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I S S U E 2 2 | O C TO B E R 2 0 1 5

CÉCILE DE FRANCE ACTING FOR THE BEST P ROMOTI NG B ELGI U M,

THE

BEST OF BELGIAN DESIGN SPECIAL ROT TER DAM: TH E DUTCH MAN HAT TAN

M EETI NG & EVENT PLAN N I NG PLUS: DESIGN, CULTURE AND TOURISM

NETHERLANDS

AND

LUXEMBOURG


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Your Shortcut to Scandinavia Bergen

NORWAY

Oslo Stockholm Bromma

SWEDEN Aalborg

UNITED KINGDOM

DENMARK

Gothenburg

Aarhus Billund

Manchester

London City

GERMANY Brussels

D端sseldorf

BELGIUM

SWITZERLAND

Munich

Z端rich

S n a cks

Me al s

Drinks

ba.com

Pap ers

Lounges

Smiles


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Discover Benelux | Contents

Contents OCTOBER 2015

26

56

COVER FEATURE 26

Cécile de France

BUSINESS 54

Belgian actress Cécile de France followed the example of Brel, Simenon and Magritte to move to Paris at a young age. It paid off – she became a star, working with great directors at either side of the Atlantic.

THEMES 12

Read why Luxembourg is Europe’s new emerging ICT hub, learn all about life insurance and find out how Dutch pharmacists are adopting graphic depictions for drug prescriptions. PLUS: Business calendar, page 61

56

Best of Belgian Design

Rotterdam: The Manhattan on the Maas With its magnificent skyline, modern architecture, bustling nightlife and rich cultural scene, the comparison between Rotterdam and Manhattan quickly makes sense. Find out the very best this city has to offer. PLUS: The Van Nelle Factory, page 40

50

Meeting & Event Planning In this month’s business section we highlight three expert event planners, Perfect+, Dazzle Events and Event Masters. They can arrange successful workshops, multi-day corporate trips and anything in between.

Belgium is packed with talented designers, communication agencies and coding companies. In this special we highlight the best Belgium has to offer, from digital design to strategic marketing and product development.

30

Company profiles, regulars and more

DON’T MISS 6 62

Fashion Picks | 8 Desirable Designs Out & About | 65 Lifestyle Columns

FEATURES

20 9

Restaurant of the Month Dine in an art déco setting at restaurant la Quincaillerie, where the top-quality food matches the stunning interior. Some of the best seafood, locally produced meats and hand-made desserts can be enjoyed here.

10

Novastar Crowned Flanders’ king of musical adventures, singer Novastar is embarking on an intimate three-month tour throughout the Netherlands and Belgium. He previews the tour, his upcoming album and reflects on his inspirations.

30

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Discover Benelux | Editor’s Note

Dear Reader,

Discover Benelux

Cover Photo

Issue 22, October 2015

Picture Perfect/REX Shutterstock

Published 10.2015

Advertising

ISSN 2054-7218

info@discoverbenelux.com

Published by

Sales & Key Account Managers

Scan Group

Mette Tonnesen Micha Cornelisse

Print

Kirsten Schoon

Liquid Graphic Ltd. Executive Editor Thomas Winther Creative Director Mads E. Petersen

Sophie Plenert Lucile Hamiche

Windmills are certainly not a Dutch invention. But thanks to the country’s flat landscape, there is almost always a wind. Once the windmill was introduced here to harvest that ever present power, around the 11th century, it became a runaway success. While the structure only evolved slightly over the years, their applications increased exponentially, from pumping water to laundering cloth, grinding spices, sawing planks, hulling wheat and dozens of other tasks.

Publisher: Scan Group 15B Bell Yard Mews Bermondsey Street

Editor

London SE1 3TY

Myriam Gwynned Dijck

United Kingdom

Copy Editor

Phone +44 (0)870 933 0423

Isa Hemphrey

Fax +44 (0)870 933 0421 Email: info@discoverbenelux.com

Contributors Berthe van den Hurk

Not long ago I had the chance to do something typically Dutch: visit a traditional windmill. Entering the massive wooden structure was an impressive experience, with its long blades swooshing in the wind outside, while all around spindles and cranks rattled away to grind, stamp or lift.

www.discoverbenelux.com

Bettina Guirkinger Cathy van Klaveren Ella Put Janine Sterenborg Josiah Fisk Liz Wenger Martin Pilkington Matt Antoniak

In their heydays in the mid-19th century almost 10,000 Dutch windmills were ploughing away daily. For decades, the greatest threat faced by the wooden giants was fire, but soon another threat came along: the steam mill. Before long, the mills were no longer commercially viable and were dismantled, leaving around 1,200 in the Dutch landscape today. Fun fact, with over 1,300 windmills, there are actually more of them in Belgium, but it somehow never became such an icon for the country as it has done for the Netherlands. Despite their decline, windmills are still completely integrated in the Dutch landscape. While it’s an attraction for tourists, few people in the Netherlands actually think of visiting one, making it hard for today’s millers to keep up the maintenance. If you happen to visit Rotterdam this month (see our special from page 30) why not experience a slice of Dutch heritage for yourself? Turn to page 45 to find out more about two wonderful specimens The Star and The Lily, and help them withstand the test of time.

Michiel Stol Paola Westbeek Steve Flinders Stuart Forster

Myriam Gwynned Dijck, Editor

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

4 | Issue 22 | October 2015


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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 privatebanking@seb.co.uk

BEST PRIVATE BANK

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Discover Benelux | Design | Fashion Picks

OCTOBER FASHION PICKS

Embrace your dark side As the autumn settles in, the days will become grey and gloomy. But there is absolutely no reason to feel sad about that; let’s embrace the dark instead. Make the most out of this wonderful season with this month’s fashion picks. After all, black never runs out of style. TEXT: ELLA PUT | PRESS PHOTOS | MAIN IMAGE: PATRICK SIEMONS

1. Do different Looking for something slightly different? Then the new collection ‘The Perfect Crime’ by Gomes Esser Design is really something for you. Floating dresses and leather boots will give your look a great seasonable update. Coat Blue Fur €1795 Cleo Silver Belt €295 GED Boots €969 Blue Dress Incognita €595 Trouser €395 Bracelet Silver Eyecatcher €1095 Earrings €325 www.gomesesser.com

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2. Super elegant Maxi dresses are not just for the summer, take this mysterious black dress by SuperTrash. Finish it with a chic fedora hat and an elegant cloak and you are ready to take on October. Dress €190 Hat €60 www.supertrash.com

3. Leather weather Fashion trends might come and go, but a leather jacket fits in every wardrobe throughout the seasons. Therefore this timeless, asymmetrical piece by Claudia Sträter is worth investing in. €349 www.claudiastrater.com

4. Little black boots With these Little Black Boots by ModeMusthaves you will turn the streets into your personal catwalk in no time. €38 www.modemusthaves.com

5. Mad hatter A hat is the best solution for any bad hair day. Black hats such as these are seen all over the runways this season. What are you waiting for? €17 www.modemusthaves.com

6. Feeling grey As the temperature starts to drop there is nothing better than a scarf to keep you warm. After all, in the cold months a big, woolly scarf is a girl’s best friend. €90 www.joshv.com

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Discover Benelux | Design | Desirable Designs

DESIRABLE DESIGNS

Animal planet On 4 October the world will celebrate Animal Day, reason enough to spoil your pet a little bit extra. But while you're doing that, why not spoil the pet’s boss too with one of our desirable designs? Good for animals and animal-lovers, a win-win situation. TEXT: ELLA PUT | PRESS PHOTOS

1

2

2. Refurbeasts By recycling old fur coats into plush toys, Dutch designer Lisa Louwers aims to honour the animal and the former wearer. These Refurbeasts are both a tribute to the emotional value of the coat as well as giving the fur a new life. Prices upon request. www.refurbeasts.com

4. Coat rack Dutch brand &Klevering found a practical and animal-loving substitution for the oldfashioned antlers on the wall: porcelain antlers that also function as a coat rack. Not a fan of deer? Then get these coat hangers in the shape of an elephant or rhino. €16 www.klevering.nl

1. Catbirds It is probably the only cat in the world that birds will instantly fall in love with. This wonderful cat-shaped birdhouse, with the mouth as the entrance, will give birds a nice shelter for the cold months ahead and is available in many different prints. €35 www.haagsma.biz/catbirdhouse

4

5 3 3. Wallanimals If you love animals but your house is too small for pets, there is now a solution. With the cool wallpaper art by designer Inke Heiland your room will be turned into a safari park or jungle paradise in no time. Prices upon request. www.inke.nl

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5. Animail This comfortable dog basket in the shape of a mail package, will send your pet to every dream destination in their sleep. The white and redcheck inside pillow is soft and perfect for both cats and dogs. €26 www.lieflifestyle.nl


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Discover Benelux | Restaurant of the Month | Belgium

ABOVE RIGHT: The stairs and furniture of restaurant la Quincaillerie are in old wood and the centrepiece is a vintage clock at the top of the staircase.

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

Art-nouveau meets fine cuisine TEXT: BETTINA GUIRKINGER | PHOTOS: LA QUINCAILLERIE

Located in a flamboyant art-nouveau neighbourhood of Brussels, restaurant la Quincaillerie stands out with its varied cuisine and vibrant setting, taking its customers to the beating heart of the artistic vibes of the turn of the 20th century. Designed by a disciple of Victor Horta, leading figure of the movement, the restaurant replaced the original quincaillerie (hardware store) and opened its doors in April 1988. Since then, it has become a point of reference in the neighbourhood of Châtelain, attracting both curious tourists and seducing locals. The style of the restaurant is “most definitely art-déco”, says representative Thibaut Henry. “We have entire walls covered with drawers, original from the setting of the shop. The stairs and furniture are in old wood and the centre-piece is a vintage clock at the top of the staircase.”

Specialised in seafood, the restaurant is open every day of the week, all year round, and offers in exclusivity two types of oysters provided by the Guillardeau and Massé houses, well-established names among the oyster connoisseurs. All desserts on the menu are home-made and prepared with local produce. On top of this, la Quincaillerie offers products issued directly from its own farm called Le Devant in the Belgian countryside in Bresse. The farm specialises in raising Bresse chickens and Hampshire lamb and producing Bayeux pork, among others. Conscious of environmental impact, the restaurant removed from its menu over-exploited fish and now and prides itself for sticking to its commitment. The unique setting of the restaurant allows for group hires and special occasions and can be rented all year-round for organised events. Spread over three lev-

els, the entire space can accommodate up to 250 guests in one sitting, and surprise its customers with a varied and seasonal menu composed to please every taste. Apart from its larger areas for hire, la Quincaillerie provides a few intimate twoperson tables, ideal for romantic dates in an artistic setting. Finally, the restaurant constantly adapts its menu to the season’s availabilities and this month will celebrate the oyster market on Friday 16 October from 5pm to 9pm. The oyster growers will be present at the event to guide customers through its large variety and differing tastes. In the name of art and oyster, la Quincaillerie is the address of the month. www.quincaillerie.be/en

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NOVA S TA R

Belgium’s well-established troubadour Singer Novastar, the Belgian king of musical adventures, is well known in the Benelux for his timeless hit singles Wrong and The Best Is Yet To Come. This month he embarks on an intimate three-month tour throughout the Netherlands and Belgium, bringing nothing but his guitar and piano. Joining us for a drink in his beloved Antwerp, Novastar previews this exciting tour, his upcoming album and reflects on ever-present inspirations. TEXT: JANINE STERENBORG | PHOTOS: CHARLIE DE KEERSMAECKER, THOMAS NOLF

Joost Zweegers, better known as Nova star, just got back from a three-week holiday in China – all recharged and ready to mesmerise audiences in Belgium and the Netherlands with his beautiful melodies and captivating voice. In his agenda are 30 concerts throughout the two countries. It will be just Zweegers with his guitar and piano, while reinventing his set every night. “Every music hall and every audience has a different vibe, that’s what makes playing concerts so exciting. If I’d repeat the same

10 | Issue 22 | October 2015

songs every night, I’d be bored after five concerts,” he says.

into a tour open-mindedly. In fact, his mindset is why I’m still around.”

Adventure

The best is yet to come

One year, at 17, Zweegers grabbed his guitar and troubadoured his way through Europe through spring and summer, playing in city streets, hitchhiking and riding trains. “When I’m going on tour nowadays, it’s another adventure. I still feel that mix of naivety and anticipation of what’s to come. I never have any expectations and still jump

This way of working has proven to be successful for the critically acclaimed musician. His first single, Wrong, became an immediate hit in 1999, just like its successor The Best Is Yet To Come. Now, 16 years later, Zweegers has released a total of four albums, with Inside Outside (2014) being the most recent one.


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Discover Benelux | Music Interview | Novastar

Photo: Thomas Nolf

Photo: Charlie De Keersmaecker

MAIN IMAGE: Novastar’s roadtrip with John Leckie. Photo: Charlie De Keersmaecker Photo: Thomas Nolf

Cityscapes

Described by critics as ‘a musical galaxy filled with sound snippets of the '60s and '70s’ and ‘an album filled with growing gems’, Zweegers knows how to keep reinventing his music. For his upcoming album, he is working with John Leckie, a renowned British producer. Leckie also produced Novastar’s Inside Outside record and previously worked with Radiohead and The Verve. “Those are bands that influenced me, so years ago I decided to see if we could work together. We clicked: it turned out we’re both fascinated by Neolithic and ancient times, we even went on a road trip through England together to see Neolithic places. But most of all, he and I have the same headlong attitude,” Zweegers says.

This doesn’t mean the new work will be a continuation of the sound of Inside Outside. “The latter was recorded at a village in Wales. The sound of this area coloured the music. It is hard to interpret, but the feeling of the wind and the green and wide landscape are very well audible in the music.” Locations and their surroundings always influence Zweegers, which can be both inspiring and distracting. “It’s an art to stay true to yourself. I keep both feet on the ground, never give in to external demands and always do what my music asks from me.” He does plan to let Brussels influence the music on his new album though. “I want to record my new album there. The capital of Europe is a tantalising city, with a mix of people from many nationalities. It’s a completely different vibe than Wales.” The expected result is an edgy album, with a less romantic and more up tempo sound. “But who knows, maybe the songs slow down during the process, making up for a romantic record after all!”

SEE NOVASTAR LIVE 19 OCTOBER – De La Mar theatre, Amsterdam, the Netherlands 23 OCTOBER – Oude Luxor, Rotterdam, the Netherlands 11 NOVEMBER – Minard, Ghent, Belgium (sold out) 12 NOVEMBER – Arenberg, Antwerp, Belgium 18 DECEMBER – Ancienne Belgique, Brussels, Belgium Tickets and many more dates on novastar-music.com

Zweegers’ hometown is Antwerp, of which he speaks nothing but good. “I love this city. Antwerp by night tickles me: it’s where I work, write, wander around, meet likeminded night owls, or have a drink somewhere.” Sitting in café Wattman in the quarter Zurenborg, Zweegers points outside. “I think the Transvaalstraat is the most beautiful street in Belgium with its century old, well-preserved and ‘polished’ buildings. I’m a history freak. Being in a fantasy world in which you can never really be, like it is with music, is the only thing that calms my mind.”

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S P E CI A L

THE ME :

B E S T

OF

B E L GI A N

DE S I GN

Clever, creative, connected Being imaginative, original and interesting: that is what it takes to become a good designer. These qualities are especially important for self-made designers and independent agencies who have limited resources. This 14-page special highlights the best of Belgian design in the communication and branding industries. TEXT: ELLA PUT | PHOTOS: CREATIVE CLUB OF BELGIUM / CIRCUS ZONDER HANDEN / KOMONO

When it comes to creative design it is essential to create a world of efficient communication. In Belgium this is no different, but its designers face extra challenges because it is a small country. Another challenging aspect for the Belgian creatives is that their products often have to be available to both Dutch, French and sometimes English speakers, further complicating the task at hand. Despite this, there are many talented brand designers and highly qualified communication agencies in Belgium.

