Discover Benelux | Issue 8 | August 2014

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I S S U E 8 | A U G U ST 2014







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Discover Benelux | Contents

Contents AUGUST 2014


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you to Amsterdam’s coolest new homeware brand FEST and Noordwijk’s treasure trove of Italian designs, Noortinterieur.

Ivo van Hove Known for tackling some of theatres most treacherous plays in his own wonderful manner, the Belgian theatre director Ivo van Hove has spent the past few decades behind the scenes of some of the world’s biggest theatres, working with the biggest actors and treating audiences across the globe to his cutting-edge style. Today, he reflects on his successes and chats about his latest play The Fountainhead, now on in Amsterdam.



Intricate designs down to last millimetre, this month we’re talking about pool tables that morph seamlessly into dining tables, furniture that can be combined in countless ways and Liparus, whose collection of stunning furniture belies belief.

The Girl & a pearl of a city With art at this month’s core, we sent Heather Welsh to the re-opening of the Mauritshuis. This was her chance to get up close and personal with the Netherlands’ biggest seaside city, have a gander at Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring and discover what lies behind the city’s creative culisse.



Dutch interiors: can’t get enough of it. If a Dutch person ever offers their services in your home, we’d never turn them down. Who better than esteemed interior designer Jan des Bouvrie to open our theme? We’re introducing



Centuries ago, Oudenaarde in the Flemish Ardennes was central to Europe’s textile trade, now despite being more famous for the Tour of Flanders, MOU Oudenaarde is your gateway to 1,000 years of history. An almost equal amount of history can be found at Amsterdam’s Rembrandt House, where Myriam Dijck pays a visit this month.

Corporate Social Responsibility Sustainability as the axel in each company and the foundation for holiday destinations and travel providers, this is where the future is going. Haarlem-based Jannemieke van Dieren introduces us to an interesting three-day conference on sustainability on the island of Terschelling and IBM responsibility explain their vision.

Restaurant of the Month

Attractions of the Month

See & Do From whisky brewers to medieval antics and staggering boatlifts, Belgium has it all. We take a closer look.

Cafe Georgette in Brussels introduces Phil Gale to their own distinctly local restaurant and friterie, which is causing quite a stir on the capital city’s dining scene.

Mini city theme: The Hague While it’s best known for its International Courts of Justice, The Hague has much more to offer and this month it comes in the form of a rather special castle and an authentic Brazilian restaurant.




Dutch Art

Seamless Belgian design

Hotels of the Month Loving this month’s picks, we’ve got two stunning hotels lined up. First up is the delectable Hotel l’Ecluse in Luxembourg, where eco-design meets high-end hotelery. At Maastrict’s Kruisherenhotel, the restoration and renovation of a 15th-century church has resulted in the city’s finest example of a design hotel.

Given our feature on the Mauritshuis, it was only fitting that we turned our gaze to the Dutch art scene. Take a peek behind the scenes at ING’s spectacular collection, the beautiful Kröller-Müller Museum, Museum Boerhaavre and Tilburg’s TextielMuseum.




Features & Regulars ING Luxembourg gets in on the action, Steve Flinders looks at whether English is really the only language to do business in and Josiah Fisk ruminates on stereotypes.

PLUS 12 Desirable Designs from Benelux | 10 Fashion Picks 53 Luxessed | 54 Out & About | 56 States of Art 56 Lifestyle & Culture

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Discover Benelux | Editor’s Note

Dear Reader, I feel I should start my final editor’s note with the same enthusiasm that I wrote the first one with last autumn. Discover Benelux

Cover Photo

Issue 8, August 2014

Jan Versweyveld

Published August 2014


ISSN 2054-7218

Published by

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

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My arrival as editor of Discover Benelux is intrinsically linked to my childhood: holidays spent cocooned in tents on the Dutch coastline; hurried stops at Belgian service stations; and traversing the rolling hills of Luxembourg. More recently, it’s taken me to Rotterdam and Amsterdam on design-frenzied trips, to Wallonia and the Red Rock region of Luxembourg. I’ve been confronted with history and I’ve madly read my old school textbooks to brush up my knowledge. I’ve used all my languages and I’ve met some of the most inspiring creative minds today. Thanks to Discover Benelux I’ve chatted to (some of) the world’s biggest talents. Starting with the extreme kitesurfer Ruben Lenten, I jumped head first into the who’s who of the Benelux. After the delightful Belgian actress Veerle Baetens and the Luxembourg cycling brothers of Frank and Andy Schleck, I was left speechless as I chatted to Marcel Wanders. I cowered in awe when I spoke to this month’s prolific cover star Ivo van Hove, and Marianne Vos and I bonded over women’s cycling on a windy beach in Egmond aan Zee.

Steve Flinders Janine Sterenborg

While I developed a taste for Luxembourg’s exquisite crémants, Belgium’s illustrious beer chef Hilaire Spreuwers took me on a journey of discovery through the realms of beerstronomy.

Myriam Dijck Phil Gale Berthe van den Hurk Bettina Guikinger Heather Welsh Immi Abraham Simon Woolcot Anouk Kalmes

For my final issue the limelight is once again firmly fixed on Dutch design. With up-and-coming FEST giving us an exclusive look into their studio-cum-pilot store in Amsterdam, and Noordwijk’s Noort Interieur showcasing the best of Italian design within the Netherlands, we’ve called on Jan des Bouvrie to give his stance on how the Netherlands has risen to such prominence in the world of interiors.

Silvia de Vries Benjamin B Roberts Liz Wenger

We take a glance at sustainability, at conferences on stunning islands and companies’ efforts to boost their social and corporate responsibility. Belgian designers are paving the way, just like their neighbours and kitting out airports, libraries and public spaces. I hope you all have a wonderful August.

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

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Emmie Collinge, Editor

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Discover Benelux | Cover Feature | Ivo van Hove




REFUSAL TO COMPROMISE For a man known best for staying behind the scenes, the inventive Belgian theatre director Ivo van Hove cuts a dashing figure. Smart, eloquent and quick-witted, this is a Belgian whose unique gift has led him to dominate theatres across the globe. As his latest venture ‘The Fountainhead’takes to the stage in Amsterdam, I meet him to talk about mirroring reality on stage, placing classic plays in the 21st century and how he’s grown up. TEXT: EMMIE COLLINGE | PHOTOS: JAN VERSWEYVELD

For those who don’t know him, he’s the Belgian theatre director; the Lars von Trier meets the Coen Brothers of the stage. Gaining prominence in the thriving city of Antwerp in the 1980s, with Jan Fabre and Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker as his contemporaries, Ivo van Hove has been central to Belgium’s creative development. With its art as subversive as its politics, Belgium was a hotbed of performance art and alternative thinking in the past decades. Now 55 years old and living a more settled life in Amsterdam, Van Hove’s origins in performance art are still visible as he pushes the boundaries of theatre and what we expect of it. Having just directed a hit opera version of ‘Brokeback Mountain’, which premiered in Madrid in early 2014, he is a man whose name sends shivers of

anticipation down the spines of theatre critics. He’s the director who demands – and succeeds in – getting performers to act at the apex of their abilities. Since being dubbed ‘Eurotrash’ in the 80s and 90s for his unconventional stage productions, Van Hove is adamant that he takes his theatrics seriously now. As ‘A View From The Bridge’, his first ever London play, comes to the end of its run at the distinguished Young Vic theatre, Van Hove expresses his unconcealed delight at the countless 5-star reviews it has received. “I guess I just did a good job,” he laughs modestly. “For my first British play I’m so pleased to have made a difference. The play means such a lot today, perhaps even more so than before, and it must really

resonate with the audience.” While British broadsheets struggle to find enough hyperbolic words to do it justice, Van Hove is more interested in the audiences’ reaction: “I never expected people to stand up. ‘Is this normal?’ I thought.” He pauses: “In Holland my style of theatre is the norm, but in England it’s a wholly different environment, so rich in tradition but less willing to explore.” Given his rather unconventional stage productions (“I’m loyal and truthful to the text,” he explains coyly, “just not the stage directions”), it’s surprising to hear that the 55year-old began a law degree when leaving school. After several tenuous years, he quit, deciding to pursue his real passion. “My route into theatre is the ‘usual story’,”

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Discover Benelux | Cover Feature | Ivo van Hove

he explains – apart from the law degree lapse. “We used to regularly visit my grandparents in the countryside and I’d insist on staging little productions for them. Dressing my younger brother up to play characters, I even made curtains for the stage.” Attending a strict Catholic boarding school as a youngster, his Wednesday afternoons were dedicated to enrichment activities: “With the choice between sports and a trip into the town to meet girls, I went for the third option: the theatre group. Each year would end in a production and I loved the idea that we worked secretly in our rehearsals all year and nobody really knew what we were doing,” he sighs wistfully. “That’s definitely where the love comes from.”

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After our conversation, Van Hove has to dash off to rehearsals so I wonder whether they’re closed and kept secret until the show’s opening night. “Not at all!” he says impassioned. “My rehearsals are full of people – at least further into the process they are, I like the first few weeks to be quiet. Today I’ve got three young Brazilian architects coming to observe as ‘The Fountainhead’ is relevant for them.” Under Van Hove’s guiding hand, the celebrated Dutch theatre group, Toneelgroep Amsterdam are staging Ayn Rand’s midcentury novel ‘The Fountainhead’. Opening in mid-June, the play is set in New York in the 1920s, a decade of conflict between modernism and classicism, retaining in-

tegrity versus commercial success. Revolving around the young, driven architect Howard Roark, Van Hove explains that the character uses “the world of architecture as a metaphor to discuss art, engagement, individuality and autonomy… while simultaneously being a love story. It is a book that was screaming to be put on stage.” For Van Hove, his principles remain steadfast; he’d never take on a commission, and he only accepts productions for which he’s prepared to give 200%. “I have to know that I can do it in my extreme way,” he says. Citing his stark scenery-less adaptation of Tony Kushner’s illustrious Angels in America, “one of the best plays of the last century,” it appealed to Van Hove as it

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Discover Benelux | Cover Feature | Ivo van Hove

RIGHT: Tony Kushner’s Angels in America, an iconic novel, film and play directed by Van Hove, will once again be performed this September. BOTTOM RIGHT: Ayn Rand’s mid-century novel The Fountainhead has just begun a run of shows at Amsterdam’s Stadsschouwburg and certain performances have English subtitles.

is essentially “American culture in writing.” Combining very private stories with meaningful events while reflecting tension in society, the play confronts the emergence of AIDS and society’s acceptance of homosexuality. Not one to rest on his laurels, Van Hove, who has garnered international acclaim for his tackling of societal issues, has set theatre critics’ hearts racing with his up-coming production of the Greek classic Antigone, due to start rehearsals later this year with France’s darling Juliette Binoche taking centre stage. Again, given Europe’s current political climate, Van Hove explains, such a play draws parallels with today’s scenario. “I’m very bad at telling stories,” he replies bashfully when I ask him for a synopsis. “But I’ll try: It’s the classic story, a civil war over power between two brothers. It’s the age-old argument of whether to follow intuition or reason. You see it happening a lot today in politics with the rise of populist parties and the electors making emotional choices.” Alongside directing two plays a year for Toneelgroep Amsterdam, which has had Van Hove at the helm since 2001, he takes on any number of other projects a year. Since the Brokeback Mountain opera and A View From The Bridge have both been so successful already in 2014, Van Hove and his long-term set designer Jan Versweyveld believe they can declare 2014 “a pretty good season!”

