Discover Benelux, Issue 21, September 2015

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I S S U E 21 | S E P T E M B E R 2015











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Discover Benelux | Contents

Contents SEPTEMBER 2015






Vicky Krieps Having acted in major Hollywood films, Vicky Krieps is now landing top roles in international productions. Read how this leading lady from Luxembourg is juggling a busy career with motherhood.


Best of Dutch Design Our Dutch design special highlights all the top businesses in the field, from product and packaging design to branding and customer experiences to website and application design. Product Design & Packaging, page 19 Creating Brand Experiences, page 26 Best of Dutch Digital Design, page 30


The Ultimate Shopping Guide

Restaurants of the Month From Belgian haute cuisine to joyful pastas in the Netherlands and exquisite meals in a medieval setting in Luxembourg, our restaurants of the month will instantly conjure up an appetite.


Belgium and its comics With the Comic Strip Festival happening in Brussels this month, we decided to explore why so many famous comic characters hail from Belgium, including Tintin, the Smurfs, Spirou and Lucky Luke.


Company profiles, regulars and more To keep produce fresh and easy to handle, it is important protect it with the right packaging. Learn more about packaging solutions in this month’s business section. PLUS: Business calendar, page 87

For some shopping therapy head to the Netherlands. This shopping guide features three districts that are packed with fashion boutiques, gifts, accessories and food and drink destinations The Nine Streets: Amsterdam, page 50 Het Stokstraatkwartier: Maastricht, page 66 Het Noordeinde: The Hague, page 73




Discover the Netherlands, Leiden Located between Amsterdam and The Hague, Leiden is famous for its world-class university, rich history and original museums. It’s a cultural delight waiting to be explored.

DON’T MISS 6 Fashion Picks | 8 Desirable Designs 94 Out & About | 98 Lifestyle Columns

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Discover Benelux | Editor’s Note

Dear Reader,

Discover Benelux

Matt Antoniak

Issue 21, September 2015

Michiel Stol

Published 09.2015 ISSN 2054-7218

Paola Westbeek Rosanne Roobeek Sara Asoka Paulsen

Published by

Steve Flinders

Scan Group

Stuart Forster Toyah Marondel

Design & Print Liquid Graphic Ltd. Executive Editor Thomas Winther Creative Director

Cover Photo Helen Sobiralski Advertising

Mads E. Petersen

Sales & Key Account Managers


Micha Cornelisse

Myriam Gwynned Dijck

Kirsten Schoon

Mette Tonnessen

Sophie Plenert Acting Editor

Lucile Hamiche

Nane Steinhoff

Steven Ebbers

Copy Editor


Isa Hemphrey

Scan Group

Graphic Designer Joseph J. Ewin Contributors Abby Ward Berthe van den Hurk Bettina Guirkinger Caroline Edwards Cathy van Klaveren

15B Bell Yard Mews Bermondsey Street London SE1 3TY United Kingdom Phone +44 (0)870 933 0423 Fax +44 (0)870 933 0421 Email:

Now that the summer has officially come to an end, it is time to battle that postholiday blues. With the new working year kicking off, there is no better time to give your wardrobe an update than now. And in this issue we have just the solution for you. In our 30-page special, we have highlighted some of the best shopping destinations in the Netherlands. Starting with the bustling Nine Streets in Amsterdam, which is probably the capital’s worst-kept secret, we also highlight areas that are somewhat off the beaten track. One of them is Het Noordeinde, in The Hague, an atmospheric district that is right between the royal palace and the centre. But also Het Stokstraatkwartier in Maastricht is worth mentioning. Tucked in the far south of the country, this city in Limburg has one of the most charming centres of the Netherlands and is perfect for a day trip. Our special includes both well-known labels such as Replay (page 58) and Claudia Sträter (page 78) and independent shops with their own unique collections such as Fur and Fashion (page 68) and OSKA (page 70). But fashion is only the start of what we have in store. If you’re looking for accessories, jewellery or watches, you’ve also picked up the right magazine. Just turn to page 76 for the wonderful jewellery by Steltman, or page 56 for fantastic leather bags by Smaak Amsterdam. For watches, and don’t miss the Amsterdam Watch Company on page 54. It might not completely cure the after-summer sadness, but it will certainly help you to get excited about the colder months ahead. Happy shopping!

Diego Philips Heather Welsh Helen Cullen Janine Sterenborg Josiah Fisk Lidija Liegis Martin Pilkington

© 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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Myriam Gwynned Dijck, Editor

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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: Our SEB Private Banking Team +44 (0) 20 7246 4225



Sweden • Norway • Denmark • Finland • Luxembourg • Switzerland • United Kingdom • Singapore • Estonia • Latvia • Lithuania

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Discover Benelux | Design | Fashion Picks


Gold rush Autumn sees the return of metallic lurex fabrics, glitter and sequins – but think intergalactic chic and futuristic styles rather than disco. Cooler weather might have you reaching for comforting shades of navy and black, but don’t pack away those pale hues just yet – going all white or monochrome is a key trend this autumn. TEXT: LIDIJA LIEGIS | PRESS PHOTOS

1: Classy in grey Create an urban autumn look with a romantic twist. This eye-catching jacket with a flower pattern combines perfectly with a soft-grey top and light trousers to produce a ton-sur-ton effect. Finish off with tough sneakers to create a modern look or combine with a metallic clutch. Jacket €190 Top €90 Trousers €130

2: Toughen up This Xandres gold cotton biker jacket can be worn in countless ways: with denim or cigarette pants during the day, or over a dress at night. €134

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Discover Benelux | Design | Fashion Picks

5: Autumnal shades For a pop of colour choose a block colour dress, such as this flowing number in mustard yellow by Spijkers en Spijkers. The look is completed with a leather or suede belt, and knee-high boots for when the weather gets cooler. Dress €319

3: Golden Girl Spice up your outfit with warm copper or gold tones such as this metallic skirt by Dutch designer Marcha Huskes. Wear it with opaque tights, a cashmere sweater or blazer, and boots and you're instantly ready for autumn. Black jersey top €95 Copper pencil skirt €315

4: Luxe sportswear Add a hint of shimmer to your look with IRO’s silver sneakers for day time or after-dark appeal. €330

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Discover Benelux | Design | Desirable Designs


A fairytale getaway Autumn is slowly approaching, so why not escape to the land of the fairies and childhood dreams, where the sun is always shining and vibrant colours fill the horizons? Turn things upside down with these quirky designs that will bring about rays of happiness, even if the weather outside is a little grim. TEXT: CAROLINE EDWARDS | PRESS PHOTOS

2. Creative shapes, mind-blowing colours The Dutch Studio Snowpuppe is known for its fun-loving approach to design. Here lamps are created from creative minds, folded with butterfly paper and brought to life by an artistic touch. Evoking a sense of adventure, the Moth Gradient lamp from Snowpuppe provides you with just the right amount of light. €160

1. Your own castle hideout The Fantasia playhouse from Exit offers the perfect escape for children and adults alike. With its bright green colours and Alice in Wonderland shape, it’s both fun and aesthetically pleasing. Let your children enter the magic grounds, right into the heart of their own fairytale. Price upon request.

3. The magical book basket If you love books, there is nothing more exciting than the prospect of storing your beloved items in a magical book basket. Dutch Design Brand, from the Netherlands, creates sustainable products at competitive prices, always with a greener planet in mind. Just sit back and enjoy this literary masterpiece. From €20

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4. Playtime furniture Imagine a world where all toys come to life? An imaginary place where the interior of your playhouse or building block fortress suddenly pops up in real-life sizes? Pepeheykoop does just that. Its colourful Brickchair looks like a little piece from a dollhouse, only bigger. €4,000

5. Colourful creations Round and colourful, the bXL tables from Bernoitneubourg Design are pieces to be remembered. Created to stir the imagination, the circular furniture is the perfect fit for a creative household, adding to the fairytale feel on even the coldest of days. Price upon request

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Discover Benelux | Furniture Design | Felicerossi

Italian design meets Dutch functionality How public spaces are designed and furnished significantly affects our state of mind. Take offices for example, which should function as meeting places where creativity and productivity are fully stimulated. This is a concept which Italian furniture brand Felicerossi not only comprehends and facilitates, but has technologically and ecologically enhanced. TEXT: PAOLA WESTBEEK | PHOTOS: KUEHNE + NAGEL (PATRICK MEIS) / FELICEROSSI

Founded in 1922 as a company specialising in home furnishings, by the 1950s Felicerossi gradually shifted toward the production of high-end design. By the end of the century their focus had turned to the contract market, catering to offices and other public spaces. It was then that talented Dutch industrial designer Jacco Bregonje, at the time the company’s art director, created his much acclaimed Divina (2001). The unique armchair not only serves as a prime example of Felicerossi’s innovation, but is also part of the permanent museum collections of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. “Around 2012/2013, the third generation of Felicerossi, Roberto Sartorio, asked my brother if he was interested in taking over

the company,” relates business and change consultant Tanno Bregonje. “We were always interested in bringing a furniture brand to the next level,” he says. And in April 2014, the brothers began to fulfil their mission together with Fokke van der Veer, bringing his experience as the former supply chain vice-president at Unilever. Felicerossi aims to bring forth a collection that merges aesthetics with environmental sustainability and cutting-edge technology. They want to play an active role in moving towards a circular economy and are working on new products, new concepts, new business models and a new configuration of their distribution channel. Felicerossi also plays a key role in how the furniture operates in its space. Tanno: “To facilitate this, we have our own design studio to help

create the spaces that offer a new way of using domestic, public and workplace areas.” Examples of Felicerossi designs combining outstanding comfort with surprising elements are the Mumble sofa, the Ram seat, the Divina armchair and the interior of the Dutch innovation and training centre of the multinational in logistics Kuehne + Nagel. Tanno: ‘What we seek in this adventure is to bring together refined Italian design with sober Dutch functionality. In combination with our drive for research, innovation and collaboration with business partners, we create distinctive products meeting the ambitions and needs of our customers.”

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Leiden: Where old and new culture collide This month we uncover the delights of Leiden, a Dutch city located between Amsterdam and The Hague. Known for its world-class university, rich cultural history and original museums, the city is also currently home to the exciting Global Imaginations exhibition. TEXT: HEATHER WELSH & MYRIAM GWYNNED DIJCK | PHOTOS: LEIDEN MARKETING

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Discover Benelux | City Feature | Leiden

Situated in southern Holland, the city has a long history. Leiden flourished in the 16th and 17th centuries, which is reflected in its architecture. In 1575 the city’s university was established and, as the oldest in the country, the university has had a big impact on this small, laid-back city. With 13 museums, Leiden is the perfect destination for a cultural day-trip.

A view from the water Like Amsterdam, you are never far from a waterway, as Leiden boasts 28 kilometres of canals and 88 bridges. So what better way to see the sights than by boat? One of the aspects that stands out are the red crossed keys of Leiden inside a white coat of arms, a symbol of its patron Saint Petrus that are dotted on doors and bridges throughout the city. On a sunny day, it’s not hard to spot students enjoying a coffee on one of the many café boats, especially around the Academy

Building. Completed in 1516, it is Leiden’s oldest building and is situated at the heart of the university. Still in use by the university today, the building includes a rather unusual room. Named the ‘signing room’, or more aptly the ‘sweating room’ (zweetkamertje), its walls are covered by thousands of names of graduates. Originally, it was the place where students would hear the results of their final exam, a nervewrecking event which would give some the cold sweats. If you look closely, you will even find the signatures of Nelson Mandela, King Willem-Alexander and even Winston Churchill, all of whom attended the university.

The horticultural experience Right behind the Academy Building, you can find the Hortus Botanicus, Leiden’s botanic gardens. A must for plant-lovers, the gardens were initiated in 1590 and is the oldest botanic garden in Western Europe still in existence, currently celebrating

its 425th anniversary. The green treasure trove holds over ten thousand species of plants, many of which are endangered species. Its extraordinary gardens and greenhouses are well worth a visit, such as the Clusius Garden (named after the famous Flemish botanist), the Japanese garden, the tropical glasshouses and a reconstruction of its first scientific garden (then mainly for medical students) from 1594.

Cultural exploration Thanks to its academic connections, Leiden has had many celebrated inhabitants, including the scientists Constantijn Huygens, René Descartes, Dutch Nobel laureate Heike Kamerlingh Onnes and even Albert Einstein who hosted various lectures here. The famous Dutch painter Rembrandt was born in Leiden in 1606 and started his painting career here before moving to Amsterdam. His familial house no longer exists, but a sculpture entitled

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Discover Benelux | City Feature | Leiden

The Young Rembrandt at Weddesteeg Rembrandtplein reminds you of this history. To learn more about the city of Leiden, Museum De Lakenhal, founded in 1874, is the place to go. Displays of new visual arts, fine art and exhibitions on the history of Leiden come together in a fantastic collection. Highlights include paintings by old masters such as Lucas van Leyden, Jan Steen and of course Rembrandt, but also shows the work of contemporary artists Theo van Doesburg, Jan Wolkers and Erwin Olaf.

Visions on globalisation Apart from its permanent museums, Leiden is full of other cultural gems. Hosted in the flourmill or ‘Meelfabriek’, a tall, striking industrial structure found by the canal, is the Global Imaginations exhibition. Open until early October, the art display is presented by the Museum De Lakenhal. This will be the last event held at this spectacular location before it will be renovated into penthouses and student accommodation. Global Imaginations gives a new lease of life to the factory that was built in 1884.

The exhibition consists of 30 works by 20 leading contemporary artists from all over the world. Each of them have created installations, video projections, sculptures or other artwork that reflects their vision on today’s globalised world. From American artist collective Ghana Think Tank who ask critical questions about the internationally renowned Dutch tolerance, to artists like Lucy and Jorge Orta, who draw attention to the world’s worrying lack of clean water by purifying water from the Zijlsingel that runs past the mill. The exhibition’s diversity and the relatable issues discussed give it a broad appeal.

doors. These are included in the ‘Along Leiden's Almshouses’ walk, or you can discover them during the guided ‘City and courtyard walking tour’. During this, a guide from the Leiden Guild reveals the beautiful, quiet courtyards, many of them lined with linden trees. With its beautiful canals, 17th century architecture and rich history, Leiden sports many of Amsterdam’s charming characteristics but has a more relaxed and refined atmosphere. Leiden’s compact centre and wealth of cultural activities make this a perfect day trip destination that also avoids the hordes of tourists in the capital.

Leiden by foot The inner city is easy to explore alone on foot but there are also various walking tours available that immerse visitors in specific histories. Self-guided walks include ‘In the footsteps of the young Rembrandt’, the historical ‘The Leiden Loop’ and a mural poetry walk which passes a selection of Leiden’s 101 public wall poems. Also worth a visit are the city’s hidden courtyards, whose entrances are often concealed by heavy

Discover Leiden - Normally not open to the public, you can visit the Academy Building of Leiden University on 12 and 13 September during Open Monument Day. - The Hortus Botanicus Leiden is open daily from 10am to 6pm (until 31 October). - Museum de Lakenhal is open 10am to 5pm during weekdays and 12am to 5pm on the weekends (closed on Mondays). Do note that the museum will be closing at the start of 2016 for a grand renovation. - Visit the Global Imaginations exhibition in De Meelfabriek from 12pm to 6pm daily (closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, until 4 October). - The Leiden walking tours, both selfguided and with Guild guide, are available to book via the Leiden Visitor Centre. - On Wednesdays and Saturdays the quays of Botermarkt, Vismarkt, Aalmarkt and New Rhine offer an extensive produce market where you can taste local specialties including the traditional Dutch sugar bread or mature cheese with cumin. - The keen shopper should head to the Haarlemmerstraat, which is one kilometre of high-street shops and boutiques in the centre.

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Discover Benelux | Architecture | Gilles Fostier / Be Designer

Simplicity and modernity With a style that brings together the identity of a place and the personality of its occupants, Be Designer has proved time and time again the originality of its creative power, from reorganising the interior space of a loft to refreshing the looks of a family house. TEXT: BETTINA GUIRKINGER | PHOTOS: GILLES FOSTIER / BE DESIGNER

For as long as he can remember, Gilles Fostier, founder of Be Designer, was bound to become an architect. “One of my earliest memories as a child was to draw plans for the house we were renovating. As I got older, I decided to pursue studies in art and eventually graduated with a diploma in interior design.” While initially working for an architectural firm, it soon became clear to Fostier that his growing clientele required him to build his own enterprise and follow his instincts when it came to the creation of an interior space. “I have always valued the client’s desires and vision of the end product. It is team work from beginning to end. Our team will be adjusting until the client is fully satisfied.”

Co-creative work The creative process begins with the first meeting with the client, and for Fostier, every-

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thing comes down to preparation: “there have been times when we have arrived to the meeting with four different sketches with different possible combinations, materials and dispositions. We would put the kitchen at the front of the house or at the back – each time highlighting the advantages and disadvantages of each choice so that our client is fully aware of what he or she is going for. We then cut down the sketches to two and finally agree on the final one.” On top of this, the team draws on the lifestyle of the client to fit their needs and personality: “A space would be organised very differently depending on whether the client is single or in a couple, with or without children… a lot of factors are taken into account,” says Fostier. The external look is just as important as the internal one, which is why Be Designer makes sure to stay true to the immediate context to produce an ensemble that is har-

monious and modern. “Every building has its own history and our job is to awaken the chemistry between the space and the customer.” This can go from the general feel of the house to the choice of specific materials. “We specialise in an architecture that is contemporary but not ‘cold’, which means that we tend to opt for soft materials with simple shapes. Wood and cement are our favourites in making a space welcoming and cosy.”

When drawings come to life “We operate through a process of back and forths with the client to refine the plans. We first agree on a general division of the space and we then proceed to sort out the different details of the kitchen, living room, light, heating and so on,” explains Fostier. A particularly exciting project undertaken by Be Designer is the ‘Project Fabriques’ – an old mansion in the centre of Brussels turned

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Discover Benelux | Architecture | Gilles Fostier / Be Designer

into a modern duplex where volumes and surfaces copy the style of lofts. Consisting of two levels both spreading over 110 square metres, Fostier and his team decided to open the two separate floors by building an atrium at the center. The result is a funnel of light illuminating the whole duplex, completed with a staircase that unites the two levels. A personal touch is the Japanese Zen garden that can be visible from every room and brings a delicate touch of serenity.

customers so that they are as knowledgeable as possible in the decisions they take regarding the creation of their living space.” Always striving for innovation, the team at Be Designer is ready for new design challenges and can be contacted directly through their website.

Conscious of the need to build sustainably, Fostier pushes for the use of modern heating installations that are in line with the latest environmental regulations. “Our philosophy is to rely on ecological features that are effective and yet remain very discreet. For instance, thermal isolation is not meant to be noticed, instead we strive to retain a look that is pure and contemporary.”

Regional operations Based not far from the Belgian capital, Be Designer currently operates mostly in Belgium and Luxembourg but is extending its field of operations to the direct neighbouring countries as well as the United Kingdom and Spain. “Our objective is to do what we do to the best that we can do it. This means a huge work of preparation and the will to provide a crash-course in architecture to our

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Discover Benelux | Bathroom Design | Créations Gillet

Turn on the tap, fill up with style The bathroom says more about our individual views on design than any other room in the house. But with bathroom materials, technology and trends changing constantly it can be tough deciding on exactly what style we’re after, let alone getting the details right. Créations Gillet aims to guide clients through that maze and provide a one-stop-shop to take a concept and make it a reality. TEXT: MARTIN PILKINGTON | PHOTOS: COURTESY OF CRéATIONS GILLET

“If you have to source all the tradesmen needed to install a bathroom yourself it can be incredibly complicated to co-ordinate the tilers, electricians, plumbers, heating engineers, installers... We do everything in-house, no sub-contracting, so we can be sure of the quality of work and the installation time,” explains Sylvie Gillet, daughter of the Création Gillet’s founder, and now one of the management team that runs the business: “We can install the complete room, from flooring to ceiling and everything in-between in a week, instead of it dragging on for three or four weeks and beyond that can happen otherwise.” The company was started in 1980 by Sylvie’s father Marc, originally as a small specialist tile shop in Bastogne in Belgium. It soon needed to move to bigger premises, and a second

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branch opened in Luxembourg in 1990. “But the really big change in the business came about some 20 years ago when it was decided to develop the concept of providing a complete offer for bathrooms, from A to Z, everything that goes in them, and the skilled personnel to fit all of that too,” says Sylvie.