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The designers working in the industry have to deal with fewer resources and smaller budgets. But according to the Creative Club of Belgium, this can be seen as a blessing in disguise: it helps to stimulate creative minds to come up with original and professional solutions. Founded in 1982, The Creative Club of Belgium unites, celebrates and stimulates Belgian creative talent. It seeks to be a true forum for Belgian design for exchanging ideas and contacts, providing the industry with information and working in a close collaboration

with press, schools and other professional organisations. Young and successful Belgian design companies include the creative studio Base, who has recently worked on the rebranding of the renovated Olympic museum in Lausanne, or Tim Colmant’s Circus Zonder Handen, a non-profit organisation on a mission to inspire young design talent. With their annual awards show, Creative Club of Belgium stimulates and rewards upcoming designers. The Creative Club of Belgium


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Discover Benelux | Best of Belgian Branding & Design | Introduction

Belgian design has been a consistently inventive industry on the world stage.

firmly believes that Belgium has a great deal of talent who really thrive when they are given some extra motivation. Furthermore, honouring experienced creators is also one of the club’s main goals. This December there will be an exhibition in the design centre DE WINKELHAAK in Antwerp. The past year’s best productions from the world of advertisement will be shown, and it will be organised in close collaboration with local agencies and Eurobest, the festival of European creativity. Enough reasons to take a closer look at Belgium’s dynamic creative industry. The country might be small, but its aspirations and achievements are certainly not.

Belgium is a small country brimming with big ideas.

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Discover Benelux | Best of Belgian Branding & Design | Edmire

MAIN IMAGE: The revolutionary cleaning device iMOP. RIGHT: A fixture for SLV lighting. BELOW: Design director Vincent De Smedt.

A brand is a story, the product its hero TEXT: BERTHE VAN DEN HURK | PHOTOS: COURTESY OF EDMIRE

A great brand must have great products and vice versa. Without one, the other cannot survive. A brand tells a story, while a product plays its hero. This vision is not being told enough, according to the team of Edmire. Founded in 2010, Edmire is a product design studio in the Belgian city of Antwerp. The team has a main focus on branding, but exists mainly out of product designers. Design director Vincent De Smedt: “We design products for brands that wish to differentiate by design. Starting from the brand story, we seek appropriate solutions to relevant problems. It’s our role to help brands to think differently and realise these ideas. A brand has many touchpoints, like a logo, a website or advertising. For us the most important synergy with a brand remains through physical interaction. Building a brand through products is all about the emotion of products. We help brands to design products that create the

14 | Issue 22 | October 2015

right perception to serve and attract the right customers.”

can use the iMOP, and that’s what the brand stands for.”

A great example is iMOP, a revolutionary cleaning device. The attractive design has the flexibility of a floor mop and the power and speed of industrial scrubber driers. Research shows that 90 per cent of all European cleaning staff are women. But the products they use, like cleaning devices, are designed for and by men. “Technically wonderful products, but no thoughts went out to the design, the emotion nor the final user,” says De Smedt. “While designing the iMOP brand, our main focus was women and we gave it a high level of interaction. The product is stylish, easy to use, and creates a good feeling while using it. They feel proud in their work if they

Edmire has a comprehensive portfolio, among them are SLV and Duvel Moortgat. For these brands, Edmire applies their Brand-driven design process to inspire the design team. The majority of clients are larger SME’s, who do not have their own design team. For them, Edmire designs the brand story and executes it into graphic and product design. De Smedt: “We always try to translate a relevant story into new touchpoints, mainly physical products. During our creative brand-driven design process, we look beyond just form and function. That’s why our designs are strong, relevant and substantiated.” www.edmire.com


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Discover Benelux | Best of Belgian Branding & Design | Design is Dead

TOP LEFT: This carton amplifier was to show the Bruges Concert Hall what the design would look like. TOP RIGHT: Design is Dead is the global online partner for Dutch beer brand Bavaria. BOTTOM RIGHT: Design is Dead recently moved into a large open office in an old warehouse in the north of Antwerp.

‘Design is dead, long live design!’ TEXT: MICHIEL STOL | PHOTOS: DESIGN IS DEAD

With a hands-on mentality and a DoThinking approach, Design is Dead strives for the best service for their clients, whether it is to rebrand a product or to create a full campaign. Design is Dead started in 1996 as a digital design agency in Antwerp, Belgium. “Through the years the company evolved into a full-service agency with a digital heartbeat,” says Nathalie Dumortier, mana ging director. DoThinking is the main philosophy of Design is Dead. Dumortier: “If I talk about a tree, everyone in the room thinks of a different tree, and has a different ‘mood’ in mind. We show these trees.” She continues: “From the start we think about the digital component. After all, it’s inextricably linked with all other aspects of a campaign.” That is visible in the online rebranding for the Dutch beer brand Bavaria. Design is Dead is their global online partner and helped the web rebrand-

Bekaert: World of Wire

ing of the company. “We have created and manage the Bavaria websites in more than 65 countries. We recently also created the house style for one of their malt beers.”

cation and branding. Dumortier: “Being part of the Emakina network, we can count on a great amount of expertise. This way, we can stay lean and mean, work on all the facets of a project and ensure the service our clients want. We are not a one-trick pony; clients can come to us with every question they have. Our teams regularly work at our clients’ offices, enhancing the partnership.”

Another example of a typical Design is Dead project is an amplifier created for the Bruges Concert Hall. It was built out of a carton and the version was one by one metre big. “We not only knew right away that it would work, but the client was on the same page from the very start."

The team of Design is Dead is very diverse, both in background and nationalities. “This gives us an international aspect and the ability to work and think locally and shift very quickly.” They recently moved into a large open office in an old warehouse in the north of Antwerp and took over ‘Burooz’, a co-working space for small (creative) companies. “This enhances natural collaborations and inspiration for all parties and creates great synergies.”

In 2006 they joined the Emakina network; a network of over 550 experts on communi-

www.designisdead.com www.burooz.be

Issue 22 | October 2015 | 15


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Building and enhancing relationships via content Today, content and content marketing are hot topics in the world of communication, but Belgian content agency Cypres has been operating in this field for over 30 years. It has experience working with major national and international brands including bpost, Brussels Airport, Beaulieu, DEME, Lidl, Thalys, Electrabel and Mobistar. TEXT & PHOTOS: CYPRES

To find out more about the future of content branding and content agencies, we spoke to Cypres’ managing partners Martine Peleman (MP) and Pieter Vereertbrugghen (PV). First of all, let’s go back in time. How was Cypres founded? MP: Everything started with Apple. The revolution of desktop publishing meant the start of our company. In 1986 we used the

16 | Issue 22 | October 2015

latest desktop publishing techniques to create the first consumer publication for Apple Belgium. In here, the Apple computers weren’t the focus, but what people could do with them. PV: Since then, much has changed of course. Thanks to the rise of the internet, social media and smartphones, we now live in a completely new marketing and communication environment. But the thought that, as a company, you can build

and enhance relationships via content has always remained. Hence our baseline: content to connect. Has the new media landscape changed your way of working? PV: Yes, inevitably so. In the past, we mainly operated in a print environment, but now we are a content agency with an omni-channel approach. We understand the digital, social and print pathways. We


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Discover Benelux | Best of Belgian Branding & Design | Cypres

build content strategies, make texts, images and videos as well as the carriers of those types of content, such as websites, apps and magazines. On behalf of our clients, we sometimes also manage them. MP: An important constant factor in our work is that we want our clients to hear the voice of the customer or the stakeholder. Only then will you create content to help people, inspire, entertain and eventually connect them. At the end of the day, content marketing to us is a type of relationship marketing. Can you give an example? MP: Sparkle is a magazine that we made for bpost, Belgian mail. Bpost wanted to strengthen the position of the ‘letterbox’ as a touch point among agencies and advertisers. It wanted to show that the ‘letterbox’, in combination with other new touch points, can achieve solid results. Together, we translated this need into a magazine that doesn’t focus exclusively on the letterbox, but on wide-ranging, current marketing questions that really matter to agencies and advertisers. PV: It really works to take the needs of the target audience as a starting point. The reactions to Sparkle are much more positive than the average B2B magazine. The publication also gained awards from various national and international award shows. The foundation of its success is its audience-driven character. It presents visions, cases, insights and practical knowhow that are relevant to the reader. Is the audience more important than the brand? PV: They are both important, but the notion of ‘brand identity’ in the classical sense is obsolete. The Mad Men era is over. In this day and age of social media, it is less about what a brand says about itself, and more

MAIN IMAGE: Cypres’ managing partners Martine Peleman and Pieter Vereertbrugghen. ABOVE: Over 30 years, Cypres has built up an impressive portfolio of clients.

about what others say about the brand. A brand identity has become more of a social identity. It is essential to start a dialogue with your target audience. In that sense, we view every bit of content as a conversation starter. MP: The relation between brand and consumer has become much more fleeting because the door to the competition is always near and always open. James Surowiecki once wrote in WIRED that we overestimate the power of branding and underestimate the ability of consumers to recognise quality. I believe he is right. Now more than ever, you need to deliver quality products. People love Apple because their products are top-notch. Their branding is excellent too, of course, but they know that you can’t have a great brand without great products. More people go to the Apple store because of their phone

than people buying an iPhone because it’s by brand Apple. What does a good content strategy add to that? MP: You have to put content at the service of the client. What do they need to make a well-informed purchase? What information can help them make the most out of a product? How can you offer content that can improve their lives? If you deliver that kind of content, you will automatically build a relationship. Together with our clients we look at the entire customer journey and how content can play a role in all its aspects. What are your plans for the coming years? PV: We want to invest more in content automation: in what ways can automation bring the right content to the right person at the right time. MP: The question therefore remains: How can we offer more service to our clients? Where can we continue to create added value for them? www.cypres.com/en

Issue 22 | October 2015 | 17


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Discover Benelux | Best of Belgian Branding & Design | AdSomeNoise

Online banners are a powerful extension to an offline campaign. They increase brand awareness, can lead people to action and have a positive effect on how your brand is perceived.

Long live the banner! TEXT: JANINE STERENBORG | PHOTOS: ADSOMENOISE

AdSomeNoise creates clean and creative digital advert banners, boosting brand awareness and conversion rates. Focussed as they are, the Belgian agency is always up to date on the countless and most detailed dos and don’ts within their niche. “Online banners are a great tool for building brand awareness and boosting conversion,” states Steven Verbruggen, cofounder of Belgian publicity agency AdSomeNoise. Specialised in banner creation, the agency is always on top of the ever-changing aspects that banner design involves. “Creating them seems easy, but it’s not. It is a challenge to create a small yet creative, clear, and clean message that grabs the attention of the website’s visitors in just a few seconds,” says Verbruggen. “It’s also a matter of technical skills. All banners have set restrictions like size, format and dimensions.”

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Working for both publicity agencies and direct clients, AdSomeNoise is experienced in creating banners for existing campaigns as well as stand-alone actions. Verbruggen: “Properly being seen online has a positive effect on the audience’s perception of your brand's reliability, which makes banners a powerful extension of an offline campaign.” Stand-alone campaigns on the other hand are usually conversion driven. “For those a clear call-to-action is needed in the design. Based on different aspects, such as the characteristics of the brand and target audience, we develop the look and feel of the banner from scratch.”

AdSomeNoise was founded by three partners in 2012, each with over ten years of experience in media and online advertising. They combined their love for banners and started to hyper specialise in the matter. “We also create digital banners for offline purposes, like narrow-casting and highway advertising. In every commercial message it’s key to aim for the highest quality possible,” says Verbruggen. “It’s not enough to buy media space, you have to look good in them as well. This seems obvious for television and the like, but it’s equally important in your online communication.” AdSomeNoise is based in Leuven, but works internationally for many different clients, big and small. Verbruggen: “We’re on a mission to make the commercial internet a little bit more beautiful, one banner at the time.” www.adsomenoise.be


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Discover Benelux | Best of Belgian Digital & Design | Sumo Coders

Jens Dehaese (front). Photo: Ine Dehandschutter

Web coders with body TEXT: MYRIAM GWYNNED DIJCK | PHOTOS: COURTESY OF SUMO CODERS

Websites and online applications can help your business progress, proliferate a brand and automate menial tasks. While branding is important, it is also essential that the technical aspects are delivered to perfection. The coding experts of Belgium-based Sumo Coders can do just that. Sumo Coders specialises in the technical and graphic parts of a web application or website. Co-founder Jens Dehaese says: “We often build around an already existing design strategy or advertising style guide. Our strength is to deliver robust web components that fit in these requirements. This also includes sites that can cope with high amounts of traffic over a short time span, for example during a promotional campaign.” The company focuses on a niche in web design; building applications and website components. “To handle every aspect, you need a very large team. Therefore we focus on building web applications and website

components and often work closely together with PR and design agencies and (business) consultancies to deliver the best results possible,” he says. The name Sumo Coders was thought up by its three founders during a brainstorm session. Set up in 2010, it now employs a team of 13. “The sumo figure is our mascot and the personification of our company. It is a recognisable brand image and it’s something we use throughout our company platforms, including our tagline: ‘geeks coding with body’.” Specialising in coding for web browsers, as opposed to creating native applications that need to be downloaded and installed separately, means the team at Sumo Coders are well versed in different systems. “Our applications have to work flawlessly across all devices, including tablets and smartphones, and operating systems, from Safari, Internet Explorer to Firefox and Opera,” Dehaese explains.

The applications that Sumo Coders create range from regular websites to custom back-end CMS systems and public and inhouse web applications. He says: “For example an online invoicing system that automatically links a client’s purchase with a stocklist and webshop update. We also create custom call lists that are keyword responsive and automatically compile reports. Applications like these can save you a lot of manual labour or/and administration time.” According to Dehaese, automation of certain tasks and processes can help a business grow. “We often see outdated software, processes getting too complex or overflowing spread sheets preventing businesses from innovating. Automation is often a great solution, and this is one of the things we specialise in.” www.sumocoders.be

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KUNS TMA A N

Combining digital and design into communication value Design is a powerful tool with which to communicate a message to the public and provoke a response. Digital communication and design expert Wim Vanhaeren explains how Kunstmaan uses design to communicate deep-rooted brand values. TEXT & PHOTOS: KUNSTMAAN

Vanhaeren is the founder of the Belgium-based design agency Kunstmaan, which means ‘satellite’ in Dutch. We first asked where the name came from. When I set up Kunstmaan in 1998, I wanted it to have a name with a meaning. A communication satellite captures signals from earth, amplifies them and relays them back over a far wider area. These images also instantly connect high-tech and innovation. From the very beginning (long before Facebook, Google or smartphones) I was convinced by the new communication possibilities of ‘websites’. We were one of the first communication agencies to fully embrace communication and digital technology.

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So, you are really actively engaged in this ‘digital scene’? Indeed, we have always been a trailblazer on the digital scene. For instance, the online investment platform Bolero, which we recently developed with the major Belgian bank KBC, is recognised as a European standard. For Bolero we developed the website but also all the back-end software. We also delivered a digital transformation with Corona Direct, the direct insurer. But still you are much more than a digital agency… We want to maximise the value of our clients’ brands for their customers, across

all channels. Today, this includes many digital channels, but ‘physical’ channels also remain important such as print and real personal contact over the phone and in shops. We communicate the brand and its values in a powerful and structural way via every channel. For this, we apply four success factors: – Innovative design ensuring a quick oversight and good usability. – Innovative digital technology ensuring optimal impact across all channels. – Powerful branding and communication that supports the brand. – A focus on real personal interface and human values.


