failures of communication are failures exactly because they take on a challenge like the one that fell to the unfortunate

“POUSSEz” sign. It’s very much an uphill battle. In essence, it’s the battle of the higher mental functions versus the more primal ones. We all know how that battle is supposed to end, and we all know how often it doesn’t end that way. Called upon to solve this type of problem, it’s easy to start thinking along the lines of better sign placement, bigger type, brighter colours and other efforts to get the sign to 'yell louder'. But a reliable answer doesn’t lie in that direction. The only solution that will work 100 per cent of the time is to swap out the handle with a flat brass plate. There’s only one thing you can do with the plate: push it. And our brains get the message so quickly and reliably we hardly even notice. So next time you pull when the sign says push, don’t feel stupid. your brain is only telling you what millions of years of evolution have taught it: handles are for pulling. Even a monkey knows that. Josiah Fisk

Josiah Fisk is the head of More Carrot LLC, a clear communications company with offices in Boston and Luxembourg.


My coaching client has had an awful six months at work. It’s sorted now and part of the solution is for him to reduce to working four days a week. “What are you going to do with the extra free time?” I asked, expecting him to say something about writing a novel or learning to skydive. But he said: “I’ve thought about this a lot and first of all I’m going to declutter.” This might have passed me by if the same evening a dinner guest hadn’t mentioned that someone she knew had recently become a declutterer. There’s even a professional association for them, she said (I checked, there is). Intrigued, I googled ‘declutter’ and straight away found myself in one of those parallel universes which makes surfing such weird fun. I discovered organising consultant Marie Kondo, the Japanese author of the best-selling The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Not only does Marie tell us how to fold our socks, she

advises us to put our possessions out on the floor and ask of each one: “Does this spark joy?” If it doesn’t, she says to get rid of it. One reader disposed of her husband this way. That may be taking it a bit far but I can see the seriousness of the intention. Modern consumerism creates material clutter in our private lives and modern global communications create clutter in our electronic in-trays. Try deleting old emails with your eyes closed, it can be quite thrilling and very satisfying. So why declutter? Getting rid of stuff can give you greater physical space which allows you more mental space as well. Take it further and it’s the difference between the infinity of the Eurasian Steppe, with that huge sense of liberation and lack of constraint, and the claustrophobia of the broom cupboard. Unloading possessions (and thinking twice before acquiring more) at home and at work can have a positive

impact on our lives psychologically as well as being good for the environment and your local charity shops. Try coaching yourself to come up with simple rules for Kondo-ing (yes, she’s been turned into a verb). As Ms Kondo says herself, it’s all about letting go. Steve Flinders Steve Flinders is a freelance trainer, consultant, writer and coach who helps people develop their communication skills for working internationally. He’s also a member of the steering group of Coaching York which aspires to make York the coaching capital of the UK (

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Discover Benelux & France | Business | Calendar

Photo: Solar Future Event Netherlands


Foire de Paris Paris, France, 29 April – 10 May Always different, always innovative. For 111 years, Foire de Paris has been showcasing the very latest products and services to help you improve and enhance your everyday life. Once again this year, you’ll be surprised by unexpected finds and ever-increasing numbers of exhibitors. With more than 3,500 brands represented, this oneof-a-kind visitor experience in Europe offers you a chance to discover, test and compare all the new products and services which can brighten up your daily life in one place. EAS Pioneers of Change Brussels, Belgium, 5-7 May Now in its third year, the European Association Summit has established itself as the annual peer-to-peer education and networking forum for international association executives and senior staff. Building on the