A family affair Today it’s still very much a family business, the team of 35 including four members of the second generation who are closely involved in the technical and managerial sides of the company’s activities. But the current Bastogne shop is a world away from their first premises, with a 1,000-square-metre showroom whose high-end displays often provide the first inspiration for their clients. “Our interior designers can work with clients, talk to them to explore precisely what they want,

maybe suggest some solutions that they aren’t aware of, and draw up plans with them." “Fashions and styles change rapidly, as does the range of products available to the designer and the end user,” she explains: “For example illuminated walls and ceilings for the bathroom are now being incorporated into some high-end designs, and sound systems in the shower. And the touch controls that can be installed now for bathroom appliances are elegant and really stylish.”

Classical to contemporary A stroll around the showroom demonstrates their approach of offering the customer choice, rather than focussing solely on this year’s trends, though there are plenty of eyecatching über-contemporary items on dis-

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Discover Benelux | Bathroom Design | Créations Gillet

play. Ultra-modern spaces with super-clean lines, the last word in fittings and spectacular colours are metres away from grand displays reminiscent of Rome in its sensuous, luxurious pomp, all dazzling marble and classical curves. And it’s definitely not a case of one size fits all, with ingenious design touches making the most of limited room to inspire clients fitting an additional bathroom into an awkward corner, and by contrast, others where a Hollywood superstar might look up from bathing in their giant bath and think: “This is living!” Sylvie is keen to emphasise that while they deal with all the top names in the field – Gessi, Frisone, Antonio Luppi, and Atlas Concorde to name but four – their approach is not just about fitting ready-made items in the space, however beautiful they may be:

“The concept goes deeper than that, in that one part of our company manufactures made-to-measure elements in Olympia Marble, a product unique to us that can be moulded into products specially customised for the client, and coloured according to their specific needs. It’s warmer to the touch and has a more durable surface than marble itself.”

into France, though they do on occasion work with architects on larger projects, and have supplied for a few high-end hotels: “In the main it is at the luxury end of the market, but we work with customers on tighter budgets too,” she adds: “What we hope we deliver to all of them is a great bathroom that suits their needs, quickly and easily.”

They are also an approved Corian® supplier, a high-tech material for bathroom surface manufactured by DuPont: “Corian® is only supplied through approved outlets that meet specific standards, so we think that’s another sign of the quality of our approach,” she says. Their clientele is mainly private individuals across much of Belgium, Luxembourg, and

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Mini Theme Vinexpo:| Fine of France Discover Benelux | Best of Dutch| Design Intro:Wines Product Design & Packaging







Product design and packaging Dutch design has been famous all over the world for quite some time. The Dutch seem to be born with this special designer blood. But must a designer be Dutch to create Dutch design? TEXT: BERTHE VAN DEN HURK | PHOTOS: DUTCH DESIGN WEEK

First, we have to determine what Dutch design is. Dutch design is generally about product design, described as minimalist, experimental, innovative, unconventional and with a sense of humour. All elements of the design are meant to match the Dutch character traits. Whether the style describes their characters or not, in the 1980s it became an internationally known term. Several Dutch designers received worldwide recognition after showing their work at different international fairs and exhibitions. All their designs seemed to have the same qualities; simple, powerful and quirky. This appeared to be the aesthetic common among the designers from the Netherlands, hence Dutch design. There is another essential element to add to the def-

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inition of Dutch design; the designs often show underlying themes about societal issues, to indicate, to question or to create a (humorous) solution. Naturally, the style evolves, and it no longer only involves product design. Dutch design has become more of a mindset, rather than a location-based style, or a particular group of designers and design aesthetics. It has become a permanent impact of a culture and mentality. The annual Dutch Design Week (DDW) is a worldwide leading design event in the city of Eindhoven, in the province of Brabant. DDW shows the ever evolving Dutch design, in every possible way. What once started as a local oneday event in 1998, has now grown into the biggest design event of Northern Eu-

rope. But most impressive of all: nowadays it is positioned as a leading international platform for talented designers with a Dutch design mentality, whether they have Dutch origins or not. The upcoming DDW, from 17 to 25 October this year, is themed ‘What if...’ According to DDW the question ‘what if?’ is the beginning of creativity and innovation. Designers achieve the most divergent forms of innovation when looking differently at what already exists, and not to acquiesce in the status quo, by constantly searching for alternative answers and solutions. Ask the question behind the question, and be receptive to innovation and change. This year’s participants respond to the rapid technological developments and our experience of it in the future.

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Discover Benelux | Product Design & Packaging | Mountain

‘A secret profession, yet I’m in every cabinet’ It’s one of those crafts that goes by solely in the background, and still everyone knows of its existence and uses the products.“I kind of like it that I have a secret profession,” says André de Koning, owner of Mountain Design in The Hague. TEXT: CATHY VAN KLAVEREN | PHOTO: MOUNTAIN

“When someone opens his cabinet, our design will probably be in there,” says De Koning. He and his company design some of the most memorable Dutch articles. And by that he means the packaging of them. For instance, the pot of peanut butter by Calvé, or what about the cartons for De Ruijter hagelslag (chocolate sprinkles) and also Roosvicee is on the list. And these are the tip of the iceberg. By stating that they are ‘brand tailors’, the team at Mountain gives the brands their identity. “And that is a constant process. It’s always a puzzle, figuring out how the client wants their brand to be recognised. We’ve been doing the peanut but-

ter for almost 20 years now. We walked the brand through its own identity. That changes, because sometimes the manufacturer adds a flavour and wants the packaging to match. We make sure the appearance stays up-to-date, as with the other brands we have under our wing.” One of the ways to do this is for De Koning to walk into a supermarket, sometimes as a regular consumer but also at times as a professional, and just start to analyse what he sees. “You have to be very meticulous when analysing a product. What works for one brand, does not make it beneficial for the other. What’s important is how people react when they see the product. You have

to really stand out because the supermarkets in the Netherlands are often much smaller than those in foreign countries.” When De Koning professionally analyses a product, he takes photos of it. Other brands De Koning and his team have worked and are working on are Campina, Coca-Cola, Brinta, Dommelsch and even a Belgian classic: Jupiler. But what De Koning really wants to do, is to work for Hak. “That is so typically Dutch, I would love to help design it.” At Mountain, they want to make sure their tagline sets foot in every household: 'Meet me, Inspire me, Choose me, Love me'.

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Discover Benelux | Product Design & Packaging | dBOD

Moving brands forward, one iconic package at a time Iconic packaging – every brand wants it. In fact, some brands spend years, not to mention millions, rolling out radical new packaging designs year in, year out. But according to dBOD, one of Holland’s most successful design agencies in the past two decades, the best brands treat their packaging as a slow evolution. TEXT: BERTHE VAN DEN HURK | EDITOR: JOHN WEICH | PHOTOS: DBOD

“Consistency may be the most overlooked word in branding today,” says Remco van der Sluis, managing director of du Bois Ording Design, or dBOD for short. “We advise all our brands to approach change very tentatively. Brands want to remain contemporary, but consumers are more conservative and often don’t want their favourite brands to change at all. Products are constantly changing, packaging is more of a slow evolution.” For the past 35 years the Amsterdambased full-service design agency has been creating packaging, digital media and retail designs for some of the world’s largest brands. Its client list reads like a who’s-who of Dutch success stories – Heineken, Schiphol Airport, Albert Heijn and others. The agency works around the globe and

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has won numerous awards with them, but perhaps most impressive is how long their clients stick around. Van der Sluis: “That’s a point of pride: most of our clients have been working with us for many, many years.”

by introducing them early into the process, they are every bit as important as strategists and consultants. We’ve learned that brands that invite designers to the table early are often more successful than those that don’t.”

Design matters

As dBOD continues to operate at full capacity thanks to a continuous stream of new clients in Europe and Asia, they are constantly on the lookout for young talent. Van der Sluis: “Unfortunately, there isn’t really a packaging design school you can simply pull bright young talent from. But even if there was, a specific type of designer works at dBOD. They are great designers, but also warm and human. We hire the type of designers clients feel good around. Anyone working in the design world knows that’s easier said than done.”

According to Van der Sluis, over the past 35 years packaging has become a vital part of brand communication strategy. Sometimes packaging is even more important than the product. For this reason, dBOD asks to be present during its clients’ strategic branding meetings. “When designers are at important strategic meetings you can literally see their minds churning,” says Van der Sluis. “They see and hear things no one else notices. And

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Discover Benelux | Product Design & Packaging | dBOD

Opening doors in China With success comes expansion, and over the last few years dBOD has set up offices and collaborations in India and China. While many brands and agencies quickly jumped into the Chinese market, dBOD waited a few years before making the leap. The challenge for dBOD is creating something new, not just replicating what they are already doing in the Netherlands. “We first wanted to understand the Chinese culture better,” says Van der Sluis. “We were pleasantly surprised to see how many Chinese companies were evolving into independent brands. But we also noticed that creativity isn’t glorified in China in the same way it is in the West. There was an enormous gap between these ambitious new Chinese brands and their inability to create corporate logos or consistent packaging.” That was four years ago. Today, dBOD operates a thriving design shop in Shanghai. The shop looks less like a design studio than a retail storefront, and passers-by are encouraged to look inside at dBOD’s work. The storefront isn’t just a reflection of dBOD’s open-door ideology; it also functions as a marketing tool. Van der Sluis: “A man came into the store one day and was really interested in the work that was hanging on the walls. He asked a lot of questions, but we didn’t

make much of the visit. A few days later we discovered that he was the design director of Coca-Cola Company China. We’ve been working with him ever since.” dBOD’s business in China is growing, not least of all thanks to the number of Chinese brands looking to expand into the European market. Also, Van der Sluis points out, they are charmed by dBOD’s 35-year history and experience. “The city is remarkable, everything here happens so fast,” says Van der Sluis. “Of course new opportunities come and go, but we’re here for the long-term if only because being in Shanghai gives everyone in the company so much positive energy.”

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Discover Benelux | Product Design & Packaging | FLEX/the INNOVATIONLAB

Creativity for strategic purposes Improving the world with innovative design is at the core of FLEX/the INNOVATIONLAB. Coming up with creative solutions is their greatest talent, which they successfully embed to meet the strategic and economical goals of their clients. TEXT: JANINE STERENBORG | PHOTO: FLEX/THE INNOVATIONLAB

“In the 80’s, the goal of design was to conquer a spot in the museum. Already at that time we were convinced that design should have a positive impact on the world,” explains senior designer Mark Assies. FLEX was one of the first design agencies to use creativity for the strategic purposes of companies like Philips, Lego, Unilever, AB Inbev and Tefal among many others. “Our designs have an impact on the economic, social, cultural and technical goals of our clients,” explains Assies. This speaks from all of FLEX’s divergent designs. For example, in the past customers of Dutch telecom provider KPN encountered problems when installing their digital services. This led to many helpdesk calls, a costly service for KPN. FLEX developed

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an integrated approach to tackle these issues. The solution: a well-arranged, understandable and consistent installation kit. Calls to the helpdesk decreased with 35 per cent. Assies: “This saved KPN lots of money and had a positive effect on their brand image.” A totally different product FLEX redesigned is Bison’s well known blue and white moisture absorber. Because of its lacking aesthetics, it was only placed in cellars and garages. Not only did FLEX improve the design greatly, the new de-humidifier has a 15 per cent better absorption capacity. Assies: “Our unique air-flow system enables a lamp-like, elegant design. This has led to the use of the product in more places in the house, resulting in a huge increase in market share and turnover for Bison.”

FLEX also created the eSOS system, a huge improvement on the standard emergency sanitation facilities in disaster zones. The eSOS focuses on hygiene and the efficiency of waste disposal. In time it will also detect the outbreak of diseases. Assies explains this innovative game changer: “Our system collects data through real-time measurements, like the waste level in the tanks, as well as a diversity of important health indicators.” The toilets are currently being tested in the Philippines. “We’re collaborating with the scientific institute UNESCO-IHE and ICT provider SYSTECH.BA,” explains Assies. “This combination yields unique insights and new technological connections.”

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Discover Benelux | Product Design & Packaging | Brand Candies

Desire to design Passion is what drives the brand identity and packaging design company Brand Candies. It is what brought the three creative partners together and it is this passion that not only challenges themselves but also their clients, to achieve the best design to define the client’s unique character and light the desire of their consumers. TEXT: MICHIEL STOL | PHOTO: BRAND CANDIES

Three award-winning creative partners Kyanne Bückmann, Marcel Verhaaf and Kevin Davis, with more than 25 years of experience at top design agencies, started Brand Candies in 2013 in Amsterdam. “We started our own company, where our individual passions came together and creativity would be the true focus. We are creatives working directly with clients in a more flexible and efficient approach to extract the most out of the creative budgets,” says Kevin.

That results often in unexpected and effective solutions. “For Sunweb, a travel agency, we designed the graphics for two of their airplanes. The design on the planes captures the emotion and pleasure of a holiday, yet still reflects the identity of Sunweb without using conventional airline graphics. A good product is not a guarantee of success, you need to connect and be relevant to the customer.” A compelling design can make this connection.

“For Brand Candies, every design has to create a desire for something you want to have. So with every design, we not only look at the DNA of our clients to ensure the design fits with them, we also look to make a real emotional connection between consumer and brand,” tells Kevin.

Brand Candies creates the brand identity and packaging designs for international brands like Royal Wessanen and HEMA. With ING they created, together with the Payconiq development team, the identity for the mobile pay system Payconiq for smartphones. But they also work for

local brands, like the National Opera and Ballet and ‘De Hortus Honey’, for whom they have developed unique physical packaging solutions. For De Leckere brewery they designed the new identity and packaging, based on the true character of the brand. Kevin: “The best compliment that we could receive was that a client of our client De Leckere said: ‘The packaging design now fits who you are.’” It is those compliments that fuel the passion and drive Brand Candies has for design. “That passion makes us feel like we are kids in a candy store. That energy is something that we want to share with all those who work with us.”

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D FDELQHW IXOO of stories


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Discover Benelux | Creating Brand Experiences | Intro: Famous Brands and their History


Famous brands and their history When thinking of the Netherlands, delicious Gouda cheeses, tulips fields and charming landscapes instantly spring to mind. The country is also the origin of international brands such as Philips, TomTom, Randstad, Shell and of course, Heineken. TEXT: SARA ASOKA PAULSEN | PHOTOS: PHILIPS / G-STAR / TOMTOM

After the middle ages, the Netherlands became a nation of traders. The country flourished in the 16th and 17th century as Dutch ships dominated the world trade market. This mentality is still part of the modern-day nation and the port of Rotterdam is the largest shipping port in Europe, with an annual throughput of almost 450 million tonnes. Today the Netherlands exports the largest number of bulbs in the world, both the flowering kind (mainly tulips) and the electrical kind thanks to multinational Philips. The Dutch farmers and gardeners are also among one of the

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top exporters, so it’s no surprise when looking down on the country from an airplane to see endless rows of greenhouses taking up much of your view.

Light up The Netherlands is also the motherland of great innovators and Philips is definitely one of them. It was founded in 1891 in Eindhoven by father and son Frederik and Gerard Philips. Shortly afterwards a second brother joined the company who helped to boost Philip’s early commercial success. Within a few years, the company

became one of the world’s biggest light bulb producers – a product that is still at the essence of the company today. It soon expanded and set up a research facility in 1914. This determination to innovate and invest in new inventions has helped Philips to stay a major player in household electronics throughout the last 100 years. Bringing many innovations to market, including in the areas of x-ray equipment, radio technologies and personal electronics, Philips is a brand that strives to improve people’s everyday life.

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Discover Benelux | Creating Brand Experiences | Intro: Famous Brands and their History

The right direction The Netherlands has been a major trading nation for many years. This was exemplified by the Dutch East India Company as it sailed across the globe during the so-called Dutch Golden Age. For this, dependable maps were needed, and in those days the Dutch navigational maps were among some of the most detailed. Today the Netherlands is still helping people all over the world to navigate, but now through electronic means with Dutch brand TomTom. The firm is successful worldwide and has GPS navigators for individual needs. The company started in 1991 making businessto-business software solutions, then they gained in on the PDA market. In 2002 the first TomTom Navigator was launched, and now they are still a brand to be reckoned with when it comes to satellite navigation technologies as they continue to evolve. For a fun time driving, it is possible to be guided by different familiar voices like Darth Vader and Master Yoda from the Star Wars films. In 2013, they launched their own line of GPS sports watches. This is a great example of how they have taken navigation to a higher level.

From the streets to the catwalk G-Star RAW is a fashion brand known for the relaxed and cool street-style denim look. The brand was founded in Amsterdam in 1989 and now, 26 years later, their clothes appeal to consumers all over the world. The brand has over 6,500 selling points worldwide making it reachable for a large amount of people. Jos van Tilburg is the Dutch founder, and he has moved the brand from a street wear label to a high fashion brand. Thanks to successful endorsement deals by people such as musician Pharrell Williams, the brand continues to rise each day.

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Discover Benelux | Creating Brand Experiences | DDB & Tribal

S I M P L E , S E X Y, C O O L

What makes a successful campaign DDB & Tribal Amsterdam is part of the top five most outstanding Dutch creative agencies that puts a unique twist on marketing and design. The highly ranked digital marketing agency is part of DDB international, one of the largest advertising offices worldwide and it has won prices such as Design Office of the Year at the SpinAwards and was named the SAN Agency of the Year (Dutch Advertiser Award). TEXT: TOYAH MARONDEL | PHOTO: DDB & TRIBAL AMSTERDAM

Just recently, it won five Lions at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity and released its 58th commercial Just Call Us for the Dutch insurance company Centraal Beheer Achmea. In 2012, Tribal Amsterdam and DDB joined forces. Nowadays, the Amsterdam-based agency stands for successful campaigns, nationally and internationally such as #ChampionTheMatch (Heineken), #HappyToHelp (KLM airlines) and BaaadAss Bill (TomTom). “Design is in everything,” says head of design Keith Kornson and co-CEO Ivo Roefs adds: “Design should be in everything, because every experience a consumer has with a product or a company adds to their like or dislike. That’s why we think through every step, whether we’re designing a television commercial, an app, the script for a call centre or a completely new service for one of our clients.”

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In 2014, the strategic hub initiated the successful campaign #ShareTheSofa for Heineken that invited fans to chat with UEFA champion league players on Twitter during a selection of games. Another very profitable campaign was launched in September 2014 for KLM. In the video, filmed as a spoof documentary, a canine mascot called Sherlock is highlighting the return of passengers’ lost items. Within three days, the video generated more than four million views on YouTube. Ivo Roefs joined DDB in 2001 and became managing partner in 2008. He says the first function of design in their business is to give a message more impact and make it easier to remember, navigate and recognise. “If you want your message to survive between others – make it simple.

It’s essential to make a campaign ‘sexy’. You need to offer excitement and experience so it's not just swiped away,” Kornson adds. “We’re living in an always-on, mobile, connected world. Brands and consumers communicate on more platforms and devices than ever before. As a result, great design has become endlessly more significant.” For DDB & Tribal Amsterdam it’s not only about capital-A advertising. The agency’s strategy for growth is three-fold: commerce, mobile and customer engagement. In June it launched its latest brilliant triumph: a digital campaign promoting the TomTom Bandit action camera which lets users edit footage by simply shaking their phone.

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Discover Benelux | Creating Brand Experiences | DAY / Creative Companion

What’s your destination today? TEXT: CATHY VAN KLAVEREN | PHOTO: DAY

“According to the dictionaries a ‘destination’ is the intended end-point of a journey. To DAY creative business partners, it’s something else. “It’s a place people want to experience. Destinations provide brands and businesses a world of opportunities to engage their audiences and strengthen relationships,” says Louk de Sévaux, one of the founding partners of DAY.” DAY creates brands people love and places where people want to be. “We are currently turning the ageing headquarters of KNVB, the Royal Dutch Football Association, into the KNVB campus. A place where athletes, coaches, fans, sponsors and businesses come together. It will become the heart of football in the Netherlands, with a focus on performance, education, innovation and training.”

experiences. “Having creative people and strategists work together, we are able to come up with completely new, relevant and refreshing solutions,” De Sévaux explains.