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Discover Benelux | Best of Belgian Digital & Design | Kunstmaan

Does this mean that digital and design are together? In the current multitude of (digital) channels, which people use interchangeably, strong design is essential to achieve recognisability, clarity, simplicity and the required action (‘conversion’). You highlight the deeper value of a brand, can you explain this? We believe that communication with a lasting impact should first capture people, not customers. From a set of business targets, we have to identify the deeper brand values and talk to people about them, instead of screaming out product features in a one-time campaign. Nowadays, product features are increasingly short-lived thanks to the digital revolution. Only by conveying deeper values will your brand continue to exist. Can you give an example of this? Benetton has made me appreciate the power of visual and design. I am a photographer by training and in the '80s and ‘90s, Benetton ran their legendary photo campaigns: a single photo with the Benetton logo on it. The campaigns led to dissent. The images prompted people to form an opinion on social issues: preconceptions, discrimination, stereotyping, religious and sexual topics and the privilege of life (one hotly contested photos was of a newborn baby still attached to the umbilical cord). This is my vision on brand communication: to find the deeper values of a brand and get people to talk about them. This vision is shared with the rest of the office? Absolutely. That is also why we succeed to constantly reinvent ourselves. Our vision is permanent and very clear. It gives

Wim Vanhaeren, founder of Belgium-based design agency Kunstmaan.

us the power and confidence to innovate our services and expertise, acting on the current and future digital possibilities which maximises the realisation of this vision. We were one of the first who created websites, built open-source building blocks for websites (‘Kunstmaanbundles’, now used in 20 countries) and we are now at the forefront of marketing automation (personalised communication based on browsing history). How do you achieve this ongoing evolution with all employees? By involving them and calling them out on their expertise and its development. Our office is designed according to how people want to cooperate: at large tables, experts from several expertise fields work together on the projects for our clients: strategists, developers, designers, art directors. Everyone is creative, which flows from their own field of expertise. And everyone works to-

gether while being client-orientated. That creates an incredible dynamic by which we push each other forward and continue to evolve. And this delivers clients the results they want? Thanks to our focus on reaching our clients’ business targets, we get results. We start off from the deeper values of the brand and adopt an integrated approach via the four success factors mentioned above (innovative design, innovative digital technology, powerful branding and communication and real people interface). This leads to guaranteed and proven results, the figures from our clients confirm this. It was also recognised externally through Effie awards for campaigns with a proven business result. www.kunstmaan.be

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Discover Benelux | Best of Belgian Digital & Design | Adagio

The digital communication shift TEXT: PAOLA WESTBEEK & MYRIAM GWYNNED DIJCK | PHOTOS: ADAGIO

Transitioning marketing communication successfully to an ever-changing digital environment can be challenging. Especially multinationals with numerous departments worldwide can struggle to streamline and integrate their strategies. Adagio presents these businesses with a resolution. Adagio is a digital marketing consultancy and technology services agency that contributes to the digitalisation and automation of communication strategies. It combines European design with the latest technological advances from Silicon Valley. By following the customer journey, Adagio can identify and predict how to be relevant as a brand at the right place and at the right moment. “We use technology as a driver for creativity. We work a great deal with the automation of communication and marketing processes. This can help to profile clients, evaluate customer services, analyse buying patterns and make predictions about what the marketing patterns should look like,” says Lucas Decuypere, Adagio’s CEO. The young and down-to-earth agency is growing fast. Adagio was founded at the end of 2010 as a student start-up by Lucas Decuypere. After he graduated the following year, the company began in earnest setting up its headquarters in Ghent, Belgium. Soon offices in Paris, San Francisco (in Silicon Valley), Düsseldorf and Vienna followed. Decuypere says: “We have our own consultancy framework and predictive modelling. Thanks to this, and our international network, we can easily serve multinationals. We strive to be extremely well structured and well managed in order to provide continuity for our clients.” This approach has helped Adagio to seize a unique position in the market, focusing particularly on multi- and omni-channel communication approaches to help the

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digital transformation of companies. A multi-channel approach refers to using multiple media channels simultaneously at optimum levels, such as websites, applications and social media. With an omnichannel approach, the output to all these channels is seamlessly integrated into one system, creating a closed-loop strategy.

Decuypere says that large multinational companies in particular come to Adagio for specific expertise in multi-channel marketing automation. “We currently work with directto-consumer brands including Johnson & Johnson, pharmaceutical companies including Bayer and Takeda as well as hightech and business-to-business companies.”

This is accomplished in four steps. Decuypere explains: “It starts with solid advice during a consultancy to point out how we can increase top-line revenue and lower customer acquisitions costs. Then we start designing the user experience and information architecture. Next is the development stage where marketing automation software is implemented, in combination with various components such as web and mobile applications. Then finally, when the communication campaign is launched, it automatically delivers big data on the output, ready for our business intelligence department to analyse.”

www.adagioagency.com

Lucas Decuypere, CEO, Adagio


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Discover Benelux | Best of Belgian Digital & Design | We Are Digital

WAD always has a strategy to arm businesses with digital solutions. ABOVE RIGHT: Fabio Gilio, co-founder of WAD (on the sofa).

While content is king, data is queen TEXT: BERTHE VAN DEN HURK | PHOTOS: WE ARE DIGITAL

Each business searches for an effective marketing strategy. However, with the rapid changes the digital world provides us, that search can sometimes become quite a challenge. That is where the Belgium-based company We Are Digital (WAD) comes into play. Founded at the beginning of 2014, the company is relatively young, but it already operates throughout Europe. Amongst their clientele you will find Dr. Oetker (food and beverages) and Stannah (stairlifts). WAD is not a creative agency, but acts as a strategic partner of agencies who are in charge of designing creative campaigns and building the necessary tools. In other words: the company does not create the content or layout, but helps their customers and partners to see what the best digital solutions are to achieve the intended business purposes. Content is absolutely

essential, but measuring the data is equally important. “Our digital world is fragmented and complex,” says Fabio Gilio, co-founder of WAD. “No wonder many companies have concerns when it comes to embracing digital transformation and finding the best way to connect with their customers through online channels.” We Are Digital has a sound, clear principle for online marketing strategies: marketing strategy as data measurability. This means creating workable measurement frameworks from the basic principles of business goals, targets and key performance indicators (KPI’s). These frameworks include identifying and installing the necessary analytics tools that make custom reports possible, advising on data approaches and their optimisation. All with a healthy dose of common sense and without making issues unduly difficult.

The importance of strategic content planning is derived from the need to rank well in search engines. WAD offers search engine optimisation (SEO, organic search results) services, in which content planning and allocation plays a key role. From this point of view, social media goes hand-inhand with SEO and therefore is an important part of the online strategies developed by WAD. Complementary to both its SEO and social media content planning services, the company offers result-oriented media solutions, such as search engine advertising (SEA or PPC), real-time bidding and social media advertising (mainly Facebook advertising). Investing in these media solutions is crucial to boosting the impact of created content further and drive traffic towards the desired goals. www.wad-agency.com

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Discover Benelux | Best of Belgian Digital & Design | Lunar Gravity

‘It’s what makes us tick’ TEXT: CATHY VAN KLAVEREN | PHOTOS: LUNAR GRAVITY

Exotic digital projects, as well websites for digitally minded communicationagencies, is what the owner of Lunar Gravity, Glenn Fellows, calls his work. His company moves in the fields of digital design and he and his team love to take on projects that are complex. “That’s what makes us tick.” Nowadays digital projects pass by at the speed of light, or sound, a reference similar to the company's’ name as Lunar Gravity provides clients with ideas that can start out small and can develop into something bigger. “What’s new today can be old tomorrow. Making a website doesn’t go by today as it used to. Today clients give us a budget and expect a digital product that can be iterated on. The internet is evolving fast, and every day is different. Everyone can

upload and share their content, you have to be smart and use that information.” Lunar Gravity has a team of specialists that like to puzzle their way through complex ideas and try to integrate them into working models. “In the background, there is much more programming than anyone can imagine. We take it upon ourselves to make that experience for the user as smooth as possible. For them, it’s all fun and games, but it’s serious business for us.” The team at Lunar Gravity want to think every idea through to the smallest detail and eventually test it to know if everything is on the right track. It is the countdown, right before the liftoff. www.lunargravity.be


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Discover Benelux | Best of Belgian Product Design | Studio Dos Santos

Products that add quality to your life, whether it’s at home, in a business environment or a public location: award winning Studio Dos Santos designs beautiful solutions.

A better life through smart design TEXT: JANINE STERENBORG | PHOTOS: STUDIO DOS SANTOS & ARNE JENNARD

When designing, Studio Dos Santos’ starting point is the end user. “We develop our products with their stories in mind: to accomplish a better user experience, great products need to contain emotional elements, creating a connection with its owner. This also leads to a higher return on investment”

Making life better by stripping down products to their bare essence, with a focus on functionality, durability and aesthetics, Studio Dos Santos creates gorgeous looking smart designs, meeting tomorrow’s demands. “Products that make life better are the only ones making sense,” says Studio Dos Santos owner David Dos Santos. By blending strategy, product development and user interface, the Antwerp-based design studio creates useful, beautiful and highly innovative products. “Simplicity is key in a world full of distractions, so we strip products down to their essence: great functionality and minimalistic aesthetics.” This approach has gained Dos Santos multiple design awards and collaborations with leading brands, such as Coca Cola, Ikea and MaxiCosi / Dorel. For interior brand Copahome, Dos Santos developed a smart digital system, providing a constant comfortable indoor climate while

reducing energy consumption. “It independently opens and closes blinds and curtains, based on online weather info and indoor and outdoor sensors, effortlessly creating an optimal luxurious feeling at home.” For fashion museum MOMU in Antwerp, Studio Dos Santos designed something very different. Dos Santos: “Most museums possess a gigantic collection, often hidden in attics or basements.” At MOMU, the full collection is browsable through Dos Santos’ five by two metres large installation on the outside wall. “Passersby can look through the complete digitalised collection that’s integrated with practical information on the museum, partners and sponsors.”

When designing, another essential aspect of innovation is considering the environment. A striking example of this is the fully renewed light switch ‘Piano’, designed for Belgian company Lithoss. “It is a durable, floating light switch resembling piano keys, perfect to integrate in connected homes of the future.” Due to their extensive knowledge of materials and techniques, Studio Dos Santos can guarantee a long life span of their designs. Yet, the materials and the design always serve the end result: a solution to a customer’s problem. “That’s where innovation and usability meet!” www.dossantos.be

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Discover Benelux | Cover Feature | Cécile de France

CÉ CI L E

DE

F R A NCE

Acting for the best For centuries artistic Belgians have headed to Paris to hone their talents. Actress Cécile de France, born in Namur, followed the example of Brel, Simenon, Magritte et al when she was still a teenager. It paid off – she became a star, working with great directors either side of the Atlantic. TEXT: MARTIN PILKINGTON | PHOTOS: LA BELLE SAISON, PYRAMIDE INTERNATIONAL

“I left to study drama in France when I was 17 years old,” she says. “I’d been in love with acting from the age of six, and went to a school where drama was important, so had appeared in a lot of amateur productions – I fell for the theatre before the cinema. My parents were passionate about it too.”

Theatrical education At 19, after a couple of years of theatrical training with Jean-Paul Denizon, she won a coveted place to study for three years at the École Nationale Supérieure des Arts et Techniques de Théâtre in Paris and Lyon: “I’m thankful for the structured way of working that I learned at ENSATT,” she says. “I still draw on those disciplines in all my work, in building up how best to play a character, and the physical side, and practicalities like looking at costume, make-up, hair...”

Cécile de France’s acting talent has taken her from French cinema to Hollywood blockbusters. Photo: La Belle Saison

Another constant in her career established while she was a student, and in the years immediately after graduation, is her keenness to take on an impressive breadth of roles and styles. Her early theatrical grounding saw De France acting in Shakespeare after a Feydeau farce, Greek tragedy succeeded by The Playboy of the Western World followed by Strindberg. “I love the variety of theatre, the energy,” she enthuses. “Every night’s performances are different, the audience reaction and the atmosphere, so every night is unique. It’s the

immediacy too, the instant reaction from the audience.”

Leaving the stage behind That diversity within the theatre was soon matched by a similar diversity in cinematic roles. De France’s first French hit film L’Art (Délicat) de la Séduction was made in 2001, just three years after her studies finished, and it seems as if she has been on set pretty much ever since. She has since worked with big names in both French and American cinema, like Gérard Depardieu and director Xavier Giannoli with whom she made the romantic film When I Was a Singer (Quand J'Etais Chanteur); and Alexandre Aja whose 2003 horror movie Haute Tension won her - and him - international recognition, opening doors to Hollywood for both. In De France’s case Hollywood’s doors opened first to her role as Monique in the 2004 Steve Coogan and Jackie Chan comedy adventure Around the World in 80 Days, and in 2010 to a decidedly different part, starring with Matt Damon in Clint Eastwood’s supernatural fantasy movie Hereafter. “Working with Clint Eastwood was very formative, his style challenged some of the usual ways of doing things,” she states.

Emotionally committed Her times in Hollywood have shown her, as with Hereafter, that it’s not geographic

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Cécile de France has worked with big names such as Clint Eastwood, Matt Damon, Jackie Chan and Steve Coogan. Photo: Hereafter

location that determines the experience on any given film: “I don’t think there are actually any great cultural differences or different ways of working between the two cinemas, in France and in Hollywood,” she says. “The differences you do find come out of the individuals with whom you work in those places. OK, in Hollywood the crews are maybe bigger, the resources behind a production there can be huge, but the artistic differences come out of the creativity of the individuals, the directors, camera crew, costume designers, all the talented people you get to work with in both countries.”

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She refuses to single out any particular film as a special favourite, like a mother refusing to name her favourite child: “Every time I work on a project there is a big artistic investment in time and energy and emotional commitment, so afterwards saying you preferred one over another feels wrong.”

Fine art cinema De France is, however, happy to express her enthusiasm about her most recent project, La Belle Saison. The film, released in August, was co-written and directed by Catherine Corsini: “It’s a love story between two women, my character Carole who is a

militant feminist living in Paris in the early 1970s at the height of that movement, and Delphine, a young country girl who comes to the city to work, played by Izïa Higelin. It’s history with a capital H in a way then, recounting the courage of those struggling for sexual equality, and at the same time it tells the story of the personal lives of the characters. It’s beautifully made, beautifully filmed, wonderfully aesthetic - ‘solar'. I truly think it’s a masterpiece of cinema as fine art.” She had the opportunity to put her critical faculties to the test on other people’s work


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Discover Benelux | Cover Feature | Cécile de France

La Belle Saison is a groundbreaking romance of two women, directed by Catherine Corsini.

at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, where she was on two juries (and where she had already acted as MC in 2005). “The experience of being on the short films jury was fascinating,” she says: “These are the talents of the future, some who will undoubtedly be significant creative forces in cinema. The quality of the work is extremely high, it’s cause for great optimism about the future of our cinema.”

Future directions What about her own future? Given her habit of taking on different challenges, does she have ambitions to be a director? Her answer is unequivocal: “Certainly not. I love acting, and anyway I don’t believe that I have the team skills needed to be the captain of the ship.” There are calls on her time though - a world away from the movies - where she must need some of those captaincy skills: “Of course I love to spend as much time as I

As well as acting, De France has been on two juries at Cannes Film Festival. Photo: La Belle Saison

can with my children [she and her partner Guillaume Malandrin have a son Lino born in 2007, and daughter Joy, born three years ago], and doing projects around the house – manual work like plastering, painting, sewing curtains, bits and pieces of DIY...” De France already has other - cinematic projects on the go, including a part in the upcoming Vince Vaughn thriller Term Life, where she plays Vaughn’s estranged wife Lucy, another venture into new dramatic

territory as the film is based on a graphic novel. There are plenty more possibilities for growth ahead, and she drops a hint about the appeal that adding a further territory to her portfolio has for her. “I’d really like to work in London. I love British cinema, its dynamism, there’s a whole-hearted energetic approach, and I like the city itself too for that same energy, and for the feeling of being surrounded by history there.” British casting directors take note.

Hereafter is available on Blu-ray and DVD.

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R OTTE R DA M

The Manhattan on the Maas In 1664 the Dutch may have lost the real Manhattan to the English, but that did not mean they could not build their own Big Apple. With Rotterdam’s hustle and bustle of activities, exciting nightlife and thriving shopping streets, the Netherlands has its own city that never sleeps. TEXT: ELLA PUT | PHOTOS: NBTC

Situated along the River Maas (Meuse), Rotterdam offers an impressive skyline, yellow cabs and its own modern Brooklyn Bridge, the Erasmus Bridge. As the architecture capital of the Netherlands, Rotterdam presents a stunning panorama of high-rise buildings, modern architecture and contemporary structures. You don’t

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have to cross the Atlantic to get into an empire state of mind.

the town’s icons, and its rooms give guests a stunning view of the city.