Toneelgroep Amsterdam presents contemporary theatre at an international standard, produced from its home base, the Amsterdam Stadsschouwburg. As the Netherlands’ largest repertory company it holds a prominent place in the Dutch capital’s international cultural scene. With an annual average of 20 plays and performing a total of over 350 performances, the company plays to audiences of 110,000 each year. Next season, Toneelgroep Amsterdam will subtitle 11 plays in English in the Amsterdam Stadsschouwburg. In August and September:

15.08.14 | SAT 16.08.14 | TUE 19.08.14 | WED 20.08.14 | THU 21.08.14 | FRI 22.08.14 | SAT 23.08.14 | 20:00

the fountainhead by ayn rand | directed by ivo van hove TUE 26.08.14 | WED 27.08.14 | THU 28.08.14 | FRI 29.08.14 | SAT 30.08.14 | THU 04.09.14 | THU 18.09.14 | 19:30

angels in america by tony kushner | directed by ivo van hove THU 11.09.14 | 18:00

the entertainer

Information & tickets:

by john osborne | directed by eric de vroedt WED 13.08.14 | THU 14.08.14 | FRI

While his own personal season might be going well, Van Hove’s worldview is perhaps not as optimistic as it could be. Choosing to confront current affairs in his productions, he expresses his dissatisfaction with politics and society at large while keeping the theatrics as appealing as ever. Bringing classics and modern classics to our attention, his skills as a director have taken him across the globe and his voice will not be dimmed.

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Discover Benelux | Design | Fashion Picks



P I C K S :

Pumped up kicks During the most sweltering of summer months – the famed August dog days – our feet bear the brunt of the strain. Having spent most of July shuffling through summer sales or getting trodden on during World Cup viewing parties, your soles will be in desperate need of repose. Luckily, comfort and serious style marry unreservedly in this month’s Benelux shoe special. Sashay away!




WOMEN 1: Dries Van Noten SS14 wedges Photo: Cognac-coloured snakeskin Dries wedges! How fun are these for wobbling back and forth while waiting for a taxi or for accidentally pulverising the neighbour’s geraniums. An incident totally unrelated to their constant judgemental glaring from behind unwashed nylon curtains.

2: Thierry Boutémy x Manolo Blahnik x Opening Ceremony flats (€839)

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Brussels-based floral artist Thierry Boutémy is a true class act. He showered our collective senses with his majestic flower pieces in Sofia Coppola’s “Marie Antoinette.” And it’s from his mind that these leather flats have bloomed. Look at that cerulean inlay! Just elegant.

3: A.F. Vandevorst goat leather sandals (€445) Photo: Farfetch


Everyone’s always banging on about goats cheese, but what about goat shoes? You may not be able to

sprinkle honey, thyme and bacon on them, but at least they’ll get you where you need to be.

4: Iris Van Herpen (€980) Photo: Farfetch One of the most promising talents to have come out of the Netherlands in recent history, Iris Van Herpen focuses her experimental eye on a classic pair of motorcycle boots. She cleverly injects the leather with silicone, causing ornamental welts to appear. You’d be wise to invest in a Van Herpen – this one’s going places.

5: Weber Hodel Feder brogues (€450) The young Antwerp-based label Weber Hodel Feder is making waves with their signature velcro brogues. These white calf leather specimens will be at the top of your favourite shoe list. A shoo-in, really. *VIOLENT LAUGHTER ERUPTS*

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Discover Benelux | Design | Fashion Picks

MEN 1: SS14 Viktor & Rolf


The classic brogue finds its footing in Scottish history, when farmers would poke holes in their shoes to allow moisture to flow out whilst plodding through muck. With their Lego-esque midsole, these V&R brogues will gladly take you as quickly as you can in the opposite direction of any farm.

4: Ann Demeulemeester sneakers 2: Réné Magritte x Vans x Opening Ceremony

(€793) Photo: Farfetch

(€98) Photo: Opening Ceremony

Colour! On a Demeulemeester piece! Cradle these ochre suède treasures like they’re the last pair of golden lemons on a scurvy-ridden schooner.

No Belgian painter is more sacred than surrealist master Réné Magritte. Opening Ceremony proves its piety with a unique Magritte-themed capsule collection. These beautiful sneakers will have people’s eyes transfixed at pavement level. Even if your head is a giant green apple.


The Rolling Stones, because they simply ‘painted it white’. These high-tops will crackle and peel in time, leaving a trail wherever you go. “I beg your pardon Margaret, I didn’t spill Tipp’Ex. This mess is Margiela and I refuse to apologise for being chic!”

3: MMM x Converse paint sneakers (€183) Photo: Barney’s The folks over at Margiela must not be too fond of

5: Bernhard Willhelm X Camper (€250) Photo: Farfetch OK, so these shoes are plain insane. Business on one side, 80s rave on the other! It is said that whiplashes have occurred by drivers braking brusquely when catching a glimpse of their own feet.


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Discover Benelux | Design | Desirable Designs

Desirable Designs from Benelux 1

Feeling starved of design recently, we’ve gone geometric-shape mad this month. Perhaps it’s due to a lack of vitamin B, we’re craving strong shapes and industrial edges, but we’re topping them off with the most luscious of lush throws from Yumeko.



4: Yumeko throws Ever since we featured Yumeko in our July issue, we’ve just fallen more and more in love with their throws. In Alpaca, merino wool or cashmere, these are not just eco-friendly, but skin friendly, animal friendly and farmer friendly. Oh, and they look pretty damn cool as well. (From €189)

5: Ineke Hans’ Special Spoons Royal VKB can spot a cool design a mile off and these Special Spoons designed by the Dutch design superstar Ineke Hans definitely fit a niche. Super handy for those impromptu mass picnics, we love this specialist cutlery as they’re kitchen staples that we’re constantly misplacing. With a spicy spoon, olive spoon, pickle fork and toast spreader, who needs a better reason to indulge in some delicious Mediterranean delights? Available in four colours. (€9.95) 1: Multiple, magnetic coffee table by Raphaël Charles

2: PETITE tête à tête by Formz

The Multiple low table (classic version) is made of a group of repetitive elements in solid oak, “glued” to one another by a permanent magnetic system, which allows you the luxury of modulating the table infinitely. Depending on the different configurations, you can assemble the elements to form just one low table in variable shapes, or in separate islets to best fit the space. Multiple is part of the Belgian royal family's private collection, and is one of the 48 best Belgian design from 1900 to now: “Belgium's best design” Luster édition. Rewarded at interieur Kortrijk design competition 2011 and by a Henry Van de Velde Label 2012. On pages 32 and 33 we take a closer look at Charles’s work. (€980/28p)




3: Paper Tulips by Piet Design

Nimble fingers will love these DIY paper tulips from the delightful Piet Design. Each set comes with super handy instructions and you’ll be beaming with pride once you see your handiwork. 24 x 16cm tulips. (€9.95)

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The latest table to emerge from Formz, our fave Belgian designers, is this year’s PETITE tête à tête. With its abstract geometric tablecloth made from aluminium composite panel (ACP) and its sturdy legs, it’s an eye-catching side table for inside or out. We can see it just as well on the terrace with some glossy mags and a cocktail as we can in our exposed-brick office. Formz consistently impress us with their hip designs while maintaining their playful youthfulness. (€790)

6: Modo by Nicolas Ghilissen In his own words, this young Belgian designer “tries to take advantage of the constraints associated with industrial forms to release timeless elegance” – and in our opinion, he certainly succeeds. Despite its simple outward appearance, this lamp’s complexity has taken Discover Benelux by storm. (Price on request)


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Discover Benelux | City Special | The Hague

A girl & a pearl of a city Probably best known as the country of tulips, waffles and the debauchery of Amsterdam, the Netherlands is a frequent destination for the UK traveller. But, as Heather Welsh argues, there’s far more to it than your standard Amsterdam city break. What then, of the city only thirty minutes away by train, the smaller, quieter location of The Hague? TEXT: HEATHER WELSH | MAIN PHOTO: JURJEN DRENTH © DEN HAAG MARKETING

Rarely visited by Brits – unless they’re visiting the International Court of Justice of course, The Hague boasts undeniably attractive squares in true European style, streets and buildings as well as an extensive art scene and that is what has brought Discover Benelux here today. If you’re thinking of making a Dutch trip, there’s no time like the present, as one of the city’s most popular museums, the Mauritshuis Royal Picture Gallery, has just undergone a 25 million pound face-lift – and every penny has been worth it. Dubbed a ‘jewel box’, as it houses some of the world’s most famous and beloved paintings from the Flemish and Dutch masters within the confines of such an intimate space, the Mauritshuis is a striking example of the best of Dutch Classicist archi-

tecture. Built for and named after Count Johan Maurits van Nassau-Siegen in the mid-17th century, it was later bought by the Dutch state to house the Royal Collection of Paintings, and opened as a museum as early as 1822.

In need of a face-lift With its origins as a lavish home, the Mauritshuis quickly outgrew itself and found that its structure wasn’t really fulfilling its requirements as a museum. And so, in 2008, the Mauritshuis conceived the ambitious plan of renovating and extending the museum with the help and experience of the esteemed Amsterdam-based practice Hans van Heeswijk Architects. Incorporating the adjacent building, now connected to the historic building via an underground foyer, the new space allows for temporary

exhibitions, an educational Art Workshop, library, event spaces, a brasserie and new museum shop. Along with these updates that bring the museum into the 21st century, the original building housing the permanent collection (which went on a grand world tour during the renovation period) has been beautifully and subtly modernised. Replacing the windows, the air conditioning and the lighting as well as redecorating the interior has, in the style of any good face-lift, refreshed the old building yet retained its original character.

Penning history Gracing the newly lined silk walls is one of the most famous paintings in the world – Johannes Vermeer’s ‘Girl with a Pearl

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PREVIOUS PAGE: Dutch parliament buildings and Mauritshuis along the Hofvijver. Photo: Den Haag Marketing/Jurjen Drenth. ABOVE: Vermeer’s Girl with the Pearl Earring has returned home. Photo: Ronald Tilleman © Mauritshuis, The Hague.

Earring’. In part due to the publication of the novel with the same title by Tracy Chevalier and the subsequent film adaptation, the popularity of Vermeer and his painting has reached dizzy heights. Not a portrait but an imagined face, a ‘Tronie’, the girl in exotic clothing with an eastern turban and pearl earring is mastered in Vermeer’s virtuoso painting technique. Today, Discover Benelux has the opportunity to see what all the fuss is about; her youthful, vibrant look is captured softly, the reflection of light suggesting the presence of the pearl. It seems novelists’ love for using the paintings from the Mauritshuis’s collection as inspiration isn’t set to stop anytime soon. Other well-known works include Carel Fabritius’s ‘The Goldfinch’, the painting that inspired the 2013 novel of the same name by Donna Tartt, and won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Hanging nearby is Rembrandt’s dramatic ‘The Anatomy Lesson of Dr Nicolaes Tulp’, which has recently inspired a book by Nina Siegal. Other highlights of the collection

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include Frans Hals’s ‘Laughing Boy” and Hendrick Avercamp’s ‘On the Ice’ – a scene you might recognise from many a Christmas card. Not your typical house, this one in The Hague is positively bulging with spectacular pieces of history, and history still to be written too, it appears.

Peripheral influence on the city It happened quietly of course, but the rest of The Hague too has benefitted from this new boost to the art scene. Not wanting to get left behind in the quest, the Gemeentemuseum, located on Stadhouderslaan 41, has a newly built glass roofed area be-

tween the exhibition spaces, pleasantly light and airy and perfect for visitors to take a cultural breather. The museum is full of names to make any art lover gasp, including Bridget Riley, Mondrian and upcoming exhibitions include Mark Rothko and Damien Hirst. The museum’s real draw, however, is its permanent collection of Mondrian, the world’s largest collection of his work showing the entirety of the artist’s progression into abstraction. This includes the last work Mondrian made, ‘Victory Boogie Woogie’, which became infamous for the ‘selfie’ Obama took in front of it on a visit.

LEFT: Mauritshuis. Photo: Ivo Hoekstra © Mauritshuis, The Hague. RIGHT: the Passage, the oldest indoor shopping arcade in the Netherlands. Photo: Gemeente Den Haag/Piet Gispen.