Your next destination for outstanding brands and experiences:

DAY is the proud winner of six Red Dot awards. They are recognised for their strategic and design excellence in branding and experiences such as retail environments, visitor centers and other unique customer touch points. Having offices in Amsterdam and Dubai they work for international clients such as Nike, Zalando, Bugaboo, Van Gogh Museum, Baskin-Robbins, Jumeirah Hotels and Media Markt.

Creative thinking is part of DAY’s DNA. Being both rational and imaginative, DAY creates solid strategies and meaningful, memorable Abu Dhabi Terminals visitor centre.

Ziggo Home; a traveling house of interactive content.

Connecting business, people and technology TEXT: JANINE STERENBORG | PHOTO: CREATIVE COMPANION

“We create synthesis within companies, rather than just building bridges between departments,” states Creative Companion owner Christof Zürn. “With this approach we take our clients’ businesses to the next level and help them to transform their organisation.” At Creative Companion, Zürn works as a generalist, connecting business, people and technology with a focus on overall brand innovation, using design-related tools like brand personality, customer insights, customer journey, persona development and action learning. Zürn explains: “Many large companies consist of different departments, with highly skilled people working in silos. A lot of knowledge and data is available, yet it’s a challenge to effectively work together.” That’s where Creative Companion

comes in. “As a facilitator we support companies in simplifying their business, helping them to merge quantitative and qualitative customer insights to innovate and transform the company into a design-centric organisation.”

“In these processes, it is key for us to work closely together with our clients, instead of just for them. I work like a jazz musician: great music comes from great collaboration!”

Currently Creative Companion is working as an interim UX-lead for De Rechtspraak, the Dutch Judiciary, on a quality and innovation project about digital accessibility with a user-centered design approach. For the Netherlands' famed theme park De Efteling, Zürn developed and designed personas based on big data, qualitative research and brand values. Earlier he trained the service design team at Bosch in Germany and helped to transform the marketing team of Vlisco from a company selling fabrics, into an acclaimed design and client-focused fashion brand.

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Discover Benelux | Best of Dutch Design | Intro: Innovative Digital Design Photo: Burst

Photo: The Secret Lab

Photo: Freshheads

Photo: Zicht







Innovative digital design The digital world today is changing rapidly and there are few industries that are as dynamic and exciting to work in as digital web design. Continuing our theme on Dutch design, we have a special section reserved for the masterminds behind the most beautiful, responsive and fluid online creations. TEXT: MYRIAM GWYNNED DIJCK

In design it is essential to optimise usability while producing a look and feel that fits the brand or product perfectly. In digital design, this is no different, except the boundaries of what is possible are reset almost every day. Dutch design companies are at the forefront of exploiting all the options that are out there, while always keeping the end user in mind. Creating a well-designed website or application is of course only half the battle. Apart from looks, the site also has to function faultlessly, which requires strong web coding skills and an extensive knowledge of the latest technologies and program-

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ming software. Dutch designers realise this as much as anyone. To stay up to date, they are keen to work with others, learn from coding experts such as those in Silicon Valley and in turn, share their knowledge with fellow designers.

making games work flawlessly on mobile devices, applications that help you make a booking quickly and easily or creating websites with the optimal balance between written and visual content. Photo: Digital Nativess

A recurring theme among the different designers is the importance of learning by trial and error and continuously improving the end result. As actions and user behaviours are easy to monitor in an online environment, designer are using this data to create an even better customer experience. This philosophy is applied to all aspects of digital design, whether it involves

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Discover Benelux | Best of Dutch Digital Design | Your Majesty

At their studio in the centre of Amsterdam they host inspiration nights and lectures.

Your Majesty co-created the world’s largest art exchange for Absolut. Photo credit: The Absolut Company.

The founders of Your Majesty Amsterdam, from left: Kasper Kuijpers, Kristofer Forsell, Georgios Athanassiadis.

Digital art and craft From interactive tools that turn users into artists, to making better weather forecasts, Your Majesty designs and develops all kinds of projects. "We just want to make great things that help people," says Georgios Athanassiadis, managing director. TEXT: MICHIEL STOL | PHOTOS: YOUR MAJESTY / THE ABSOLUT COMPANY

Your Majesty is a creative studio and production company founded in 2007 by three Swedes in New York. In 2011 a handful of the employees moved back to Europe and opened up the second studio in the heart of Amsterdam. "Amsterdam was our first choice, as it's a big creative hub and also offers a simple connection to the rest of Europe," tells Kasper Kuijpers. They are currently busy with setting up a third studio in Los Angeles. "One of our big projects recently was for Absolut vodka, as a part of their ‘end of the year’ campaign." Absolut collaborated with the Andy Warhol Foundation, so Your Majesty co-created the ‘Andy Warhol Art Exchange’, an online platform where people from all over the world could create and submit their own art and get one in return

from someone else. The campaign had over 11,000 submitted artworks from over 95 countries. Your Majesty also consults start-ups, offering their expertise in user experience, design and technology to boost growth. One of them is Climendo, a weather company that compares and combines data from multiple weather providers to calculate more accurate forecasts. “We redesigned their brand and their products to appeal to an international market. We are now working with their product team to advance their website and mobile apps,” says Athanassiadis. Another client is Volkshotel in Amsterdam. Aside from being a hotel, it is also a restaurant and nightclub, has co-working spaces and hosts 80 small companies in various

fields. One of the key features of the site is a bespoke booking system. Athanassiadis: “We asked people what they thought of standard hotel booking systems. A lot found them complicated and therefore would rather use a booking site. Based on those insights we designed a simpler system, with just four steps to fill out. The bookings on the website has since then increased by 25 per cent.” He concludes: “What we are best at, is to help companies to connect with their customers by making better experiences. We do 90 per cent digital work, but enjoy working across different fields, as it keep us on our toes and in a continuous state of learning.”

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Discover Benelux | Best of Dutch Digital Design | dpdk

A digital revolution Did you catch the dragon yet? Don’t worry, all you need is a smartphone! Creative digital agency dpdk developed an interactive 360º virtual reality film as part of a campaign for Peugeot, gaining them several awards and probably leaving many players vertiginous. Being specialised in user experience, this is only one example that showcases dpdk’s online expertise. TEXT: JANINE STERENBORG | PHOTOS: DPDK

The Rotterdam-based digital natives of dpdk are multitalented, efficient, collaborative and ready for the future. This results in innovative productions, from films and apps, to games and animations. “Translating offline to online user experience is our specialty,” explains dpdk’s CEO Pim van Helten. “The ‘Catch the Dragon’ campaign we created for Peugeot, for instance, is an interactive prolongation of a television commercial.” For the project, dpdk combined Peugeot’s existing commercial with a 360º virtual reality test drive they had already filmed in the sunny French mountains. “Peugeot’s television commercial was filmed in Los Angeles by night and features a dragon tattoo coming alive, flying out of the driver's new 208,” describes Van Helten. “It was quite a challenge to combine these completely different worlds.” The

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agency blended the virtual test drive and the commercial into an interactive virtual reality film, in which you’re set out to catch the dragon by moving your smartphone around. “We’re proud to say the site works flawlessly on mobile devices, which is a unique feature for such a complex product.” The 'Catch the Dragon' campaign was critically acclaimed internationally and gained several awards, like a CSS design award, two FWA’s (Favourite Website Awards) and an AWWWARD, all praising dpdk’s cutting edge website design.

Can-do mentality With their ‘can-do’ mentality, dpdk always finds a solution for any user experiencerelated request. “We accept all challenging projects. That’s part of our company

culture. Everyone in our team is resolute, and with over ten years of experience, we know there is a solution to any digital problem. And we know the way to creating that solution.” dpdk’s clients know how to challenge the agency. Van Helten: “Just like us, they’re digital leaders who know what they are dealing with and what they are looking for: a perfectly designed and implemented user experience.”

Fast movers Not only is dpdk highly skilled, they work fast as well, while keeping the quality of their deliverables at peak level. “The 'Catch the Dragon' campaign was finished within five weeks. We managed to do that because we have all disciplines we need under our roof. Plus, we’ve developed our own production strategies for different sorts of campaigns,

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Discover Benelux | Best of Dutch Digital Design | dpdk

leading us to be able to work quickly and thus with tight deadlines. An important part of this strategy is extensive collaboration, both internally as with our client. Besides, all components of any campaign interlock, so daily deliberation is indispensable. We achieve great results when under pressure: because of the sense of urgency we feel, we check off to do’s at high speed.” The development of Sense’s interactive sex dummies took much longer due to its complexity, but it is another great example of innovative and interactive web design created by dpdk. “In the app, teenagers can undress the 3D dummies of a boy and girl and discover all their erogenous zones. It’s the most popular part of the platform which educates Dutch youth on sex, love and relationships.” The 3D visualisation even works on a smartphone. “That’s a world first, we couldn’t have designed this if it wasn’t for our custom production strategies.”

Digital industrial revolution Innovations like these are what make dpdk. Their experience, workflow and insights in the rapidly changing world of web design allow them to stay ahead in the game. Van Helten: “We aim to continue to translate our client’s goals into a digital product and keep them future proof, we keep working with a wide range of services and techniques. We have to be able to adapt fast. After all, we are currently living in a huge digital industrial revolution!”

Virtual reality, 360º films and innovatie techniques: Rotterdam based digital agency dpdk is a leading innovator in the current digital industrial revolution, creating cutting edge designs for optimal user experience.

Pim van Helten

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Discover Benelux | Best of Dutch Digital Design | Mirabeau

Dynamic digital design The digital world has grown up and the possibilities and techniques seem endless, providing us with the most spectacular experiences. Mirabeau embraces the increasing opportunities the digital world provides and has used it to explore new avenues in design.“We are not just a design agency. We are a digital agency,” says Henk Haaima, senior art director at Mirabeau. TEXT: BERTHE VAN DEN HURK | PHOTOS: MIRABEAU

Online design has become so much more than the old static websites. Haaima believes it is no longer viable to only be good at either designing or the techniques behind it. Factors such as the popularity of different mobile devices creates a whole new dynamic for the online world. Plus, a new modular approach makes it possible for users to actually manipulate, rearrange and stack online layouts. Even the appearance and content of components can be changed depending on our online and digital habits. Yet dynamic design goes further than that. Haaima: “Only when more personal user

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variables such as location, time, needs, preferences and behavior are combined with dynamic designing techniques, can we truly speak of dynamic design.” Haaima shows a clear and simple example. When a visitor first uses an application it can be useful to display the login button in large and rich visuals, for example in the form of an icon with clear instructions. If a visitor uses the application often, a small icon without instructions will be enough. However, a visitor who returns to the site, having not used it for a while, requires a slightly richer form of the ‘minimum version’. Haaima strives for the creation of interfaces that re-

spond to the user, not just in terms of content, but also of layout, look and feel.

The digital agency Ever since 2001, Mirabeau has been developing platforms for industry leaders that are highly dependent on the internet, and on which millions of daily customers have to find their way easily. Offering customers the best digital experience, Mirabeau understands what it takes, and so can work in an agile way that is quicker and smarter. The company has some successful long-term collaborations on their résumé, including KLM-Air France, ING, V&D and

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Discover Benelux | Best of Dutch Digital Design | Mirabeau

Mirabeau provides the complete platform; devising, building and operating it. They believe in long-term and intensive collaborations. Each project is handled by a team, which consists of all the required disciplines; creatives, developers and administrators. The best results are achieved when these disciplines work together closely. According to Haaima, the game only really begins right after the release of the project, which leads to considerations of growth and further development. This continuous development responds to changed customer behaviour, new opportunities in the back-end systems, and also by listening carefully to the end user. Haaima: “Especially big companies with several industries must be careful not to forget the user perspective. The designs might be good, but all the online applications consist of different fragments. The digital service matters. We provide one unique brand experience for the user, and we strive to offer our customers a single platform that allows others to operate all its online channels. The design must always be intertwined with the goals.”

Transavia A great example of dynamic design is the re-branding of Transavia Airlines. Mirabeau created a whole new online identity by developing ‘My Transavia’, an application that acts as an enthusiastic companion who helps users and makes suggestions. Mirabeau has caused the re-branding through a comprehensive online identity, but it also has offline elements like the aircraft brand design and logos, all in cooperation with Studio Dumbar. Now each passenger can see their booking online, add products (such as extra baggage allowance), purchase them and

check-in online. Even during and after the flight the passengers receive relevant information and online services. Within the airline industry, this sets a whole new standard when it comes to the user experience. The responsive platform allows Transavia to integrate the ‘My Transavia’ environment as a hybrid solution in the native mobile app. The platform is agile and scalable, enabling new products and services to benefit from a quick time to market. Branding has become digital branding and, according to Haaima, a digital agency has the leading role.

New type of designer Haaima believes fluid and adaptable design is causing drastic change in the history of design and image in general. As with revolutions in art and architecture, the opportunities and boundaries of the new technologies will only be fully explored and delineated in the years to come. These changes in our technology and online possibilities demand a whole new type of designer. According to Haaima, we need a designer who thinks way beyond the boundaries of his field. A designer who likes to flirt with new technologies and rebels against old paradigms.

During Dutch Design Week in October this year, Mirabeau will launch Dynamic Design. With this magazine they want to put digital design in the public picture. The articles in the magazine deal with the essence of digital design, most of which will be written by Henk Haaima himself.

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Discover Benelux | Best of Dutch Digital Design | Zicht

Creating flawless online ecosystems for social brands, Zicht adds value for both client and end user, while deploying their storytelling talent.

An optimised and coherent online presence Rotterdam-based digital agency Zicht knows how to use compelling storytelling to add value to the end user's experience, while at the same time meeting their clients’ strategic goals. Their technological, commercial and design know-how is top-notch, and they have beautiful products to show for that. TEXT: JANINE STERENBORG | PHOTOS: ZICHT

“Success is the result of offering value,” states strategic director and Zicht founder Seb van Deursen, “and we help brands in being successful by giving their online presence meaning.” Zicht’s greatest asset in this promise is translating their creativity, knowledge and years of online experience into compelling storytelling, using the extensive online ecosystem: from websites to apps, to mailing software and more. “Our goal is to inspire the end user with beautiful and useful content. At the same time, we make sure to meet the all needs of our clients by creating digital products with a well-balanced mixture of high-quality interactive, commercial,

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communicative, technically flawless and visually appealing components.”

Converting compass A great example of this, is the online application Zicht designed for The Concertgebouw, the royal music hall in Amsterdam. “The Concertgebouw is a beautiful building with ditto acoustics. Being there is a physical experience. But for those who’ve never been there, the threshold to go to a performance is very high.” The Concertgebouw asked Zicht to help them attract new visitors. “Combining our knowledge of the current online world with the customer

knowledge of The Concertgebouw, we developed Concertkompas (concert compass). In this online app, the user sees and hears different music styles, from which he chooses his favourite. After three selections, the app presents three potentially interesting upcoming concerts in the calendar of The Concertgebouw.” This app is not only fun to use, it has also become one of the best converting tools, bringing in more first time visitors than before. The tool is a typical Zicht product: “The content and added value is key. It’s about the music and the visuals, yet below surface, the app user is triggered to buy tickets.”

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Discover Benelux | Best of Dutch Digital Design | Zicht

TicketTrigger Something additional, yet totally different, is Zicht’s software TicketTrigger. This was also originally developed for The Concertgebouw, but it is now available to venues and concert halls around the world. “TicketTrigger offers an optimised user experience through design and smarter flows, compared to the supplied software that goes standard with ticketing software SRO . The layout is modern, yet it keeps the full functionality of the high-quality SRO software.” Among the happy users are, besides The Concertgebouw, Friends Arena in Stockholm, the Vlaamse Opera in Antwerp and the International Film Festival Rotterdam.

Social impact Zicht works mostly with brands that have social impact. “All clients in our portfolio are in the field of education, healthcare, culture, heritage or non-profit,” explains Van Deursen. These perfectly fit Zicht’s storytelling talents, yet all projects are completely different. “What’s needed, depends on many factors, like the characteristics of our client’s target group, the brand’s goals and their level of e-commerce. The online platform is always the core, though. Around that, we create for instance apps, a mailing system, an online test, a Facebook campaign and more. The channels complement each other, resulting in an optimal and coherent online presence.”

Defining Zicht helps their clients not only to reach their goals, but also to define them: “We’ll guide our client using tools like strategic sessions, personas and empathy maps. Only once the purpose is clear, we start executing. Then, one of our multidisciplinary teams goes to work. We have two teams and choose not to mix these teams, because the members are perfectly attuned and know each other’s strengths. That’s an important factor in our teams’ efficiency, just like the way we work. We never have a clear end product in mind, just a clear goal. Our agile approach allows us to be flexible, take tiny steps, and through that we create maximum business value.”

Online since day one Zicht can count on over 20 years of experience. Starting as a visualisation agency, creating 3D models of buildings, Van Deursen worked from the attic of his student house. Since 1997 he’s been running Zicht, a 20-person strong agency now holding office at the top floor of a creative quarter on the famous Coolsingel, Rotterdam, looking out over the national monument city hall. The penthouse on the roof terrace is perfect for creative sessions the design agency organises for their clients.

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Discover Benelux | Best of Dutch Digital Design | Burst Digital

Hans Maltha

Global presence by global design An effective website has to meet high standards; it obviously must have an appealing and userfriendly design, as well as grabbing the attention of the visitor and to entice them and incite further action. TEXT: BERTHE VAN DEN HURK | PHOTOS: BURST DIGITAL

At Burst these qualities come seamlessly together. It was founded in 2008 and creates websites, online campaigns and e-commerce platforms. Quality and speed are key, as well as designing for mobile devices first. Talent-based recruitment and the aim for groundbreaking new projects have made Burst a successful global agency. By now it has an impressive portfolio, with clients like Mazda, Hero and Mentos. “You’re as good as your most recent project,” states Hans Maltha, CEO at Burst. “We believe the best result will be achieved when we have a good relationship with our clients, defined by working together, not working for them.” “Growth is not a goal in itself,” continues Maltha. “It’s a result of our mission. We want to deliver the best work possible. These projects are seen and used by

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many people all over the world. To create and develop international websites, one must focus on the needs and wishes of the visitors from different countries.” A global website can have the same design for several countries, but by integrating small changes for specific countries the best result is achieved. According to Maltha, the Dutch are specifically good at global designing: “Dutch design is characterised by simplicity and clarity. It is often described as a down-to-earth and surprisingly smart style of designing. The Dutch are able to take other cultures into account.” Maltha believes it is important to have an emotional connection with the visitor, created by a compelling design. Ultimately it is all about telling a story to the visitors.

Maltha: “You have to know how to engage the audience and keep them entertained.” According to Maltha it all starts after delivering the website and going live: with measuring, analysing and optimising continuously. Burst stands for a flawless approach and smooth execution, where deadlines are sacred. Achieving predetermined goals is a key driver to getting the best results. Maltha: “For us, approaching the deadline is like seeing the finish line for runners. As soon as we see it, we want to make it and deliver the best result possible. So we push a bit harder to get there.”

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Discover Benelux | Best of Dutch Digital Design | Digital Natives

Staying ahead of the curve “As for the future, the task is not to foresee it but to enable it,” says Erik de Vreede. His company, Digital Natives, is all about facilitating innovation in the digital world. TEXT: CATHY VAN KLAVEREN | PHOTOS: DIGITAL NATIVES

The internet is evolving so quickly that predictions, research and waiting for the right opportunity has become a dangerous strategy. Companies that roll up their sleeves and experiment, learn and change on their own account are the ones that become successful online, according to De Vreede.

Building platforms for innovation “We are very proud to work with clients such as Voordekunst, NPO, Spaces and RegioBank. Together we not only build a new website or platform, we introduce new processes for our clients to make innovation and experimentation part of their everyday work,” he says. One of those clients is Vrij Nederland, a magazine that is considered one of the most influential of written media in the Netherlands. “This is an interesting case, because journalism and news-orientated media are having a hard time making money on the internet. There is very little innovation from within the

industry. It seems like the media is just waiting for a solution.” Vrij Nederland is not waiting. Within two months, together with Digital Natives, the magazine launched their new website on “We introduced new working methods such as Lean Startup and SCRUM. These new methods, originating from Silicon Valley, give Vrij Nederland the possibility to launch new versions of their website on a weekly basis. That way they can actively experiment, learn from tests and invest in products and features that prove to work. One of the biggest innovations that we are testing now on the website is the possibility to pay for a single article by using micropayments. Instead of having a membership, you can access a longread article for just 0.30 euros.”

adopt new technology, work with it and, if it’s better than what we had, integrate it into new products. We do it naturally and we see it as our task to teach companies to do the same. It’s the only way to stay ahead of the curve.”