A good place to start is Hotel New York on the Wilhelmina Pier. The hotel was formerly the administrative building of the HollandAmerica Line and from where ships departed for New York. The location is one of

Not far from the hotel, the ss Rotterdam is docked. The iconic steam ship used to sail to the Big Apple and formed a big part of the mass migration to Northern America in the 19th and 20th century. The ss Rotterdam is


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Discover Benelux | Rotterdam Special | Introduction

MAIN IMAGE: Hotel New York and a yellow water cab. ABOVE: Rotterdam skyline with the Erasmus Bridge. BELOW: The iconic steam ship ss Rotterdam.

rebuilding efforts, and the mentality has held over the years. The events of the Second World War also allowed space for modern architecture in Rotterdam’s centre. Over the years, its iconic skyline took shape, which continues to evolve to this day. Eye-catchers include De Rotterdam, the newest three-tower skyscraper in the harbour, and the modernist Maas Tower which, at 165 metres high, is the tallest building in the Benelux. The inhabitants of Rotterdam are also proud of the few pre-war buildings that remain. For example the Sint-Laurenskerk, completed in the 16th century, is the city’s

only example of medieval gothic architecture. There is also Het Witte Huis, built in 1897. The 11-storey art nouveaux building is classed as Europe’s first skyscraper and for years it was the tallest building on the continent. A more modern example of prewar architecture is the former tea and coffee factory of Van Nelle, representing a prime example of the 1930s Dutch architectural movement Nieuwe Bouwen (see page 40). The buildings are not just spectacular to look at, some offer exciting activities. Daredevils can climb to the top of the 185-metre high Euromast. It is the only building in Rotterdam where you can abseil down or

currently a museum and hotel with several bars and restaurants. You can even take a dip in the lido pool on the top deck which overlooks the harbour area (see page 36). A way to describe the city’s working mentality is with the typical Rotterdam proverb ‘niet lullen, maar poetsen’, roughly translated as ‘no chatting, but cleaning’. After being destroyed by the Luftwaffe during the Second World War, the city centre had to be built up from scratch. It was deeds, not words, that helped these

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Discover Benelux | Rotterdam Special | Introduction

MAIN IMAGE: A little bit of New York and Holland as seen from the Wijnhaven.

you can try out Europe’s fastest zip wire or aerial runway. If you prefer to keep both feet on the ground, or are ready for some refreshments, head to De Oude Haven or Old Harbour. Rotterdam’s port is the biggest in the world and is stretched over a large area. De Oude Haven gives you another splendid look over the town and offers you a mix of cosy restaurants and cafes. Just like Manhattan, Rotterdam is filled with taxis, but here they don’t take to the streets. Instead the charming yellow cabs are on the water. Sailing over the Maas River, these boats can take you to over 50 destinations in the city. Another way to see the sights is by ‘splash bus’, a bus that turns into a boat halfway through the tour to sail over the Maas. If you are looking for a quieter place to enjoy the town’s landscape, visit the Kralingse Plas, just outside of the city centre, where you will find a wealth of nature and classical windmills (see page 45).

ABOVE LEFT: Parts of the Hoorn Des Overvloeds (Horn of plenty) artwork. LEFT: The impressive architecture of former tea factory Van Nelle.

Shopping can be done at the Witte de With Street. It is lined with fashion shops and boutiques selling the latest trends. In the evenings, it is also a great place for a glass of wine or a bite to eat. If you really want to experience food, head to the socalled food Walhalla of the Netherlands; the newly opened Markthal (see page 50). At just a ten-minute walk from the Witte de With Street, the indoor market hall offers daily fresh products from local dealers. If you look up, you’ll see the impressive Horn of Plenty artwork on the ceiling, showing the different sorts of food that the Markthal sells. The creation refers to the cornucopia, a horn overflowing with unlimited fruits and gifts, symbolising fertility, fortune and abundance. It is no wonder Rotterdam was named European City of the Year by the Academy of Urbanism last year. This is also thanks to the city’s young, open and tolerant community that embraces urban design, offers excellent public transport and examples of innovative architecture.

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Discover Benelux | Rotterdam Special | Top Eat, Drink & Sleep Spots

Located at the banks of the river Maas, port pub De Ballentent is a perfect destination for travellers to enjoy a magnificent view and delicious Dutch meals.

A sailor’s dream TEXT: JANINE STERENBORG | PHOTOS: DE BALLENTENT

A magnificent view over the river Maas is best enjoyed while feasting on Dutch food and a glass of specialty beer in the only port pub of Rotterdam: De Ballentent. Here, the atmosphere of old Dutch port pubs prevails. De Ballentent is settled in a more than 100year-old former customs office next to the Rotterdam harbour. “Through the barge canal, ships came here to lock and load. All pubs in the harbour were packed with visiting personnel and passengers,” explains owner Rene Keehnen. In the 1950s, De Ballentent transformed into a pub itself and now is the only port pub left in Rotterdam. The interior is reminiscent of the olden days: a two and a half metre-long replica of the ss Rotterdam hangs from the ceiling and on the walls are countless pictures and paintings of ships. Nowadays, all kinds of ships still pass by in the Rotterdam harbour, leading to a mag-

nificent view from De Ballentent’s terrace and orangery. Keehnen: “Across the water is the beautiful Hotel New York, where the Holland-America line used to dock. It’s an iconic sight.” There’s even more to see nearby: De Ballentent is located in a beautiful green park, which is also host to the famous tower the Euromast. An ideal place to take a stroll and let all impressions sink in. De Ballentent derives its name from the famous ‘gehaktballen’ they serve. Their meat balls are the specialty of the house. “They’re homemade and famous in Rotterdam for their mouthwatering taste!” says Keehnen. These legendary gehaktballen are served with either bread or fries, while veggies and satay sauce are optional. If you’re looking for a typical Dutch pub meal, this is it.

and special fish,” says Keehnen, “and in the winter season you can try the classic hearty Dutch pea soup with bacon. Also, we always play Dutch music, from singalongs to more tranquil classics, to add to the atmosphere.” So if you’re looking to enjoy Dutch vibes and experience the harbour life: you now know where to go. www.deballentent.nl

Not only the meat balls but the complete menu is inspired by typical Dutch food. “We also serve bitterballen, captain’s dinner

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Great ice cream meets great design The exceptional quality that exemplifies multiple award-winning Dutch ice cream parlour and accompanying coffee bar DE IJssalon, goes further than the passion implemented into making their products. Four of their locations (De Meent, Markthal and recently opened Witte de Withstraat in Rotterdam as well as ‘t Vlak in Barendrecht) can be credited to high-end interior architects FIEGELMARKX. TEXT: PAOLA WESTBEEK | PHOTOS: COURTESY OF DE IJSSALON & FIEGELMARKX

Whilst growing up, Robin Alting, owner of DE IJssalon, was always surrounded by sweet treats and desserts. Though he learned the pastry trade at his parents’ bakery, it was ultimately ice cream that won him over and became his profession. “At a certain point, my parents decided to look into selling ice cream in order to boost profits during the summer, and I was the one who took this on,” he explains. Alting travelled to Italy where he learned the trade and soon embarked into the world of ice cream at his father’s bakery in Ridderkerk. After having his first business in Crooswijk, he opened the first DE IJssalon location on the popular shopping street De Meent in Rotterdam in August 2000.

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Ten more locations would follow in what became a rewarding career fueled by the drive to create what Alting calls “onwijs lekker ijs”, or “incredibly nice ice cream”. Alting takes great pride in making a wide and constantly changing selection of premium quality ice creams and sorbets with only top-notch products and all-natural ingredients. The fruit used is either marketfresh or purchased as high-quality frozen purées. Additives, flavour enhancers or preservatives are never added.

Architectural interiors But it isn’t just the delectable ice cream or expertly prepared cup of coffee that has set DE IJssalon apart from the rest. In fact, one

of the most significant factors in DE IJssalon’s success is without a doubt their innovatively designed interiors – a project for which Alting enlisted the help of FIEGELMARKX, an interior architectural design agency which designs both for the hospitality industry (including hotels and restaurants) as well as for private homes. After witnessing the superior skills of architect Ronald Fiegel first hand (he also helped him design his home), Alting entrusted him with giving his parlours an ingenious new look. Rather than being created from the perspective of what an ice cream parlour should look like, the stunning interiors were designed to be handsome environments that not only mirror the fine products being


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Discover Benelux | Rotterdam Special | Top Eat, Drink & Sleep Spots

MAIN IMAGE: DE IJssalon in the Markthal, Rotterdam. ABOVE LEFT: Ronald Fiegel (left), interior architect and Saskia Markx (right), designer. Photo: Annemarie Sabelis. MIDDLE: The design office / showroom on Avenue Concordia 30, Rotterdam. TOP RIGHT: Design and furniture arrangement of a Bungalow, private owner. RIGHT: Design and furniture arrangement of DE IJssalon in Tanger, Marokko.

sold, but also heighten the experience of enjoying them. Ronald Fiegel explains: “Whilst having your ice cream you are amidst beautifully luxurious surroundings, which I believe make the experience all the more enjoyable. Robin Alting’s standards of perfection in making ice cream and coffee are very much reflected in these interiors.”

Exquisite details Luxurious without being pompous, the fully custom-made interiors can best be described as sober-chic. At the parlour on De Meent – the first location designed by FIEGELMARKX in 2010 – one of the main features is a ten by four-metre wall with a floral pattern on a turquoise blue background executed in exquisite Italian Bisazza glass mosaic; a striking eye-catcher which you aren’t likely to encounter at any other ice cream parlour. “When you walk into one of our locations, if you were to cover the ice

cream display counter, you would have no idea that we sell ice cream. For all you know, it could also be designer watches, fashion or the like,” Alting points out. Other characteristic features include Italian design elements such as the Bocchini counters where the various flavours of ice cream are appetisingly displayed, and exclusive state-of-the-art lighting by Flos. Behind the counters, clients can look directly into the open kitchen and catch a glimpse of how their ice cream is freshly made. The use of superior materials such as polished concrete for the floors and massive walnut and high-shine stainless steel for the coffee bar are also exemplary of FIEGELMARKX’s superb design and attention to detail.

realised by FIEGELMARKX at this first location which ultimately attracted enough attention to launch DE IJssalon into the successful business it has since become. “When you enter our parlour you immediately know that there was effort put into this. Just being there makes you crave ice cream… and you know that it’s going to be really good,” says Alting. For young and old alike, enjoying an ice cream is one of life’s simple pleasures. A simple pleasure that DE IJssalon has managed to take to a whole new level. Not only because of the unsurpassed quality of their products and the passion that goes into making them, but also because of the ingenuity and remarkable interiors of FIEGELMARKX. A winning combination that definitely hits the spot.

A winning combination Alting firmly believes that it was the quality of his ice cream paired with the superb design

www.fiegelmarkx.nl www.deijssalon.nl

The newly opened DE IJsalon at Witte de Withstraat.

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Discover Benelux | Rotterdam Special | Top Eat, Drink & Sleep Spots

There is no reason to ever leave the ss Rotterdam. Everything you need to eat, drink, sleep, celebrate, meet and work is available on board the ship.

The start of new memories TEXT: JANINE STERENBORG | PHOTOS: SS ROTTERDAM

Permanently moored in the Rotterdam harbour, the impressive Holland America Line flagship ‘ss Rotterdam’ has been renovated to its former glory. Containing spacious and comfortable hotel rooms, board rooms, restaurants and more, the ss Rotterdam is an ideal location for a wide range of events. The iconic steamboat sailed to New York and back as an ocean liner between 1959 and 1971 and later it also cruised to tropical destinations. After 41 years of service it was repurposed as a multifunctional centre opening to the public in 2010. “Her 254 nostalgic hotel rooms are equipped with all modern facilities you can expect from a hotel nowadays, as are the meeting rooms,” says marketing executive Isabelle Sigmond. Able to host meetings and events for up to 3,500 guests, the authentic Theatre and Grand Ballroom are perfect for product presentations and congresses, while the

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boardrooms serve well as a temporary office. Sigmond: “You can also hold meetings in one of the extraordinary halls, like the heavenly Sky Room and the authentic Library Room.” From many of the rooms, you have a magnificent view. “The metropolitan skyline is jaw-dropping. The comfortable design furniture, relaxed atmosphere and cruise-like hospitality add an inspiring dimension. If you want to see more of the ship, book one of our complete tours that take you to the upper decks, the machine room, or both.”

drinks: ss Rotterdam harbours two restaurants and two bars. “Enjoy, for instance, Dutch snacks like bite-sized croquettes in one of the bars, followed by culinary delights: modernised old-fashioned dishes are served in the Club Room.” The ship is easy to reach by car and public transport: ss Rotterdam provides 580 lower deck parking spaces and a water taxi moors at the side of the ship. Sigmond: “Upon arrival, the ship rises high above you: a breathtaking sight!” www.ssrotterdam.nl

It’s the location and historical setting that makes ss Rotterdam extraordinary. Sigmond: “The staircases are fully restored, showcasing stained glass artworks depicting the story of the ship’s journey.” And when boarding, you’re most likely welcomed by the music of Frank Sinatra. “The story goes he often enjoyed a whisky in the night club, which now is the Ambassador Lounge, after one of his performances.” Talking of


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Discover Benelux | Rotterdam Special | Top Eat, Drink & Sleep Spots

Visitors can expect unmatchable service and delicious cuisine whilst experiencing beautiful scenery at The Harbour Club.

‘Let’s make it successful, so we did’ TEXT: CATHY VAN KLAVEREN | PHOTOS: THE HARBOUR CLUB

Rotterdam. “A lot of business meetings are in the afternoon, so we make sure the lunch is served perfectly.” There is a little entertainment, a show, as De Jong calls it. “We can display a piece of meat at the table before our cooks prepare it.”

Even everyday appointments at The Harbour Club in Rotterdam become special. The combination of a team that values service, an exquisite cuisine and a top location, a park in the middle of the busy city centre, makes The Harbour Club the perfect place for lunch or dinner. It all starts when driving up to the location. “The building is almost a hundred years old and is marvellous to look at,” explains John de Jong, one of the owners of The Harbour Club. “My companion Richard van Leeuwen asked if I wanted to set up a business with him. ‘Let’s make it successful’ he said. And we did.” As the name suggests, it’s a club, but it mainly operates as a restaurant. The interior is designed in a way that facilitates just drinks as well. “Especially in Rotterdam we are very focused at making a good menu. Our guests expect great service, because they are used to that. That makes the stan-

dard very high. As an entrepreneur I especially enjoy the customers in Rotterdam. They are spenders, they work hard for it and they know we can deliver quality. Not only in food, but also in ambiance and service.” The Harbour Club continues to be a popular establishment. After five years of running it, De Jong says he always meets regular customers. The Harbour Club gives attention to every aspect of the dining experience. That also includes the lunch service, which The Harbour Club is very proud of, especially in

The team in Rotterdam is almost a family, as De Jong explains, as many of the employees have worked there from the beginning. “They know how to make a customer feel special.” An easy accessible establishment together with all the knowledge of professional business meetings, it all starts with a simple call. “We will make sure the table is ready for you,” says De Jong. The Harbour Club has three other locations. One in Scheveningen, in the harbour, the other in the heart of Amsterdam. The last one is in Ibiza. www.theharbourclub.com

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Discover Benelux | Rotterdam Special | Top Eat, Drink & Sleep Spots

Gourmet refinement for one or many TEXT: PAOLA WESTBEEK | PHOTOS: HANNAH ANTHONYSZ

At restaurant De Harmonie, guests can revel in exceptionally prepared dishes paired with carefully chosen wines and served at either their invitingly warm interior or exquisitely kept garden. But that’s not all. The Rotterdam-based gem also offers two exclusive rooms suitable for private dining, receptions, weddings and more. Whether you are looking for a fine-dining experience or the perfect location to host a gathering, at De Harmonie, there are enough possibilities. Their menu consist of 12 entremet-sized à la carte choices that highlight the passion and culinary creativity of chef cuisinier Marco Somer and staff. “We are always developing new dishes,” says Somer. In detail, he explains their latest creation: “Trout cooked in smoked butter served with avocado crème, marinated avocado, almond crème with roasted almonds, soft-boiled quail’s egg, a touch of little gem and lukewarm beurre noisette.” An appetising combination of

flavours and ingredients exemplary of De Harmonie’s French-international approach. Each dish is priced at 15 euros, though diners can also opt for a five, six or seven-course menu with wines from their extensive list. The restaurant’s decor reflects a merging of nature and urban life in a welcoming atmosphere. It features elements of wood and walls decorated with impressive photographs of the city. On the second floor, two private rooms, the Charlotte and the Sofie, accommodating up to 16 and 60 people respectively, can be rented for a variety of events. The superb level of gourmet refinement presented in the most agreeable of surroundings, be it for one or for a group, are just some of the factors that make De Harmonie an excellent choice when visiting Rotterdam. www.deharmonierotterdam.nl

An iconic skyline view Located at the foot of the famous Erasmus Bridge and looking out over the river Maas, the city’s skyline and new iconic building ‘De Rotterdam’, Thon Hotel Rotterdam is undoubtedly at one of the most stunning locations of Rotterdam. “From our front door, it is only a short walk to the river and to the city centre,” says general manager Eric Slabbekoorn cheerfully. The easy to reach location makes Thon Hotel Rotterdam attractive to both business and leisure travellers, but is just as appealing by itself. The hotel with 92 rooms, is big in customer service. Eric Slabbekoorn: “We make sure our guests expe-

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rience the best possible stay and aim to be their home away from home. We’re approachable and make sure to establish a personal connection with both our one-time visitors and our frequent guests.” The rooms are exquisite as well. “They were all renovated earlier this year,” says Eric Slabbekoorn, “besides all the facilities that can be expected from a hotel, our superior rooms have a bath tub and an armchair or couch for a more luxurious stay.” On top of that, all rooms are equipped with air-conditioning and free high-speed wireless internet. “A must for every modern traveller.”