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Discover Benelux | City Special | The Hague

Proving why The Hague is a perfect place for any art lover, there’s more still. In the centre of the city on the edge of a lovely lime tree filled square (Lange Voorhout), is Escher in het Palais – a well-curated selection of Escher’s work, presented in an exciting way. Known for his intricate drawings, M.C. Escher plays with perspective and reflection, eternity and infinity. In ‘Escher forever!’, an almost complete collection of all his prints including ‘Drawing Hands’, ‘Waterfall’ and ‘Ascending and Descending’, we see the master combining artistic subjects and mathematical insights to produce images that have a mystical quality. But it isn’t just the art on the walls that merit a visit; chandeliers designed by Dutch sculptor Hans van Bentem reflect the themes of illusion, infinity and tessellation – their shapes reflecting endlessly between two mirrors. But The Hague’s best-kept secret from the Brits is undeniably its seaside. Far more than just art and justice, it’s the sole Dutch city by the sea. A trip to the harbour is only ten minutes on the tram, where good restaurants and an excellent shopping district await patiently. An antiques market is held on Thursdays and Sundays in the central square (Lange Voorhout), and while the more commercial shops can be found central in de Passage, the smaller boutiques in the back streets and along Papestraat sell everything from Dutchmade leather to traditional Dutch treats and home-wares. Found at Papestraat 1b, 2513 AV are Michael Barnaart van Bergen’s designer items, which, made in collaboration with the Gemeentemuseum, include six dresses inspired by the art of Mondrian, Duchamp and Man Ray. A delightful de-

Gemeentemuseum The Hague by the Dutch architect H.P. Berlage and renowned for its large Mondrian collection, the largest in the world. Photo: Den Haag Marketing/Gerrit Schreurs.

scription to Discover Benelux’s ears, these are well worth strolling the streets for. Unlike Amsterdam, there’s just one canal running through The Hague. But, isn’t the coast a bit more impressive? Making the most of the sea’s resources is Catch by Simonis, a four-level seafood restaurant, which can found at the harbour of Tweede Binnenhaven. More central, the quintessential symbiosis of bicycles and coffee has been nailed by Lola Bikes & Coffee, Noordeinde 91. A not uncommon sight in the Netherlands, this combination comes as no surprise as bikes are spotted aplenty. Adding to the relaxed feel of the place, the cyclists weave

their way effortlessly around the city, making London rush-hour cyclists look more like soldiers on their way into battle. A range of excellent accommodation is also on offer, including the five star luxuries of Hotel Des Indes in the main square. Once a family home, the hotel’s lavish décor and professional service give it a rather indulgent feel. Whether it’s for a longer trip or a quick weekend break, The Hague is certainly not to be overlooked. An alternative location, its richness of culture and history render it a brilliant alternative to the more hectic Amsterdam trip that we’re so prone to take. Wise travellers often base themselves here to discover the rest of the Lowlands and as The Hague is now sitting pretty at the top of the current places to visit list, we can confirm that it’s ready for the onslaught of tourism. Dynamic and friendly, it has a lot more to offer than just cracking the whip of justice. Where we stayed: Where we ate:

LEFT: Aerial view of Scheveningen seaside resort. Photo: Willem Vermeij. RIGHT: Walking along the Hofvijver with the parliament buildings and modern office buildings in the background. Photo: Den Haag Marketing/Jurjen Drenth.

For more info, please visit:

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Far more than flowers While its name immediately conjures up images of brightly coloured tulips, the magnificent castle of Keukenhof has a much grander repertoire – although flowers are certainly in abundance in its vast gardens and the many wedding bouquets that are thrown. TEXT: EMMIE COLLINGE | PHOTOS: HELLA RADIC – HOOGZAND

Sharing the same name as the celebrated gardens situated directly opposite, the fairytale-esque castle has adopted a modern stance to event hosting and has quickly become one of the most popular venues in the country. The 17th-century castle, described as “the hidden gem” of the Netherlands, was originally built in 1640, but remained in private hands until very recently, explains Kasteel Keukenhof’s Robert Faas. “Back in the Dutch Golden Age,” he recounts, “many people made a fortune with trade. It was common for rich landowners to possess a

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summer house.” Once a retreat for balmy summer days, the castle was a prized country home and thus suitably well looked after. With due care and attention given to the gardens, it comes as no surprise to hear that the famed Keukenhof gardens are still part of the castle’s estate. In 2003 following the wishes of the last remaining Count, the castle was passed on to the Stichting Kasteel Keukenhof [Castle Keukenhof Foundation]. “Running a castle isn’t cheap,” explains Faas when asked how it turned from family home to host of the Netherlands’ most popular Medieval Fair

and Christmas Market. “To fund the maintenance and take proper care of the grounds, we’ve established an intimate team of enthusiastic employees.” Together, they’re steering the castle and its events, making it the go-to location for special days. Whether it’s a wedding, charity ball, corporate meeting or team-building day, the team work dedicatedly to ensure that any event runs as smoothly as the castle’s lawns.

Green-fingered good work With 230 hectares to tend to, the castle relies on 180 volunteers, explains Faas. With many winding paths that weave through

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Discover Benelux | City Special | The Hague

A haven of tranquility and nobility, the Castle of Keukenhof is a delightful location handily situated not far from many major cities.

the well-tended grounds, the castle is an ideal location to escape the city. “We’re just a matter of minutes away from Amsterdam,” says Faas. In the middle of the Randstad (the combination of Amsterdam, Utrecht, The Hague and Rotterdam), the Keukenhof Castle is easily reached from all directions. With August heralding a weekly farmers’ market along with its annual Medieval Fair, set to attract upwards of 30,000 international visitors, December marks its delightful three-day Christmas Market. “Our Christmas Festival is ranked second in Europe for its atmosphere,” says Faas proudly. “We’ve got special exhibitions running throughout the year too alongside classical music concerts and dj sets – you’d be surprised!” Currently, the magnificent grounds are playing host to some of the world’s greatest artists in collaboration with the Cobra Museum of Modern Art. The ‘Cobra in the Open’ season of sculptures runs until mid-September, showcasing the best of the world’s post-WWII art in the great outdoors.

spectacular place to host a meeting or seminar.” Given its heritage, the atmosphere is suitably romantic but there are other options too, as marquees and rustic outbuildings can be transformed into your coveted venue. For any occasion the choice exists of the very grand and rather exclusive castle and four additional outbuildings, each available for hire and primed for whatever the event calls for.

Equipped with all the required and desired technical capabilities, the castle’s retake on traditional seminar spaces is proving infinitely popular. Born out of a desire to make people feel at home, the new designs offer meeting attendees the opportunity to relax, therefore enabling better and closer networking and sharing of ideas.

Softening the corporate edge “As the castle remains in keeping with its rich history,” Faas continues, “it’s quite a

The team’s newest offering is the Vergaderhuis [Meeting House], which couldn’t

be more aptly named, explains Faas. “It’s got such a homely atmosphere, much more ‘back-to-basics’. You’ve got complete control over the building for the day – you can really make yourself at home and where else can you be as productive than at home?” he says with a smile. Catering for corporate or private gatherings can be arranged entirely to suit your wishes. On-site the castle boasts a restaurant inside the old farmhouse, but off-site catering and self-catering are also popular choices. Over the centuries, the castle has evolved into what it is today: a prime location in the heart of Holland for business conferences, seminars, workshops and weddings. So popular it is in fact, that King WillemAlexander and Queen Maxima graced the castle with their presence in March this year while on an official state visit with the Chinese Prime Minister. “What’s really special about Keukenhof,” concludes Faas, “is the complete juxtaposition of the historic castle with our modern offerings in terms of venue hire and events.”

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Discover Benelux | City Special | The Hague

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

A close encounter with Brazil TEXT: EMMIE COLLINGE | PRESS PHOTOS

With vibrancy and vivacity at its core, few countries conjure up as much excitement as Brazil. Famed for its laidback attitude, scrumptious food and delicious cocktails, Brazil’s appeal is undeniable. The drawback: it’s almost 10,000 kilometres away. Fortunately for us Europeans, there’s a solution somewhat closer to home. As authentic as they come, Rodizio’s Brazilian Restaurant in Scheveningen has received rave reviews since opening in 2007. Successfully satisfying guests, its all-you-can-eat style dining and succulent traditional barbecued meat have garnered it a popular haunt for the region around The Hague. Offering 15 types of meat including chicken, lamb and picanha (unquestionably the most popular of the Brazilian hunks of meat), the restaurant manager grins: “While you can choose the wrong meal in a restaurant, there’s no chance of that happening here.”

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Immediately entranced by its South American flair, the passadors, clothed in traditional gaucho dress, prepare the meat churrasco style and carve it at your table with an impressive knife. With an entire wall dedicated to its extensive buffet (expect plantain, black beans and tasty rice dishes), it’s easy to forget that the meat is the real draw of this distinctive restaurant. The meat is exclusively chosen from very select South American cattle and is of the highest quality. Far more than just food, the owner explains: “There are so many restaurants where you go to eat your dinner – but it’s different here, we provide an evening’s experience that goes hand-in-hand with your food.” Confronted by warm Brazilian hospitality, the restaurant has live music, dancing and entertainment from Thursday to Sunday. With companies placing an ever-growing value on ‘away-days’, the scope for what

constitutes a team-building day has widened and the bar has been raised. For those looking to treat their employees to an explosion of fun and feasting, the solution can be heard and experienced in the banging drums of Brazil. Honing in on this upsurge in fun investments for companies and private parties, Rodizio’s has developed two incredibly successful workshops for companies: cocktail making masterclasses and Brazilian percussion workshops. “The objective isn’t just food here, it’s the experience of having fun,” they explain passionately. Given the South Americans’ appetite for passion, a party at Rodizio’s will certainly be a frenzied feast, delighting all your senses.

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Discover Benelux | Feature | Urban Rooms



Many architects design boutique hotels then walk away. Julie Brion and husband Tanguy Leclercq are different: they own and run contemporary B&B Urbanrooms in Brussels, having used their architectural skills to create a place where they – and their guests – could feel at home. “The house was completely dilapidated,” says Julie: “So we totally gutted and refurbished it”’ They took inspiration from the look of places visited on their own travels, and from experiences in them: “We want it to be like staying in a home, with things done as you’d like them to be, and there when you want them – so it’s not impersonal.” That philosophy has obviously suited clients who’ve taken the self-contained Loft, with kitchen and private terrace, for four weeks: “People can make it their own for a time, and not have to eat in restau-

rants,” says Julie. If, however, you like eating out they’re well placed; the southBrussels suburb of Ixelles, a favourite tourist area known for its art deco and art nouveau buildings and these days for its eateries and bars, and only a stroll from the city-centre. A duplex and three other rooms complete their accommodation, with the ‘wake-up room’ where guests take breakfast and a garden terrace providing green space. There’s continuity in the design – clean lines, wood flooring and stylish lighting – but variety in colour and finish too. It’s succeeding as a B&B, as repeat business demonstrates, and in another way: “We’ve actually won architecture projects from people who appreciate the style and feel here,” says Julie.

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Discover Benelux | Restaurant of the Month | Belgium

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

Café Georgette Brussels: Belgitude, Frititude and Brusselsitude This month Discover Benelux took a trip to Brussels, known by many as the home of European politics; we were there to visit our restaurant of the month, the Café Georgette, a restaurant setting new standards in traditional Belgian cuisine and giving you a taste of what this city is really about. TEXT: PHIL GALE | PRESS PHOTOS

Let’s be honest, Belgium is a country more renowned for its beverages than its gastronomy. Unlike other European countries, the ones closer to the Mediterranean, it is not a destination that many of us would consider that we would be able to really get a feel for through our taste buds. But the Café Georgette, tucked away in the îlot Sacre area of the city, is changing this reputation by giving all those who visit it a generous serving of Belgitude.