A second nature All the staff at Digital Natives have worked with digital technology since they were very young. “It has become second nature to

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Discover Benelux | Best of Dutch Digital Design | The Secret Lab

The five golden rules for online success Waking up reading the feeds of Facebook and Twitter, checking the latest news before going to sleep: we spend more and more of our lives online. So, what could make our online lives better? Great web design of course. Amsterdambased web development agency The Secret Lab designs and creates websites, applications and campaigns that stand out through innovative design and ultimate usability. TEXT: JANINE STERENBORG | PHOTOS: THE SECRET LAB

“Web design is so much more than a goodlooking homepage,” states Niels Oedzes, art director at The Secret Lab. “With our design, we support the most important web functionalities, optimise conversion, improve the interaction with your target group and more.” They manage this with a set of five golden rules: functionality first, usability on every device, white spaces are key, images are king and content is queen. Oedzes: “By applying these, we help our visitor to find the right information.”

Functionality first Before any visuals are applied to the concept of the website, The Secret Lab establishes

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a functional design, in which all the information and functionality is defined per type of page. The foundation of your entire website, so to speak. Oedzes explains: “The structure is based on the purpose of the site, existing content and the target audience.” During the design process, the agency considers all aspects of the final product, in order to meet the website’s goal. “Too many websites do not have this focus on functionality,” says Oedzes, “this results in clients browsing through a tangle of information, trying to find certain information on a website, only to give up unsuccessfully.” This will definitely not happen on

sites designed by The Secret Lab.

Usability on every device “The use of internet on mobile devices has increased drastically in the last couple of years,” says Oedzes, “so it’s a no-brainer for us to optimise websites for smartphones and tablets. It’s the new norm, actually. And of course, the website still has to look good on a computer.” That’s why all of The Secret Lab’s websites have a responsive design. “Basically, this means you see the same content on each device, but the way it looks is different: it’s optimised to fit any screen, which is necessary for the best possible user experience.”

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Discover Benelux | Best of Dutch Digital Design | The Secret Lab

The Secret Lab approach to web design results in visually appealing and easy to navigate websites on which you can easily find the information you need.

White spaces are key

Content is queen

A website should contain content, right? Oedzes make a seemingly contradicting statement: “white spaces are your best friend in the digital world.” He explains: “Imagine reading a news article, a blog, or another piece of information without any white spaces. Just one chunk of text. You’ll probably have no idea what to focus on. Yet many websites make the mistake of publishing too much content. All information is considered equally important by the website owners and they have a hard time choosing what to show. We happily help our clients to make a well thought out choice.”

We have already established that functionality is essential, that the site should be visually appealing and usability on mobile devices is now more important than ever before. That’s not all though: “To attract recurring visitors, you need great content,” explains Oedzes. “Too little content leaves visitors with too many questions, yet too much information leaves them overwhelmed. In both situations, they can’t find what they are looking for and will abandon your website.” It’s impossible to serve the perfect balanced content on a silver plate though. “It completely depends on the target group and the subject of the website,” says Oedzes.

Images are king This is no secret: images are one of the most iconic elements within web design. “It’s a cliché, but that doesn’t make it less true or less important. Website visitors always focus on images, it’s only after that, that they start reading the text,” explains Oedzes. “By changing one large image on a prominent spot on the website for instance, the atmosphere of a page can change drastically.” That’s why The Secret Lab meticulously selects the images for each website “It’s absolutely key to match the images with website’s function, goals and content.”

No secrets This is only a tip of the iceberg of everything The Secret Lab excels in: besides building websites, they create digital magazines, marketing campaigns, sales funnels and more. Oedzes: “For every project we combine the newest techniques with smart concepts, realisation and optimisations. There are no secrets for us in the digital world.”

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Discover Benelux | Best of Dutch Digital Design | Freshheads

By virtue of the internet We often do not realise how much the online world affects our daily lives. An entirely new type of economy has arisen, in which the consumer has all the power. TEXT: BERTHE VAN DEN HURK | PHOTOS: FRESHHEADS

In the last 20 years, the online world has become as important as our ‘real world’. There is not much we cannot do online. Whether it is making a reservation for a hotel, looking for a new job or a trustworthy and affordable handyman, it all happens in the virtual world. What was new, revolutionary and refreshing only a decade ago, is now outdated or traditional. The static websites have evolved into interactive and responsive online channels, complemented with smart television and online apps. Modern technology enables us to create virtual, web-based experiences on a very personalised level. There are not many people left who use the bulletin board at the local supermarket. After all, the online world provides us with ten

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times more information, including references, prices and customers reviews.

Supply and demand

nity where customers and craftsmen are in direct contact, and; where people who require care and volunteers meet.

The current market economy calls for a transparent look at supply and demand. The customer has much more information, is in direct contact with the company and other customers or users, and has taken a great deal of control and power. Bringing supply and demand closer together is essential in the current economy. But how do you achieve that in a way that all parties gain from it?

“Platforms like these are more and more involved in our daily lives,” says Wout Withagen, CEO at Freshheads. “The online communities have an enormous impact on the economy and disrupt the traditional market. The traditional market didn’t see any merit in it, or saw it as a threat, which is understandable, since we remove the middlemen from the process.”

The Dutch company Freshheads specialises in online supply and demand solutions. They are the developers of inter alia; a successful online commu-

New markets: divide and conquer According to Withagen these platforms only exist by virtue of the internet. As an example he mentions Flexbook; an online

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Discover Benelux | Best of Dutch Digital Design | Freshheads

platform for flexibly deployable personnel in the hospitality industry. Withagen: “When a caterer suddenly needs extra staff, he or she can broadcast a real-time message to all affiliated catering personnel. Flexbook also arranges the payments to the employees, to keep it simple and clear.” Freshheads helps companies to conquer these new markets. They create the strategy, concept, product, and the design. Not only small start-ups seek their help, also corporate businesses want to create platforms such as these including business-to-business. A great example is the Jaarbeurs, who wanted to create added value for both fair visitor and exhibitor. For this purpose, Freshheads developed an online community for the beauty industry,; a quality knowledge platform which combines editorial and commercial content perfectly. The reader gets relevant information, the provider valuable exposure. Without the internet all these platforms would not exist, or have as many (technical) possibilities. Whether we like it or not, our online world affects our real life. And

whether companies like it or not, people create their own online communities, especially when they are missing one. Withagen: “Companies realise more than ever that they have to embrace the current changes in these markets, and there is still a lot to conquer. It has become increasingly evident that they have to participate. Sometimes they start a collaboration with these communities to ‘be the first’, because the winner takes it all.”

Little adjustments for perfection Each project Freshheads accepts has to answer one important question: what is the added value? No matter how much money is spent for a supply and demand platform, if there is no added value, there is no liveable platform. The team researches thoroughly and analyses the market specifically for the purpose of the client and the future user and are, if necessary, quite critical about the added value.

does the audience think about it, etcetera. Some businesses make the mistake to invest most of their funding in this first edition, and have little or no money left to keep the development continued. These are not projects which are done and finished after the first release. It is a continuous investment and requires constant little adjustments for perfection.” According to Freshheads, the ultimate success is when a platform or project becomes big enough to stand on its own, be self-sufficient and take over the control over the development of the platform. Withagen: “It is all in the added value, which is the key of a successful platform.”

Withagen: “The customer or user is always the main character in our designs. We create a first version, which is tested. These tests provide much information, does it work, what changes are necessary, what

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Discover Benelux | Best of Dutch Digital Design | CODE

Loving the challenge The online possibilities seem endless, and the techniques are improving at a rapid speed. The Dutch company CODE has been unravelling the most difficult technical issues for over a decade and has created some remarkable projects. TEXT: BERTHE VAN DEN HURK | PHOTOS: CODE

“We love the challenge, it keeps us focused, and there is always something new to learn,” says Bob Rockland, CEO of CODE. CODE is a technically oriented internet agency, meaning that they develop web applications like tablet apps, backend applications and supporting the administration or content management of websites. CODE provides the technical architecture and implementation, as well as maintaining and expanding the completed projects. They work together with multiple internet agencies that are specialised in design and interaction, to make numerous and diverse projects very successful. Each project is looked at individually, to create the best solutions for the client. Rockland: “We use two very different kinds of content management systems (CMS), each with its

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own advantages and disadvantages. We created our own (closed-source) product, but also use Drupal (open-source). On the basis of the assignment, we select the most suitable solution together with the customer.” One of the projects CODE is very proud of is; a website that publishes peer-reviewed original articles, state-of-the-art reviews and opinion editorials on a wide range of urological problems. Rockland: “We have created the software to convert the source files into HTML, in one go. Between 100 and 200 articles can be uploaded every day. It is of vital importance that no errors are made, after all, medical decisions are based upon these articles.” Rockland: “It’s very important to keep our

knowledge up to date constantly. We have our own database, with everything we’ve ever done or learned. This way CODE can work quickly and in a neat and accessible manner.” CODE loves to help improve the web interaction and navigation. It also organises weekly knowledge sessions; a member of staff gets the opportunity to tell the rest of the team something about a technical subject. This does not have to be something CODE would necessarily do as a project. Rockland: “Usually we schedule this for about a half an hour at the end of the week, but it’s not uncommon for it to last much longer. This is a great way for the team to collaborate and share their knowledge, since knowledge and skills are the core foundations our work is built on.”

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Private Banking.

Sometimes 3 letters make all the difference Because you shouldn’t have to compromise to achieve excellence, ING Luxembourg offers you a full experience in Private Banking. Our experts in asset management, lending solutions, wealth analysis and planning keep up-to-date to offer you the most relevant advice regarding your overall situation.

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Discover Benelux | Cover Feature | Vicky Krieps


Luxembourg’s leading lady Vicky Krieps, the Luxembourgish star of stage and screen, is best known internationally for her roles in Hanna, A Most Wanted Man and Anonymous. Krieps has excelled in a myriad of eclectic roles for French, German and Luxembourgish productions including 2014’s Das Zimmermädchen Lynn (The Chambermaid Lynn) for which she won the Young German Cinema Acting Award. Krieps joins us to reflect on her success to date and her exciting upcoming plans. TEXT: HELEN CULLEN | PHOTOS: HELEN SOBIRALSKI

Throughout 2014 and 2015, Krieps, 31, has delivered stunning performances in a series of roles that run the gamut of her acting prowess. Earlier this year Krieps worked alongside Daniel Brühl and Emma Watson when filming Colonia, the eagerly anticipated thriller from the Oscar-winning director, Florian Gallenbergerger. The film, to be released January 2016, is an ambitious story of a young woman’s desperate search for her abducted boyfriend that entangles her with the infamous secret sect of the Colonia Dignidad that no-one has ever escaped from. “I always choose to work on projects based on the character,” Krieps says, “and this character, Ursel, offered me a very exciting new opportunity as she was born inside that ugly sect and only knows the world from that perspective. I love characters that have a flaw or a shadow in the light.” The role also presented another very unique challenge for Krieps, who was eight months pregnant during filming. “There was no way we could have hidden it so we made Ursula pregnant also,” Krieps explains, “and that made her even more tragic, but even more adventurous.” Working with Gallenbergerger, Watson and Brühl was a very positive experience for Krieps nonetheless, despite the extra pressure of her pregnancy. “We worked to-

gether in a very professional way where we concentrated fully on the work but everyone was very sweet to me,” Krieps shares. “Emma in particular was very kind to me and we enjoyed lots of tea and chats while I relaxed with her in her trailer to escape from the craziness of the set.”

Twelve months in review Amongst others, she starred in Philips Koch’s Outside the Box; the action-comedy thriller that premiered at the Munich Film Festival in July. Krieps shines as Yvonne in this quirky tale of a group of corporate executives participating in a team building event in Italy that goes catastrophically awry. “This is definitely not a typical German comedy but more in the style of the Coen brothers,” she explains. “I think audiences should really look forward to seeing something different when it is released this autumn.” Krieps also received incredible critical acclaim for her performances in two short movie success stories of 2014; Christopher Rainer’s French short film, Pitter Patter Goes My Heart and M wie Martha, a German short by Lena Knauss. Krieps plays Lisa, a hopeless romantic determined to win back her lover in the former, a simple but affecting tale by Rainer. “Lisa was one of my favourite characters ever to

play,” Krieps says. “I really love short movies because they give you opportunities to explore and to take risks as an actress.” As Helene in M wie Martha, Krieps’ character falls in love with Martha when they share a cottage in Poland for the summer holidays. “I almost didn’t take that part because I was pregnant at the time but I made the right decision in doing it because it became such a beautiful movie,” Krieps explains. “It is like a poem in pictures.”

An early international success From the outset of her career, Krieps secured roles in high-profile English speaking international productions such as Hanna (2011), Anonymous (2011) and A Most Wanted Man (2014). Reflecting back upon those opportunities now, she is grateful for the great experiences that they gave her as a young actress. “In each of those three fantastic movies, I worked with such incredible actors that I learned such a lot from and I was very lucky to have that so early on,” she shares. “The most important thing I learned from working with people like Cate Blanchett or Philip Seymour Hoffman was that no matter where you are, who you are or how successful you are, your priority should always be your work. The work ethic and concentration that you need is the same whether you are world famous or a young actor starting out in her

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Discover Benelux | Cover Feature | Vicky Krieps

career as I was. It’s about how much you can give the audience and all of those incredible actors that I worked with were humble in their attitude about that.”

The early years “I had an instinct when I was little that I wanted to be an actor but didn’t truly think it could be a possibility as I didn’t know any actors in my family or from Luxembourg at all,” she reflects. “I was very lucky, however, to discover that the Conservatoire de Luxembourg also offered an acting class in addition to their musical studies and it was there that I discovered that acting could become a profession for me if I went looking for it and the first door opened.”

Her big break came shortly after her studies completed with her captivating portrayal of the pioneer aviator in the historical television movie Elly Beinhorn – Alleinflug in 2014. The German production became Krieps’ first leading role. “That was the first time people really had an opportunity to see my work on the screen and I was very fortunate that the director took a chance on me,” Krieps recalls.

Life in Berlin “I always felt European in a way, as opposed to Luxembourgish necessarily, probably because my home country is so small, ” Krieps says. “I live in Berlin where I moved for work but I do think I would like

to move to the countryside and that is definitely Luxembourg coming out in me. My home is always inside of me though. I don’t try to find it in work or in an external place but within myself which is wonderful because with this work I travel a lot but it means I can always take my home with me wherever I go.” Juggling the commitments of family life with two children and a career that is constantly evolving and developing is a challenge, but Krieps remains undaunted. “I didn’t plan any of this but I had my first baby just as my career was talking off so I’ve never really known life to be any different. I have been very busy but I just adapted as things happened.” At the core of her life, Krieps has a simple philosophy that helps. “I just try not to think or plan ahead too much,” she explains. “I just improvise because as soon as I start to try and control it everything stops working. You have to trust yourself and your instincts and go with the flow.”

Vicky’s next steps Krieps is currently filming Was hat uns bloß so ruiniert? (What has ruined us?) in Vienna; a genre comedy by Marie Kreutzer that portrays the outcome of three idealistic but materialistic couples who all decide to have children at the same time. “I love that this is an ensemble film so everyone has a lead role,” Krieps explains. “It is about young parents dealing with having babies in modern times and trying to reconcile their lifestyles with this uncontrollable element.” Due to start filming in the coming weeks, Krieps is very keen to commence work on Raoul Peck’s upcoming feature, The Young Karl Marx, a period drama chronicling the relationship of Marx in his youth with Friedrich Engels. Starring alongside August Diehl as Marx and Alexander Fehling as Engels, Krieps believes that it will result in an incredible movie. “I think it could be one of the most interesting projects I’ve worked on but I can’t reveal too much at the moment other than to say it is very exciting,” she says. The release of The Young Karl Marx is anticipated for 2016.

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Amsterdam’s charming shopping hub Ask a local and they’ll tell you Amsterdam’s Nine Streets is known primarily for its stylish boutiques and designer stores. Despite its relatively central location it has a chic, laid-back vibe and a host of cosy cafes. You don’t need to be an avid shopper to be enchanted by this part of the Dutch capital. TEXT & PHOTOS: STUART FORSTER

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Discover Benelux | The Nine Streets | Amsterdam’s Charming Shopping Hub

The Nine Streets offers a far different shopping experience to the high street stores on and around Kalverstraat, which runs southwards from Dam Square. Walk west of the Royal Palace and within a matter of minutes – five at the most – you’ll cross the Singel canal and be heading along Gasthuismolensteeg, which leads onto Hartenstraat then Reestraat, the northerly most trio of streets. Wandering here is by no means merely about shopping, it’s just as much an insight into the heritage and soul of the city.

part shop, you can see historic spectacles and purchase vintage frames. The district also encompasses Berenstraat, Wolvenstraat and Oude Spiegelstraat plus Runstraat, Huidenstraat and Wijde Heisteeg. This explains why this part of the city has been known as the Nine Streets since 1997. Shopkeeper Djoeke Wessing, now 70, was the driving force behind the establishment of the area’s identity. She felt it needed to be recognised as

a neighbourhood, in the same way as the nearby Jordaan. For her achievement, King Willem-Alexander this year decorated Wessing with the Order of Orange-Nassau. The evolution into a recognised district took around a dozen years and involved a great deal of hard work networking between independent shopkeepers and tourism authorities. “There were nine streets, so I thought I’d just call it the nine streets – Negen Straatjes in Dutch. Nearly everybody was against the name. They

Look upwards and you’ll see brick façades and ornate gable ends dating from the 17th century, when wealthy merchants invested money made from overseas trade in homes and business bases. Over recent years apartments in this area of Amsterdam have once again become desirable and property prices have spiralled upwards. Part of the allure of the Nine Streets is that you’re never far from the broad waters of the Herengracht, Keizersgracht and Prinsengracht canals, which loop around the city’s core. In August 2010 Amsterdam’s canal ring was inscribed on to UNESCO’s list of World Heritage sites. Strolling along allows you to observe locals out with friends on pleasure boats and catch snippets of commentaries from low-slung barges touring the tree-lined waterways. In fine weather you can stand by bicycles chained to the railings of gently arching bridges and capture photos. Should it rain you may be able to grab a window seat in the Koffie Huis de Hoek, Pancakes Amsterdam or the De Struisvogel Restaurant, just three of the many cafes and eateries on the Nine Streets. Several places list their specials on chalkboard menus and enticingly display freshly baked cakes. Tourist attractions such as the Anne Frank House and Westerkerk, where the painter Rembrandt van Rijn is buried, lie just north of the Nine Streets, allowing you to combine browsing shops with sightseeing. On the Keizersgracht you’ll see the elegant, classical façade of the Felix Meritis House, where regular concerts and cultural events are held. At Brilmuseum, part museum and

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Discover Benelux | The Nine Streets | Amsterdam’s Charming Shopping Hub

said it was a stupid name. I thought it may be stupid but it tells exactly what it is,” says Wessing. Despite reservations the name was ratified at a meeting.

after place to stay and is the site of the Dylan Hotel Amsterdam, a boutique five-star property with 40 rooms and the Michelinstarred restaurant, Vinkeles.

Over the past 18 years the area has evolved. Inevitably, there’s been an element of gentrification as rent has risen. That said, the Nine Streets remains an attractive hub with a broad mix of store types, some unique and charmingly small. You’ll see wellknown brands such as Replay (see more on page 58), Fred Perry and Marc O’Polo as well as the likes of Boekie Woekie, a shop run by artists to sell art books, and Mendo, where you can purchase art and photography books. Windows displaying antiques, vintage goods, art, jewellery and watches, delicious looking chocolates plus designer household items make this a great place to browse for ideas and inspired purchases.

The Nine Streets are bustling and vibrant. The patter of footfall and hubbub of conversation reverberates and is part of their distinctive allure.