TEXT: JANINE STERENBORG PHOTOS: THON HOTEL ROTTERDAM

For business purposes, the ‘boardrooms’ Stuurboard and Bakboard offer great opportunities. Eric Slabbekoorn: “The maritime decorated rooms can host up to 70 people, and are suitable for meetings, presentations, conferences, dinner and more. We provide tailored solutions and modern technical and audiovisual equipment is available, so the possibilities are ample.” www.thonhotelrotterdam.nl


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Discover Benelux | Rotterdam Special | Top Eat, Drink & Sleep Spots

A short vacation in Vietnam TEXT: MICHIEL STOL | PHOTOS: LITTLE V

From the moment you walk through the door, it’s like you are in Vietnam. Authentic sceneries such as a street with market stalls, a patio of a mansion, a temple and a courtyard surround you. This is exactly what restaurant Little V is all about: experiencing the real Vietnam. “Dining is not just about good food. It is everything: food and drinks, atmosphere and service. Guests must have a great evening and we will do everything to make that happen. We do not just serve the food, we explain what it is and how to eat it, so that people can fully experience Vietnam,” says Tan Do, owner of Little V. In 2006 he opened the first restaurant in The Hague. Here, the interior makes you feel like you are in a typical Vietnamese street with an entrance to a mansion’s patio. In 2009 Little V opened a second location in Rotterdam. This restaurant invites you into an authentic courtyard and a temple. The ‘V’ in Little V stands for Vietnam, but another meaning is ‘very surprising’. Guests can mix the dishes however they please. That way they will be surprised by the food every time.

Little V is all about easy dining and street food. On the menu are dishes from different areas of Vietnam, served with a modern, personal twist. Everything is made with the freshest and finest ingredients. Little V has a menu for every budget and every taste, whether you like fish, vegetarian or meat dishes. They even pay attention to people with food allergies. You can also choose one of their surprise menus. These menus are a selection of different dishes, so you can truly experience the Vietnamese cuisine.

others there is an ice tea with ginger and lemongrass and one with watermelon. The drinks add an extra dimension to the food. The food and drinks, the atmosphere and the service in both restaurants are designed to make sure people have a great experience. Tan Do: “We want our guests to feel welcome, like they are on a short vacation in Vietnam.” www.littlev.nl Little V locations:

One of Little V’s signature items are its home-made cocktails, with or without alcohol. The restaurant makes their own ice teas, combining them with herbs and spices they use in the kitchen. Amongst

Rabbijn Maarsenplein 19-21, The Hague +31 70 392 12 30 Grotekerkplein 109-111, Rotterdam +31 10 413 11 91

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R OTTE R DAM’S

VAN

NELLE

FACTORY

A UNESCO World Heritage Site with ingenious design On 21 June 2014 the Van Nelle Factory, located in Rotterdam’s north-western Spaanse Polder district, became the Netherlands’ tenth UNESCO World Heritage Site. Perhaps it’s poignant that the inscription took place on the longest day of the year. One of the key considerations during the building’s protracted design phase was for the interiors to make optimal use of natural light. TEXT: STUART FORSTER | MAIN PHOTO: NBTC | PHOTOS: STUART FORSTER / VAN NELLE FACTORY

The factory complex was built to process and package coffee, tea and tobacco, a purpose it fulfilled for 64 years until 1995. The company, whose name it bears, was founded in Rotterdam by Johannes van Nelle in 1782. What makes the site truly remarkable is the careful planning that went into every aspect of the design by Leendert van der Vlugt of Rotterdam’s architectural bureau Brinkman and Van der Vlugt. The factory was commissioned in 1923 and is regarded as a leading example of Dutch Functionalist design.

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When the Van Nelle Factory opened in 1931, it was seen as an ideal workplace. Conditions for the 1,200 employees were good. The workplace was brighter and more spacious than most factories of the inter-war period. Employees could make use of changing rooms and washrooms with showers before starting work – their facilities we now take for granted but were then quite progressive. It helped to make Van Nelle a popular employer while simultaneously facilitating a hygienic environment and enabling high-quality products to roll off the production line.

“The site is one of the icons of 20th-century industrial architecture,” according to UNESCO’s description as to why the building was selected as representative of our planet’s cultural heritage. The elegant design was effusively described as “a poem in steel and glass” by Howard Robertson, who travelled through Europe and North America during the 1920s and 1930s to document contemporary architecture with the photographer Frank Yerbury. The factory’s aesthetics meant it was soon regarded as archetypal of international modernist architecture.


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Discover Benelux | Rotterdam Special | Van Nelle Factory

The Van Nelle Factory challenged typical factory buildings by using natural light and space.

environmental credentials of site were enhanced but the integrity of the original structure was retained. Even before green thinking became fashionable, practical considerations for maximising efficiencies had a strong influence on Leendert van der Vlugt’s design.

The significance of the building has long been recognised within the Netherlands. Since 1985 it has been a listed as a national monument. Nonetheless, after the production lines closed in the mid-1990s questions were raised about how best to preserve the complex, whose structure was constructed using reinforced concrete by the civil engineer Jan Gerko Wiebenga. In 1998 plans were drawn up to use the former factory as business premises. It now provides office space for more than 80 companies and is a conference and event venue. Up to 5,000 delegates can attend events held in 12 rooms with more than 10,000 square metres of floor space.

Form and function were intrinsically interlinked. The areas once used for processing tea, coffee and tobacco have different heights. Each floor of the factory was utilised for a different step in production. Blending tobacco had more steps (eight) than packaging coffee (five) or tea (three).

This explains why the tobacco packaging zone is the highest in the Van Nelle Factory, with eight storeys. Among the first things visitors to the site notice are the sloping bridges, containing a conveyor mechanism, for transporting wares through the factory – they are practical yet aesthetically integrated into the building’s form. Another corridor, wide enough for just one person, runs along the factory, enabling coffee to be quality controlled without exposing the olfactory senses of the tester to the aroma of tobacco.

Extensive renovations were carried out on the property between 2000 and 2006. The

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Discover Benelux | Rotterdam Special | Van Nelle Factory

The factory was designed so that male and female workers used separate staircases.

Male and female employees used separate staircases, with chrome handrails, to climb to their workplaces. Equality awareness means we now frown upon systems that accentuate gender differences. The staircases sweep past each other within airy wells. They gave the men and women of the factory a chance to cast their eye over colleagues heading in the opposite direction. It’s said numerous romantic relationships began on the staircase, helping foster contentment and stability in the workforce.

By contrast the Van Nelle Factory’s three directors – Kees van der Leeuw, Bertus Sonneveld and Matthijs de Bruyn – could drive into garages directly below their offices. That’s something many people today take for granted, but it was ground-breaking in the 1930s, when few people owned cars. The directors’ office windows provide an overview of the site, which is surrounded by lawns.

imised the natural light available to workers selecting beans according to their colour.

From the upper storeys of the factory, workers could look down to the Delfshavense Schie canal, whose proximity is no coincidence. Raw materials, imported from the Netherlands’ colonies, were transported along the waterway from Rotterdam’s docks. In cold weather, water from the canal was heated and then piped around the factory.

Considering the functionality of all aspects of the design resulted in the factory’s construction taking six years. An example of this is the presence of wedge-like curves next to doors with rollers on their underside, ensuring the heavy doors closed in a controlled manner with the aid of gravity, minimising both noise and the risk of fire. The simplicity of such a solution is part of its ingenuity.

On warm days the factory’s greenhousestyle windows could open in either direction, depending upon the breeze. Swivelling on their hinges, only half of the glass’s weight hangs outside the building. This minimised the cost and weight of the frames, and helped engender an airy workspace. Off-set, north-facing rooftop windows above the coffee sorting floor max-

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The roof bears a neon which sign reads ‘VAN NELLE’ in red capitals. It was shipped from New York City in 1932 and is symbolic of the international modernism of the factory below. The architect Michael Brinkman, who first sketched that now feted form to paper, died suddenly in 1925.

The Van Nelle Factory currently opens its doors to the public twice a year – during the Netherlands Architecture Day, in June, and the Open Monument Day, during September – when guided tours of the 3D masterpiece are available. www.vannellefabriek.com


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Discover Benelux | Rotterdam Special | Best Sights & Attractions

The famous Ahoy in Rotterdam is becoming an even more attractive venue for business events and concerts. A brand new multifunctional complex will open its doors in 2019.

Business by day, leisure by night TEXT: JANINE STERENBORG | PHOTOS: AHOY

Flexible conference solutions, more frequent and larger events, a modernised look and improved acoustics, located in a rapidly developing area of the rising Dutch city of Rotterdam: The iconic venue Ahoy has a bright future ahead. A multifunctional complex of international appeal will rise in Rotterdam, adding a large auditorium and a music hall to the already versatile and award-winning venue Ahoy. The auditorium will have a capacity of 2,750, the largest of its kinds in the Netherlands. “Combined with our 35 easily connectable sub rooms it is possible for us to efficiently and comfortably host any type of event and large numbers of visitors,” says marketing manager Kees de Jong. “It can also be transformed from a congress hall into a seated venue, creating the possibility to stage ongoing events like musicals. In the music hall up to 7,000 music fans can get to see their favourite bands that are too small for the arena, yet too

famous for a smaller venue in the city: a welcome addition to Rotterdam city life.” Known for grand events like the regularly sold out music show De Vrienden van Amstel LIVE!, the international maritime tradeshow Europort and the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament, Ahoy also happily hosts seminars for ten people in one of their meeting rooms. “The extensive range of possibilities we offer have established our unique position in Europe, but we keep innovating. Not only by expanding: intangible features are just as important,” says De Jong. “The future acoustics and the climate control will be top notch. The sound in the music hall and auditorium is going to be exquisite due to innovating acoustic solutions provided by a trusted and specialised partner. And we’re currently looking into high-quality and sustainable climate control systems.”

transformation process. De Jong: “It’s turning into a second city centre, where you’ll be able to enjoy great food in one of the restaurants, stay in a brand new hotel, catch a movie or go for a swim in the pool. This area will be a great place to enjoy your stay before or after attending one of our many events.” www.ahoy.nl

Ahoy is located in the south of Rotterdam, an area which is undergoing a complete

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Discover Benelux | Rotterdam Special | Best Sights & Attractions

To make the most of your visit, Trompenburg offers walks and guided tours around the park and gardens.

Oasis in the city TEXT: MYRIAM GWYNNED DIJCK | PHOTOS: TROMPENBURG GARDENS & ARBORETUM

Hidden in the heart of Rotterdam is a green gem of tranquil nature. The Trompenburg Gardens & Arboretum, located just east of the centre, offers every city dweller a welcome escape from the bustling urban life. As one of the Netherlands' botanical gardens, Trompenburg houses the national collection of oak trees, counting 300 species that are spread out across the estate. With autumn settling in, this month is a magnificent time to see the yellow, orange and red-coloured leaves falling from the trees – some of which are over 150 years old. According to Adelien Vis, who works at Trompenburg, another great time to visit is in spring. “We also have the national collection of rhododendrons with 600 species. When these are in bloom the whole park is covered in hues of pink, red and white. This also coincides the bloom of our wisterias, adding even more colour to the spectacle.”

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Vis counts herself lucky that she gets to enjoy the eight hectares of green gardens, ponds and forestry every day. “It is the peace and quiet that I love the most. Being surrounded by nature helps to recharge your batteries, especially when you live in a busy city like Rotterdam.” To make the most of your visit, Trompenburg offers walks and guided tours. These will take you around the park, including the Victorian gardens in English landscape style, the 1920s formal gardens with its rectangular sections and the garden from the 1960s when mixed planting was in style. “With a tour you will dis-

cover so much more. The guides will talk about the history of the gardens and also give advice on how to grow certain plants.” Trompenburg is currently also creating a new garden on the estate. “We're going to grow a food forest with edible plants, including fruit trees and berry bushes, in particular unknown species. This is a reflection on modern landscaping, as growing your own organic food is increasingly popular nowadays,” she says. The first crop from the garden will be ripe early next year. www.trompenburg.nl

Visit Trompenburg this Christmas This winter Trompenburg will host their Christmas Market on 11-13 December, starting off with an evening opening on the Friday when the gardens will be beautifully lit with festive lights. At the market, plants will be on sale as well as beautiful gifts and artisan food articles.


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Discover Benelux | Rotterdam Special | Best Sights & Attractions

Keeping Dutch heritage alive TEXT: MYRIAM GWYNNED DIJCK | PHOTOS: KRALINGSE SNUFF & SPICES COMPANY

The two traditional Dutch windmills that overlook the Rotterdam Kralingse Plas are not simply a reminder of past times. The Star and the Lily are the Netherlands’ only snuff tobacco and spices windmills still in operation. The Kralingse Snuff & Spices Company is working hard to keep this heritage alive. “The windmills are exceptional in their composition, and our process to produce snuff is unique – probably in the world,” says miller Jaap Bes, part of the Kralingse Snuff & Spices Company. “We use historic recipes, mainly from the late 19th century together with the karotten method.” To make snuff this way, the tobacco leaves are first soused with herbs. Then, they are stripped of their veins and portioned. Next, these ‘karotten’ are left to ferment for up to three years, after which the windmills finely chop the tobacco in stamping tubs. Bes adds: “The entire process is done by hand or with the power of the wind.

We also regularly ground spices like cinnamon via horizontally rotating mill stones.” The Star (De Ster) was formerly a corn mill, built in the 1830s. It sustained two fires, including in 1962 when it was rebuilt as a working museum. The Lily (De Lelie) is the older of the two. It dates back to 1777. Bes: “In the 1800s, dozens of windmills were in operation around Rotterdam. By the 1960s, all commercial production had ceased. At the Kralingse Plas, only our two snuff mills remain.” The Star and the Lily are open for tours every second Saturday of the month. The volunteers of the Kralingse Snuff & Spices Company also operate the mills every Thursday to produce the snuff and spices which can be bought in the mill and the webshop. www.snuifmolens.nl www.snuifmolenswebshop.nl

An unforgettable view of Holland The Netherlands might be small, but with great cultural sights including windmills, tulip fields and the harbour of Rotterdam, there is a great deal to see. So what better way to see the Dutch highlights than from the air, where you can see them all at once. Rotterdam founder of FlyOverHolland Sylvia Nelissen wanted to be a pilot from an early age. Yet, life turned out differently and she became an entrepreneur. After taking flying lessons a few years ago, she felt it was time to combine her rediscovered love for planes with her passion for managing enterprises and, more importantly, share this with others. In April this lead Nelissen to set up FlyOverHolland.