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success of the first two editions, the EAS 2015 explores further the pioneering role and innovative services and practices which leading international associations are developing to the benefit of their members. IT and Technology Trade Fair Luxembourg City, Luxembourg, 19-20 May Join ICT Spring Europe’s major two-day business fair in Luxembourg, a trade event promoting the latest technologies and solutions. Digital technology and scientific advancement plays a big part in enhancing our global industry and lifestyle, and ICT Spring Europe is ready to facilitate a platform where visitors can explore the many innovations on the market. Business and Climate Summit Paris, France, 20-21 May Creating economic growth and a healthy

climate is on the programme at the business initiated Climate Summit in Paris. This is a unique forum for government and business leaders to adopt forward looking strategies and policies to combat climate change. Network, learn from experts in the field and get ready to be inspired. The Solar Future Netherlands Rotterdam, the Netherlands, 27 May The Dutch solar market is booming, so what’s next? Attend the leading solar strategy conference in the Netherlands and get some of your questions answered. The Solar Future event will provide a comprehensive overview of the latest trends on the solar market, visionary insights and will be your unique opportunity to meet industry experts, new and existing customers, partners and colleagues, all gathered at the same event.

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Discover Benelux & France | Special Feature | Sir Albert Hotel

Enter a world of royal luxury TEXT: MyRIAM GWyNNED DIJCK | PHOTOS: EWOUT HUIBERS

ish and homely. In this space, ‘the newest think tank in the city’, doers, makers and thinkers can generate ideas, have brainstorm sessions and can manifest all other kinds of concepts.

Crafting an atmosphere of a deluxe private mansion, the Sir Albert Hotel puts the sophisticated boutique experience at their guests’ disposal. The staff strive to offer everyone a level of service that’s both personal and faultlessly professional, going above and beyond their guests’ expectations. Sir Albert is styled as a home, a desirable place belonging to a unique host, a ‘modern aristocrat’. He is part of a new kind of elite, those with all the trappings of aristocracy but none of the pretensions. They are worldly, well-travelled and uber-stylish. By stepping onto the premises of the Sir Albert Hotel, guests become part of this world.

The hotel is housed in a former diamond factory. The ambience and design aesthetic pay homage to the building’s heritage, retaining its regal elegance through the high ceilings and large, original front windows. Facing north, these windows fill the rooms with the luminous and captivating northern light, formerly used by the diamond polishers to carry out their craft.

The stylish look of the hotel was created by the award-winning, Israel-based designers of BK Architecture. The majority of the hotel is built using energy-efficient technology, a great example of green luxury at its best.

Sir Albert recently opened the doors of the ‘Creative Space’, a perfect venue for small gatherings, product launches, photo shoots, receptions and meetings. Bathed in natural daylight, Sir Albert’s 'Creative Space' is both mysterious and familiar, styl-

Located in De Pijp, Amsterdam’s famed epicentre of urban chic, Sir Albert is just steps away from a myriad of restaurants, cafes and boutiques and sights such as the Rijksmuseum, Stedelijk Museum, galleries and theatres. Imagine yourself as a modern aristocrat in one of Sir Albert’s 90 luxury rooms and suites and don’t miss a chance to discover the exquisite dishes served at IzAKAyA Asian Kitchen & Bar, a Japanese pub-style restaurant with an outdoor terrace. Sir Albert is a member of Design Hotels and also part of SIR Hotels, a European boutique lifestyle brand, founded in Amsterdam in 2011.

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Discover Benelux & France | Art Feature | Rubens in Private


The master portrays his family TEXT & MAIN IMAGE: RUPERT PARKER

The 17th century old master, Peter Paul Rubens, single-handedly transformed the artistic life of the city of Antwerp. Without him, it wouldn’t have become the intellectual and cultural focal point of the Southern Low countries. He gave Belgium a unique cultural identity. As well as a painter he was a philosopher, architect, draftsman, company director, diplomat and even a spy. He was also a passionate lover until an advanced age. Ironically he was not born in Belgium but in Siegen, near Cologne in Germany, but his family left the city to escape persecution by the Catholics. After the death of his father, Jan Rubens, his mother Maria returned to Antwerp with her children when Rubens