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“This is a brol for pei and mei of all kinds: the dikkenek, the stoeffer, the Babelleir, the smoul zuure, the pottepeï, dirty ket, the curious neus, the zottekut, pretty pouske and especially the Epicurean: the zwanzeur!” begins new café owner David Rouillon. Confused? We were too until he paused for breath and continued with a smile: “At the Café Georgette we want to celebrate all that is good about Belgium and Brussels in particular. So the first

thing that we do is share a little of our local dialect.” While its dialects are as diverse as its beers and politics, there is one food product that unites the country in harmony, the frite, something that naturally Rouillon keeps close to his heart and the heart of Café Georgette, he explains: “Our restaurant has two sides: the friterie and the restaurant. We have clients make huge journeys

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Discover Benelux | Restaurant of the Month | Belgium

for both.” Travelling to a friterie is a weird notion because, as any seasoned Belgium traveller will know, they are almost two a penny in the country. Rouillon outlines what sets Café Georgette apart: “It is the frititude of our friterie that is the biggest draw. Unlike other friteries we don’t get our produce from the industrial producer, take it out of the freezer and dump it into the fryer. We make everything in-house. We call it a friterie deluxe. Our artisan foods cause such a stir with all our clients because this is a true friterie, not an industrial one.” It is not just in the fried food that the Café Georgette is leading the way either, Rouillion continues: “Our ethos about “fait a la maison” (made in-house) extends through to our restaurant, with all of our burgers made fresh each day with our own special recipes.” With a vast selection on offer, from the traditional beef, to tuna and also chicken, there really is something for all palates to indulge in at the Café Georgette – naturally, they’re all accompanied by the all important Belgium frite. Named after the wife of the famous surrealist artist Réne Magritte, a renowned Brussels epicurean or zwanzeur, who never took himself too seriously, the Café Georgette is new to the city’s restaurant scene. Recently coming under the guidance of Rouillon, it has already been crowned the award of the Best Burger in Brussels, and, we can certify that it does not disappoint.

also really lucky to have a bar just behind us, known throughout Brussels because it stocks over 2,000 different beers.” Exploring Belgium from the comfort of a seat in the Café Georgette sounds very tempting.

that you leave your mark on Brussels as a true zwanzeur, having experienced the great tastes of epicurean delights, but naturally, in keeping with Réne Magritte himself, not taking it too seriously.

Belgitude, Fritiude and Brusselsitude, the Café Georgette is a must for anyone in the area. Taking traditional Brussels cuisine back to its indulgent roots, your culinary adventure of Belgium and the tastes of this famous city can begin here. Make sure

Fried food and burgers aside, Café Georgette’s higher-end restaurant is just as popular and filled with the flavour of Brussels, Rouillon continues: “We have kept the same chef as the pervious restaurant that was here. He is hugely creative and I work closely with him to create and refine our dishes on our restaurant menu.” From plates of Ardoise to local, traditional dishes, plenty of local meat and – again, naturally all served with the Café Georgette’s renowned frites, the flavours of Brussels run through all the food on offer. Any Brussels’ culinary experience would be incomplete if not washed down with a beer, Rouillon continues: “We have many local beers on tap here for our clients. We are

The style and ambiance is taken from Rouillon’s experiences of working in Paris and other top restaurants.

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Discover Benelux | Special Theme | Dutch Interior Design

Architecture and interior by Jan des Bouvrie



It wasn’t until post-World War II that Dutch houses really got a personality. Back then, after graduating from the Rietveld Academy in 1960, I was struck by two distinct features of Dutch interiors: their darkness; and their multitude of smaller rooms. Inspired, I cast a critical eye over the floor plans of houses and this led to my first open-plan kitchen, which I created around 25 years ago. The objective was to make the apartment light and airy. More recently my focus has lain on large terraces. By unifying house and garden, the residents’ quality of life is vastly enhanced. Today, with the addition of a toasty outdoor heater and comfy garden furniture now as important as our living room sofas, you’re able to fully appreciate the Dutch summers. What’s remarkable about our nation is its willingness to adapt and evolve its living arrangements. This is visible across the

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whole of society, regardless of gender, age or wealth. Internationally, I’m proud of our nation. Compared to other European countries, we’re far more homely. We LOVE our homes and take pride in them. In the next few years I predict that the popularity of open-plan spaces will continue to grow, and more attention will be given to the bathroom. While the home office evolves into a space for the whole family on the ground floor, the kitchen and the living room will merge. By consciously

choosing one floor type for all the rooms in your house, for example, a rich wood or screeds, you’ll create an open atmosphere. Skill and design will collide. Today’s tendency to have lots of independent elements in a house is a passing phase. Given the current economic climate, we should be seeking out balance and investing in timeless objects. Ultimately, it’s about listening to your wishes. I’m the conductor of your house, directing the orchestra to perform to their best.

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Discover Benelux | Special Theme | Dutch Interior Design

FAR LEFT: Products: Bank Edge. Storm rug. Yp coffee tables. Cushions: Celine mint, Mr Right & Mrs Right, Rain vase, Arp copper candle-holder, Fae light blue ceramic pot. MIDDLE BOTTOM: FEST’s collection of cushions include the Farrow Blue (two sizes) and Tartel.


A nest of contemporary talent TEXT: EMMIE COLLINGE | PHOTOS: FEST AMSTERDAM

tures, the entrepreneurial 27-year-old has certainly sharpened her business acumen, having recently been awarded the illustrious Next Woman Pitch Competition. Not just convinced by Femke’s strong delivery, FEST’s distinctive feature is its affordability combined with its stylish design aesthetics.

Proving that mass-produced products are loosening their grip on our interiors, it’s time for a new generation of hip homeware designers to come to the fore. Together with brother Steven, Femke Furnee runs FEST Amsterdam, the capital’s hottest lifestyle and interior design store. Three years in the making but now at home in Amsterdam’s hip Roelof Hartstraat, FEST Amsterdam has gained a somewhat cult following in the city. A wholesaler and retailer, FEST has gathered together a slew of cushions, candleholders and coffee tables amongst other lifestyle items. Alongside importing international designs whose aesthetics appeal to the pair, FEST’s own collection appears twice a year and the duo also work collaboratively with other designers. While global and local trends are duly noted, the collection remains res-

olutely FEST-esque and its products are quickly becoming staples of hip magazine lifestyle shoots. Having always been “a little bit” businesssavvy, FEST, says Femke modestly, was probably always going to happen. “Both my brother and I had businesses by the time we were 18,” she explains. “We’ve learnt everything from experience – including what I’m not so good at!” she says with a broad grin. Since her early teenage business ven-

The trendy studio-cum-showroom-cumpilot store fuses minimal Scandinavian style influences with Asian quirks and Dutch design. It’s the pilot store concept which brings the siblings closer to the final customer. “We love to hear what they like and don’t like, it teaches us a lot and definitely makes our job more exciting.” FEST’s active presence on social media is definitely a bonus for customers too; the pair’s Pinterest and Instragram feed is a veritable source of lifestyle inspiration.

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Discover Benelux | Special Theme | Dutch Interior Design

Longing for a home like this? Noort Interior can create it for you.

High quality interior design High quality home interior brands, personalised advice and a home visit no matter where in the world you live; this is what you can expect when doing business with Noort Interieur. TEXT: JANINE STERENBORG | PRESS PHOTOS

A house only becomes a home once you feel infinitely comfortable, once you’re able to relax in a stylishly designed environment, which matches your personality and preferences. That is exactly the attitude that Noort Interieur focuses on in their collection of premium brands like Minotti, B&B Italia and Flexform. Their showroom in Noordwijk of no less than 1,300 square metres is an excellent example of the quality they have to offer.

Minotti concept store What you cannot (and should not!) miss on a visit to Noort Interieur is the Minotti Concept Store. With one part of the Noort Interieur showroom solely dedicated to the

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Italian brand, it’s not only the only one in the Netherlands but it’s also the only place in the country where you can discover the latest products launched by Minotti. A brand dedicated to tradition and technology, contemporary design and comfort, as well as reliability and durability, Minotti design all their products with the intention of creating an enjoyable home. The colours central to Minotti have organic and natural tones: soft and deep shades of brown and a lot of white and grey. Can interior design get much better than this? Showcasing the largest collection of Minotti products, Noort Interieur benefit from an exclusivity that renders a visit invaluable. With all of

Minotti’s designs present in the showroom, you’ve got the crème de la crème of Italian design right in front of you.

Advice, inspiration, design and execution More than just a store to buy the next piece of modern furniture, Noort Interieur also offer an comprehensive design solution as an all-inclusive partner when you redesign your living room as well as when you renovate and reconstruct your whole home or office. “We give personal advice based on a visit to your home or business,” explains Noort Interieur owner Nico van Duijn. It is a standard part of the service, as well as an important one. “It is impossible to get a

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Discover Benelux | Special Theme | Dutch Interior Design

good impression of the rooms we are going to design if we do not see them ourselves, because the shapes and structures have such a big influence on the process of designing. We want to offer the best possible design advice to suit the specific space. The advice will be drawn and coloured by hand, and we always design in consultation with our customers.” Once you’re satisfied with the result, Noort Interieur can also arrange the actual execution for you, which means you don’t have to worry about a thing. Given Noort Interieur’s huge spectrum of design products, the entirety of your sparkling new interior is available: from long-lasting floors to cushions made from natural materials, timeless dining chairs and lamps that induce perfect illumination. You can also enjoy Noort Interieur’s service when you live abroad. Van Duijn explains how demand has grown from outside of the Netherlands: “So far we have had requests from countries like Switzerland, France and Portugal. Although, we could work further afield too,” he laughs. “It would be no problem for us to visit you in, let’s say, Dubai. That would actually be very alluring!”

Noort’s history Noort Interieur has been active in interior design since 1946. Over the years it has evolved into the established high quality design store it is today. After starting out as a store stocking primarily Dutch brands, always with an eye for special designs, it has been developed even further since Van Duijn took over the business seven years ago. They’re very excited about an upcoming development in the showroom – a one-ofits-kind in the Netherlands, as they will have a substantial space dedicated to Porro, an Italian brand that focuses on minimalism.

Interior advice When asked what the biggest mistake most people make when it comes to home interior design, Van Duijn replies immediately that it’s about the balance between space and furniture. “Often I see too many pieces of furniture in a too small space,” says Van Duijn. “Rooms often lack coherence.” He concludes that this is perhaps a

All of the brands available at Noort Interieur offer beautiful colours and stylish designs. Pictured: Owner Nico van Duijn.

frequent result of adding new pieces of furniture to the interior over the years. Often people feel an attachment to certain items for sentimental reasons. Empathetic, Noort Interieur can advise you on a new interior and help you increase the cohesion, while still paying due heed to the treasured items you’d like to keep. In the showroom you can see what this coherence means. Despite the vast array of styles present in

the space, the pieces are still successfully placed within one store – and that’s an example of good design right there. Noort Interieur easily reached by car. It is just a thirty minute drive from both The Hague and Amsterdam, with plenty of parking spaces in front of the store.

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Discover Benelux | Special Theme | Art



The 17th century was an age that set the tone for the future of Dutch art. With the almost life-life brushstrokes of Frans Hals and Rembrandt’s striking contrasts in light and dark, the intimacy of Vermeer’s Milkmaid and Jan van Goyens’s low horizons, traditions were broken with their unconventionality. Where once the King and Queen were the sole commissioners of art, these artists, often with messages of morality, gave viewers a glimpse of poeticism within the everyday. Many contemporary artists have this same objective today. Finding inspiration in our mundane everyday lives – often with a twist – is a constant

feature of art from the Netherlands, excluding our minor period of romanticism. Even today, it’s common for artists to borrow from their ancestors; today’s modern photography harks back to artwork from the Dutch Golden Age of paintings. Rineke Dijkstra’s intimate portraits of regular people have the same attitude as Vermeer’s portraits while in Ruud van Empel and Erwin Olaf’s fantasy worlds nothing is as it seems. Realism is a way for these artists to create a stir. Iris van Dongen and Michael Raedecker are prime examples, as our collective memory fills in what isn’t apparent in Raedecker’s work. Design too shouldn’t be overlooked and fashion-duo Viktor &

Rolf epitomise the avant-garde conceptual direction of Dutch Design, while Marcel Wanders is drawn towards industrial forms. For centuries art has been collected. By commissioning, exhibiting, publishing and purchasing, patrons, museums and the government have supported artists, often actively, and often from the sidelines. A collection of art serves as a source of inspiration and creative reflection. As an expression of social commitment, we’re preserving our cultural heritage. For this reason, ING decided to create a collection forty years ago. Since its inception, art has been inextricably linked with ING. Inspiring, disarming and connecting, it pulls you from your comfort zone and encourages critical thinking. Art gives you a new perspective, that’s why the collection is at the core of ING, both in the office and externally. This year, ING is celebrating their collection’s 40-year anniversary in the Cobra Museum for Modern Art in Amstelveen. The anniversary exhibition ‘The Hidden Picture’ runs from 13th September 2014 until 4th January 2015. Just as in the 17th century, this collection revolves around the beauty and poeticism of the everyday. Forcing the viewer into another world, to take a second glance.