Departing daily from Rotterdam The Hague Airport, FlyOverHolland’s experienced pilots allow up to three passengers per flight for a unique tour over the Dutch waters, landscapes and cities. They offer several different routes, starting from just 69 euros for a 20-minute airborne adventure. Not only will you get a stunning panoramic view of the highlights of Holland, the pilot will tell you all about what you are seeing, how high and fast you are flying and answer any burning questions. When you book a trip with FlyOverHolland, you will be treated like a real VIP. Nelissen will capture you upon take-off and, before you’re even back on the ground, you will receive

these photos directly into your email inbox. After the landing, passengers will also get a special goody bag. This experience will give you a perfect overview of Holland and, as described by one of FlyOverHolland’s enthusiastic customers, it is was "the best thing" they did in the Netherlands. +31 64 68 00 795 www.flyoverholland.com

TEXT: ELLA PUT PHOTOS: FLYOVERHOLLAND

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Discover Benelux | Rotterdam Special | Top Art & Culture

Giving ideas space TEXT: MYRIAM GWYNNED DIJCK | PHOTOS: LP2 / THE POWER OF POISON

The Wilhelmina Pier is Rotterdam’s new dynamic cultural heart. One of the places that is attracting visitors from far and wide is LP2. The event and exhibition hall is housed in a listed industrial harbour building, in an area marked by a high concentration of emerging cultural institutions. LP2 director Gérard Steenbergen says: “We play a vital role in the rise of Rotterdam as a cultural destination. We host a very wide range of events and exhibitions, from art displays to parties and big international events. We work together with both young artists and well-established institutions to keep the mix as diverse as possible” Completed in 1953, the building in which LP2 is based used to be the workshop for the Holland America Line. With 1,300 square metres of open space dotted with concrete pillars, the floor can easily be subdivided. “The sober interior allows for optimal customisations and there is an advanced light grid for high-end decoration or special effects,” he says. The hall allows for flexible usage that is perfect for exhibitions, like Gunther von

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Hagen’s Body Worlds last year, fashion shows such as Salonè della Moda and other events including the annual Object Rotterdam design fair. Steenbergen: “We can even host concerts and plays here. In the past, we have worked together with Rotterdam’s Ro Theatre, Rotterdam Philharmonic and Wunderbaum.” At LP2 everyone is welcome, and the team works hard to be open and inviting to all. “We want to be accessible and draw in young people, new talent and creative en-

trepreneurs. With the Wilhelmina Pier as Rotterdam’s up and coming creative hub, we’re at the centre of cultural innovation.” He adds: “Rotterdam is a city you have to uncover, it’s an adventurous city. You might not know exactly what you will encounter beforehand, because there are so many hidden gems. This makes Rotterdam all the more interesting.” lp2.nl

WHAT’S ON Now until 7 February 2016 Uncover the secret world of poison at The Power of Poison. Come up close with the world’s most poisonous animals, and discover the seducing, mysterious and frightening world of poison in nature. After New York and London, this international exhibition is now on at LP2 in Rotterdam. Find out how poison works, how it has evolved in nature and how it can be applied in medicine and forensic toxicology. The interactive exhibition also explores poison mythology and folklore and invites you to solve a poison murder. www.thepowerofpoison.nl


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Discover Benelux | Rotterdam Special | Top Art & Culture

Bringing chessmen to life TEXT: MYRIAM GWYNNED DIJCK | PHOTOS: LINDA ZOON / SCHAAKSTUKKEN MUSEUM

Proud to be the smallest museum in Rotterdam, the Schaakstukken Museum (Chessmen Museum) encompasses hundreds of unique chess sets. Each one tells story of its own, which owner Ridder Dijkshoorn gladly tells you all about. “It’s a hobby that got out of hand,” he says. “When I had 400 chess sets, my living room was getting too small. Added to that, the space underneath the cube houses became available, so it was the perfect time to start a museum.” By now Dijkshoorn has amassed 600 sets ranging from a 1820s Chinese set made out of ivory to sets based on historical battles, such as Napoleon against the Russian Tsar and cartoon character chessmen including Lucky Luke. Dijkshoorn: “Before the Staunton chess set was introduced in 1850, which is now the international standard, all chess sets were different and hand made. Especially older sets are therefore fascinating.”

LEFT: Chess set made out of cork. RIGHT: Napoleon versus the Russian Tsar.

One set in particular that is very dear to Dijkshoorn is one made out of cork. It was made by a patient in a psychiatric hospital in The Hague during creative therapy in the 1970s, where Dijkshoorn was working as an assistant. He wanted to buy the set but before he had the money, it was sold to someone else. “Then 30 years later, I bought dozens of sets from the children of a late collector, Mr Glotzbach. To my surprise and joy, I found out that this was among them!” In the museum, visitors can marvel at all the different chessmen on display or even

play a game of chess themselves. “There is always a game set up for people who want to play. Personally, I’m not actually a good player, but the game, the rules and its history really intrigue me,” he reveals. The Schaakstukken Museum, located underneath the cube houses in Rotterdam Blaak is open daily from 11am to 5pm. General entry is 2 euros, visitors with a Museumjaarkaart or RotterdamPas can enter for free. www.schaakstukkenmuseum.nl

LEFT: Lucky Luke chess set. RIGHT: Chinese chess set made of ivory.

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Discover Benelux | Rotterdam Special | Top Art & Culture

Clockwise from top left: Opening of the Value of Nothing (Photo: Aad Hoogendoorn); Libia Castro & Olafur Olafsson – Asymmetry. (Photo: Job Janssen & Jan Adriaans); New Romantic Spirit (Photo Aad Hoogendoorn); CBK: Hans Ittmann, Phoenix (1966) - Lloydkwartier (Photo Max Dereta, BKOR); Naum Gabo z.t. (1957) Coolsingel (Photo: Jannes Linders); Louis van Roode, muurschildering Olvehflat (ca. 1957) – Lijnbaan (Photo: Ossip Van Duivenbode, BKOR).

Engagement through contemporary art TEXT: MYRIAM GWYNNED DIJCK | PHOTOS: TENT / CBK ROTTERDAM

Using the power of contemporary art to question sentiments, explain issues or reveal new insights, TENT in Rotterdam engages visitors to reflect on modern society. The institution helps talented artists from Rotterdam and abroad to get their message across. Squarely rooted in the Rotterdam art scene, TENT connects local artists to the wider world and vice versa. Artistic director Mariette Dölle says: “Rotterdam is a very international city, with 175 nationalities living here almost the entire world is represented. This global outlook is found in our exhibitions – the artists are either from Rotterdam or have a special connection with it.” Also typical of TENT’s exhibitions is how they relate to current affairs. TENT, a programme of CBK Rotterdam, actively seeks out artists with a sense of engagement with society. “A great example is Jonas Staal who went around the world meeting

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people from non-recognised states. Also, Wendelien van Oldenborgh’s video project Maurits Script is very poignant – old colonial logbooks were read out by ordinary people, revealing how certain issues are still current today.” The name TENT is the abbreviation of exhibition in Dutch; tentoonstelling. But Dölle also likes how it fits the dynamic of contemporary art. “‘Tent’ conjures up images of a nomadic existence that moves with the currents of life. So it is quite a fitting name.” For next year CBK Rotterdam (Centre for Visual Arts Rotterdam), including TENT, has a big manifestation in store. Celebrating 70 years since the reconstruction of Rotterdam after the Second World War, two parallel exhibitions will be held. Dölle: “Outside we’ll show works from the reconstruction period alongside contemporary artworks. Inside, we’ll show art with the theme ‘dreams for the city of Rotterdam’.”

WHAT’S ON 15 October to 10 January 2016: Motion / Labour / Machinery. Featuring young artists this exhibition raises questions about labour in the modern world, covering themes such as unemployment, automation and the changing human workforce via a mix of artworks. Radiant. This solo exhibition by Nicky Assmann comprises of four room-filling installations. The kinetic, light-emitting structures react to visitors and combine technology and science to redefine art in the 21st century. 22 January – 14 February 2016: Tribute to an Avenue. Films and sculptures explore alternative realities for Rotterdam’s Coolsingel. What would it look like if dancers, singers, skaters and kite flyers filled the boulevard, and if adverts made way for movies? www.eerbetoonaaneenavenue.nl

www.tentrotterdam.nl cbkrotterdam.nl


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Discover Benelux | Rotterdam Special | Top Art & Culture

Connecting contrasting worlds TEXT: ELLA PUT | PHOTOS: COURTESY OF RO THEATRE

Connecting James Bond with fairytales, past with present and slapstick with deeper social topics, the Ro Theatre combines the best of contrasting worlds. The Dutch travelling theatre company performs original productions at their historic play house in the centre of Rotterdam, which can also be privately rented. The Ro Theatre was founded in 1973 by a diverse group of theatre makers that create drama productions to liven up the everyday lives of visitors. And with great success: they now receive over 60,000 visitors each year. According to marketing manager Winfred van den Bor, their annual family show is “a real Christmas tradition for many Rotterdam families” with 15,000 visitors. The Ro Theatre company is based just around the corner from the Witte de Withstraat and the Museum Quarter, in the heart of Rotterdam. The building, seating 250, was one of the first to be rebuilt after the Second World War had devastated the city. The historic venue can also be rented out for meetings, symposiums or parties. It is not just the location that links past and present; this interaction is also the starting point for many plays. This season’s production Van Waveren, based on the true story of the forgotten Van Waveren family, recounts a tale of treachery, power lust and insanity. It raises the question for the audience: what would you have done? The play provides a night of entertainment for a broad audience and gives them something to think about after the curtains are closed. This is what most Ro Theatre productions are about. Something more light hearted and perfect for a family audience is Puss in Boots. It is directed by Pieter Kramer who is wellknown for his television and theatre productions, including the 1980s hit-series Theo and Thea. As a modern adaptation of the old tale, Ro Theatre’s Puss in Boots is a humorous play with many layers. The

booted protagonist enters on his adventures as a feline James Bond, entertaining both young and old. Ro Theater is also looking further into the future. As Van den Bor concludes: “We

are stimulating young talent and for next year’s season we are working with Belgian and German theatre producers, focussing more on internationalisation.” rotheater.nl

Van Waveren

Puss in Boots

Van Waveren will be on stage from 25 September until 29 November. Puss in Boots will be on from 8 December until 28 March 2016 at various locations in the Netherlands.

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Discover Benelux | Rotterdam Special | The Markthal Shopping Experience

MA R KTHA L

R OTTE R DA M

The Valhalla of food Opened October last year, The Markthal is one of the biggest indoor marketplaces in the world and a true food Valhalla. Overshadowed by the colourful Horn of Plenty artwork by Arno Coenen featuring giant fruits and vegetables, shoppers can browse the 90 stalls specialising in a wide variety of produce. Anything from fresh fish to organic groceries, exquisite cheese, frozen yoghurt and hot chocolate can be bought inside the colossal hall. TEXT: ELLA PUT | PHOTOS: NBTC


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Discover Benelux | Rotterdam Special | The Markthal Shopping Experience

Chocolate indulgence with a wink TEXT: MYRIAM GWYNNED DIJCK | PHOTOS: CHOCOLATE COMPANY

Chocolate Company’s journey began with hot chocolate. In Aachen (Germany), chef Toussaint Claessens came up with tasty, rich and often adventurous hot chocolate flavours and sold a different selection every day. When customers requested to have all these wonderful flavours available all the time, it was time to do things differently. Toussaint developed a way to serve every flavour every day. And so the 'hotchocspoon' was born – a one-portion serving that turns a cup of hot milk into delicious hot chocolate. Now, Chocolate Company has even more on offer and, apart from the spoons, it sells scrumptious chocolates, indulgent chocolate spreads and mouthwatering fondues in a can.

caramel, 85 per cent cocoa and my favourite, hot chilli orange. We also serve deluxe spoons with alcohol, like Irish cream or Grand Marnier.” Chocolate Company stands for artisan, quality products with a fun and playful edge. Their products have tempting names such as ‘Nuts about you’ hazelnut fondue, ‘Fabulous’ praline nougat dip and ‘Smooth criminal’ caramel bourbon vanilla spread. “Everything is made in an artisan way, so our customers can get to experience real, topquality chocolate,” says De Ronde-Bresser “And our killer brownies are the best in the world!”

With their motto 'chocolate lovers never stop', Chocolate Company has resellers in many countries. It also ships chocolates all over Europe and online you can order 24/7. www.chocolatecompany.nl

Retail director Alexander de Ronde-Bresser says: “The spoon is the heart of our concept. We offer over 40 flavours, which can be either bought as a present to take home or enjoyed in one of our Chocolate Company cafes, like the one in the Markthal in Rotterdam. The flavours include praline, strawberry pepper, salty

Amazing taste, served with a smile In the Netherlands it’s finally starting to take hold: fresh and frozen yoghurt. In Rotterdam, it is AMY’s Yoghurt that proves the flavour isn’t any less than the standard ice cream. It stands by its slogan ‘a taste of happiness’ and owner Iris Ronkes wants to make everyone experience it.

Ronkes serves also come from a local brewer. Everything at the shop is aimed at making a visit a little more special, from the smallest details like client reward cards, a nice atmosphere and a smile from Ronkes herself. “We want to make people happy, even if it’s just for a moment.”

TEXT: CATHY VAN KLAVEREN PHOTOS: AMY’S YOGHURT

AMY’s will open a second shop in Deventer in the Food Dock food hall. www.amys-yoghurt.nl www.facebook.com/amysyoghurt

It is a guilt-free treat; the yoghurt is packed with taste but not with calories. Ronkes says: “Eight years ago I went to Australia and first saw this concept: nice coffee with a cold product served on the side. When I regularly saw frozen yoghurt on my trips, I wanted to do something with it in Holland, where something like this wasn’t familiar.” Out of hundreds of applicants that wanted to set up shop in the famous Markthal, Ronkes was chosen. “That has to do with a clear view on selling products that are local. The dairy comes from a local farm. Many of the toppings I buy right here, in the Markthal. That way we help each other, which I think is really important nowadays.” Yoghurt from AMY’s is organic, where possible the toppings are too and the coffee beans

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Discover Benelux | Rotterdam Special | The Markthal Shopping Experience / Interior Design at Shopping Mall Alexandrium

Nature’s delicious fruits and vegetables TEXT: CATHY VAN KLAVEREN | PHOTOS: VERS VAN DE TELER

They started out three and a half years ago as a growers’ association with members who share a passion: growing fruit and vegetables to be made the way they are supposed to be - delicious. That is what Van Nature and their shop, Vers van de Teler, is about. Van Nature, a relatively young company, is one of the leading growers’ associations in the Netherlands. When the Markthal in Rotterdam opened, the organisation decided to open a shop called Vers van de Teler (fresh from the grower), just like their website and Facebook page. It’s all in the name, fresh products straight from the fields and greenhouses. Van Nature’s growers produce quality products that preserve excellent taste and they make sure it goes directly to the shop after the harvest. “People value knowing

where their foods come from,” says Mark Versluis from Van Nature. “The Markthal also provides us with an opportunity to get to know what they prefer, so we can make the right selection for the public. We offer different ‘bites to go’ that are very popular such as strawberries, our vegetable chips, fresh soups and smoothies. Homemade with only natural ingredients are the best.” As it’s hard for an individual grower to open and run a shop, Van Nature provides their members with a platform for their products, from bell pepper to eggplant growers and from tomato to Brussels sprouts producers. After all, they are lovingly grown by farmers who understand their profession the way it’s meant to be, by nature. www.versvandeteler.nl

Sleep to live Improve the quality of your sleep profoundly, just by replacing your mattress. Sounds like a pipe dream? Not quite. “Our mattresses reduce tossing and turning at night by up to 40 per cent, resulting in a well-rested feeling in the morning,” explains Living Comfort owner Peter Trompert. “Our mattresses by Energy+ and MediActive are made from NASA memory foam. In contrary to conventional mattresses, this material does not put pressure on your blood vessels and nerves, which causes the uneasy nights. Besides, the lying comfort is high and the material has a pleasant feel.”