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was just 15 years old. Several years later, in 1600, he left to study in Italy, living in Venice, Mantua, Genoa and Rome. Fired up by new ideas, he returned to Antwerp in 1609 and began to make his mark. What he brought with him was an entirely new style, centred on the Flemish tradition, but inspired by antiquity and the Italian renaissance. Back home, he bought an old house on Wapper Square and spent seven years expanding and rebuilding it to create a Rubens ‘headquarters’. He added a semicircular extension to display his extensive art collection and, on the other side of the courtyard, he built his studio. The two were connected by an impressive three-arched

portico, topped with sculptures of Mercury and Minerva, with words from Juvenal carved into the stone. Here he painted his masterpieces including mythological scenes and portraits for major clients, including Maria de' Medici and the Archduke of Austria. After his death, the house passed through various owners but was bought by the city in 1937 and restored to its former glory. The new temporary exhibition Rubens in Private is a high profile family reunion, displaying the master’s personal portraits of his relatives. Dozens of paintings and artworks by Rubens and his contemporaries were installed in the rooms, as well as period furniture. During his lifetime, they were hung in

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Discover Benelux & France | Art Feature | Rubens in Private

private areas of the house and were not meant for public use. On his death, they were scattered all over the world but now, for the first time, 50 of these masterpieces have been returned to their rightful home, lent by major international museums including the Musée du Louvre, Paris and the Hermitage, St Petersburg. They show Rubens as a loving sibling, husband and father and allow us to feel the affection he had for his first and second wives, his brother and his children. They also include his self-portraits, the last portraying him just before his death in 1640. Standout pictures include a beautiful, med-

itative portrait of his elder brother Philip, who died in early 1611. This portrait was painted shortly afterwards, and it probably decorated his tomb in the church of St Michael’s Abbey in Antwerp. His first wife Isabella Brant, who died relatively young, was Rubens’ great love and companion for 17 years. In her portrait she looks relaxed with a knowing twinkle in her eye, as though they’re both sharing a private joke. Four years after her death Rubens married 16-year old Hélèna Fourment, known as “the most beautiful girl in Antwerp”, and the portraits certainly do her justice. We see her in her wedding dress

but also with their two children, Clara-Johanna and Franciscus, in a happy domestic scene. The study of his eldest daughter Clara Serena, from his first marriage, is one of the highlights of the exhibition. Her head and shoulders fill the frame and it shows her at her sweetest, around five years old, but sadly she died at 12. Scientific research has just added another portrait of Clara, probably painted after her death, previously attributed to a follower of Rubens, rather than the man himself. Analysis of the panel shows that the wood comes from a tree that was felled between 1608 and 1615, TOP LEFT: Peter Paul Rubens, Philip Rubens, 16111612, oil on panel, 68.5 x 54 cm Detroit, Detroit Institute of Arts, 26385. © Detroit Institute of Arts, USA, Gift of William E. Scripps in memory of his son, James E. Scripps II / Bridgeman Images TOP MIDDLE: Peter Paul Rubens, Self-portrait, approx. 1611-1614, oil on panel, 78 x 61 cm Florence, Galeria degli Uffizi, 1890. © Artothek TOP RIGHT: Peter Paul Rubens, Self-portrait, approx. 1630, oil on panel, 61.5 x 45 cm Antwerp, Rubens House, RH.S.180. © Beeldarchief Collectie Antwerpen BOTTOM LEFT: Peter Paul Rubens, Portrait of Isabella Brant, approx. 1620-1625, oil on panel, 53 x 46 cm Cleveland, The Cleveland Museum of Art, 1947.207 BOTTOM RIGHT: Peter Paul Rubens, Clara Serena Rubens, 1618, oil on canvas, 37 x 37 cm Vienna, Liechtenstein Museum, GE105 LIECHTENSTEIN. The Princely Collections, Vaduz–Vienna

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Discover Benelux & France | Art Feature | Rubens in Private

when Rubens was active. Also the precise way in which her eyelashes and the light in her eyes have been painted show the unmistakeable sign of the master.