TOP LEFT: No Title (From the series 'Do you love me_', no. II) Michael Raedecker (1963) 1996 170 x 130 cm. BOTTOM LEFT: Self portrait with an orange scarf. Harry van der Woud (1963) 2007 various techniques on canvas 110 x 130 cm. TOP MIDDLE: Olga by Koos van Keulen (1940) 2007 126 x 90cm ING Collection. BOTTOM MIDDLE: The_world_is_beautiful #5 by Mario. A (1959) 2004 42 x 54cm © Mario A, Courtesy Galerie Esther Woerdehoff, Paris. RIGHT: Sanne Ten Brink, senior curator and team manager at the ING Collection. Photo: Fleur Hudig

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Discover Benelux | Special Theme | Art

LEFT: Seurat: Master of pointillism, with, amongst others, Georges Seurat, Le Cirque, 1890-1891, an extraordinary borrowing from Musee d’Orsay, Paris and Le Chahut, 18891890, collection Kroller-Muller Museum. RIGHT: Sculpture garden from the Kröller-Müller Museum, La grande Pénélope [Large Pénélope], 1912, Émile-Antoine Bourdelle (18611929). BELOW: Van Gogh Gallery in the Kröller-Müller Museum with, amongst others, De minnaar (Portrait of Milliet) late September- early October 1888, Vincent van Gogh.



a title he’s always fiercely defended. Known for his pointillist technique, a meticulous combination of dots and dashes, his complementary colours merge and create a pulsating effect in the eye of the observer. A way to illustrate the light as intensely as possible, these contrasts and the miniscule brushstrokes create harmony in the painting down to the smallest detail.

The exceptional combination of art, nature and architecture guarantees an extraordinary experience at the KröllerMüller Museum. As Vincent van Gogh’s second home, the Kröller-Müller Museum, encircled by one of Europe’s most extensive sculpture parks, has around 90 paintings and 180 drawings from the master, rendering it the world’s second largest Van Gogh collection. Alongside Van Gogh, Claude Monet, Georges Seurat, Pablo Picasso and Piet Mondriaan are represented. A visit to the museum is more akin to an experience; a journey of discovery beginning immediately upon entering the grounds of the Hoge Veluwe National Park. On foot or riding one of the free-to-hire bicycles, you can explore one of lesser-known Dutch treasures while soaking up the creative rays.

French coastline. This exhibition encompasses a wider context, taking its cue from French symbolism, which has not been the focus of an exhibition before. The perspectives of Seurat’s contemporaries will serve as a basis to interpret the development and significance of his work. This exhibition places 24 drawings and 23 paintings from across the globe together. The exhibited pieces and the accompanying photos and documents offer a never-seenbefore glimpse into Seurat’s existence. The exhibition runs until 7 September 2014.

Seurat: Master of pointillism For the first time the museum is exhibiting the most significant and beloved paintings from Georges Seurat (Paris 1859-Paris 1891) from its own collection, including Le Chahut and the harbour views from the

Seurat: the inventor of neo-impressionism Born on 2 December 1859 in Paris, Georges-Pierre Seurat entered the history books as the inventor of neo-impressionism,

Seurat’s revolutionary style, quickly dubbed neo-impressionism, caused a stir amongst his contemporaries and his heyday coincided with that of French literary symbolism. In 1886 he emerged into the international limelight with his famous Un dimanche à la Grande Jatte. He portrayed in his own unique manner life in the French capital and the seaside. Admire the silent paths of today’s Parisian suburbs and Northern France’s coastal resorts where he spent his summers, from Grandcamp to Gravelines. The KröllerMüller Museum has united the entire series from Gravelines for the first time in two decades.

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Discover Benelux | Special Theme | Art

LEFT: The TextielMuseum’s exhibition has “purpose-made fabric designs” by Dalí, Matisse, Miró, Picasso and Warhol, amongst others. Photo: Josefina Eikenaar. TOP RIGHT: ‘A Fish is a Fish is a Fish’ by Ken Scott 1951 cotton. Courtesy of Target Gallery, Fashion and Textile Museum London. BOTTOM RIGHT: ‘Spring Rain’ by Salvador Dali 1949 cotton. Courtesy of Target Gallery, Fashion and Textile Museum London.


Attitudes towards art changed over the 20th century. Many fine artists chose to be less elitist, searching for ways to give access to the masses to their creations – and so they turned to textiles. A compelling exhibition of fascinating fabrics by Dalí, Matisse, Miró, Picasso, Warhol and others is now on display at the TextielMuseum in Tilburg, the Netherlands. “World famous visual artists started to design fabrics. There are examples of fauvism, cubism, constructivism, surrealism and event pop art,” says Caroline Boot, the museum’s curator. “It wasn’t something they just did on the side either – they saw it as an important element and a means to bring their work to the general public.” Artist Textiles: Picasso to Warhol is a unique overview of designs by master artists and is displayed for the first time in the Netherlands. Covering 1910 to 1975, it tells the story of the artists’ textiles, partic-

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ularly those from America and England, showcasing over 200 items such as dresses, headscarves and furnishings. “It includes the biggest names in fine art from the last century,” Boot continues. “These are not art reproductions; they are purpose-made fabric designs by the masters themselves.” The 1960s saw an important initiative by the New York-based Fuller Fabrics entitled the Modern Masters series. The owner commissioned several visual artists, including Picasso, to create sixty different textile designs. The project resulted in tens of thousands of metres of fabric and some in various colour editions. “It wasn’t only fashion houses who bought these fabrics, but anyone could get hold of them for only a couple of dollars per yard,” she adds. That this movement was largely forgotten until recently is exemplified by a correspondence between two collectors from

London, who compiled the display, and the Picasso Foundation. Boot explains: “While they were researching, a letter came back saying Picasso had never designed a fabric in his life. But in fact, he has created designs from après-ski sportswear to all types of interior decorations – except upholstery, as the master himself once stated, ‘Picassos may be leaned against, not sat on’.” The exhibition Artist Textiles: Picasso to Warhol is now on display until September 14. The TextielMuseum also has an exciting permanent collection covering all areas of textile production and consumption, including fashion, jewellery, old steam powered looms, interactive children’s displays and a dynamic workshop called TextielLab where visitors can watch artists use stateof-the-art machines in action. The museum in Tilburg is open daily, except for Mondays.

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Discover Benelux | Special Theme | Art

Experience six centuries of science and medicine in six minutes TEXT: BERTHE VAN DEN HURK | PHOTOS: MUSEUM BOERHAAVE

Showing the beauty and significance of science and medicine in the past and present, Leiden’s Museum Boerhaave collects, manages and exhibits over six hundred years of Dutch history. According to The Times, it is “one of the most important scientific and medical history collections in the world.” Some of the collection highlights are the microscopes of Antoni van Leeuwenhoek and the inventions of Christiaan Huygens, including the very first pendulum clock. There are also objects from Dutch Nobel Prize winners, impressive anatomical preparations, and the oldest Dutch planetarium: the Leiden Sphaera. The collection reflects the development of mathematics, astronomy, physics, chemistry and medicine in the Netherlands. So much more than ‘just’ a museum, the Museum Boerhaave is both collector

and manager of six hundred years of history as well as being fun and accessible to a large audience. Therefore a vast part of the collection is not only visually but also virtually available. There are several interactive exhibitions, like the anatomical theatre. It has an interactive film, which is projected onto the walls and ceiling, showcasing six centuries of science and medicine in six minutes. With numerous objects, books, images and archives, Museum Boerhaave’s collection is among the best of the world. Housed in the former Caecilia Hospital, it has a prime location in the centre of the picturesque Leiden. Opening hours are from 10:00 – 17:00. Also open on Mondays in July and August.

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

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Turning the tables (and crafting the chairs) Expanding furniture contractor Mobitec has designs on demanding markets. TEXT: MARTIN PILKINGTON | PHOTOS: MOBITEC

There’s a paradox about the furniture maker Mobitec, in that like Belgium’s capital Brussels it’s very Belgian because it doesn’t try to be so. Its chairs and tables would be at home anywhere across Europe and beyond – or at least anywhere with an eye for good modern design. Marketing Director Christophe Moers takes up that theme: “I am not even sure there is such a style as ‘Belgian.’ Yes, our head office is in Eupen in Belgium, where we develop and design our products, but we manufacture in three plants in Poland, and you’ll find our products pretty much across the continent, they fit just as well in one country as the next.” Their way of doing business also owes more to 21st-century economic structures

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than to the nation state: “Our business is strictly B2B [Business to Business]. Some of our output goes into retail outlets, but the sector growing fastest for us is the contract business, where we supply hotels, cafes bars and restaurants, healthcare concerns, and what we call ‘office’. Geographically our major markets are the Benelux countries, Germany, France, Switzerland and Austria, but that gives only a partial picture.

“For example, we work with major hotel chains – anyone who has travelled on business in Europe will very probably have sat on one of our chairs in a hotel lobby, eaten lunch round one of our tables in the hotel’s restaurant, drunk their morning coffee in a Mobitec armchair in the hotel bar – and those chains go across national frontiers and even across continents.”

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Discover Benelux | Special Theme | Belgian Design

In today’s society more and more companies and public spaces are recognising the need for comfort in the workplace to boost productivity. ABOVE RIGHT: Mobitec’s BLOX is one of their most versatile products. Ideal for lounges, waiting rooms, libraries and other public spaces, they can be combined in any number of formats and colour schemes.

With 250+ products and a constantly evolving range, Christophe hopes clients will find the design they’re looking for ready and waiting, but in the contract market some have very specific ideas in mind, and Mobitec is used to working with such buyers: “It’s uneconomic to offer custom designs for a handful of chairs, but if people want thousands you have to have the structure and flexibility to explore precisely what they’re looking for. We think our trump card is that our range encompasses so many different versions and finishes, but for mega-contracts we’re open to the idea of developing a unique product for the customer.” There is much more to such a business than business, however: “Our motto is Passion for Creation since 1990, and we really do have that passion as an organisation,” says Christophe. Even a quick glance across their range reveals that there is art in what they do, and craft: “Our particular look comes out of the materials we use as well – at the heart of what we do is the fact that we work far more with wood than with say metal or plastic. A natural

material brings its own tactile elements, suggests certain lines and curves, so it’s a living style for a style of living.” Mobitec’s owner has family roots deep in the furniture trade, but the word contemporary is the one that springs to mind when looking at their products. The company’s history has coincided with a change in the way the world works and consequent changes in the furniture at our workplaces. How many office environments 30 years ago had sofas and comfortable chairs in their layout? Now it can be surprising if a breakout space or meeting area lacks such amenities. The rise of team working, likewise, has had its impact, as office walls have come down and companies have sought their own look – funky cubic stools speak volumes about the company that installs them; upholstery in primary colours conveys similar messages. And, of course, the inexorable advance of the computer is reflected in design.