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TEXT: JANINE STERENBORG PHOTOS: PETRIT VAN DER SPOEL

Another common problem that leads to bad nights, is waking up feeling overheated and covered in sweat. Living Comfort’s mattress cover by ClimaBest solves this problem. “It’s made from a unique 3D structure, allowing the sweat to spread and thus evaporate rapidly.” Normal mattresses absorb the moist, causing the sweaty wake up. And it’s not hygienic either: “A conventional mattress is one of the most contaminated objects in a household. After seven years it harbours four to five kilos of waste, including dust mites’ excrements, which can lead to allergic reactions. In our mattresses we’ve incorporated an ecosystem of probiotics

that gets rid of these allergens. This way you can keep your mattress cover clean, without having to wash it regularly.” Living Comfort’s mattresses are produced in their own factory in Friesland in the north of the Netherlands. They are available at various Living Comfort showrooms and can be delivered throughout the Netherlands and Flanders. “Everyone who decides to purchase a mattress, gets a free 14day trial. We also have a flagship store in Rotterdam Alexandrium, opened seven days a week, where you can try them out as well.” www.livingcomfort.nl


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Discover Benelux | Rotterdam Special | Interior Design at Shopping Mall Alexandrium

Old-fashioned service in a modern jacket TEXT: MICHIEL STOL | PHOTOS: HULSHOFF DESIGN CENTERS

When looking for a new interior, you need to let all your emotions speak. At Hulshoff Design Centers, the specialised stylists listen to those emotions and help to match them to the designs and furniture that answers them best. “People want to experience furniture,” says Saskia Hulshoff, head of marketing and purchase department, also the fourth generation of the Hulshoff family to work in the company. “They want to feel the fabrics, sit on the furniture and combine different colours and materials. Our customers also expect the best advice. Our outstanding stylists help with that, not only in our design centers but also at the customers’ homes, if they prefer that.” Originally from Westfalen, Germany, Mr Hulshoff started in 1891 in The Hague as a clothing, carpet and bed making company. In 1915, it expanded to furniture and cabinets which they designed and manufactured themselves. After the Second World War, Hulshoff Design Centers divided the

manufacturing and sales. Manufacturing moved to East and South Europe, the stores stayed in the Netherlands. They also started looking for products from renowned designers, but Hulshoff Design Centers designs and manufactures about 60 per cent of the collection themselves. “To this day we still use this method,” says H. Ch. I. Hulshoff, managing director and third generation. “Contemporary designs; custom made to the wishes of our customers.” Hulshoff Design Centers has four design centers in the Netherlands, based in The Hague, Rotterdam, Amsterdam and Leiderdorp. Saskia Hulshoff: “In all our design centers, on the website and in our designs, customers will experience our DNA: to easily find the products and get a good idea of the latest trends in design, materials and colours.” Another big part of the DNA of Hulshoff Design Centers is their customer service. “Old-fashioned service in a modern jacket, solid advice and the freedom to choose for themselves. A guaran-

tee for a great shopping experience and to gain inspiration.” Hulshoff Design Centers invite regular customers a couple of times per year to visit the store, to listen to designers and manufacturers talk about their products. Saskia Hulshoff: “We strive to give them all possible advice, to provide them with the products that match their criteria and needs. When a customer leaves our store with a big smile on their face and gets that ‘yes!’ feeling when the products arrive at their home, we have done our job right.” www.hulshoffonline.nl

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Discover Benelux | Business | ICT Services

DI S COV E R

B E NE L UX

B US I NE S S

ICT is revolutionising Luxembourg The ICT industry in Luxembourg is expanding fast. In the last decade it has grown so much that it now represents one of the largest sectors after the financial industry, employing around four per cent of Luxembourg’s total workforce. TEXT: MYRIAM GWYNNED DIJCK | PHOTO: COURTESY OF ICTLUXEMBOURG

With its rapid growth at a rate of almost five per cent per year – more than double the European average – there are of course hurdles to overcome. ICTLuxembourg, a non-profit lobbying organisation that promotes the industry, is bringing representatives and policy makers together to streamline regulations and encourage further expansion. To learn more about the current issues and future opportunities in the ICT industry in Luxembourg, we interviewed Gérard Hoffmann, chairman and managing director of ICT and telecom company Telindus and also chairman of ICTLuxembourg. What is the reason behind the expansion of Luxembourg’s ICT industry? There are two main drivers. Firstly, there is a shift to outsourcing ICT by mainstream businesses including banks and manufacturing companies. Where ICT services used to be in-house, they are now executed by a separate company, so this makes ICT more visible. Secondly, there is an influx of ICT companies coming to Luxembourg to set up their headquarters here. This is thanks to our regulatory and fiscal environment (although the latter is less important now) and having the competence here. Where does Luxembourg find the talent for this expansion? We already have a high concentration of ICT professionals in Luxembourg. Several

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European institutions are located here and they need high-quality ICT services, this also true for the financial services industry. As an example, major international ICT businesses including PayPal and Amazon have located their European headquarters here. Can you describe the current ICT environment? We are experiencing a digital revolution. Nowadays, is it very hard for companies to do anything without ICT. A good ICT framework can therefore be a differentiating suc-

cess factor. Increasingly, more specialised services are required, for example highly secured systems or ICT services that can process a lot of data at high speeds. How is ICTLuxembourg involved in this? ICTLuxembourg first started as an informal platform. Last year it launched as a nonprofit organisation so we could speak with a single voice. We bring together industry representatives to promote the sector in Luxembourg and abroad and lobby national and international institutions and regulators. We also host events, publish papers and commission studies for example on data protection. By bundling resources, we can do more ambitious pro jects, deliver better results and really get people to listen to us. How do you see the future of ICT?

Gérard Hoffmann, chairman and managing director of ICT and telecom company Telindus and chairman of ICTLuxembourg.

Currently, the main challenge is innovation. In Europe we don’t have the global ICT players like they exist in the United States or Asia. This is partly due to regulation – ICT naturally operates across borders and instead of having different laws for every country, we should aim to create a single digital regulation market in Europe. Another reason why Europe is lagging behind is our mindset and the lack of a culture of failure. ICT should become more important in education from an early age and we need a more dynamic venture capital community. Only then will Europe be able to compete at a worldwide level in the ICT sector.


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Discover Benelux | Business | Wealth Management

Founding partner Inge De Wolf (left) and CEO Patrick Schols (right).

A matter of trust Luxembourg life insurance products are internationally popular thanks to being widely recognised, offering good returns, allowing flexible succession planning and the fact that they are domiciled in Luxembourg, a stable country and highly respected financial centre. Capitalising on these attributes is the insurance broker, Gatsby & White, who specialise in life insurance. Discover Benelux spoke to Inge De Wolf, one of its founding partners, and CEO Patrick Schols, who explained the value of the services they offer. TEXT: MYRIAM GWYNNED DIJCK | PHOTOS: GATSBY & WHITE

Gatsby & White was founded in 2013 and helps ultra high-net-worth clients to find life insurance solutions. De Wolf: “We identified a need for independent advisors in this niche. There are not many brokers in the life insurance industry who focus on this type of client.” As an independent broker, Gatsby & White offers objective advice and can match clients with the best insurance contract. “To find the right life insurance policy for your situation, clients need to be completely open about everything. This means trust is very important. As an independent broker, we can offer this,” she explains. All staff at Gatsby & White have over 15 years of experience in the insurance sector. Schols is the former CEO of Swiss Life and worked for IWI Luxembourg and De

Wolf has experience at ACA and Lombard. Thanks to this, the firm has access to a large network of lawyers and tax firms to help their clients make the right choices. Schols: “Wealthy clients are often well informed but they are also fearful of getting biased advice when they deal with banks or insurers. By being the middle man between those who sell and those who buy policies, we can ensure our clients that we really have their best interests at heart.”

stop service that takes the worrying away from the individual,” De Wolf says. Luxembourg life insurance is well protected and it also allows for individuals to move abroad without needing a new contract. Schols concludes: “This makes it a good provision for putting money aside that can’t be taken away. It ensures the family will be taken care of, whatever happens.” www.gatsby.lu

The firm can also follow individuals in their lifetime, to advise them in case a situation changes. “We can also go to the next generation and get in contact with children or grandchildren. Policies often need to adapt when the family situation changes or in case of a re-domiciliation. We offer a one-

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Discover Benelux | Business | Best of Belgian Meeting & Event Planning

Teambuilding and incentives indulging in Belgian delights Creating a chocolate replica of Brussels’ iconic Atomium, enjoying a glass of champagne in a private sightseeing boat on the romantic canals of Bruges or experiencing Belgian delights like waffles and fries in a unique setting: Perfect+ Event Productions arranges anything you wish for your company’s business event. TEXT: JANINE STERENBORG | PHOTOS: PERFECT+ EVENT PRODUCTIONS

“We organise and execute tailor-made corporate and teambuilding events, offering all participants a unique and unforgettable experience,” explains founder Wim van Besien. Such an event can have a wide range of goals: “It can facilitate for instance getting more acquainted with each other in a fun and unconstraint way, have a more serious starting point with a focus on targets or to reward achieved results during a 'meetcentive'.” A 'meetcentive' combines a meeting with an incentive where participants are rewarded for achieving certain goals.

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He continues: “The advantage of a customised event is the stimulating live communication experience it creates. “It ensures everyone is rowing in the same direction. This is a huge boost for team spirit. After all, the atmosphere within the company is the key to maintaining great personnel or customer satisfaction and thus to book quality results.”

Hidden gems With their extensive amount of knowledge about many Belgian cities when it comes

to the best culinary experiences, city games and surprising meeting spaces and always being up to date on every cities’ rules and regulations, Perfect+ works efficiently and effectively. ”Did you know for instance that the Belgian city of Bruges is listed as UNESCO world heritage?” Van Besien asks. “This brings along an extensive amount of affairs to take into account. Serving breakfast on a sightseeing boat for instance is usually not allowed, nor are certain coach services. But we know which steps to take to


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Discover Benelux | Business | Best of Belgian Meeting & Event Planning

Discovering hidden gems in Belgian art cities like Bruges, Antwerp and Brussels: Perfect+ Event Productions transforms your business event into a once in a lifetime experience.

get a permit and offer you all sorts of exclusive experiences.” Belgium has many more trump cards. “In Belgium’s art cities, like Antwerp, Ghent, Brussels and of course our home city Bruges you’ll find a rich variety of art by famous Belgian painters, impressive architecture and culture as well as culinary happenings and we gladly introduce our clients and their teams to those. Why set up a meeting in a standard hotel room, when we can also arrange it in a hidden gem like an impressive medieval building?”

start. “We’re very well acquainted with the different preferences of many nationalities. In addition to that, we offer bilingual events and incentives with a combination of English, French and Dutch. We can offer services in German, Italian and Spanish as well.”

not only saves you a lot of time and stress compared to doing the organising yourself, it is also more budget-friendly: Perfect+’s warm contacts all over the country enable them to make the best possible deals. “This way, you will get the utmost from your budget.”

Full service planner

Contrary to what you might expect, Perfect+ is a relatively small scale company, run by six event organisers. “This allows us to stay quick-witted and offer a personal approach, guaranteeing our high-quality standard. Besides, we’re holding office in the heart of the beautiful historical Bruges, the Venice of the North. I wouldn’t want to miss it for the world!”

A business event lasts an average of one to three days, and can be arranged from scratch. “We sit down with our customers and define their goal, their target audience and desired activities. Based on that, we compile an event and adjust our proposals until the bidder is satisfied.”

Vast amount of experience Starting out as a cruise director in 1985, Van Besien can work on 30 years of experience in event organisation and international tourism. No longer willing to be away from home for extended periods of time, he started Perfect+ in Bruges 22 years ago. Van Besien’s vast amount of international experience set Perfect+ up for a prosperous

Perfect+ is not a mere booking agency, but a full service event planner: “One of our event producers becomes your direct contact within our company and he or she arranges everything. This means your hands are free to do your normal job in the days leading up to the event, and enjoy those unforgettable moments to the fullest. You’re completely free to socialise and take part in the activities.” This

Perfect+ Event Productions DMC Geerwijnstraat 9, 8000 Brugge Belgium events@perfectplus.be +32 50 34 76 08 www.perfectplus.be

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Discover Benelux | Business | Best of Belgian Meeting & Event Planning

Events that contribute to your image TEXT: CATHY VAN KLAVEREN | PHOTOS: DAZZLE EVENTS

Sometimes it’s hard to find a good balance between a well-organised event and the message it has to carry out. That is where Dazzle Events comes in, an event bureau that translates the client’s thoughts from an idea on paper, to the event itself and even follows through with the results afterwards.

in everything, which provides us with the opportunity to really get to know their strategy. That’s how good events can take place,” says Bekaert. But, as he explains, it’s also not a problem for a company to contact them, let’s say, just three weeks in advance. “The quality of the event doesn’t have to suffer, we can always make it work.”

Wouter Maenhaut, the co-owner of Dazzle Events, calls it a full-service event bureau. “That can mean logistical, animation, decoration and concept development. We don’t just want to set up a good event, we want to know what the client wants to achieve. That means we work very closely with them. It also means making custom plans for every individual party.”

For the magic to happen, Maenhaut, Bekaert and their team of three others, take time to prepare everything as thoroughly as possible. “This way, on the event itself, we can keep ourselves busy with the live interaction between the company and its visitors. This interaction is very important for a business.” Dazzle Events, in the run for more than five years now, collaborates with big companies to do incentives, fairs, but also product launches and family days.

For him and his business companion Thijs Bekaert, this is actually how the best ideas take form. “There are clients that are very meticulous and want us to organise every detail of their event. They want to have a say

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Being based in Belgium isn’t a problem, seeing as they work with freelancers who

all have their own specialty. Just recently, Dazzle Events organised an event where French, Dutch and Spanish professionals came together in Antwerp. From A to Z, Dazzle Events had it covered. Maenhaut: “We not only want everything to fall in place, we also want people to remember that the event added something to the image of the client.” Free your hands, let Dazzle take it from here. www.dazzle-events.be


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Discover Benelux | Business | Best of Belgian Meeting & Event Planning

Turning events into experiences TEXT: ELLA PUT | PHOTOS: EVENT MASTERS

Founded in 1995, Event Masters focuses on adventurous activities. Within a business, a good team vibe is a vital part to a firm’s success. Now, with 20 years of experience, Event Masters knows exactly how to achieve this. It offers currently more than 100 different team building concepts, including forming a symphonic orchestra, escaping from a prison or challenging your team with an iPad dinner event. Over the years, Event Masters has evolved from being a teambuilding agent to becoming a full-service event agency, covering teambuilding events, tailor-made events, destination management and incentive travel. In Belgium, Event Masters is an established top player in the corporate event market. Event Masters distinguishes itself by offering creative, tailor-made services, focusing on the unique needs of its clients. This involves being good at listening to the clients

ters offers a custom programme to match the company’s profile and exceed the expectations of the participants.

to find out what best meets the objectives within a set budget. Whether you want to launch a product, hold a conference, host a party for VIP clients, organise a memorable incentive or do an original teambuilding experience, Event Masters can come up with a fitting concept that will make your event remarkable. As a full-service travel company in and outside Belgium, Event Masters is staffed by experienced employees and it has longstanding relationships with premier hotels, airlines and resorts worldwide. No matter how big your travelling party is, Event Mas-

From engaging employees, boosting your sales force, motivating your staff or getting your managers and colleagues to bond more closely, Event Masters help you achieve your objective through its events, from interactive teambuilding workshops to custom-made multi-day incentive travel. The only question that remains: are you ready for the Event Masters experience? www.eventmasters.be

Event Masters is a structural partner of Cunina, a small Belgian NGO that helps to improve access to primary and secondary education in underdeveloped areas. As part of their corporate social responsibility, Event Masters sponsored a project in Nepal that helped young people gain a nursing diploma.

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Discover Benelux | Business | Columns

WHAT

COMMUNI CATE S ?

Want to learn how to take drugs in Amsterdam? TEXT & PHOTO: JOSIAH FISK

It’s a trick question. I’m talking about the boring kind of drug: prescriptions, and about the new drug instruction icons from the KNMP, the Dutch pharmacists’ association. According to the KNMP, a quarter of Dutch residents have difficulty reading and understanding the instructions that come with medicines. So the need for better communication is real. And icons are an obvious candidate. A good icon not only gets the message across quickly, it transcends language and literacy barriers. Good icons are also eye-catching and space-efficient. Most of these icons, pictured, work well. The ones in the top row are a snap: 'don’t take with food', 'take three times a day' and – well, I’ll let the last one speak for itself. But other icons in the set seem less clear. The first one on the bottom is clearly about heartburn, but is that what the drug treats, or is it a possible side effect? The still-life of fruits left me buffaloed: suitable for vegetarians? (Wrong: it’s trying to say the drug contains extra vitamins.) And the last one is just bizarre. At first I thought I was supposed to hold the phone up to a very odd-looking ear. That didn’t seem right, but looking closer only yielded the conclusion

that I should hold the phone up to a snake drinking out of a bowl. If I saw a snake doing that, I’d hold up my phone all right, but only to take a picture. You don’t see that every day. Eventually, I figured it out. It means 'call your pharmacist'. The snake and bowl is a reference to the famous Bowl of Hygeia symbol and are used by the KNMP as their logo. And yes, I had to look that up. So should the KNMP have looked for better icon designers? Not really. The designs themselves are excellent. The problem is with the assignment. There are many concepts, even some very simple ones, that no icon can get across. And some of those concepts were in this assignment.