What’s interesting is that even though Rubens was a rich man, he painted the family pictures on small wooden panels, which were cheaper than larger ones. Some of the portraits are composed of five or more of these joined together and as a result are so fragile that they cannot be moved. His famous painting of his second wife Hélèna Fourment, The Fur, showing her half-naked wrapped in a fur coat, which

once hung in their bedroom, has had to stay in Vienna but is here in reproduction. Rubens died in 1640 and was buried in St. Jacob's Church, just round the corner from his house. This was his local parish church where he married Hélèna Fourment, their children were baptised and he celebrated mass every day. The church was in the wealthiest neighbourhood of Antwerp and houses the crypts of the city’s leading families. It was logical, therefore, that on his death bed he agreed to the construction of a funeral chapel in the most prestigious part of the church, right behind the choir. He choose one of his paintings for the altar, Madonna with the Saints, but his mausoleum was only completed five years later. Hélèna Fourment is also buried in the chapel as well as 42 of his descendants. Like his house and the tomb, there are many other tangible reminders of Rubens in Antwerp. So much so, that a special walk has been designed so you can discover the sins and virtues of the great man and his contemporaries. It takes you to 14 locations including, of course, the Rubens House and St. James Church but also the grand Cathedral of Our Lady. This is home to four of his masterpieces, including The Raising of the Cross and The Descent of the Cross and above the high altar, The Assumption of the Virgin. They’re certainly impressive, but if you want to learn more about the man who painted these, we urge you to visit the Rubens in Private exhibition. TOP LEFT: Portrait of a young girl, (Clara Serena?), oil on panel. Private collection © Sotheby’s. TOP RIGHT: Helena Fourment with her children Frans, Clara-Johanna and Isabella-Helena, approx. 16361637, oil on panel. © RMN-Grand Palais (Musée du Louvre, Paris) / Hervé Lewandowski. BOTTOM LEFT: The Fur (‘Het Pelsken’), with Helena Fourment, approx. 1630, oil on panel. © Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien (Vienna) / MVK and OETM, [Reproduction]. BOTTOM RIGHT: Peter Paul Rubens (studio of), Helena Fourment, approx. 1630-1640, oil on panel. Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum.

The Rubens in Private exhibition Rubens in Private runs until 28 June at the Rubens House in Antwerp.

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Discover Benelux & France | Column | Lifestyle





David Altmejd’s sculptures are hard to describe. Formally, it is hard to define what they are actually made of, for Altmejd is notorious for using a myriad of materials to create his works. Expandable foam, epoxy clay, plaster, steel, mirrors, resin, glass, glitter and amethyst are all frequently used in his creations. Alongside this, it is also hard to describe what his sculptures depict. They are complex, figurative constructions of the human form. Sometimes they appear like archaeological relics, or creatures from the depths of your nightmares, and sometimes humorous and childish imaginings. However, what Altmejd’s sculptures certainly do is straddle a line between science fiction and reality which manages to take a fantastical grip on your imagination. Loaded

with symbolic potential and abstract references, the sculptures create an open-ended narrative. We come across the sculptures like a snapshot, a frozen moment in their ever-changing metamorphosis. In Flux we encounter some of Altmejd’s monumental works in the Great Hall of MUDAM. These human sculptures riddled with crystalline carbuncles and broken mirrors are completely at home in the space. The works dominate the room to such an extent that it starts to become unclear as to who is being inspected; the sculptures loom over the viewers and hold an other-worldly supremacy over us. They

refute all our interpretations, instead simply standing proudly on their plinths. Having previously been on display in February at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Flux is now on show at MUDAM in Luxembourg until the end of May. This is the last chance to see this body of work in Europe before it travels to Montreal.