Two years ago the opening of a Karl Lagerfeld concept store on Hartenstraat reinforced the notion that this is a trendy district popular with the young and discerning shoppers. It’s also evolving into a sought

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Discover Benelux | Top Boutiques in the Nine Streets | Shoe{diction

A passion for exclusive footwear For many women, shoe shopping is one of life’s greatest pleasures. Less so, however, when a coveted pair is not available in the right size. After years of encountering that very problem, Lina Vitalis decided to take matters into her own hands by starting Shoe{diction, a feel-good footwear boutique that aims to have every client leave with a smile. TEXT: PAOLA WESTBEEK | PHOTOS: MICHAEL VAN OOSTEN, ILLUSTRATION: MILOU VAN NEELEN

When a space located on Amsterdam’s popular shopping district known as the Nine Streets became available, Lina Vitalis immediately grabbed the opportunity to start her own shop. Being all too familiar with the challenge of finding beautiful footwear in small sizes was one of her main incentives: “I have a size 35 and found it increasingly difficult to find something nice.” Shoe{diction opened its doors in 2012 and has since been wooing customers with exquisite high-end designer labels including Missoni, Kenzo, Rachel Zoe, Gianmarco Lorenzi and more, all available in sizes 35 to 41. The current autumn/winter collection – which features a revival of rich tones such as Bordeaux red, deep blues and olive greens – has

made room for other major names, among them Etro, McQ by Alexander McQueen and Giambattista Valli. Besides offering a variety of stunning models, Shoe{diction also carries a carefully chosen selection of silk scarves and leather handbags. “Our philosophy is to offer clients items they aren’t likely to encounter elsewhere. You will not find two of the same products at our shop,” says Vitalis. In short, Shoe{diction does not attempt to compete with other shops, but rather to differentiate itself with its exclusive merchandise. Though small, the interior, much like its collections, exudes elegance and timeless style with a hearty dose of Italian sophistication. The space was architecturally

designed to be open and modern, yet the use of warm colours and natural materials incorporated into the décor manage to make visitors immediately feel at home. Shoe{diction’s appeal, however, does not stop at its wearable treasures, inviting appearance or convivial atmosphere. Providing excellent customer service is high on their priority list. Vitalis: “We welcome all of our customers with utmost friendliness. Our shop is full of positive energy, and we want to see everyone walk away happy, regardless of whether or not they make a purchase.” Enough reasons to indulge not only your feet, but also your senses and spirits.

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Discover Benelux | Top Boutiques in the Nine Streets | Amsterdam Watch Company

The time is now Exclusive clockworks from Dutch designers, premium vintage watches and an almost inconceivably large collection of high-quality watch straps: Amsterdam Watch Company is a heaven for watch lovers. TEXT: JANINE STERENBORG | PHOTOS: AMSTERDAM WATCH COMPANY

Located in one of the many narrow streets in ‘De Negen Straatjes’ in the Dutch capital is the Amsterdam Watch Company. From the window, a beautiful selection of watches lures you into the shop. “The ‘old fashioned’ is our standard,” explains cofounder Toesja de Vries. “Both premium vintage watches and exclusive modern ones that work mechanically. Our premium vintage watches are from renowned brands and made it through our strict quality selection, and we repair and clean them thoroughly before they are ready to be sold.” New mechanic watches are rare, explains De Vries. “We’re proud to be vendors of

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four new and leading Dutch designers who create new mechanic watches. They make the most extraordinary watches, all with their own signature.”

Christiaan van der Klaauw Christiaan van der Klaauw was the first watchmaker in the Netherlands to create a mechanical wrist watch. “All of his designs are related to astronomy,” says De Vries about his recognisable designs. One of the watches shows the moon phases in real time by a slowly circulating tiny and beautifully designed moon implemented in the clockwork. “It’s made with meticulous precision, just like his other watches,” says De Vries. Van der Klaauw's atelier is the only

one in the world completely devoted to designing and producing exclusive and handmade astronomical watches. “Within a few months, a watch showing the tides will be available. I am very much looking forward to seeing that one!”

Van der Gang Wiebe van der Gang is influenced by his initial occupation. “He was a creator of components for aerospace engineering and operation equipment for hospitals so he was used to working in precision mechanics,” says De Vries about his background. “He decided to start working with his passion for watches and compact technique. He now is one of the few

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Discover Benelux | Top Boutiques in the Nine Streets | Amsterdam Watch Company

and synthetic fabrics.” A beautiful example of a leather band is a brown dotted one made from stingray skin. The fish scales have been flattened, but the structure of them is still tangible. Needless to say, all the leather is of course legally and sustainably obtained. watchmakers to even design his own watchcase.” His fine designs refer, unsurprisingly but subtly, to his engineering background.

Roland Oostwegel How fantastic would it be if something you designed paid a visit to space? Roland Oostwegel knows what it is like, since astronaut André Kuipers took a watch by Oostwegel into space, to test the effect of zero gravity on the watch. Yet the design is patented for its innovative shock absorbing technology. De Vries: “A watch has a lot to endure when you wear it while playing golf for instance. It often causes a problem, like the clockworks’ hands falling off. With Oostwegel watches, this problem is history.” And of course they look good too: a classic style is combined with the appearance of, of course, aerospace metres.

founded in 2001 by De Vries and Roel van den Haak. They learned the masters’ secrets at a watchmaker school and after working for different companies, the couple decided to realise their dream of owning their own business. Throughout the years, their business grew from just the two of them to five employees and external professionals. “We work with the best watchmakers of the Netherlands, a team of talented watchmakers who were a challenge to find.”

That’s not all. Amsterdam Watch Company also repairs mechanical watches. Accessories like watch winders and cufflinks are to be found in the store as well, and De Vries and Van den Haak host events at their store. “Leading watchmakers bring their collection and answer watch lovers' questions. It’s always interesting and a lot of fun.”

People from all over Europe also visit Amsterdam Watch Company for their inconceivably large collection of high-quality watch straps. “We own thousands of watch straps. They’re available in different colours, in all sorts of leather and natural

Pelikaan Timing Pelikaan Timing is the youngest of these four brands. Being a lab employee, his designs are basic, combined with industrial minimalism. “He thought the gauges on his lab equipment were nicely shaped and would look great on a watch,” says De Vries. The autodidact thought right: his clockworks are a pleasure to look at and watching them is an almost hypnotising experience. All these designers’ watches and more are to be found in the stylishly decorated, cosy store of the Amsterdam Watch Company in the Reestraat. The company was

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‘Make them fall in love with your bag’ For some people it’s hard to realise their dreams; they work in a comfortable setting and do not want to make the change to do the thing they really want to do. André Grundmann, founder of successful brand Smaak Amsterdam, always worked in the hotel and catering industry but decided, not too long ago, to take the plunge and start up his own shop with niche brands for clothing, bags and accessories. TEXT: CATHY VAN KLAVEREN | PHOTOS: SMAAK AMSTERDAM

Holding the key to optimal success, he designs his own bags and accessories. “You just have to make your client fall in love with your items, that’s all,” he says. Of course, Grundmann says it with a wink. “There are some tough choices to make in this industry. I started my business in the middle of the crisis and I have learned a lot from it.”

wallets and other accessories. It has four shops in the Netherlands, two of which are based in Amsterdam, and one of them in the popular Nine Streets “It’s a fantastic location, right in the centre of the city. There are a lot of ‘dagjesmensen’, people who spend their entire day in Amsterdam to return home at the end of the day, but also a lot of tourists.”

The brand Smaak, which started first in Amsterdam as a store that sold clothes and bags made from other bags, now has its own line of handbags, clutches,

But this fact alone doesn’t hold Grundmann back, saying his brand is for the modern woman, who wants to be practical at the same time. “We try to make a

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whole different line every season, other models, other colours, a fresh new start. You can see that Dutch women prefer to have a big bag that can carry a lot of stuff. So we make a handle and the leather has to be durable. And it has to be beautiful. But naturally I’ve noticed which bags worked over the years and which didn’t. Sometimes those models make a comeback,” Grundmann explains.

Detail A couple of years ago, when Grundmann owned his shop Smaak (not yet his own

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Discover Benelux | Top Boutiques in the Nine Streets | Smaak Amsterdam

brand), he noticed that bags weren’t one of the top accessories. “They were either not nice to look at or too expensive.” You can tell the man is quite an expert in the field when he says he knows most of the bags out there. “I have to, I need to look at other bags for my own brand. I still look closely at the bags women are wearing on the streets, to find out what is important. Small things I try to integrate in my own bags. Details are a part of that. Studs? Yes, but not too many. And maybe a small piece of leather attached on the zipper. It makes the bag what it is,” Grundmann says.

Every season, Grundmann monitors his collection closely. “I know what I like in a bag and it seems as though my clients like what I like,” he says with a smile. “Sometimes I get feedback, saying that I should include more colours or other models, but my experience is that I should keep doing what I think is best. I know I like to look at all those expensive bags as well, but Smaak bags are practical. Those are the bags that are being used every single day.”

feel comfortable to be around in his store. He makes it his business to sometimes work along the other Smaak-colleagues to find out how customers react to his brand. “It’s kind of a game we are playing, that I enjoy very much. I do not want be ‘pushy’ around people. If customers aren’t sure about a bag or if they even aren’t sure if they want a bag at all, I always tell my staff: make them fall in love with the bag. Let them feel it, tell about it, show other colours, show other models. Let them tell you about what they are looking for. It works.” And what does the expert say? “I like small bags. Just a hint of detail, to complete the look.” A fresh new collection has taken over the website of Smaak. Take a look today.

Zing Grundmann is the kind of man with a warm zing in his voice, who makes you

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Discover Benelux | Top Boutiques in the Nine Streets | Replay

A focus on quality and ambiguity between tradition and contemporary design in everything they do, has led premium denim brand Replay to creating revolutions in the jeans wear market.

Future denim classics Inventing the world’s most flexible jeans using a new revolutionary technique, premium fashion brand Replay has changed the fashion world once again with yet another future classic. TEXT: JANINE STERENBORG | PHOTOS: REPLAY

Having introduced the now famous double ring-spun denim and the stone wash technique in the eighties, Replay recently claimed the revolutionary Hyperflex technique. “We now create the world’s most flexible jeans,” says international sales manager Quintin Donders. “They’re 100 per cent elastic and twice as stretchy as other jeans, due to the uniquely structured materials.” Yet, Hyperflex jeans are shape consistent. “The fibers recover perfectly, so the fabric always adjusts to the original and comfortable fit.” Hailing from Italy, Replay stormed the market in 1981. “Founder Claudio Buziol’s vision was clear from the beginning,” tells Donders. “It was to create tomorrow’s classics by reinterpreting authentic vintage styles and traditional and handmade Italian standards, while adding a contemporary twist.”

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Over 30 years later, this vision is unchanged. Replay is one of the largest premium jeans brands in the world and is the proud sponsor of FC Barcelona, one of the world’s leading soccer teams, whose famous players happily take environmentally friendly washed jeans blasted with lasers into the streets. Replay has over 200 monobrand stores on premium locations and over 5,000 points of sale across all continents. Donders: “Earlier this year we opened a monobrand store in the Nine Streets. The atmosphere is boutique-ish and it’s in a place where the history and traditions of 17th century buildings perfectly blend with trendy designer boutiques and stylish vintage stores. The same ambiguity is reflected in the brand DNA of Replay.”

Something totally different is Replay The Stage, the flagship store in Milan that won the EuroShop Retail Design Award 2015 for most innovative fashion retail concept in the world. Donders: “It’s a multi-experience store, exciting all senses. The decor is inspired by a movie setting, and was designed by Hollywood top décor designers Roman & Williams: the whole project revolves around cinema and theatre. The structure is developed as a real stage, but as in a cinema plot, everything changes and evolves. On the 3,000 square metres, covering the store as well as a bar and a restaurant, you’ll feel like you’re the main character in your own movie!”

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Discover Benelux | Top Boutiques in the Nine Streets | We Are Labels

Esther Dibbets

‘Only great minds can afford simple style’ The street view in Amsterdam can no longer be imagined without the multi-brand We Are Labels. The fashion boutiques are run by a large, young team with an average age of 27. No more clothes and accessories that everybody wears, but durable items that can be worn proudly and are also treasures to keep. TEXT: CATHY VAN KLAVEREN | PHOTOS: WE ARE LABELS

Esther Dibbets, head of buying at We Are Labels still remembers the opening of the first We Are Labels boutique in 2010 as if it was yesterday. This was on the Utrechtsestraat in Amsterdam with 60 square metres offering an affordable and fashionable women's clothing collection. Now, just five years later, We Are Labels has grown to be a favourite of many. According to Dibbets the label has held on to the same philosophy, which can account for its success. “Our motto is still ‘only great minds can afford simple style’,” says Dibbets. The team is always on the lookout for young brands to entail in their collection. “As long as the combination between affordability and fashionable meets our standard,” says Dibbets. Most of the items are priced between 40 and 80 euros.

By now We Are Labels has boutiques across the capital including two in the Nine Streets, two others in the centre, and one more in the popular neighbourhood De Pijp in Amsterdam. Despite the size of some We Are Labels shops, they still all have that boutique-like feeling. Also, the webshop has many visitors. According to Dibbets the label is excited by the attention for their shops, “we really can’t wait to open up our next one".

step outside the capital of the Netherlands by opening a store in Rotterdam. Modström, Levi’s, Eleven Paris, Elvine, Samsøe & Samsøe, Minimum, MinkPink, mbyM, Numph and Second Female are just some of the labels being sold at the shops. At We Are Labels you’ll find men's clothing, women's clothing, accessories and gifts.

The new shopping destination is already on its way; We Are Labels is preparing for another opening in Amsterdam on the Raadhuisstraat on the border of the Nine Streets. This will become their biggest boutique yet and will become their new flagship store with men’s and women’s wear as well as accessories. Around that time the brand will also make their first

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Discover Benelux | Top Boutiques in the Nine Streets | ATELIERAMSTRDM

Unique items, made with love It certainly is one of those little gems ‘hidden’ in the Nine Streets in Amsterdam. ATELIERAMSTRDM was started in 2009, when the financial crisis was at its worst, by owner Wessel Buis and his wife Juliska Kiss. With an eye mostly for accessories, they went on to make an exclusive and full collection of clothing, all produced at their own workplace. TEXT: CATHY VAN KLAVEREN | PHOTOS: ATELIERAMSTRDM

“No item of ours is the same because of our hand printing. There’s always something different, which makes every piece unique,” says Buis. Buis and Kiss are at top of their game, making visits to other countries to learn about what’s new and to sell their brand to international clients. “We work for a high segment. We make two collections a year and we have shown our collection at Paris Fashion Week. That’s a big deal for us. There are buyers who come to those shows from all around the world. It’s nice if they see items of our label as well. People internationally dare to express themselves with clothing, we want our label to be that bold as well.” Buis explains ATELIERAMSTRDM as being for the fashionable woman, who knows what is out there to buy, but is still looking for that one particular item. “And

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one that’s still affordable," Buis explains. "Over the last couple of years the Nine Streets also have changed, but I notice that my customers think it’s nice there’s a shop where they can see our whole collection. Tourists sometimes can’t even believe it, because what we make by hand with the fabrics that we use, would be very expensive somewhere else,” Despite the global financial crisis, Buis just went to this typical location in the Nine Streets, asked the tenant if he knew of a decent location for ATELIERAMSTRDM and promptly found himself in the possession of the spot he stood in. “I thought: if we can make it through the crisis, we can always make it.” From the start, ATELIERAMSTRDM has used durable leathers like snake leather because it’s the kind that becomes more beautiful when used. The snake print has

become one of the details of the label: in every collection something references to the snake. “It’s our trademark. We build everything around it. We also use the finest fabrics. We want our clothes to be the best they can be.”

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Discover Benelux | Top Boutiques in the Nine Streets | 360volt

Modern classic industrials The largest collection of vintage industrial lamps in Europe can be found in Amsterdam. Looking out over the gorgeous Prinsengracht, 360volt showcases beautiful industrial cultural heritage, hailing from factories and warehouses all over Europe and Northern America. And yes, they are all for sale. “We have over one hundred different fixtures,” says 360volt co-founder Emile de Cock. “They’re all pre-seventies, the oldest one is even pre-World War I. What I love about them is their timelessness: they’re designed purely based on functionality and consist of sturdy, durable materials like enamel and Bakelite. Though lamps from different countries look different, all of them have a classic, modern appearance suiting all interiors.” All lamps are restored before finding a new space to light up. “We rewire them and make them suitable for modern light bulbs, while preserving their characteristic look,” explains Emile. “Yet we also have old bulbs with a carbon filament in our collection. Those bulbs spread a much warmer light than modern ones.” Emile runs the store with his partner Hilde de Lange. They are graphic and industrial designers, which you can


tell by looking into their well-designed, museumlike, store. It’s no surprise they also work on (inter)national projects advising the hospitality industry and brands on lamps and lighting. “We’ve been a partner to famous brands like SohoHouse, Ralph Lauren and the Conservatorium Hotel in Amsterdam. We advised them how to deploy them to emphasise certain features of the room.” Emile’s and Hilde’s extensive collection sometimes contains 200 specimens of one type of lamp. “To the Conservatoriom Hotel, we delivered a large set of scissor lamps. Within our already small niche, those beauties are our specialty!”

Showcasing Holland through fine art TEXT: PAOLA WESTBEEK

Neatly tucked into Amsterdam’s monumental Canal Ring, the Nine Streets is a shopping district replete with old-world allure and opportunities to find everything from designer labels to one-of-a-kind artworks. In the latter is where Dutch Accent – both art gallery and shop – has managed to attract those looking for something unique and exquisitely Dutch. Though Dutch Accent opened in January, its foundations were laid in 2002 with Ton Verdegaal’s Glaswerkplaats, a successful studio for stained glass windows and glasswork which previously occupied the location. The current shop and gallery was a concept that began to develop in 2014 when Verdegaal decided it was time for a change. Verdegaal’s new venture led to a complete restyling, resulting in a place that now exhibits and sells distinctive Dutch paintings, objects and glass-

works. While the shop draws tourists, it certainly is not your run-of-the-mill souvenir shop. Paintings, mostly landscapes and cityscapes, are rendered in different styles by select professional artists and represent a pure view of the country’s essence and splendour without ever being cliché. The glasswork is produced at the renowned Glasblazerij (glass studio) in Leerdam; the city is the epicentre of Dutch glassmaking. Dutch Accent truly prides itself on showcasing the beauty of Holland through its fine art and exclusive souvenirs. Verdegaal: “I love art and design and wanted to offer something other than what you are likely to find elsewhere. Those who appreciate art and discover my shop are very enthusiastic.” Dutch Accent also has an online shop and ships its products worldwide.

Above: 116-Landscape, painted and photographed by Niels Schouten

Above: Modderdag, made and photographed by Sonja Brussen Left: Westertoren, made and photographed by Leo van der Vlist

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Discover Benelux | Eat, Drink & Sleep in the Nine Streets | Pompadour

Keeping artisanal recipes alive When visiting the Nine Streets in Amsterdam, there is one place one simply cannot resist passing by. Chocolaterie Pompadour is one of the best artisan patisseries and chocolateries in the country, and has a private tearoom where homemade cakes and chocolates are served. TEXT: BERTHE VAN DEN HURK | PHOTOS: RUUD VAN DE GRAAF, TELEVIEW

“Everything starts with excellent raw materials,” says Bram Ouwehand, co-owner of Chocolaterie Pompadour. “All our products are pure and honest. Our bakery practically doesn’t use semis. We bake biscuits in at least 15 variations, and all without the powders that are designed to save our work.” Only the very best ingredients are good enough for the Pompadour bakery. The puff pastry for the croissants is treated as long as it takes for an optimal and perfect result. And the chocolate Pompadour uses in their products, is Valrhona chocolate from France. This is, according to Pompadour, the very best chocolate and only used by top chefs and patissiers. This approach has been successful for as long as Pompadou has existed, which is 52 years.