Make the message yours What do a European commissioner, a Swedish junior minister and a director of a large German multinational have in common? Answer: they’re all people I’ve worked with for whom good communication is critical and yet who were all failing to make their public messages their own. The first two were, as often with politicians, delivering speeches written by civil servants and then wondering why they got a poor press afterwards. Bureaucrats may be good on the technical detail but they’re not famous for dynamic communication. Whatever they were writing wasn’t being produced with the unique voice of their bosses principally in mind. The net result each time was a text read aloud by the politician to his victims without any articulation of the convictions or personality of the speaker. Speeches like this fall flat every time. In my private sector example, the situation was even more critical. My client’s job was on the line because of her failure to defend her patch at senior level. When I asked her how she prepared her

60 | Issue 22 | October 2015

boardroom presentations, she said she only had time to go through the slides designed by her PA in the taxi on the way to the meeting. Once again, she was failing because she was delivering someone else’s message, not her own. In all three cases, we worked out a new plan which went something like this: 1 Tell your scribes your objective. Encourage them to challenge you but don’t let anyone forget that it’s you, not they, who will actually speak the words. 2 Send them away to produce a first draft. 3 Rehearse this. Does it reflect your vision? Are you getting your key messages across in your own voice? No? Send it back for reworking. 4 Second rehearsal. By this time you should have something close to what you need. Get the tweaks made and now you’re ready to wow them out there. Few politicians or business people have their own professional speechwriters. It’s fine for the

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

TEXT & PHOTO: STEVE FLINDERS

rest to delegate the preparation of speeches to others but you must always remain in control of the process. I’m happy to report that, whatever my contribution, the minister prospered and the board member kept her job. As for the commissioner, I’m expecting great things from him – in his own convincing voice.

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: steveflind@aol.com; www.coachingyork.co.uk/item/steve-flinders/


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Discover Benelux | Business | Calendar

Business Calendar TEXT: ELLA PUT | PRESS PHOTOS

Photo: LawTech Congress

BCC Evening Business Forum 8 October Luxembourg, Banque de Luxembourg Experienced CEOs will share and discuss their knowledge and perspectives on leadership in the past, present and future during this evening business forum organised by the British Chamber of Commerce for Luxembourg. www.bcc.lu

Offshore Energy Exhibition & Conference 13 – 14 October Amsterdam, RAI Join a fascinating mix of leaders from buyers, investors and other players within the offshore energy sector and dive into issues surrounding the developments and changes in the gas, oil and renewables sector. www.offshore-energy.biz Benelux Private Equity Conference 16 October 2015 Amsterdam, Beurs Van Berlage This annual one-day event is dedicated to bringing together the most senior-level decision makers within the private equity ecosystem in the Benelux. It will ensure high-level discussions, insights in private equity and a good opportunity to network. www.pe-conference.org/benelux INsig2 LawTech Europe Congress 26 – 27 October Brussels, Management Centre Europe Covering areas like digital evidence, foren-

Photo: Jan Boeve/De Balie

Project Europe #2 11 October Amsterdam, De Balie Will TTIP become an economic NATO? Find out the consequences of the possible free trade agreement between the EU and the US during this discussion night with TTIP Chairman Fred Teeven and Belgian politics expert Ferdi DeVille. www.debalie.nl Photo: LawTech Congress

sic investigations, data analytics and legal efficiencies, this year’s LawTech congress is a must for everyone interested in the future of law, technology and analytics. www.lawtecheuropecongress.com Silicon Valley: The New Welfare State 27 October Maastricht, School of Business and Economics In this day and age, most technology companies offer us free services in exchange for our data. Blogger, writer and internet skeptic Evgeny Morozov questions what the moral, political and social consequences are of accepting this ‘free’ offer. www.sg.unimaas.nl EBN Congress 28 – 30 October Brussels, The Albert Hall Entrepreneurs and innovators are at the forefront of technological, financial and social innovation. This congress explores how

to run a business at these frontiers by presenting ideas from thought-leaders and showcasing successful entrepreneurs. www.ebncongress.eu Business Opportunity Day: Pakistan 27 October Luxembourg, Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce To help businesses access foreign markets, the LCC organises regular information days. This month’s information day will be on Pakistan. Professionals will explain opportunities available in the Pakistani market as well as discuss export strategies. www.cc.lu

Photo: EBN

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Out & About With the harvest season is in full swing, there is plenty to be excited about this October. Enjoy the great outdoors in all its autumn splendour at a Belgian beer festival or the Keukenhof gardens, or head indoors for 17th century selfies or discover innovative Dutch design. TEXT: ELLA PUT | MAIN PHOTOS: THE MODEST BEER FESTIVAL (TOP) / THE POWER OF POISON (BOTTOM)


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Discover Benelux | Culture | Out & About

The power of poison Rotterdam, the Netherlands, until 7 February 2016 From live poisonous animals to modern medicine, forensics and fairy tales, the interactive exhibition The Power of Poison covers all themes related to poison. Stand face-to-face with spiders, poison dart frogs and even a king cobra. The exhibition was put together by the American Museum of Natural History is held at LP2 (see more on page 46). www.thepowerofpoison.nl Night at the museum Brussels, Belgium, until 10 December Fancy a night full of cultural adventures? This autumn in Brussels, 66 museums will open their doors to curious visitors every Thursday evening. The perfect opportunity to (re)discover the cultural riches of the Belgian capital in a warm and welcoming atmosphere.

Van Waveren. Photo: Ro Theater

este Beer Festival in honour of this famous Modeste Van den Bogaert is all about small Belgian brewers. For just three euros you gain entry and receive a tasting glass. Along with 4,000 returning visitors, you can discover the most delicious Belgian beers for just a euro per serving. Cheers! www.modestebierfestival.be

Van Rysselberghe’s Maria Sethe at the Harmonium Photo: Dieter Telemans

www.brusselsmuseumsnocturnes.be/en A story of wealth, deceit and tulips Various locations, the Netherlands, 2 October – 29 November With their production Van Waveren, theatre company Ro Theater recounts the tragic history of a rich Dutch family that built a global tulip bulb empire. When the business is divided between four sons, betrayal, madness and inability take over. After the premier at the Rotterdamse Schouwburg, the production travels to other locations in the Netherlands (see page 49). rotheater.nl The Modeste beer festival Antwerp, Belgium, 3 – 4 October Modeste is not only the name of the man who ran the Koninck Brewery for more than 50 years, it also means modest. So it’s not a big surprise that the annual Mod-

© Gemeentemuseum, The Hague

Fifty shades of colour The Hague, the Netherlands, 3 October – 3 January The dark months ahead will be brightened up with this colourful exhibition at the Gemeentemuseum in The Hague. Presenting paintworks by international artists

from the dawn of modern art, this exhibition is a definite must-see. It shows examples from some of the most important developments in modern art in the 19th and 20th century. www.gemeentemuseum.nl/en Brussels marathon Belgium, 4 October Looking for a challenge, or want a fit start to the autumn season? Don your running shoes and team up with your friends for the Brussels Marathon. You will be running past many of Brussels’ highlights and finishing the 42-kilometre route will be an achievement to be remembered. www.sport.be/brusselsmarathon/2015/en The Luxembourg Festival 2015 Luxembourg, 7 October – 25 November Each year the Luxembourg Festival brings together the finest performances in world theatre, music and dance. This year won’t be any different as it includes performances by the London Symphony Orchestra and Portuguese Fado singer Mariza. Visitors will be in for a threat! www.luxembourgfestival.lu Selfies in the Golden Age The Hague, the Netherlands, 8 October – 3 January Back in the day, Jan Steen, Rembrandt and Carel Fabritius didn’t have selfie sticks. They needed a brush, a canvas and paint

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Discover Benelux | Culture | Out & About

ordinary way, this might be a great opportunity to try something new. During the Strongman run you will face numerous steep drops, tricky climbing hurdles and deep mud pits while fighting your way to the finish. The entire course has to be completed in a costume, so leave your track suit at home and put your Viking beard on! www.strongmanrun.eu/en Flori-Mundi Meise, Belgium, 31 October - 29 November Not ready to say goodbye to the tropical summer yet? No worries, in the Botanical Gardens you can find over 10,000 extraordinary tropical flowers during the FloriMundi festival. Don’t worry if you already made plans for the weekend as the Plant Palace Greenhouse displays some of the most exotic species all year round. www.florimundi.be

to memorise their looks for an eternity. Curious to know how these impressive Dutch Masters turned out? Find it out for yourself at the Mauritshuis in The Hague. www.mauritshuis.nl Tulip bulb market Lisse, the Netherlands, 9 October – 10 October Always wanted to see the Dutch Keukenhof garden in its beautiful autumn colours? Take this chance to visit the park outside of the spring opening for their annual flower bulb market. Now is the perfect time to plant your tulip bulbs to get the best results next year. www.keukenhof.nl The Golden Age revisited Ghent, Belgium, 10 October – 31 December 2018 From October onwards, not just the leaves of the trees will turn orange, the city of Ghent will also adorn itself in this vibrant colour. This year marks two centuries since the beginning of the short-lived United Kingdom of the Netherlands (just 24 years) which brought Belgium and the Netherlands together. MSK in Ghent will show paintings from this time in history with an

64 | Issue 22 | October 2015

exhibition full of art from the Low Countries. www.mskgent.be Irony in the 16th century Rotterdam, the Netherlands, 10 October – 17 January Ice-skating parties, brothels and dancing quacks: everyday life in the 16th century does sound quite extraordinary. Find out about the humour and ironic situations of this remarkable time in history at Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen through the works of artist such as Bosch and Bruegel. www.boijmans.nl/en Dutch Design Week, Eindhoven Eindhoven, the Netherlands, 17 – 25 October Dutch design is hot and happening. So why not pay a visit to the largest design event in the Netherlands? With 300 events held at more than 60 locations around Eindhoven, your knowledge about trends and design will be up to date in no time. www.ddw.nl Strongman run Luxembourg, 18 October If you don’t like to sprint down a track the

Amsterdam Halloween parade Amsterdam, the Netherlands, 31 October Do you need a good excuse to put on a scary costume? Than head to the annual Halloween Parade in Amsterdam. The theme of this year’s parade is ‘Immortal Fame’. So grab this unique chance to shake hands with the corpses of Marilyn Monroe and Albert Einstein. www.amsterdamhalloween.nl

Dutch Design Week. Photo Sjoerd Eickmans

LEFT: Self portrait of Rembrandt © Rembrandt,1669 Mauritshuis, The Hague. RIGHT: The Flori-Mundi festival at the Botanical Gardens, Meise, Belgium.


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Discover Benelux | Culture | Lifestyle Columns

S TAT E S O F A R T

Nights at the museums

TEXT: MATT ANTONIAK PHOTO: DIETER TELEMANS

Firstly, before the title puts anyone off, this has nothing to do with Ben Stiller and that film. Instead, October sees the many museums of Brussels stay open late as part of the autumn tradition Brussels Museums Nocturnes. Now into its 15th year, Nocturnes will see nearly 70 museums stay open till 10pm over the course of three months. At least seven museums will be open every Thursday night, and there are a real variety of places to visit after dark. For the art déco aficionado there is the Van Buuren Museum and Gardens, for the car enthusiast, Autoworld, and there is even something for all the budding horologists out there at the Clockarium. Of course, there are plenty of other things to visit, if that selection doesn’t take your fancy, as well as demonstrations and events being held at many of the venues.

Brussels is a city jam-packed full of culture and history, and this is a wonderful chance to experience much of what the city has to offer (and perhaps even learn a thing or two as well). However, one thing in particular that caught my eye is the Schaerbeek Museum of Beer. Because, of course, one can only have so much art and culture, be-

fore one needs a bit of a light refreshment, and where better than in Schaerbeek – the little suburb that once housed 13 breweries and is a quaint little place for a quick pit-stop before heading off into the night. Brussels Museums Nocturnes is on across Brussels, running until 10 December.

BEER OF THE MONTH

Duvel – pale amber Belgian ale This pale amber Belgian ale is a longestablished favourite among beer drinkers and is available internationally. The origins of the brew can be traced to the aftermath of the First World War, when Moortgat brewery’s head brewer Albert Moortgat, the son of the man who founded the company in 1871, travelled to the United Kingdom. It surprises many people to learn that, back then, it was British rather than Belgian ales that had a reputation for potency. Moortgat acquired yeast from Scotland and created a beer that became known as Victory Ale. According to a popular story, the beer gained its current name in 1923, after a local shoemaker joked the beer was ‘a real devil’. The Flemish term duvel means ‘devil’. Aficionados swear that a Duvel tastes best from one of the distinctive tulip shaped glasses

TEXT & PHOTO: STUART FORSTER

developed in the 1960s to take a full 330 millilitre bottle. The shape of the glass helps maintain the beer’s carbonation, thus preserving its head. It also allows the drinker to enjoy the beverage’s fruity and slightly yeasty aroma. Slovenian and Czech hops are used in a brewing process that lasts approximately three months, using yeast cultured from the strain imported from Scotland after the First World War. After fermentation the brew is stored for around three weeks in tanks chilled to minus two degrees Celsius. Additional yeast and sugar is then added for secondary fermentation in the bottle. The result is a balanced, pleasantly tangy and easily drinkable beer with a flavour that gives little indication of the kick provided by its alcohol content. Brewer: Duvel Moortgat Strength: 8.5 per cent

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Discover Benelux | Culture | Lifestyle Column

L E A R N

L UX E MB OUR GI S H

Practise your Luxembourgish when you are busy Learning a new language is seldom at the top of the priority list of busy professionals, especially after the summer holidays when you start work with a renewed sense of energy and your mind is focusing on end-of-year objectives. Yet there are moments to practise in your everyday life without sacrificing time on those important goals. TEXT: LIZ WENGER | PRESS PHOTOS

Try taking advantage of the following three situations to seamlessly blend Luxembourgish into your schedule.

weather will be like today (Wéi gëtt d’Wieder haut?) and take the conversation from there.

Study or speak when you are travelling to work

Talk to the people you encounter at work

If you like the thought of being productive and brushing up your vocabulary while somebody else chauffeurs you around, using public transportation is the ideal way to maximise your learning.

It’s likely that you will hear some Luxembourgish once you are at work, be it from colleagues, customers or suppliers. Impress them by making an effort to speak their language and ask them, for example, what their holidays were like (Wéi war Är Vakanz?).

Take the opportunity to speak to the driver in Luxembourgish and ask him or her how you get to a certain place (Wéi kommen ech op…?). Buses, trains and planes are also perfect places to practise your small talk with other passengers. Ask them how they are doing (Wéi geet et?), what the

Talk to your children’s teachers If you have kids who are starting in a Luxembourgish school or daycare, begin talking to the teachers in Luxembourgish as they are already used to correcting people

in a constructive manner so it should be a safe environment for you to practise in. In addition, you will make a good impression and come across as that involved parent who goes the extra mile trying to integrate by learning the local language. Learning a language can seem time intensive, but it doesn’t have to be. The first step in reducing your workload is to transform idle moments into productive ones like reading on the bus, and to turn some of the easy English conversations you are going to have anyway into Luxembourgish ones. Increasing the frequency of your practise is essential in improving especially if you don’t have the time to visit a formal language class this autumn.

Liz Wenger published the first English book to teach yourself Luxembourgish, available on learnluxembourgish.com

66 | Issue 22 | October 2015


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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: info@nbcc.co.uk Or visit:

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2_1_DiscoverBenelux_22_Oct_2015_Scan Magazine 1 30/09/2015 20:48 Page 68

Profile for Scan Client Publishing

Discover Benelux, Issue 22, October 2015  

Promoting Belgium, The Netherlands and Luxembourg.

Discover Benelux, Issue 22, October 2015  

Promoting Belgium, The Netherlands and Luxembourg.