Christophe: “Cafe culture is booming, and has spread across Europe, and the nature of those bars and cafes has changed. Along with wi-fi and good coffee, people expect style and comfort, so that is what Mobitec aims to deliver with the furniture we make for that market. In the restaurant world too the ambience of a new place can make or break it as much as the food that they serve, so the professionals who fit them out are extremely exigent.” The public sector is not exempt either: “Even your city’s library is likely to have embraced style in its decor,” says Christophe: “And as the population ages and healthcare becomes ever more significant, the users of health centres and hospitals expect more of their surroundings than their parents did.” So ours is a generation that demands style. And Mobitec is keen to supply it. Facebook: MoodsByMobitec

“It’s not just workplaces that have changed over the last quarter of a century,” says

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Discover Benelux | Special Theme | Belgian Design

The publishing house of beautiful objects Publishers have existed for centuries, especially in the book industry. Their work involves finding quality work, ideas worth sharing, art pieces with a certain commercial potential or simply iconoclast characters that deserve to be brought to a larger audience. Liparus shares the intentions in their entirety but in an industry where the concept has rarely, not to say never, been implemented: furniture design. TEXT: HARUN OSMANOVIC | PHOTOS: LIPARUS

Liparus is an atelier with such a unique approach that it is hard to define; part craftsman’s studio with the experience of a design agency, part art gallery, but ultimately a publishing house for talented designers Philippe Swimberghe, a Belgian designer with vast industry experience, founded Liparus. “My initial idea,” says Mr. Swimberghe, “was to work with my colleagues with the most artistic approach to design and allow them to benefit from my technical experience working with large multinationals and on a larger scale.” Indeed, Liparus has allowed its first designers to take their products from the selfproduced prototype to numbered production by studying the best manufacturing methods. Today, Liparus works with five designers; Damien Gernay, Guillaume Sonnet, Mathias van de Walle and Raphaël Charles stand alongside Philippe Swimberghe, and each has created one product for the portfolio of the publishing house.

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Raphaël Charles’s artwork could be considered a “non-designed” artwork. He explains to Discover Benelux that “my product is not a result of a controlled intervention but rather the consequence of a repetitive and random gesture.” The piece in question, a 420cm mural decoration, was a challenge to produce and manufacture and these challenges, when justified by an original idea and a beautiful object, are exactly the type of projects that Liparus likes to engage in.

As for Guillaume Sonnet, designer and architect, he likes to entertain the thought that objects can give the impression to be made of air rather than matter. Rimula, the chair he created with Liparus, relies on the equilibrium between its formal appearance and its functional essence. Named after the Latin word for a fold, the chair, like most of Liparus’s portfolio, requires heavy manual work particularly when bending the metallic structure to give it the aspect Mural decoration by Raphaël Charles

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Discover Benelux | Special Theme | Belgian Design

Mrs Ippy chair by Philippe Swimberghe

of the stroke of a pencil. “The two dimensional profile of the chair was a result of three simple lines on a sheet of paper,” says Guillaume Sonnet. “The genesis of the project,” continues founder Philippe Swimberghe, “was really based on personal fulfillment and the pleasure of bringing beautiful objects to market without compromising on their end function.” Philippe Swimberghe's chair, an ode to ergonomics, was inspired by the southern State of Mississippi and its iconic rocking chairs on front porches. Mrs Ippy is designed

to be enjoyable to observe from all angles, while – importantly – always keeping its balance. “Due to high demand,” Philippe continues, “we’ve created an ottoman to accompany Mrs Ippy, which will be available later this year.” Philippe's ambitious goal of bringing Belgian designers to the international stage appeals to the creators he represents. “Because of the keen interest that Belgian design benefits from, it is important to see new brands emerge,” adds designer Mathias van de Walle. Stamp, his set of three tables, was inspired by traditional formwork techniques used in construction. “I am fascinated,” Mathias says, “by shapes created by liquids when poured on flat surfaces, and the patterns that timber leaves in cement.” As for Damien Gernay's product, the table Nuage [Cloud] was inspired by the contemplation of clouds. “My fantasy as an artist,” explains Damien Gernay, “was to create a plane surface in levitation, as if

nested in the clouds.” Nuage posed the challenge of creating a technique to encapsulate smoke in the table legs. “The project would not have existed if it wasn't for Liparus with whom I developed a specific and unique process,” concludes Damien. What's happening in the future for Liparus? Well, in the francophone publishing industry, there’s “rentrée littéraire”, and in line with “rentrée scolaire” [first day of school], this period is usually the one during which most of the books are published. Likewise for Liparus, September and October are important months. “We’re planning the launch of new products as well as adding new colourful models to our portfolio,” explains Swimberghe. A lot to look forward to if you enjoy beautiful design.

These works of art will be on show during the Biennale Interieur of Kortrijk in Belgium between 17 and 26 of October and the Maison et Objet trade show in Paris early 2015. +32 497 16 46 17

TOP LEFT: Rimula chair by Guillaume Sonnet. BOTTOM LEFT: Nuage table by Damien Gernay. MIDDLE AND RIGHT: Stamp set of tables by Mathias Van de walle.

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Discover Benelux | Special Theme | Belgian Design

ABOVE: Many attempts have been made to try to combine a dining table into one dedicated to pool but none have succeeded with the quality and refinement of FusionTables. RIGHT: The multifunctional sideboard to store all life's necessities. BELOW RIGHT: Famous Champagne brand Veuve Cliquot and the table designed by FusionTables. Photo: G. Miclotte.

Dinner and a pool game TEXT: HARUN OSMANOVIC | PHOTOS: SALUC

In a world where space is becoming a scarce commodity, having a pool table and a room dedicated solely to this hobby is a luxury. Sure, we enjoy having fun in the local pub, or being out with friends at the closest pool club, but the FusionTables’s project will surely reconcile many with the idea of playing pool at home. Many attempts have been made to try to combine a dining table into one dedicated to pool but none have succeeded with the quality and refinement of FusionTables. When other brands made compromises that ultimately ruined the experience of either dining or playing pool, the product that FusionTables has created could not be more perfect for both situations. "We dine on a 75cm high table... but pool is played on an 81cm table,” explains Thierry Hoyaux, Marketing Director of Saluc, “this is why we patented an "Easy Lift" technology that allows the table to be adjusted to either activity."

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To the neophyte the name will not resonate, but the reason these pieces of furniture are such high quality is because Saluc, the company at the heart of the project, is also the official supplier of international snooker, billiard and pool championships with its world famous Aramith balls. Later, Saluc was joined by Simonis, a manufacturer of high quality billiard cloths, and the idea was to develop a product starting from the constraints of the dining room table. "The tables had to be enjoyable for eating and well designed for a modern interior; the challenge was to later hide a fully functional pool table inside," says Hoyaux. The all-metal frame allows the table to support a heavy slate mono-bed, the standard to play pool without surface alteration and to keep a flat playing area. "Here we needed to rid the table of the ungracious feet system that most multipurpose tables have," continues Hoyaux.

This uncompromised multipurpose nature of products is core to the DNA of FusionTables. The Fusion Led System for instance is a pendant lamp that switches from dim to bright depending on whether you are eating or playing. The products of FusionTables will surely satisfy both your taste for amazingly designed interior furniture and your urge to play on a professional pool table.

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Discover Benelux | Health & Beauty | Nefera

LEFT: Day cream: NEFERA™ Day Cream Rejuvenate & Protect TOP MIDDLE: Night creme: NEFERA™ Night Cream Heal & Restore MIDDLE: Serum: NEFERA™ Serum Fill & Tighten

Peptides for a healthy and beautiful skin TEXT: JANINE STERENBORG | PRESS PHOTOS

A peptide that renews your skin from within? NEFERA™ does exactly that. The peptide is the key ingredient in the NEFERA™ Skincare collection, which consists of four exclusive skincare products developed by Dr. Farid Kazem. After launching two years ago, experts have dubbed the products ‘little miracles’. Sounds exciting, right?

The power of NEFERA™ NEFERA™ is a very active peptide with a sensationally visible effect. Formulated with active ingredients, the peptide is transported into the skin by nanotechnology, where it restores existing collagen and stimulates the production of new collagen.

Results Your skin will feel tighter and smoother. Within a few weeks your skin will not only look brighter and younger, fine lines will start to fade. Good news too if you have a sensitive skin: NEFERA™ restores and calms even if your skin is hypersensitive.

Peptides? Peptides are a type of amino acid naturally found in the skin. They encourage the production of collagen and elastin, giving the skin a healthy and youthful structure. As we age, collagen is destroyed but not replaced. Our skin becomes thin, it begins to sag and wrinkle. By using a skincare product with the perfect peptide like NEFERA™, you can prevent the breakdown and stimulate production of collagen. In order for the peptide to work you need to choose the right vehicle; nanotechnology allows the peptide to get exactly where it needs to go.

ucts. They know exactly which powerful ingredients the skin needs to look young and be healthy. In America it is quite common for skin care professionals to develop their own products. After Dr. Kazem did this in the Netherlands with his NEFERA™ Skincare Collection, he was rapidly able to welcome a large group of loyal customers who are enthusiastic about the sublime results. Orders from as far away as Dubai have made Dr. Kazem’s dream an international reality; a unique skincare method perfectly designed for those who want to enjoy healthy youthful skin for a long time.

The packaging The airtight packaging is not just pretty, but it is also designed to protect the product against external influences. The smart dosage nozzle guarantees maximum results by using a minimum amount of the skincare.

Experts in skin rejuvenation Dermatologists and plastic surgeons are often involved in creating skincare prod-

Want to discover these ‘little skincare miracles’ yourself? Kazem Skincare has an attractive introductory offer. For more information, please visit

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Discover Benelux | Attraction of the Month | Belgium

AT T R A C T I O N O F T H E M O N T H , B E L G I U M

Weaving a tale of a thousand years Drawing in thousands of interested visitors each year, the young MOU museum is weaving its way into the history of Oudenaarde on the river Schelde, around 25km south of Ghent. With storytelling and tapestries at its core, MOU presents the history of this accomplished town of weavers, now little over 1,000 years old. TEXT: EMMIE COLLINGE | PHOTOS: MOU

With its illustrious 16th century tapestry trade to thank for its economic growth, Oudenaarde became a hotbed of creativity and craft. On the first floor of the late Gothic town hall, home to MOU – Museum of Oudenaarde and the Flemish Ardennes, 15 tapestries can be seen in their original glory. With some measuring 4 metres by 3 metres, they’re seamless examples of the true artisanal craft of weaving, for which the town is renowned. Curator Geertrui van Kerkhoven explains that the idea for today’s museum, which focuses on the town’s history, was born out of two distinctly local collections of wall tapestries and noble silverware. “The tapestry industry was really a high point in the town’s

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history,” she explains knowledgeably. “The 16th century was when it all happened here: the mass exports of expert tapestries caused the town to expand, and this town hall was built at the same time.” Oudenaarde’s past is brought to life on the ground floor of its historic town hall, interactively charting its growth over the past 1,000 years. After the 16th century boom, the 17th century was spent in a state of upheaval with religious wrangles and the respective defeats and conquests of the French and the Spanish. Souvenirs from local battles, notably the Battle of Oudenaarde in 1708, include swords, shields and even cannonballs.