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Bram Ouwehand, his partner Escu Gabriels and their staff travel all over Europe to participate in workshops and lectures. Ouwehand: “We often take courses in France, Belgium and Germany. We learn a lot from the great chefs; surprising combinations or a different way of processing products. Recipes are always evolving.” The knowledge they gain is not something they want to keep secret. According to Ouwehand it is important to share the knowledge. Gabriels passes on his gained knowledge as a teacher at a bakery college in Bruges, Belgium. Ouwehand: “Many beautiful elements and recipes are almost extinct because of the large industrial bakers. This artesian profession is becoming more and more

exclusive, which is obviously very unfortunate. We use many old-fashioned recipes, but give it our own signature.” The tearoom is nothing less than spectacular, exactly how a tearoom should look like. The panelling was made for the town hall of Mortsel in 1795. Now, 175 years later, it is being re-used in Amsterdam, at the tearoom of Chocolaterie Pompadour. The financiers, made of Spanish almonds, and beurre noisettes, are served with each cup of coffee. There are many special pastries available, like blanc manger, miserable, javanais. Each and every one of them are highly tasteworthy.

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Discover Benelux | Top Boutiques in the Nine Streets | Wolvenstraat 23

Laid-back in the middle of bubbling Amsterdam TEXT: CATHY VAN KLAVEREN | PHOTOS: WOLVENSTRAAT 23

In the running for 15 years now, Wolvenstraat 23 is one of the places in Amsterdam you just have to sit at for a nice cup of coffee or noodle soup at least once when visiting the capital of the Netherlands. There from the start was Rob Benoni: “I had no idea the Nine Streets would become this popular, but I’m thrilled about it.” So this is a bar without a name, correct? “That’s about right, we opened before we could pick a name. But soon after we noticed that people made up their own names. Eventually everyone knew that they meant Wolvenstraat 23 by it,” Benoni explains. He leaves the everyday business of his trusted bar in the hands of Anna Mol, who knows all the ins and outs of the Wolvenstraat 23. “She makes sure everything gets done the right way. We change our art every

month, there is great music and we still have Chinese cuisine every day created from the day we opened by Xing Wang, our brilliant Chinese cook from Shanghai. You just have to sit for a great cup of coffee, cakes, BLT sandwich or our famous noodle soup. People drive around the block for that, you know,” says Benoni. Although the street might be in one of the most happening areas of Amsterdam, it started out much calmer. “I think we owe our success to the people who come. We can still reach out to the Amsterdam people, not just the tourists. It’s always laidback, everyone can do what they want. At the same time there’s always something happening. It’s that feeling you get the moment you walk in.”

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Discover Benelux | Eat, Drink & Sleep in the Nine Streets | Marqt

Sustainable supermarket Food isn’t what it used to be. Pesticides, potentially harmful additives and e-numbers, not to mention mass-produced animal products, have wreaked havoc on our health and environment. At Marqt however, shoppers can expect products that are delicious and made with respect for people and the planet: seasonal, local, mostly organic and free from synthetic preservatives. In short, real food. TEXT: PAOLA WESTBEEK | PHOTOS: MARQT

Fresh fish, ethically produced meat, fragrant loaves of bread baked on the premises, the season’s best local fruits and vegetables, aromatic herbs and spices and so much more. Since 2008, sustainable supermarket chain Marqt has been offering clients everything from their daily shopping needs to grab-and-go snacks, quick take-away meals or even the makings of a chef-worthy dinner. After working for a major international food retailer and seeing that food had merely become a means of earning money, founder Quirijn Bolle decided it was time to do things differently. His mission was to bring forth a supermarket that offers authentic, ethically produced food directly delivered by farmers and suppliers who can personally guarantee the quality of

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their products and, in turn, are fairly rewarded for their labour. For Bolle, the concept of ‘real food’ translates to food that is made in harmony with nature; food that remains as close as possible to its natural origins and isn’t filled with unnecessary additives or enumbers: “It is strange to see how products that are deemed potentially harmful by scientific research still end up in our food. We look at food differently. For us, food should be pure.” In 2014, Marqt Kitchen was launched as a means of bringing customers high-quality convenience food made in line with Marqt’s philosophy. The Amsterdambased kitchen supplies all Marqt branches with ready-made meals and snacks made

with ingredients sourced at the shops. Because everything is cooked fresh and without the addition of preservatives, the meals can be kept for a maximum of two to three days. Marqt has 13 branches spread out over the major Dutch cities of Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Haarlem, and two more are set to open this autumn in Amsterdam’s Beethovenstraat and Gelderlandplein. One thing to keep in mind before you drop in is that Marqt does not accept cash, only debit and credit cards. Bolle: “Not only does this make transactions quicker and safer, but it also fits in with our mission of working sustainably.”

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Het Stokstraatkwartier: The stylish heart of Maastricht It’s not hard to find Maastricht’s Stokstraatkwartier. Just follow one of many trendy students and aspiring artists from this southern city in the Netherlands. Situated in Maastricht’s historic centre, at a short walk from the central train station, the area is packed with galleries, high fashion boutiques and quaint little shops. TEXT: SARA ASOKA PAULSEN | PHOTOS: NTBC

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Discover Benelux | Het Stokstraatkwartier | The Stylish Heart of Maastricht

Fashion boutique NATAN by Edouard Vermeulen (see page 69), with its raw stone façade, is one of the area’s shopping highlights. It is also one of the favourite fashion labels of Queen Máxima. The street’s eyecatching, historical buildings and modern fashion stores with their white walls and clean lines create a beautiful contrast. A similar appearance can be found throughout this town quarter of Maastricht, known as the home to the more exclusive brands. The quarter has a long history – while many of the current buildings date from the 17th and 18th centuries, the first foundations were laid in Roman times. Excavations have even unearthed a large third century thermae underneath the streets. It took almost a decade to carefully restore the buildings, making the quarter stand out in a modern manner, yet with respect for history. If you seek a tranquil atmosphere with many greens and the magnificent Meuse River nearby, the Stokstraatkwartier will be your best bet. It is also nearby beautiful green areas including the Stadspark which lies at walking distance from the quarter. Follow the Maasboulevard along the river, and you will find the park. Many university students love the vibrant feel and the mix of cool, fashionable shops and artistic galleries and luxury brands the Stokstraatkwartier has to offer. This brings a certain young spirit to the already urban and hip area, so why not visit and combine your shopping experience with a break for good cup of coffee to fully immerse yourself in the surroundings? If this sounds like a place for you, tasteful hotels such as Derlon Hotel Maastricht (see page 71) are well situated and have the same fashionable appearance and comfort standard as the rest of this charming quarter.

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Discover Benelux | Top Boutiques in Het Stokstraatkwartier | Fur and Fashion

Exceptional coats for fashion lovers If there is one place a true fashionista feels right at home, it must be at Fur and Fashion by Rademakers. It is a wonderful boutique located in the vibrant city centre of Maastricht since 2009, which offers a wide range luxury coats and accessories. TEXT: BERTHE VAN DEN HURK | PHOTOS: FUR AND FASHION BY RADEMAKERS & VIOLANTI

Ever since its establishment in 1965 in Sittard, Limburg, Rademakers has been a trendsetter in fur coats and accessories. The latest processing in fur, shearling and leather combined with talent and skill enable them to create unique coats and accessories with an eye for detail. Each coat is handmade and crafted out of the best materials. “Our coats and accessories were much too beautiful to only be sold in Sittard,” says second generation Helma Rademakers. “That’s why I opened Fur and Fashion at the Stokstraat, in the historical city centre of Maastricht.” Pure, natural and unique are the key words for the boutique. Whether it is a shearling coat, a jacket made out of fine wool and quality cashmere, or the fabulous fur accessories. Rademakers: “I prefer to choose natural materials in models that are pure in colour and design. The

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collection is unique and everything is available in many shapes and colours." The collection of Fur and Fashion does not only consist out of designs by Rademakers, but also has some international brands. One of the leading fashion brands in Italy is Violanti. The designs of the jackets are a perfect combination of luxury, beauty and creativity. To find these jewels, Rademakers visits the international fairs. “It’s fantastic to find leading brands, which fit our concept but are not yet famous in the Netherlands or Europe. Because of this, we are a unique store,” says Rademakers. Fur and Fashion has everything for those who are looking for an exceptional and personal look, with a great quality and a luxurious feeling. Rademakers: “We want to create a feel-good experience for our

customers. Fur and Fashion’s comfortable coats and stylish accessories offer just that little bit extra.” Successfully so, customers from all over the country find their way to Fur and Fashion. The service provided is flawless and an Origin Assured label guarantees a solid product to enjoy without worries.

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Discover Benelux | Top Boutiques in Het Stokstraatkwartier | NATAN by Edouard Vermeulen

A fashionista's delight Desirable clothing for the exclusive everyday that is, above all, very wearable. Royals from all over Europe are eager to wear designs by Edouard Vermeulen, the Belgian fashion designer with his couture house named NATAN. TEXT: BERTHE VAN DEN HURK | PHOTOS: NATAN

Edouard Vermeulen has been a famous fashion designer for many years. His designs are timeless, feminine and young. “The designs are simple and straightforward,” says Vermeulen. The beautiful fabrics and refined details make the clothing special. “I want woman to feel young, gorgeous, and stylish.” There are many fashionista’s who love to wear his designs, including members of royal families from countries like Sweden, Denmark, Belgium and the Netherlands. Among them are Queen Paola and Queen Mathilde of Belgium and Queen Máxima of the Netherlands. Vermeulen also designed the wedding dresses for the Dutch princess Laurentien and for Princess Claire of Belgium. During the abdication of the former Dutch Queen Beatrix in 2013, Máxima wore a Vermeulen design.

NATAN Vermeulen studied interior design in Brussels, Belgium before starting as a fashion designer. After three years working as an interior designer, he decided he wanted to do some-

thing different, so in 1983 he took over NATAN, a fashion house which has existed since 1930. He launched his first own collection in 1984 and, after that, the company started to grow. It did not take long before his collections began to expand, becoming part of the Belgium Royal Warrant in 2000 and in 2003 he became an officer in the Order of Leopold II.

shoes and bags. The owners of the shop in Maastricht, Carla and Melissa Lemmers, make sure that each customer gets all the attention and dedication they need to find the perfect outfit.

Maastricht In 2000 Vermeulen opened the first NATAN boutique in the Netherlands. It is the only shop in the Netherlands which sells the Edouard Vermeulen line. “The Maastricht shop is wonderful,” says Vermeulen. “The store is very peaceful and serene, but still very stylish. Because of this, the clothing shows its true value.” The shop is a true delight for fashionista’s and offers a wide collection of NATAN designs, which consists of three lines; the Edouard Vermeulen line, Collection and the Edition5. To put together the outfit perfectly, there are also many accessories such as

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Discover Benelux | Top Boutiques in Het Stokstraatkwartier | OSKA

OSKA underlines a woman’s personality through exclusive and high quality garments with unique designs. OSKA recently launched their appealing autumn/winter collection.

Create your own unmistakable look Exclusive fabrics, unique silhouettes and distinct details, designed with a focus on consciousness, comfort and elegance. Label OSKA creates high-quality garments with a clear-cut approach to fashion. TEXT: JANINE STERENBORG | PHOTOS: OSKA

”Well designed garments underline and strengthen a women’s personality,” says Katinka Twaalfhoven, CEO of OSKA Netherlands. Going against the grain of mainstream fashion, OSKA’s designs are based on silhouettes, combining relaxed wearing comfort with a guaranteed maximum flexibility, while emphasising the feminine figure. “Authentic designs and highquality materials bring out a person’s individuality, while being casual and elegant. A unique combination of features!” While the established fashion world focuses on the newest trends and fully elaborated styles, OSKA takes on a different approach. Twaalfhoven: “Our designs are personal and timeless. They’re inspired by trends, yet always have the unmistakable OSKA look: clear lines and shapes, with natural colours and exclusive patterns and materi-

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als. By combining for instance one of our tops with a basic pair of trousers, you can easily create your own unmistakable look.” All collections are designed in OSKA’s creative heart in Munich, where the patterns and materials come to fruition. After that, their highly experienced and trusted partners in the Czech Republic wash and dye the garments. “With state of the art technology the clothing gets their unmistakable look. These partners also exclusively develop innovative dyeing and washing processes for us. This enables us to continuously surprise our customers with new fabric designs and structures.” The materials used for OSKA’s garments are exquisite as well. “We use high-quality materials like felted wool, pure linen, cotton,

hemp and silk,” says Twaalfhoven. “They have a pleasant feel, while also displaying a natural and authentic character.” OSKA consciously chooses to work with materials from European descent. It is clear that sustainability is important to the label, creating lasting garments being one of their goals. “The clothes keep their quality and will please our customers for many more seasons to come.” The fall/winter collection has already arrived at OSKA’s boutique in the Stokstraatkwartier in Maastricht. Twaalfhoven: “Expect a lot of wool in our collection, supplemented with accessories like hats and scarves, and professional assistance from our knowledgeable staff.”

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Discover Benelux | Eat, Drink & Sleep in Het Stokstraatkwartier | Derlon Hotel Maastricht

Derlon General manager Sione Gotte

A culinary stay Located in the heart of Maastricht, close to the gorgeous square Onze Lieve Vrouwenplein and right on top of 2,000 years of history, Derlon Hotel Maastricht has quite a few things going for it. Add their excellent service, magnificent rooms, outstanding options for business meetings and exquisite food and you will never want to leave. TEXT: JANINE STERENBORG | PHOTOS: DERLON HOTEL MAASTRICHT

Derlon Hotel Maastricht has 50 rooms, including three suites and two city apartments. All hotel rooms are equipped with all the luxuries you need and have a view over a unique part of the city reminiscent of France. “The Rieu suite for instance, which is named after the famous violin player André Rieu who hails from Maastricht, has a lovely roof terrace with a view over city and the basilica, providing you with all the privacy in the world,” explains general manager Sione Götte. “In our Sphinx suite on the other hand, you can enjoy a spa-like experience.” Businesses will find everything they need at Derlon Hotel as well. Besides a newly set up internet network that provides

high-speed Wi-Fi, which makes conference calling a breeze, the hotel offers a diverse selection of meeting spaces, ideal for a business lunch or an inspiring workshop. Piazza Romana for one, is an exquisite location hidden below street level, where 26 years ago reconstruction excavations revealed authentic Roman remains. Those are now showcased inside the room: a very impressive sight. Another historic meeting location is across the street. Götte: “The beautiful old theatre De Bonbonnière is an inspiring place for larger groups to have meetings, trainings or other events. We cooperate with them, and other locations, to offer our guests the best possible business solutions.”

A great meal can also be enjoyed in Derlon Hotel. “We have a bistro café, where we offer light, high-quality meals, wines and bites,” says Götte. “In our tiny shop in the entrance to the museum cellar, we sell these specialties. It’s actually Maastricht’s smallest store.” Other than all this, Derlon Hotel offers chauffeur parking, access to gyms, spas and other facilities and arrangements, including a dinner in a star restaurant. Götte: “That’s in short what Derlon Hotel stands for: a high-quality and culinary stay.”

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Discover Benelux | Eat, Drink & Sleep in Het Stokstraatkwartier | Restaurant Rosemarijn


Restaurant Rozemarijn in Maastricht offers a little piece of Zeeland, the region in the Netherlands where chef Jeroen Raes is originally from. He combines the salty flavours from the sea with Belgian-French influences. That makes for interesting combinations, as does the chef’s appearance. “They call me ‘the cook with the coloured glasses’, but other than that I’m very modest.”

What makes it better is that Rozemarijn offers a two-course lunch for 28 euros. A three-course meal will be 33 euros. Open every day, except for Sunday, Raes and his team welcome everyone to sit inside or at their cosy outdoor terrace. Experience, taste, enjoy at Restaurant Rozemarijn.

Restaurant Rozemarijn is a young restaurant that has delivered quality since they first went into business, just five years ago. “We use only the finest products, organic and season-bound: asparagus in April, oysters in September.” Raes wants everyone to feel welcome in his restaurant.“For everyone we have something to choose from. We are in a nice spot in the middle of Maastricht, close to many shops. We think it’s nice to welcome those people who visit Maastricht to come over after a day of shopping.” He acknowledges the feeling in the south of the Netherlands is much appreciated. “The ambiance here is very different than that in the big cities in the country.”

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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Het Noordeinde – The royal shopping district In the historical centre of The Hague, the royal palace Het Noordeinde is situated in the middle of one of the city’s most popular shopping streets. A beautiful blue iron fence with gold ornaments is the only division between shoppers and the royals which brings about a luxurious experience when visiting the district. TEXT: SARA ASOKA PAULSEN | PHOTOS: NBTC / BAS KIJZERS

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Discover Benelux | Het Noordeinde | The Royal Shopping District

Next to the royal palace an apartment’s staircase is decorated with the royal monogram of Willem-Alexander when he was still the crown-prince. He used to live here before his marriage to Máxima in 2001. It is said that there is a hidden passage between the royal palace and the apartment. As the former prince spent his everyday life here, many fine ventures in the nearby streets naturally became royal suppliers. The palace is currently used as the office of King Willem-Alexander, and is therefore not open to the public. But it is possible to see the magnificent royal gardens and enjoy a picnic there, facing the palace, its stables and the archives. The royal gardens have a small pond in their well-kept grounds. The name for the palace Het Noordeinde, which is eponymous with the shopping

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street located alongside it, can be translated as ‘the northern end’. The buildings on the street are painted in different colours and date from different architectural periods, which gives the whole area a remarkable and charming ambience. Combined with the regal setting, it is no wonder why the area is commonly known as the ‘royal shopping district’. Many well-esteemed fashion boutiques are located here, including by designers Marc Cain and Claudia Sträter (see page 78). Also beautiful jewellery and watches from the glamorous Steltman (see page 76) can be found here. As the area is known for both art and fashion and there are plenty of galleries to keep you busy during the whole day. For example the interactive gallery simply named De Galerie. Here, it is possible to rent art for

four months or more at a time. This concept attracts a wide range of visitors who feel welcome to browse its high-end modern artworks and paintings.Thrown into the mix are also many antique shops on Het Noordeinde, offering beautiful and rare objects from an entirely different spectrum. This appealing combination of old and new defines the area. If you want to take a break and explore the area, there are other attractions nearby. At walking distance, you will find the Hofvijver, a small pond, which is flanked by the Binnenhof, a monumental building complex that houses the Dutch parliament. The Binnenhof, which translates as the ‘Inner Court,’ consist of a group of gothic buildings in different sizes and shapes placed around a court with a

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Discover Benelux | Het Noordeinde | The Royal Shopping District

statue in the middle. It is both majestic and fascinating to see, it gives out a vibe of the olden days but is also still the beating heard of Dutch politics today. Next to the Binnenhof, you’ll find the Mauritshuis. This museum boasts a splendid collection of artworks from the Netherlands mainly made in the 16th century, including wonderful pieces by Dutch masters such as Jan Vermeer, Rembrandt van Rijn and Jan Steen. The Walloon Church of The Hague has an impressive organ made by French organ maker Cavaillé-Coll. Originally the church was made to give the descendants of French Calvinists, also known as the Huegenots, a chance to practice their beliefs. Because of the Catholic prosecutions in France, Louis Napoleon, brother to the infamous Napoleon Bonaparte, helped fund the church. Nowadays the church still holds sermons in French and is keen to make every French-speaking citizen or visitor in The Hague feel welcome. Getting to Het Noordeinde is easy, it is located only at a 15-minute walk from The Hague Central Station. If you want the full local experience, take the tram instead which is a nice way to see some of the city while getting to the shopping area in a relaxing fashion. When in need of a bite to eat, there are plenty of restaurants located in the district. The same goes for cosy cafés serving a nice brew of coffee – there will be no need to go hungry or thirsty.

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Discover Benelux | Top Boutiques in Het Noordeinde | Steltman Jewellers & Steltman Watches

Small business on the top Being a jeweller is one of the oldest fine crafts. The profession has evolved greatly, and recently many jewellers have noticed a change. Today’s big, renowned names can make it hard for a small shops to make the difference. This isn't the case for Steltman Jeweller, a jewellery store at Het Noordeinde in The Hague. It has been in business for nearly one hundred years. TEXT: CATHY VAN KLAVEREN | PHOTOS: STELTMAN JEWELLERS & STELTMAN WATCHES

“We want to involve people in the process of making jewellery. We never have to say ‘no’ to anyone,” says Erik Nieuwenhuys, head of the jewellery store. It is like selling emotions, Nieuwenhuys says. “People have to be sensitive to it. Every employee, the goldsmiths and gemologists, has to know everything there is to know about gems and all sorts of materials. When a client asks us something, we don’t look it up in a book.” Steltman has its own brand of jewellery. They do all the inquiries, purchasing and craftsmanship themselves. “When someone comes in with the desire to buy a ring with a blue stone, there are of lot of options,” Nieuwenhuys explains. “We have a small collection in stock. But we can show different colours and sizes of blue gems. Maybe the client even brought their own

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gold for us to make a new piece out of it. Because when people make a decision to wear something beautiful, it mostly comes along with a story.” It is thanks to these qualities that Steltman Jeweller, as a relatively small business, can compete with the big names. “There are clients who tell us they like a certain kind of stone, but they don’t like the model that’s been used. We then use the stone and design a different model for it, just as the client desires. Big international jewellery stores don’t work like that.”