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Discover Benelux & France | Culture | Out & About

Out & About With a buzzing art scene, French jazz tunes and the chance to relive history, this month brings uplifting and rather rare events to the Benelux and France. Why not slay a dragon in Belgium? Or spent a night in a French museum? In May it all becomes possible. TEXT: CAROLINE EDWARDS | MAIN PHOTOS: ILVy NJIOKIKTJIEN

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Discover Benelux & France | Culture | Out & About

Top Left Photo: Erik Smits Bottom Left Photo: Rijksmuseum Bottom Middle Photo: MHM Flugplatz Berlin-Gatow Top Right Photo: Museum of Rotterdam Middle Right Photo: Ilvy Njiokiktjien Bottom Right Photo: Firi den Hoedt

The Royal Greenhouses of Laeken Brussels, Belgium, until 8 May Built in 1873 by the architect Alphonse Balat at the request of Leopold II, this is a real town of glass and organics which took more than 20 years to grow in the area around the Royal Castle of Laeken. The greenhouses are open for three weeks a year just when the azaleas are in full bloom. The place is magical, the setting enchanting and the fragrances captivating, especially at night time.

The Late Rembrandt at the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, the Netherlands, until 17 May During the final years of his life, Rembrandt

experimented with graphic and painting techniques, bringing an unprecedented depth to his work. It led to his most audacious, individualistic and intimate works. The Late Rembrandt is a unique exhibition that gives art lovers the opportunity to experience over 100 paintings, drawings and sketches that Rembrandt produced in the final phase of his life.

The Attack Exhibition Heijplaat, Rotterdam, 30 April – 25 October This year on 10 May it will be 75 years since Holland was invaded and became embroiled in the Second World War. From 10 to 14 May 1940, a relentless battle was fought for the control over the city of Ro-

terdam, the incredible and largely untold story that preceded the bombing that left the city in ruin. This exhibition, The Attack – May 1940, five days battling for Rotterdam highlights the days of battle for Rotterdam.

The Dutch Liberation Day The Netherlands, 5 May Liberation Day marks the celebration of freedom and the end of the Second World War for the Netherlands. Each year the Prime Minister lights the Liberation Day torch at the Liberation Festival in zeeland and kickstarts the 14 festivals across the country that finish off in Amsterdam. The capital’s Liberation Festival (Bevrijdings-

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Discover Benelux & France | Culture | Out & About

Top Right & Middle Photo: City of ypres Top Left Photo: Brugge Plus Middle Left Photo: S.Santarelli Bottom: Brugge Plus

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Discover Benelux & France | Culture | Out & About

festival) showcases talented musicians and is a festivity bursting with joviality and Dutch flags which is mostly free to attend. Jazz Festival in Normandy Coutances, France, 8-16 May The Jazz under the Apple Trees festival takes place every year in Coutances during Ascension week. Every year features lots of unique experiences, creations, special evenings, headliners, new discoveries and jazz in all its diversity, including percussionist Pascal Schumacher (see page 12). The eclectic line-up ranges from ‘New Orleans’ jazz to electronic music. The festival offers eight days of music, with around 400 professional musicians, spread across seven stages, around 60 paying concerts, six street performances, many activities and 35,000 spectators in the concert halls.

flowers as far as the eye can see, right through the city’s centre on the Prins Hendrikstraat, het Ruiterskwartier, de Westerplantage, de Groeneweg and Nieuwestads. For those with green fingers, this is a must.

storytelling tour, torch-lit tour, concert, workshops for children, screenings, fireworks. Children and adults, lovers of music, live performance, literature and art in a more general sense all gather here for a unique night. nuitdesmusees.culturecommunication.

Photo: Brugge Plus

Photo: Eric Danhier

Photo: City of ypres

An imaginary future in Bruges Triennial Bruges, Belgium, 20 May – 18 October Imagine if the five million people who visit Bruges every year, suddenly decided to settle there permanently. Artists from Europe and Asia are invited to interpret this hypothetical question in their own way via outside installations, against the backdrop of beautiful Bruges. All the installations will be on display from until 18 October. Photo: S.Santerlli

The Cat Parade Ypres, Belgium, 10 May Ever since 1955 the people of ypres, Belgium have devoted the second Sunday of May to the cat. However, if you thought it was all about celebrating their cuteness you were wrong. The parade is inspired by the Middle Ages, a time when cats were associated with witchcraft and thrown out of the windows. The real cats have been replaced by toys and no more witch burning takes place, but the spectacular cat parade still maintains a bit of medieval spirit. Dutch Flower Market Leeuwarden, the Netherlands, 14 May Every year on Ascension Day, Leeuwarden traditionally organises the ‘Bloemetjesmarkt’. It is Holland’s longest market with a sea of