Alongside the permanent collection, there is a lively programme of workshops and activities, for school classes, which ensure the museum is accessible and dynamic. Making the cultural past of Oudenaarde interesting for young and old alike posed a challenge for passionate historian Van Kerkhoven, but the museum never questioned the importance of the younger generation. “Even before the museum existed we were thinking about this. Once we opened we hired an educational specialist who devised some brilliant packages for various school groups,” she explains. Now with specific tours and tailor-made outings, the museum caters for toddlers and teenagers with ease. For younger visitors,

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Discover Benelux | Attraction of the Month | Belgium

the town’s tumultuous history is brought to life through MOUse, an interactive route through the museum led by a mouse. The tales of the town’s famous inhabitants are expertly woven into the museum’s collection. Beginning with Jan II van Pamele, the first well-documented Lord of Oudernaarde, a devilishly good-looking character (if we are to believe the modern photographer’s vision of this rogue) with a penchant for luxury, hunting and gambling, followed by Emperor Charles V’s illegitimate daughter Margaret of Parma, the daughter of a lowly Oudenaardse maid whose fate was dictated by the booming textile trade of the 16th century and marred by religious quarrels. The next character to shape the town came in the form of the exuberant painter Adriaan Brouwer, a contemporary of Rubens and Van Dijck. As Louis XIV followed in his quest for the Spanish throne, Oudenaarde admittedly thrived under French rule. While looking back is a picture of knights and lords, princes and princesses, what the future holds for the river town is predicted through Marilou; her fate as one of the town’s current residents can be predicted at the museum. Highlighting particular strengths in their collection (namely the tapestries and the silverware), important local themes (beer and cycling, to name but two), and a local slant on national and international themes, such as Oudenaarde’s experience during the First World War, is the role of Van Kerkhoven. Until November 2014, MOU is focusing on the outbreak of war, the town’s fate and how the population survived the four-year war in an exhibition entitled Oudenaarde: Town under siege. Van Kerkhoven’s enthusiasm for the town’s tapestry trade is palpable as she explains that the

ABOVE: Oudenaarde’s history is told through historical characters and its future through a current resident. OPPOSITE PAGE: Wall tapestries are well woven into Oudenaarde’s 1,000-year-old history.

following temporary exhibition will be dedicated to this technique. For 2017/2018, she remains tight-lipped but reveals that a prominent Oudenaardse painter will come into the limelight. In the two years since it has opened, MOU – the Museum of Oudenaarde and the Flemish Ardennes, has fully embedded itself in this picturesque town. Housed in the late Gothic town hall on the market square, the entertaining and engaging museum will pique your interest in further exploration of the town. After tackling the region’s na-

ture, heritage, cuisine and folklore through interactive displays, videos and audio, a stroll around the Market Square is obligatory. For those venturing further afield, Oudenaarde is the most sensible base for visiting the Flemish Ardennes. A haven for cycling fanatics given its close ties to the Tour of Flanders, the Flemish Ardennes are an undulating region of ancient cobbled hills, stone villages, intimate castles and windmills.

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Discover Benelux | Attraction of the Month | The Netherlands

In this house, Rembrandt perfected his distinct and intricate way of painting portraits, capturing his subject’s true character which was ground-breaking at the time.

AT T R A C T I O N O F T H E M O N T H , T H E N E T H E R L A N D S


For twenty years, Rembrandt van Rijn lived in a large, stately home in the heart of Amsterdam. This was where he etched, sketched and painted many of his masterpieces with their dramatic interaction of light and dark. In this house, now a museum, you can experience the exact way the master lived in the 17th century. You can even, quite literally, stand in Rembrandt’s shoes, in his former studio. “It’s very impressive to step into this room,” says Martijn Bosch, the Rembrandt House Museum marketing manager. “You can see the way the light falls, the famous northern light, which is reflected in many of his paintings.” A fact that many agree on, is that this is where he painted his most famous work, the Night Watch. Bosch continues: “The courtyard behind the house is exactly the

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width of the original piece. Experts think he must have painted it here, underneath a make-shift roof. It’s really extraordinary.” Despite being a commercially successful painter, Rembrandt struggled to sustain himself and was declared bankrupt in 1658. As he was forced to leave the house, an inventory list was created, documenting the contents of each room. “This document survived,” says Bosch. “With this, we have been able to replicate his home with authentic items. With almost complete certainty we can show the way he lived.” There is much more to the museum than that though; throughout the day, two demonstrations are held in the house. One illustrates how Rembrandt would grind his colour pigments and turn them into paint and another shows his innovative etching techniques using an antique printing press.

Upstairs, where the master would teach his many students, visitors can join a workshop and try their hand at etching their own copper plate. “All three activities are included in the ticket price and free for anyone to join. The workshop in particular is very popular and people get to take their print home,” Bosch adds. Next to Rembrandt’s old house, there is a new part of the museum where a great number of his etches are shown. “In total, Rembrandt made about 300 etchings, and we have 260 of those in the museum. We also have one of his paintings displayed in his living room and many others by his students and teacher,” he says. The Rembrandt House Museum is located in the Jodenbreestraat in Amsterdam and is open daily from 10am to 6pm.

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Discover Benelux | Hotel of the Month | The Netherlands

The 15th century church has been majestically restored to incorporate all modernities that any high-end hotel should possess.


A beacon of light for the city of Maastricht TEXT: EMMIE COLLINGE | PHOTOS: KRUISHERENHOTEL MAASTRICHT

Situated in Maastricht’s most picturesque square, Kruisherenhotel Maastricht has become a landmark of the region at the crossroads of history and design. Behind the spectacular historical façade, its contemporary interior and sun-capturing extensive lobby have caused audible gasps of delight from its guests for almost a decade. Now under the management of experienced hotelier Bastiaan Klomp, a Maastrichter born and bred, he explains how South Limburg’s revered hotel guru Camille Oostwegel spotted the original potential of the 15th century church and cloisters. With a reputation as a guardian of historical monuments, Oostwegel’s talent lies in renovating and restoring the grandeur of these once glorious buildings. With the Kruisherenhotel now successfully resurrected, Klomp recalls that the challenge lay in overcoming the building restric-

tions given its status as a monument. “As the church’s exterior was not to be touched, we decided to build around it, keeping it at the core of the hotel. Making the most of the extravagant cloister windows was our trump card as the light is our best asset,” explains Klomp proudly. Sun now streams in and the restaurant benefits from the huge church windows, with the sun falling onto your table in an almost god-given manner. Architects SATIJNplus bridged the gap seamlessly between heritage and modernity as they created spaces within the cloisters for the restaurant, library, exclusive wine bar and remarkable glass-walled wine cellar. Despite its designer credentials (by the internationally renowned interior designer Henk Vos and items of Le Corbusier, Philip Starck and the magnificent light installation by Ingo Maurer), the Kruisherenhotel has a luxurious and warm atmosphere. One-off commissioned design pieces adorn the hotel rooms

along with opulent beds designed by Henk Vos and Auping. “It’s important for us that the interior is welcoming,” explains Klomp. “Each hotel room has its own individual character with a piece of art and its own poem.” Visitors to Maastricht, says Klomp cheerfully, are encouraged to admire the architecture and take a moment’s break with coffee and cake in the inner courtyard. For business meetings, the hotel is ideally located and has three rooms for use. Weddings remain rather exclusive, but the hotel certainly has the romanticism to charm many a bride and groom. Alongside the succulent regional produce in the restaurant, diners can revel in live jazz every Thursday. The hotel can validly claim to possess some of the city’s best acoustics; the well-known André Rieu even recorded one of his albums there.

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Discover Benelux | Hotel of the Month | Luxembourg

A striking building and fantastic example of ecological luxury.


Work-and-play retreat in Luxembourg TEXT: BETTINA GUIRKINGER | PHOTOS: HOTEL L’ECLUSE

Surrounded by vineyards as far as the eye can see and bordered by the Moselle river on the east side, the hotel l’Ecluse offers its clients an exclusive get-away in the country’s most idyllic scenery just 20 minutes away from Luxembourg’s city centre. Located at the heart of Europe in a region famous for its wines, this family-run hotel is a pioneer in “Bleisure”, the combination of business and leisure for those working in the busy capital and seeking that holidayfeel. The proximity to the Moselle River inspired its boat-like glass structure, allowing for plenty of light to brighten its interior while overlooking the river and having a sneak-peek into neighbouring Germany. Privileging the use of strong and aesthetically pleasing materials like wood and cement, the simplistic yet modern ecological design makes use of soft tones of green to

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mant” has direct access to the large terrace with a view onto the Moselle.

embrace its large glass structure. This decor allows for a complete feeling of relaxation and the comfort of a home away from home – with furniture in natural hues and a view over the green hills of the region. The Hotel l’Ecluse is fully equipped to host a range of corporate events within its four conference rooms, hosting from 20 to 70 people comfortably and offering access to beamers, screens and flipcharts – all available on demand. The “Private Room” includes its own kitchen for wine or local delicacies tasting, while the “Salle Cré-

For a delight of the senses, the hotel’s Pier 29 international kitchen provides a wide choice of dishes, made with locally grown ingredients to gain some well-deserved energy after an afternoon resting by the natural pool or exercising at the golf practice. The wellness centre includes a sauna to relax after a long day and is accessible to the clients of the hotel at no extra cost. Priding itself on providing the holiday-feel within close reach of the city centre, the Hotel l’Ecluse’s impeccable attention to detail, its ability to adapt to its clients’ timetables and its relaxing environment in the heart of Luxembourg’s vineyards is what sets the hotel apart.

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Discover Benelux | See & Do | Museum of Meuse Medieval Heritage

The Mosan medieval heritage centre in Bouvignes brings the Middle Ages back to life.


With Europe’s future hotly debated it’s useful to step back and look at our past: the Museum of Meuse Medieval Heritage (MPMM) in Bouvignes offers food for thought – and some shiny treasures!

tory to life, and we explain the production side too. And from July to mid-September the church nearby has a complementary exhibition of ecclesiastical brassware to show another – grander – side.”

There’s history in the very fabric of the MPMM building, its bold baroque architecture and original name – The Spanish House – harking back to Spain’s dominion over the Low Countries: “And this building was constructed where another had been destroyed by invading French forces,” explains curator Claire-Marie Vandermensbrugghe.

Linking the museum with the rest of Bouvignes is important to the MPMM. Archaeological digs in the area 25 years ago revealed much about medieval life here, but just walking through the tiny town gives the visitor further insight – seeing the remaining fortifications, realising that most of the ancient ‘ladder’ street plan endures.

“Bouvignes is small now,” she continues: “But in the Middle Ages sited on the Meuse it played a vital role as a frontier town for the Count of Namur, between his lands and the Principality of Liege. The Meuse was central to the region’s politics, commerce and everyday life, and we use the river as the focus of its history, covering its course from Sedan to Maastricht, from France

though Wallonia to the Netherlands.” A large and detailed model communicates at a glance that course as a transport route, fortified frontier and resource. It’s the everyday life in medieval times that fascinates Claire-Marie more than the grand politics. An exhibition currently running in the museum showcases the craft of ‘dinanderie’, brass working, for which the area was famous: “There’s a wealth of household objects to see, like candlesticks and pots, things that bring domestic his-

“The museum and its displays, the autoguides in various languages and the mystery game for younger visitors all give a clear idea of those times,” says ClaireMarie: “But the atmosphere they can feel in our beautiful old building and around the town adds another level to the experience.”

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Discover Benelux | See & Do | Brewery & Distillery Wilderen

Brewery & Distillery Wilderen A magical place where brewing and distilling comes back to life TEXT: BREWERY & DISTILLERY WILDEREN | MAIN PHOTO: MARC SOURBRON | PHOTOS: LEJON TITS

At Brewery & Distillery Wilderen it’s all about contrasts, unmistakable in its tastes and visible in the architecture. Combining a distillery from 1890, a 17th-century half-timbered farmhouse, currently used as a brewpub, alongside a hyper-modern brewery and distillery from 2011, this authentic combination is what makes Wilderen’s story as unique as it is today. It was back in 2007 when Mike Janssen and Roniek Van Bree first laid eyes on the run-down old distillery in the small Belgian village of Wilderen. Immediately struck by its potential, they embarked on an adventure to renovate the ruins – a feat they’d performed successfully in the past. On 9th July 2011, they opened a brand new brewery and distillery in the restored buildings. The brewery rapidly garnered critical acclaim within the world of brewing. Last

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year, more than 100,000 visitors found their way to the region’s most hidden terrace. Brewery & Distillery Wilderen proudly offers a unique collection of four beers and unique liquor each served in their own now iconic glasses. “We try to brew to everybody’s taste. With two blonde beers, Wilderen Goud and Kanunnik Triple, a cherry beer, Wilderen Kriek and a dark beer, the Cuvée Clarisse, which was launched in November 2013, we try to satisfy more than 95% of the population,” explains founder Mike Janssen. A wonderful symbiosis between brewing and distilling is shown in an almost romantic mother-daughter story. The distillery master, Roland Vanderlinden, carefully distils the Eau-de-Bière of the Kanunnik Triple. It is an eau-de-vie of superior quality with the sweetness of the alcohol and the lovely spices used while brewing the Kanunnik triple.