Watches To keep up to date, Steltman decided 16 years ago to open Steltman Watches. This store is in the same street as the jeweller. “By coincidence, but it’s nice to be close to our jeweller, as we do most of the deci-

sions together,” says Andrew Brom, the head of the Steltman Watches store. “Last couple of years watches became very important, and we noticed our other store got too small to show them.” Some exquisite and beautiful watches are available here. Steltman Jeweller can be visited at Plaats 26, and Steltman Watches at Plaats 16.

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Discover Benelux | Top Boutiques in Het Noordeinde | Claudia Sträter

The art of fashion For over 40 years, Claudia Sträter has developed honest and fine clothing collections created by talented designers. Their signature clothing is not the only thing that sets Claudia Sträter apart from other fashion brands. Claudia Sträter has always been acclaimed for its elegant style, excellent fit, attention to details and the good quality-price ratio. TEXT: BERTHE VAN DEN HURK | PHOTOS: CLAUDIA STRäTER

The clothing is characterised by signature, clean-cut and timeless designs. Focused on the modern woman between 35 and 60 years of age, all the pure Dutch design brand wants is to make women more beautiful. Claudia Sträter’s designs underline the personality of the customers and still provide enough space for individual interpretations and a personal touch. Women wearing Claudia Sträter are selfaware, active, dynamic and busy in their professional and private lives. Quality and functionality are self-evident. Claudia Sträter is originally a Dutch luxury brand, working with an almost entirely Dutch team. All collections are designed in

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Amsterdam, but are also presented and exported to shops and dealers in the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany. In the spring of 2016 Claudia Sträter will also appear in London. Because of the in-house designed collections, Claudia Sträter can react quickly and effectively to any signal from the market, while also offering the possibility to optimise the brand’s market position.

more than words can describe. When surrounded by creativity, he can take the brand Claudia Sträter and his designs to a higher level. His signature style is visible in all the Claudia Sträter collections he has created, like types of fabrics and patterns for example. Though De Gilde’s signature is visible, the design process is always a team effort. Together it will be decided if a design or project fits Claudia Sträter.

Fashionable art

For fall 2015 artist Louise te Poele has been chosen to photograph the new collection. According to Gilde it was exciting to work with an artist instead of a fashion photographer. Te Poele is known for her breathtaking portraits, which are simulta-

Head designer Ger-Jan de Gilde and his team design a new collection twice a year. For introducing a new collection it has become a sort of tradition to seek collaboration with Dutch artists. Art inspires De Gilde

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Discover Benelux | Top Boutiques in Het Noordeinde | Claudia Sträter

Find Claudia Sträter on Hoogstraat 22. This street is a continuation of Het Noordeinde connecting it with The Hague’s city centre.

neously realistic and poetic. For this project she created four quirky fashion images and four still lifes. Even with the focus on fashion, Te Poele did not work with models. Instead she used fashion dolls, which she dressed in the new collection and surrounded them with special Claudia Sträter accessories, like bags, necklaces, shoes and scarves. Te Poele says: "Usually I construct my still lifes with self-selected attributes and seek a balance between movement and stasis. I’ve combined the accessories of Claudia Sträter into a whole new 'Louise' image. It was a fun and exciting challenge."

There has also been another interesting development going on. Amsterdam Central Station asked Claudia Sträter to open a store at the main station. Locating a store at the train station of the capital seems a rather strange move for the fashion company. The opposite is true, the shop at the main train station is a success and popular with regular Claudia Sträter customers. The store has the same appearance and service the customer is accustomed to. Here it is possible to have a quick look inside to see the new collection, or pick up an online ordered purchase, all in between traveling.

New developments

The new collection

With 45 years of experience and 35 shops, Claudia Sträter proved to be an honest companion for women. In the vibrant city of The Hague, Claudia Sträter has renovated its entire building to become an even better help to their customers. And with great success. The copper façade, which the building is equipped with, had developed a dull and grey appearance over the years, but the renovation gave it the warm and rich atmosphere it used to have. Inside, it now has gained a better overview, extra light was added through the atrium, and there is even a bar to pamper the partners who come along. The customers at Claudia Sträter want to take their time for their purchase, with tranquility and attention. The shop in The Hague is extremely well suited for that.

The new collection highlights are long comfy vests, silky fur knitwear, strong power suits in black and white combina-

tions, ponchos with subtle ethnic motion veins and green as an absolute 'musthave' winter colour. The new collection is available at all 35 Claudia Sträter stores, at the web shop, at the Bijenkorf and at selected dealers in the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany.

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Discover Benelux | Business | Display Concepts

Display Concepts creates high quality portable exhibition stands and display systems to increase brand recognition and improve communication.

The visual world A picture is worth a thousand words. There is real value in using images to deliver a presentation and convey a complex idea. Images help us learn, grab attention, explain tough concepts and remember. Display Concepts is a company that creates high-quality portable exhibition stands and display systems to increase brand recognition and communicate a clear and original message at trade fairs, exhibitions, conferences and other events. TEXT: ROSANNE ROOBEEK | PHOTOS: DISPLAY CONCEPTS

“The philosophy of Display Concepts rests on three core values: quality, service and personal attention,” says Kees Mouissie, director of Display Concepts. Display Concepts offers products that range from display counters, brochure displays, pop up and banner stands to presentation walls and whole exhibition stalls.

Mouissie knows what his clients want. “We aim to create eye-catching and professional displays with a high level of user friendliness,” he says. “Our high-quality products come together with a lifetime guarantee. We aim to offer the most flexible service to our clients to build up longterm relationships.”

For exhibitors at conferences and trade fairs, it is important to get noticed. “As an exhibitor on a fair you want your display to stand out from everyone else's and to attract as many customers as possible,” Mouissie says.

All the production is done in-house, which means that the tightest level of quality control is retained at all times. The company has a comprehensive concept of quality; social responsibility is part of it.

Display Concepts works for international organisations that present themselves during fairs in Europe. With over 20 years of experience in the display industry,

Display Concepts values corporate social responsibility by taking care of the environment and society, paying equal attention to the three P’s of ‘People, Planet, and Profit’. The printing of the products is done

in an environmentally friendly way, without compromising the quality. To celebrate its ten-year anniversary in September, Display Concepts is donating ten per cent of its margin. Five per cent will go to its clients and the other five per cent to an organisation called Hulp Hond, a national centre for educating and using dogs for both medical and therapeutic care. Mouissie will adopt some dogs to help comfort people with, for example, a physical handicap or people that suffered from traumas. In the next ten years, Display Concepts hopes to keep expanding its sales and invest in new and innovative designs in the future.

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Discover Benelux | Packaging Solutions | NNZ

Sustainable and customised packaging Product packaging is more than just a piece of material used to encase an item. In the fruit and vegetable sector, for example, packaging should serve not only to protect and maintain freshness, but also to make the product attractive to consumers. NNZ, a multinational packaging company with Dutch roots has been helping clients in this respect since 1922. TEXT: PAOLA WESTBEEK | PHOTOS: PETER TAHL

When NNZ started out as a small, familyrun business in the northern Dutch city of Groningen, they specialised in jute, a natural and biodegradable material still offered by the company today. Later on, other materials such as cotton, paper, cardboard, plastics and laminates entered their product line as the business steadily grew and began to expand worldwide. Today, NNZ has subsidiaries in 18 countries and is a top packaging specialist for a broad range of international clients in the agricultural and industrial markets. They provide everything from packaging for the retail sector for weights of as little as ten grams, to packaging for transport for weights of up to 3,000 kilos. Steering away from cut-and-dried concepts is one of the things that sets NNZ

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apart from the rest. The company is committed to precisely catering to their clients’ individual needs by developing customised packaging solutions in accordance to their specific requirements. After careful deliberation with customers and partners, agreements are reached about how to present a product in the best way possible. Working sustainably is high on NNZ’s list of priorities: “We find it of the utmost importance to develop sustainable packaging that ensures a longer shelf life for produce. This, in turn, translates to less food wastage,” says CEO Len Boot. The company is furthermore continuously trying to develop thinner yet sturdy packaging, thus cutting down on the use of resources.

But the element of sustainability extends beyond the materials utilised. Besides operating in ecologically sound buildings, the packaging enterprise has always prided itself on creating long-term partnerships, especially with their valued personnel. Boot: “If our employees are satisfied then this is visible to our clients and suppliers. We want those who work for us to do so with passion and pleasure, in a personal way, and in accordance with the goals we have mutually set.” The combination of NNZ’s customised packaging solutions with sustainability and a solid dose of work ethic has led to a successful company that continues to satisfy clients all over the world.

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Discover Benelux | Packaging Solutions | Buhrs

Big data and offline solutions Have you ever wondered the road a magazine travels before ending up on your doormat – well-wrapped and provided with relevant leaflets? Ask Buhrs. Creating efficient and innovative machines and having great knowledge of the changing demands within mailing solutions, the leading company is ready to assist clients in developing direct marketing campaigns. TEXT: JANINE STERENBORG | PHOTOS: BUHRS

Great offline opportunities arise within the ever progressive digitalised world. Buhrs, the leading and always innovating worldwide provider of mailing solutions, noticed a shift in the near collapsed postal market when the economy recently started picking up again. “Companies refocused on commercial prints,” explains managing director Dick Verheij. “They realised there’s a huge opportunity for custom content: thanks to big data, they can meticulously target every single customer offline, resulting in a new way of reaching out to their customers and of approaching campaigns. Our machines allow them to adapt their mailing accordingly.” With track record of over 100 years of experience, worldwide connections and their

creative approach, Buhrs is the perfect partner in mailing solutions. Verheij: “Our small, creative and dedicated team is flexible and adaptive, just like our highly customisable machines.” Custom, selected leaflets can be in- or onserted to media products like magazines. Other custom additions can be affixed on top and the address can be verified through all kinds of special tools like built-in cameras, scanners and more. “We have a solution to every demand and our machines can be adjusted accordingly.” Being a member of the Hittech Group, a Full Service System Supplier, Buhrs is able to tap into an extensive amount of resources, giving them a great advantage in developing new solutions.

Buhrs’ machines are sold all over the world, from European countries to Japan and the USA. “We have a dedicated service organisation of 15 engineers, offering 24/7 technical service worldwide. If any problem arises with a machine, we log into the system or fly over and help our client solve it.” The wrapping solutions Buhrs offers vary from poly and paper wrapping to addressing, sorting and fulfilment. “Soon we’ll add solutions for handling cardboard to that, I think personalised packing boxes are the future,” Verheij predicts. “Now they’re plain brown or white, this makes them a great commercial opportunity.”

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Discover Benelux | Packaging Solutions | Wipak

Packaging’s international leader For close to half a century, companies in the food industry and medical/healthcare sector have been turning to Wipak for their unsurpassed knowledge in creating innovative and sustainable packaging solutions. The multinational company prides itself on being a leading provider of high-quality films and packaging materials and is constantly working towards increasing their expertise in development and technology. TEXT: PAOLA WESTBEEK | PHOTOS: WIPAK

Although active in ten locations across Europe, Wipak, which recently ventured to China, is part of the Wihuri Group, a global yet family-run Finnish company employing approximately 5,000 individuals and operating since 1901 in packaging, retail, technical trade and aviation. Antti Aarnio-Wihuri has been Wihuri’s chairman since 1988. Proof that, when it comes to a family industry, stability and long-term thinking are a reality. Together with Winpak, its sister company spread out over ten locations in North America and Canada, Wipak accounts for half of the multinational enterprise’s total revenue (currently, close to two billion euros). Wihuri’s packaging business stands at

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the top as a worldwide leader, with Wipak focusing primarily on developing packaging solutions for foods in the protein, cheese and bake-off bread industries as well as for the healthcare industry.

Added values According to general director for Wipak Benelux, Peter Cuypers, the company’s global reach is indispensable when it comes to best serving their target markets: “In order to cater to these segments, it is of the utmost important to have a good network of factories close to your clients. Having factories all over Europe and being able to help our clients locally in their own language is one of Wipak’s unique added values.”

Another factor that makes Wipak unparalleled in its field is that they have the ability to self-sufficiently produce most of their co-extruded films. Take lidding films for example, which typically consists of two or three different layers and of which the sealing layer is the most critical element. “Yet another of our added values is that we make this layer ourselves, allowing us to tailor-make solutions and innovate constantly,” comments Cuypers.

Development through client collaboration In order for Wipak to keep developing new products, essential components are updated with the latest state-of-the-art technological innovations, while thoroughly

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Discover Benelux | Packaging Solutions | Wipak

knowing their clients’ market and recognising trends. Because their target market is relatively stable, Wipak has a good eye for who their clients are and how to best fulfil their needs. Though it goes without saying that Wipak will continue to provide its current clients with the best possible service, they firmly believe that profitable growth comes through market-oriented development. Cuypers: “At the moment, we are formulating new applications based on our vast experience in barrier films. We are exploring new market segments such as heattreated foods including compotes and ready-made meals that do not require cooling.” A frontrunner in this market is the recently launched barrier film called Walox, which is made with unique flex crack-resistant features. Wipak’s means of creating new packaging concepts in close collaboration with clients and industrial associates translates to a company that continuously enhances its competencies while simultaneously expanding its network.

Innovative and sustainable global player Flexible packaging, which is currently in high demand, is without a doubt the most sustainable form of packaging available. This is mainly because of its low weight ratio versus the packaged food in comparison to, for example, cans and glass. That optimal packaging is important for the preservation of the product and the environment, which is something Wipak fully understands. Cuypers: “What is often forgotten when talking about plastic packaging is the fact that during the last 50 years, the entire packaging industry has played a tremendous role in reducing the amount of food waste overall. Now, the main objective is how to keep the weight of the

packaging itself as low as possible in relation to the packaged product.” By striving to create thinner films, Wipak is working towards dramatically reducing waste and energy, thus preserving precious resources. Wipak’s optimised film formulations and combinations of materials also makes this possible. Wipak is by far one of the leading companies that combines paper and plastic solutions, with some of their films consisting up to 80-85 per cent of paper. Especially during the last 15 years, Wipak has been an international leader in bringing new solutions to the market. In order to achieve this, the company has never lost sight of its three mainstays: namely, corporate social responsibility, environmental protection and economic efficiency. Though Wipak is firmly rooted in a familyoperated business, it is a true global player. Cuypers: “This is a unique combination that you aren’t likely to find elsewhere. We are a company with people who are enormously committed to their work and to traditional norms, but where innovative thinking continues to be regarded as most important.”

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Discover Benelux | Business | Columns

What communicates? TEXT & PHOTO: JOSIAH FISK

The 'Netherlands risk man' – labouring under a misapprehension? The Netherlands has always been big on consumer information. So it’s no surprise that the Dutch financial regulators are almost alone in Europe for having tried the most innovative approach to investor protection yet. The traditional approach, as we all know, is to force companies to slather their communications with impenetrable legal prose. The irony is that all this disclosure has the opposite effect. Instead of feeling informed and protected, we merely feel overwhelmed and alienated. Working on the premise that investment risk was like a burden, the Netherlands’ regulators created a simple, graphical device that reflects how much risk an investment involves. When the risk is light, the little man (and it is a man, to be sure) is able to carry it easily. You can almost see him whistling as he totes his easy burden. When the risk is heavy, it’s a different story. Poor Meneer Risicometer (Mr Risk Measurer) is bent over by all the weight. He doesn’t look very happy. Which is exactly the point. So the risicometer is an innovative approach that communicates quickly and clearly. There is just one problem: the analogy of risk to weight is not really accurate. Greater risk, in investing,

isn’t just more dead weight. It generally comes with the potential of greater reward. Otherwise, no one would invest in higher-risk investments. The newest risicometer addresses that. It’s a numerical scale, from one to seven, with a notation that ties the level of risk to potential reward. Is it less graphical? Yes. Does that generally mean we would expect it to be a less effective communication? Yes. Yet overall, it’s much better. That’s the thing about communications. Like cooking, it’s not just how good the recipe looks, it’s how the end result tastes. There are things that are more likely to work, or less likely. But in the end, the only thing that matters is what actually works in the situation at hand. Ever wondered why communication is so complicated? Now you know.

Josiah Fisk

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

Politics is not a dirty word TEXT & PHOTO: STEVE FLINDERS

How many competences and behaviours do you need to be effective when you work internationally? According to The International Profiler (TIP), a tool which helps us develop awareness of how we work with international partners, there are 22. They include aspects of openness, flexibility, personal autonomy, emotional strength, perceptiveness and so on. But in my experience a tricky one for many people is what TIP calls ‘sensitivity to context’ – defined as being “good at understanding where political power lies in organisations and keen to figure out how best to play to this”. Tricky because many people do not like the word ‘political’ (unlike one French Machiavellian I met who went back to his French company after a brief period in a US organisation because he missed the empire-building and the intrigue). A great deal of the people I’ve ‘TIPped’ don’t like to get involved in office pol-

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itics or at least don’t like to be seen to be getting involved. I think this is a serious mistake. When we’re working at home, in familiar domestic circumstances, we don’t usually have a problem understanding where the power lies or how the power flows within the organisation. Working in an unfamiliar context can be different: I’ve sat opposite a row of Chinese executives with no idea as to who was in charge or how the decisions were being made. Without that knowledge, you can’t begin to influence outcomes. In the public domain, terms like ‘politics’ and ‘politician’ may have been discredited both by abuses of power and by sheer stupidity, the handling of the Greek crisis being a recent example. But we should at least recognise that someone has to do the job and, of course, that we get the politicians we deserve. In business, it’s the same. Managers have a responsibility to their teams to optimise

resources and opportunities. If they are operating in the dark politically because they haven’t gone to the trouble to understand the way their foreign partners manage power, then they are doing their own people a serious disservice. And how do we gain understanding and influence? Through information gathering, asking questions, networking and, above all, relationship building. In China, that could mean an awful lot of dinners. Bon appétit! Steve Flinders Steve Flinders is a freelance trainer, writer and coach, now based in Malta, who helps people develop their communication and leadership skills for working internationally:;

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Discover Benelux | Business | Calendar

Photo: Bellfort France Conference

Photo: Arena International


Explore, learn and network in Amsterdam Amsterdam, the Netherlands, 10 – 15 September Each year IBC arranges an exhibition and conference that focuses on electronic media and entertainment, providing a vibrant experience whether you are a student, a CEO, an innovative start-up, or a media superpower. Held every September at a world-class venue, the Amsterdam RAI, it is always at the forefront of industry innovation along with an unrivalled chance to network. The World Satellite Business Week Paris, France, 14 – 18 September The Business Week’s annual conference in Paris brings together nearly 800 of the most influential representatives of the global satellite communications and information business, for five days of discussions, debates and deal-making. Featuring high profile speakers including presidents, CEOs, CFOs and senior gov-

ernment officials, the summit will host thematic roundtable discussions, presentations and a packed social programme offering unique networking opportunities. The Connected Summer Innovation Forum Marseille, France, 15 – 17 September This year the Connected Summer Innovation conference explores contactless innovation not as a technology, but as a way to shop, spend money, check-in, travel, visit, connect, and play. More than 60 leading speakers will attend the event, making it a brilliant way to learn more about this digital world and its developments. Women Empowerment Forum Brussels, Belgium, 16 – 17 September The Women Empowerment Forum gives female business leaders a chance to engage in discussions and debates con-

cerning gender and corporate culture. Why are there not more women sitting at the leadership table? What are the challenges modern women face? At Fleming Europe’s exciting conference you get to learn more about just that. The Global Brand Protection Summit Amsterdam, the Netherlands, 16 – 17 September How do you minimise brand abuse? This is a question that the Global Brand Protection Summit 2015 seeks to answer. This is a global meeting point that puts forward different levels of awareness, education and interest to enable those that attend to design, develop and implement customised, solutions against consumer product counterfeiting and online infringements. Learn more about their multifaceted approach to security for brands and creative content-rights holders in Amsterdam.