Brussels Pride 20th Anniversary Brussels, Belgium, 14-16 May Brussels Pride is celebrating its 20th anniversary. To mark the milestone, the organisers have decided to pull out all the stops with a full programme of activities, over its three days. The first day will focus on different approaches to gender and identity. Day two will include a street party on Rue Orts, followed by an eye-catching parade on the third day. European Museum Night France, 16 May Over 1,300 French museums take part in the European Museum Night, and 98 per cent of them are open to the public free of charge between 6pm and midnight. Most museums offer special activities for this original night, aimed at all audiences: a

Dragon slaying in Mons Mons, Belgium, 31 May Fancy slaying a dragon? Well, you might get what you want in Mons. Ducasse de Mons (or Doudou) is a rather special festival that is passed on to future generations each year, recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Event. In an atmosphere boasting medieval superstition and reli-

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Discover Benelux & France | Culture | Out & About

gious rituals, Ducasse de Mons delivers something rather special, a chance to witness exciting combat and beautiful processions. Brussels Half Marathon Brussels, Belgium, 31 May The 35th edition of Brussels’ half marathon hits Brussels on 31 May. The event known as ‘The 20 Km’ is an important milestone of the Belgian spring calendar. Boasting one of the greenest routes out of many urban runs it offers a fun and challenging way to explore the capital. The first edition took place in 1980 and has gained increasing popularity ever since. This year 40,000 runners from all nationalities are expected on the streets. Will you be one of them?

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Discover Benelux & France | Column | Lifestyle

How to make friends with the Dutch TEXT: SIMON WOOLCOT | PHOTO: NBTC

A common question asked by Dutch people is: "What do you think of Holland compared to your own hell-hole-of-a-countrythat-is-not-the-Netherlands?" A character trait I admire in the Dutch is the willingness not to allow a complete and utter lack of facts get in the way of a good lecture of the pros and cons of a country someone has never lived in. Always reply how much you love the Netherlands and how much better the quality of life is here. This will immediately score you some brownie points despite being a foreigner. Being smartly dressed, for example wearing black shoes, heels, make up, not wearing denim and taking care of one's appearance is generally frowned upon. If you dress in a way that is outside the ‘Normen en Waarden’ (Norms and Values) of Dutch society, you will be labelled as someone

asked: “How come you don't speak Dutch?” Breaking this vicious cycle without causing offence requires the delicate diplomatic skills of a UN negotiator. If your Dutch is good enough, then politely insist on speaking Dutch as you wish to improve your skills.

who thinks too highly of themselves. If you want to get on, dress as if you are going to pick up some plants from the local garden centre. Do this and locals might even involve you in a conversation. Another interesting conundrum for foreigners: If you speak Dutch with a local the response will invariably be in English. However, if you speak in English you'll be

I've known fluent Dutch speakers who have lived and worked here for years that still get spoken to in English by the locals. Be persistent and continue speaking Dutch, this should hopefully wear them down and have them speaking with you in their language. Follow these steps and you’ll make friends in no time in the Netherlands.

Your Partner in Anglo Dutch Business The Netherlands British Chamber of Commerce (NBCC) is the only bilateral non-profit membership organisation solely dedicated to promoting Anglo-Dutch trade and investment. From our start in 1891, we helped thousands of companies and entrepreneurs expanding their business abroad. The Netherlands-British Chamber of Commerce, 125 years experience in Anglo-Dutch trade and investment promotion. Contact us now for: • Access to interesting network events • Participation in NBCC events and working groups • Exclusive access to our intranet membership area • Up to date economic information and market sector intelligence • Market research • Partner searches • Company formation • Virtual office services • Sales support NL Tel.: 070-205 5656

UK Tel.: 03333-440 779

Email: Or visit:

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