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Discover Benelux | Special Feature | Belgian Comics


A long love story This year, the city of Brussels will once again be be hosting the Fête de la BD, or Comic Strip Festival, one of the biggest comic gatherings in Europe. This September is the time to celebrate comics from Belgium and all around the world. But what is so special about Belgian comics? TEXT: DIEGO PHILIPS | PHOTOS: VISIT BRUSSELS

Comic books and picture journals have existed since the Middle Ages. Since then they have gone through an interesting development and now exist all over the world, with comic books in the United States, Manga in Japan, and the bande dessinée in Europe. First published in magazines, Franco-Belgian comics experienced a boom between in the inter-war years. During this time, many new magazines were released. In 1946 Le Journal de Tintin was launched, shortly followed by the (still existing) Le Journal de Spirou. These and other titles by Brussels' publishing houses helped to make it the heart of European comics.

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In Belgium, comics are considered to be the ‘ninth art’. Every Belgian child grows up with The Adventures of Tintin. Hergé, the man behind Tintin, really started the Belgian wave. He took his hero everywhere around the world and beyond, Tintin even went to the moon. While Tintin is probably the best known Belgian comic character, partly thanks to Steven Spielberg’s animated film adaptation The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn from 2011, he is hardly the only one. The Smurfs, Billy & Buddy, Spirou & Fantasio, The Marsupilami, Lucky Luke, Redbeard, Spike and Suzy (also known as Suske en Wiske or Bob et Bobette) and Papyrus all

come from the minds of Belgian artists. Aside from these ‘classics’, new comics are having big successes, for example XIII and Largo Winch. Recently many comics have been turned into films, television shows and cartoons that are shown around the world from Vancouver to Vladivostok. We asked Robert Vangeneberg, managing director of the Hergé Museum in LouvainLa-Neuve, why comic strips and Belgium are so interlinked "Comic strips got so important in Belgium, which is probably the country with the most talented authors per square kilometre, it is of course because of

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Discover Benelux | Special Feature | Belgian Comics

Top: Hergé and Warhol © Hergé Moulinsart Bottom: © Nicolas Borel. Architect: Christian de Portzamparc

the incredible pioneering role played by Hergé. The creator of Tintin and ‘La ligne claire’ (the Tintin style) has inspired a generation of illustrators and script writers and the heroes that are part of the imagination of every person in Belgium,” he says. “But he was not alone! The strength of the Belgian comic is also thanks to other pioneers. Geniuses like Franquin, Jacobs, Morris, Peyo or Vandersteen who made Le Journal de Spirou in its heyday and the rivalling Le Journal de Tintin, in the golden age of the Franco-Belgian Comics. It is the same emulation between all these talented authors that made comic strips a major art in Belgium much sooner than in other countries. It is probably the personality of characters like Captain Haddock or Gaston Lagaffe that contributed to make Belgium the nation of humour and surrealism.” If you’re a comic book enthusiast, you’ll know that Brussels is the place to be. For the free Fête de la BD, which will take place at the Warandepark, a 5,000square-metre big top marquee will wel-

come about a 100,000 visitors from all around the world. Signing sessions, exhibitions, conferences and the selling of rarities are on the programme. But that’s not all, added to the list is a rally with every car that has ever appeared in Tintin, a balloon parade in the streets of Brussels and several evening shows. If you are really passionate, and the festival is not enough, or if you happen to be in Brussels at another time, there are plenty of opportunities to satisfy your appetite for comics. Visit Brussels offers a self-guided comic strip tour through the city with stops at painted murals of comic characters. If you are more of a museum person, you can visit the Belgian Comic Strip Center, situated in the heart of Brussels, or if you are just a Tintin fan, there is a museum dedicated to the young journalist in Louvain-La-Neuve, about 30 kilometres from Brussels. You can even enjoy a dinner or just a drink in the comicthemed restaurant and bars, including the Comic Café, located on the Sablon Square. For a unique souvenir you’ll find many shops specialised in the comic art throughout the Belgian capital.

Where to go Belgian Comic Strip Center and Museum – Rue des Sables, Brussels Hergé Museum – Rue du Labrador, Louvain-la-Neuve Comic Café – Place du Grand Sablon, Bruxelles Slumberland (shop) – Rue des Sables, Brussels or Place de l´Université, Louvain-la-Neuve

Comic Strip Festival 4 – 6 September, Warandepark, Brussels Entrance is free

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Discover Benelux | Restaurant of the Month | Belgium

Sample some of the finest Belgian cuisine in Belga Queen’s beautiful surroundings.

R E S TA U R A N T O F T H E M O N T H , B E L G I U M

Belgian haute cuisine reigns supreme Belga Queen’s story begins not in Belgium, where this fine restaurant can be found, but in Portugal, where founder Antoine Pinto came from as a 17-year-old political refugee. He fled his native country in 1974 after his political activities caught the attention of the authorities. Leaving at night and hitchhiking across Portugal, Spain and France, he finally reached Belgium. TEXT: LIDIJA LIEGIS | PHOTOS: BELGA QUEEN

Pinto studied architectural interior design at the Académie des Beaux-Arts, and financed his studies by cooking in several restaurants. In 1976, he opened his first restaurant Honolulu in Liège, and has since built a career as both a successful interior architect and a celebrated chef, having managed over 30 restaurants. He was named a top European chef by the prestigious German Gault & Millau guide in 1981; in 1986 he was the first non-Italian chef to receive a diploma from the Italian Academy of Gastronomy; and in 1993 he was recognised by the Portuguese Academy.

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Renowned for its first-class Belgian fare, Belga Queen uses ingredients which are all sourced locally. The restaurant serves a vast array of celebrated Belgian beers, as well as a collection of wines from Belgian producers across the world. Pinto describes Belgians as “very modest, with many wonderful, vastly undersold products.” Despite the current trend for molecular cuisine, a way of cooking which explores and focuses on the physical and chemical transformation of food, Pinto says he prefers to stay true to a food’s original con-

sistency. He favours a classic menu, focusing on “the quality and freshness of a product, rather than just its visual aspect.”

Brasserie de luxe Pinto’s restaurants are renowned for their superb interiors, and Belga Queen is no exception. The Brussels restaurant opened 14 years ago in the splendid Hôtel de la Poste in the centre of the city. A former bank with a grand entrance hall and late 19th century stained-glass windows, the building has undergone a transformation from being a belle époque-style bank, to a versatile headquarters. It encompasses a

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Discover Benelux | Restaurant of the Month | Belgium

restaurant, an oyster bar, a beer bar and a cigar lounge. The interior is revered for both its respect of the original shell which makes use of the airy space, and for its modern décor with club chairs and tables Although he is now less involved in cooking in his restaurants, Pinto nevertheless plays a key role in selecting the menu. Dishes change twice yearly, but Pinto always retains a few core items such as foie gras and brown shrimps. His personal favourite, he says, is the asparagus. He also specialises in creating menus with seasonal products. Another dining option in the complex is the oyster bar, which offers an array of seafood including lobster. After a meal, diners can descend to the club, located in the former bank vaults. The room is decorated in warm colonial tones reminiscent of the Belgian Congo. The club serves a selection of cocktails, spirits and cigars. A DJ plays on Fridays and Saturdays. Alternatively, you can head to the cosy bar to relax in leather armchairs and sample any of the 30-odd regional top-quality bottled or draught

beers available. The bar offers a range of cocktails as well. Belga Queen caters to a wide clientele, ranging from politicians to artists and everything in between. It also plays host to many a party, thanks to its impressive interior and immense size (the Brussels restaurant can seat 200 people). A second restaurant is located in Ghent, housed in a former 13th century grain storage building. Similar to the Brussels branch, it includes an oyster bar and several other lounges and spaces to have drinks.

the day-to-day tasks in a restaurant,” he says of the side he prefers least. He has travelled widely and draws inspiration from the places he has visited. On future plans, Pinto will only say that he dreams of having a place where he can do new things with the décor and cuisine, “somewhere overlooking the sea, where my friends can also stay.” Going on his past ventures, this Portugal-native is bound to continue surprising us.

On future directions Despite his wide-reaching success, Pinto says that he never set out to become a chef. He began working in Liège in architectural design, but says he found it easier to find work in restaurants. He learned by watching others, as well as through selfstudy. He says that cooking suits him as it allows him to be creative and express himself. His favourite aspect of his job, he says, is the creativity, and the making and assembling of new dishes. “I hate repetition and

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Discover Benelux | Restaurant of the Month | The Netherlands

R E S TA U R A N T O F T H E M O N T H , T H E N E T H E R L A N D S

A symphony of taste and sound Though in Amsterdam quality restaurants are abound, at some the dining experience goes far beyond what is actually presented on the plate. One of those restaurants is Pasta e Basta. At this unique establishment, diners are not only in for a gustatory feast, but also for an unforgettable Italian musical extravaganza. TEXT: PAOLA WESTBEEK | PHOTOS: M. WENSINK

Besides the food, ambiance is one of the key factors that make a restaurant memorable – a concept which Pasta e Basta wholeheartedly embraces. Those who book a table are guaranteed to have more than just their taste buds swooning. Here, the exquisite culinary repertoire is presented in a stunningly opulent décor by a staff that serves and serenades. Expect everything from modern pop songs to romantic ballads and moving operas, all performed with the same level of passion that goes into creating the vast array of mouth-watering antipasti (lavishly displayed on the open wing of a grand piano) and superb pastas. Also the wine list is extensive, fairly priced and many of the exclusive wines can be ordered by the glass. Behind this unique concept is a passionate music lover himself, Hans Duijf. This year,

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Pasta e Basta is celebrating its 20th anniversary and has welcomed more than one million guests, including international music legends such as Tina Turner, Mariah Carey, Sting and Luciano Pavarotti. The talented waiting staff all have a solid musical background and are a pleasure to listen to as well as behold. Each evening, the compilations are thought of on-the-spot according to the guests’ mood and the general atmosphere. Sometimes the songs are mellow, other times it’s practically impossible not to stand up, let loose and swing the hips. For Duijf, the choice of food is just as important as the choice of staff. Though not a vegetarian, he opts for a pasta menu, forgoing large quantities of meat and fish. “I

just couldn’t bear the thought of having to sacrifice so many animals for so many guests,” he says. Since September 2013, Pasta e Basta’s team of young chefs have been working in cooperation with master chef Ron Blaauw. Blaauw was responsible for introducing the concept of shared dining, thereby allowing each guest to sample a selection of pasta dishes following the antipasti buffet. For a perfectly orchestrated symphony of taste and sound, Pasta e Basta is sure to please. Pasta e Basta? Sounds delicious!

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Discover Benelux | Restaurant of the Month | Luxembourg

R E S TA U R A N T O F T H E M O N T H , L U X E M B O U R G

A culinary adventure like no other Elected best restaurant of the year for Wallonia and Luxembourg in 2013 by Gault & Millau, for the freshness and variety of vegetables used in its dishes, the restaurant La Distillerie is a culinary dream come true. TEXT: BETTINA GUIRKINGER | PHOTOS: CHâTEAU DE BOURGLINSTER - RESTAURANT LA DISTILLERIE

Offering a generous contemporanean cuisine geared towards the taste of tomorrow, but honouring the heritage from the past, the restaurant’s main objective is to provide an ecstasy of the senses to the most exigent palates. Under the guidance and expertise of chef René Mathieu, starred Michelin chef since 2012 and crowned Chef of the Year 2012 for Luxembourg by Gault & Millau, the restaurant La Distillerie is bound to provide its clients with an explosion of refined tastes with its original cuisine and innovative combinations. “My dishes are born out of an expression that is technical just as much as sentimental. Any magical encounter with nature or memorable moment in my life can inspire a new recipe that is both well-rounded and creative,” says Mathieu.

Located in the idyllic setting of the Château de Bourglinster in Luxembourg’s countryside, the visitors will be mesmerised by the medieval atmosphere of the castle. Dating back to the 11th century, it has its own chapel, two defensive towers and residential wings. Today, the château hosts exhibitions, concerts, meetings and receptions. Divided into three main spaces to host banquets and receptions, the castle provides an ideal setting to turn your event into a memorable experience. ‘Le Château’ can fit up to 600 guests standing for cocktail events. ‘La salle de Chevaliers’ provides space for up to 120 seated guests for dinner or 200 standing up. As for ‘La salle Renaissance’, it can host up to 60 guests for seated dinners or 80 standing up for cocktails.

For a more casual lunch on the domain amongst friends or family, the little sister of La Distillerie is the Brasserie Côté Cour, which offers a taste of local cuisine of the highest quality, equally designed by chef René Mathieu. Offering a large selection of wines and a beautiful view from the terrace, it is the perfect place to relax after a day of exploration in the Luxembourgian countryside. For a personalised service and memorable dining experiences, the team at the Château Bourglinster look forward to facilitating a one-of-a-kind culinary adventure for its visitors.

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Out & About September is characterised by the coming of autumn, a month where the sun works its magic for the last time before turning down the heat. Now is your perfect opportunity to get ready for the colder days ahead, collecting memories and inspiration from the summer’s last festivities. TEXT: CAROLINE EDWARDS | MAIN PHOTOS: FOOD TRUCK FESTIVAL

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Photo: Eric Danhier

Discover Benelux | Culture Calendar | Out & About

Ready to meet your childhood heroes? Brussels, Belgium, 4 – 6 September The Comics Festival in Brussels brings you the very best from the world of cartoons. Meet your childhood paper heroes for days full of celebrations and joy as the Belgian capital gets ready for a weekend full of parades, workshops and exhibitions (see page 88 for more). World Port Days Rotterdam, the Netherlands, 4-6 September During the World Port Days visitors can get a glimpse behind the scenes of the largest harbour of Europe and its industrial area. This large, annual maritime event offers all kinds of activities such as ship tours, naval activities, demonstrations, seminars, excursions, exhibitions, music and fireworks. Find out just how addictive the maritime lifestyle can get. A weekend to remember Brussels, Belgium, 4-6 September If you love beer, especially the strong and

flavoursome ones, this is the festival for you. At this year’s Belgian beer festival more than 30 small, medium and largesized Belgian breweries will present a selection of their best brands on the Grand Place. So if you wish to find out why so many people favour Belgian beer, now is your chance. The Paris Autumn Festival Paris, France, 9 September – 31 December Each year the Paris Autumn Festival embraces the many contemporary art forms with over 40 events taking place across the city. Experience anything from theatre performances to visual art, dance and cinema. Escape the chilly autumn months by immersing yourself in artistic tales and visions, all nicely located within the French capital. The food truck festival The Hague, the Netherlands, 10 September Get ready for the arrival of the minivans in

Westbroekpark in The Hague, brimming with mouth-watering food, live music, theatre and entertainment. With anything from street food to sustainable organic dishes, the food truck festival TREK has something for every taste, making it the perfect open-air restaurant for foodies. Drop by for a bite, entrance is free! If you love design, you will love this! Brussels, Belgium, 10 – 30 September Discover the Belgian and international design scene at this year’s design month in Brussels. To celebrate their ten-year anniversary, more than 100 design events will take place, featuring a wide range of contemporary projects and events, perfect for industry professionals and consumers alike. So if you lack a bit of inspiration for your home, office or garden, now is the best time to visit Brussels. Prince’s Day Hague, the Netherlands, 15 September On Prince’s Day the Dutch King delivers his so-called King’s Speech in The Hague to mark the start of a new year of parliament,

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Discover Benelux | Culture Calendar | Out & About

outlining the future government policies. On this day the Finance Minister presents the new budget. However, it’s about more than politics and finance. Experience a colourful royal parade of ceremonial proportions, where the King will be ready to greet the public with a majestic wave.

Photo: Damien Gernay and Bruno Timmermans

on the main stage in front of the Eusebius Church.

Living Statues Festival Arnhem, the Netherlands, 26 – 27 September Have you ever wondered what it would be like to witness statues coming to life? Well, in Arnhem you might get your answer. Statues by Night will be held on 26 September from 8pm to 11pm in the centre of the city of Ede, while the World Living Statues Festival 2015 will be held on 27 September from 1pm to 5pm. The excitement ends with a parade and award ceremony

Paris Fashion Week Paris, France, 29 Sept – 7 Oct Fashion in Paris, what else is there to say? Ready to wear, one of the most prominent fashion celebrations in France, allows fashion designers to show their upcoming autumn/winter collections - a must-see event for fashion designers, professionals as well as fashionistas seeking inspiration for the months to come. Get ready to revolutionise your wardrobe.

Photo: Eric Danhier

Calling all book lovers Vianden Castle, Luxembourg, 19-20 September For two days the magical castle of Vianden will be home to book collectors, literatureenthusiasts, publishers, authors, as well as antiquarians. Enjoy a wide range of readings, workshops and concerts, whilst exploring the historical grounds of Vianden, a place where fairytales and reality are easily connected.

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Photo: Anna Kanicka

Photo: Delphine van den Berch

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Photo: Eric Danhier

Discover Benelux | Culture Calendar | Out & About

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Discover Benelux | Culture | Columns


Political graphics Despite his career lasting just over a decade, before his untimely death from AIDS, Keith Haring left a lasting legacy on the art world. His trademark graffiti-inspired graphic line is often associated with a youthful exuberance. However, in The Political Line we see Haring’s activist and political side, pushing against the neoconservatism of the era he lived in. Fittingly there are 120 works on show in Rotterdam, a barrage of imagery that resonates with Haring’s prolific work ethic. Raging against the conservativism of the Reagan-Thatcher period of the 1980s, Haring tirelessly condemned capitalism and nuclear work and took committed stances on environmental issues and equal rights. Indeed, his work ethic is admirable and his conviction relentless. So much so that there is the danger that one

might think his work is repetitive. Yet many of the topics Haring fought against are still rife today,

Politically idealistic, Haring was equally idealistic in terms of art, his philosophy being that art is for everyone. Indeed, he tried his damnedest to make his work accessible to everyone, and to be shared by everyone. Astonishingly he had over a hundred solo shows in ten years, and appropriately his first show outside the USA was in Rotterdam in 1982. Thirty-three years later his work returns to the city as an emphatic and human insight into the world in which we live. Keith Haring’s The Political Line is on display at Kunsthal in Rotterdam from 20 September 2015 to 7 February 2016.

more than 25 years after his death, thus making his dogged persistence more than worthy.


French restaurant service: Ready to order? TEXT & PHOTO: ABBY WARD

The snappy, brutish and notoriously arrogant garçon is merely a misunderstood creature. Let me explain why French customer service is second to none. Waiting tables in the UK is largely seen as a job for the unqualified, a means to earn whilst studying or a stop-gap between jobs. In France it’s a respected profession, an art form even, for which you must attend a three-year restaurant course which includes work experience to gain a professional Baccalaureate. My family and I have been going to the same restaurants on the south western coast of France for nearly 20 years. In the good eateries, the waiters have barely changed in this time. As a child I marvelled at them with their swift actions, balancing trays of heavy plates and tall carafes, perched upon an upturned palm while weaving around tables faultlessly. They made it

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appear so effortless; my young brain concluded that they must have magnets on their wrists. French waiters can do service with their eyes closed. They’re abrupt because they don’t want anyone to be waiting, not because they’re snubbing you. They may correct your French but that’s because they think they’re doing you a favour.

Tentatively they ask, “Vous-avez choisi?” (Have you made a choice?) They do not play into the Americanised service, inquisitive waiters brandishing fixed smiles, we have become all too familiar with these days. In France they won’t ceaselessly bound up to your table to enquire if everything is ok because they think it’s rude to interrupt the ritual of eating. The chef may be inflexible with your offmenu demands but the French waiter believes, quite rightly, that rules are not created to be broken. So next time you’re in a French restaurant, spare a moment for the misunderstood waiter who knows his trade. If the French serveur is arrogant, it is because he has every right to be. The French waiter has learnt from the bottom, having chosen service as a career not just a job, and intends to give the very best customer service.

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Your Shortcut to Scandinavia Bergen


Oslo Stockholm Bromma

SWEDEN Aalborg




Aarhus Billund


London City

GERMANY Brussels






S n a cks

Me al s


Pap ers



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