Enriching the product line of Brewery & Distillery Wilderen is the Double You ‘W’ Gin, introduced in November 2013. A herbal bouquet with 21 spices and a distinctive taste perception as complex as an angel and a devil on your shoulder, it is the product of an irresistible selection of herbs and designed to lead you astray. This summer heralds the birth of the Wilderen Whisky Single Malt. After three years in the making, they are very excited to launch the 3rd Belgian Single Malt at the Wilderen Whisky Weekend. An international whisky festival on the 23rd and 24th August 2014 at the Brewery and Distillery Wilderen, it’s an all-in-one weekend with about 500 Single Malts and plenty of entertainment to pleasantly surprise bon vivants and liquor connoisseurs alike.

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Discover Benelux | See & Do | The boat lifts of Hainaut

The Walloon region has long relied on water transport. Visitors can explore the boat lifts from the water or within, at their leisure or on guided tours.

V O I E S D ’ E A U D U H A I N A U T:

The boat lifts of Hainaut TEXT: PHIL GALE | PRESS PHOTOS

Standing proud against the organic canvas of the open green countryside of South-western Belgium is a collection of several dramatic feats of engineering. With all three structures within a 25km radius of each other, the Voies d’Eau du Hainaut is a non-profit organisation that offers not only a unique look into Belgium’s culture but also houses the facilities for much more entertainment. These monuments to the modern age are not signs of wealth or power, but rival the view of any castle or palace. They are simply additions to the vast canal network found in the area, but with the difference that they allow boats to climb. “This region is close to France and Germany so traditionally has always been important as a trade route,” Dominique Mailleux, Head of Commercial Services at Hainaut Cultural Tourism explains. “Our three main attractions: the collection of boat lifts, the slop-

ing lock of Ronquières, a moving lock on a railway, and the giant boat lift (or Kabellift) of Strépy-Thieu are of huge interest and importance to the region.” For Mailleux, water’s importance to the region cannot be undervalued: “These three main attractions remind everyone in the area of the importance of these strips of water.” The notion of visiting operating industrial areas may not instantly appeal to all but with tours of each one, exhibitions and also function rooms available for hire, these remarkable structures do allow you a unique insight into our modern times. Mailleux continues: “Our most popular tour is the “Un Bateau, une vie”, an exhibition told by a child about the interesting life that people who live on the boats that pass through the area lead. It gives a great perspective into this nomadic life and really appeals to the whole family.” This parcours-spectacle is found at Ronquières. With the 4 boat lifts,

the earliest addition to the canals, and belonging to the region of Wallonia, registered as a UNESCO site, you soon realise their historical importance. Few attractions can validly claim to be simultaneously functional and fascinating, but South West Belgium’s boat lifts are not a regular attraction. With function rooms on boats or even inside the imposing structures, you’re unlikely to find more stimulating venues for private or corporate events. The region’s fluid history and the inner workings of these water-aiding constructions can be explored on guided tours and at your leisure, while exhibitions spark a torrent of interest in this water-based exploration.

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Discover Benelux | Special Theme | Corporate Social Responsibility

ABOVE: Saskia Pepping, Manager at CSR Tourism Network. LEFT: Sawadee Reizen is one MVO’s network of sustainable holiday providers. Wells grey clear water lake pictured. Photo: Judith Vos

S P E C I A L T H E M E : C O R P O R AT E S O C I A L R E S P O N S I B I L I T Y

Carefree travels? Care for people and planet! TEXT: SASKIA PEPPING, MANAGER CSR TOURISM NETWORK | PRESS PHOTOS

Whether your holiday or your business trip is sustainable is probably not your first thought when booking your travels, but the impact on people and planet shouldn’t be underestimated. Whether it’s a business trip or that well deserved holiday break, it is time to rethink our travel choices and our behavior in holiday destinations. It is becoming more and more apparent that frequent journeys aren’t doing those beautiful holiday destinations any good.

ence call instead of a business trip. If booking a flight is unavoidable, then remember to compensate the emissions.

Only a little less… But even modest travelling harms the environment. More and more hotels encourage you to use your towels for longer, or help to prevent food wastage – so go easy on the buffet. Travel companies can do their bit too; check, for example, the website of the Green Key-label or Travelife certificate for eco-friendly accommodation and travel organisations.

Less CO2 emissions The sustainability of your trip depends a lot on the transport you use: travelling by car or by airplane, the most popular modes of transport, causes air pollution. Transatlantic flights, in particular, emit a huge amount of CO2, which is held responsible for rapid climate change. Consider somewhere closer to home perhaps; within Europe you can reach many destinations by train, enjoying beautiful European landscapes along the way. Or plan a confer-

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Cooperation between companies is key to becoming a more sustainable business. Sustainability issues cannot often be solved by one company alone. That's why the Dutch organisation MVO Nederland (CSR Netherlands) unites businesses to inspire each other and share knowledge. Within the CSR Tourism Network, where parties like tour operators, educational institutions, non-governmental organizations and government join forces to ensure that we can still offer healthy and happy holidays in 20 years.

Adapt and relax Healthy business More and more entrepreneurs recognise sustainability’s importance in business. Embedding sustainability in your company policies makes your company healthier and boosts future opportunities. If you don’t take sustainability serious nowadays your future might be bleak. Like Darwin said: "It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that’s most adaptable to change."

To protect all those lovely beaches, beautiful coral reefs, unique jungles and local cultures and communities, act responsibly. Sitting back in your beach chair and enjoying that cold beer or delicious cocktail in a careless way, will feel better once you’ve shown your caring nature.

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Discover Benelux | Special Theme | Corporate Social Responsibility

LEFT: Springtij is an intensive three-day programme of workshops and discussions on sustainability. Photo: Stephanie Verbeek. TOP MIDDLE: Seinwezen is home to Jannemieke van Dieren and satisfies her demands on sustainability. Photo: Edwin Walvisch. MIDDLE: SolaRoad – as of November 2014 you’ll be able to cycle over a section of road surface which will double as a solar panel. Photo: Bibi Veth. TOP RIGHT: Dopper Cool Blue trilogy. RIGHT: GroeneStrand at Springtij. Photo: Stephanie Verbeek.

Feet in the sand, wind in your hair Creating a sustainable future can be fun TEXT: JANNEMIEKE VAN DIEREN | TRANSLATION: EMMIE COLLINGE | PHOTOS: PRESS PHOTOS

The world is in transition. Our linear systems and models have ceased to work. Alongside a network of sustainability thinkers and doers, freelance communication expert Jannemieke van Dieren is working towards a sustainable future. Her favourite project? The Springtij Forum on the island of Terschelling.

of passing ships. This forum is meant for those who want to be present at the tipping points of change and who have the guts to act. Join this prestigious leadership forum and share its inspiring sunsets and dawns. Enjoy the magic of human en-

The combination of these features as well as the opportunity to collaborate and gain new insights in such a unique setting is what renders Springtij such an unmissable convention. In the words of Springtij ambassador Volkert Engelsman from Eosta: “Springtij provides the space to navigate on the lights of the stars and not only on those

SUSTAINABILITY TIPS Three sustainable initiatives from Haarlem and the province of North Holland


The Springtij Forum is a congress on sustainability, corporate responsibility and innovation. Now in its fifth year, 350 leaders in sustainable thinking will attend an intensive 3-day programme on this spectacular island. Expect top national and international speakers, workshops and masterclasses, excursions, music and a real taste of island culture.

counter, prototype the future, where there is a will there is a D-Tour.”

Springtij Forum Running from 25-28 September on Terschelling, keynote speakers include Hans Alders, Herman Wijffels, Willemijn Verloop and Ruud Koornstra amongst others.

Sustainable greetings from Haarlem Based in Haarlem, even Jannemieke’s workplace is sustainable: the Seinwezen. A piece of industrial heritage from 1914, it can be found next to the railway in Haarlem. Seinwezen Beheer bought the premises in 2011 and renovated the building, increasing its sustainability and protecting its industrial heritage. Today, it’s an inspirational place to work, socialise and hold events or meetings.

A unique innovation: the road surface as a solar panel. As of November 2014 we’ll be able to cycle over a section of SolaRoad in Zaanstad.

Soupalicious In September a fantastic new restaurant opens: Soupalicious. It’ll combine organic produce, employment opportunities for the disadvantaged, urban farming in disused office buildings and will increase social cohesion within Amsterdam.

Dopper Invented by Haarlem resident Merijn Everaarts, Dopper is the perfect reusable water bottle: durable, beautiful and free of BPA. Produced with a net zero carbon footprint, you’ll reduce plastic waste at home while it contributes to Nepalese drinking water projects.

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meet bobble, a stylish reusable bottle that filters water as you drink. a very smart way to make every drop of water you drink tastier. when water passes through the ingenious carbon filter, e.g. chlorine is removed from ordinary tap water. bobble makes water taste better, crisp and clean! bobble is a beautiful alternative to single-serve plastic water bottles, which harm the earth and your wallet. each replaceable bobble filter equates to 300 single-serve bottles. when using your bobble you alone will avoid that thousands of single serve bottles will hit the environment, simply by filtering the water from your tap. bobble is BPA free, and free of Phthalates and PVC. drink up!


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consumers and businesses have found their way to bobble and not surprisingly quite often using it for sport, lifestyle and health purposes. due to the fact that bobble brings style, breaths sustainability and encourages health and wellness. so if you are curious what bobble could do for your business just ask julian @ for our special bobble offer for businesses and Feel Good Clubs today. we will also send a free bobble to the first 250 respondents who can start to experience the bobble magic right away.

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Discover Benelux | Special Theme | Corporate Social Responsibility

Technology, innovation and social responsibility With more than 400,000 employees, and customers in 170 countries, IBM is one of the world leaders in technology and innovation. Not only does IBM help clients get smarter in a world that has become increasingly connected, but they also contribute to society by providing opportunities for employees to contribute to the charities they love the most, and complementing those contributions with companion funds. TEXT: BERTHE VAN DEN HURK | PHOTOS: IBM

IBM encourages their employees to take responsibility and give back to their communities – and the best way to do that is by giving away what they have: knowledge and experience. Whether it is for a museum, a community centre, or a school, IBM-ers engage in skills-based services in a variety of ways. During IBM’s Centennial Celebration of Service in 2011, IBM-ers around the world volunteered for more than 3.2 million hours of service. The use of their knowledge and experience in other ways is not only beneficial for society, but also for their employees and the company itself.

Giving hope to others while helping our own One of IBM’s best examples is the man who founded ‘Semmy Foundation’. After losing his five-year old son Semmy to a rare and aggressive brain tumour – a type of cancer so rare that the research is too expensive for pharmaceutical companies, because of an insufficient opportunity to earn back their investments, Semmy’s father, a Dutch IBM employee, established Semmy Foundation to raise money for research. In support of their employee and his foundation, IBM colleagues participate annually in organising and running events to raise money, as part of IBM’s commitment to service. More specifically, marketing department colleagues have contributed their expertise and services by maintaining the Dutch and English websites of the foun-

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IBM’s World Community Grid addresses the challenge caused by cancer by aggregating the unused computing power of millions of desktop and mobile devices into a “virtual supercomputer” for no-cost humanitarian research.

dation, assisting with auctions, and developing and maintaining the foundation’s Facebook page.

Workshops While global demand for IT professionals continues to grow, interest in technical studies among Dutch students has declined dramatically. For IBM, it is vital that young people understand what a career in science could offer them. It is vital because the world needs future IT professionals as

everything around us has an IT component and the world of IT is developing rapidly every day. That’s why IBM supports employees who organise information technology workshops at area schools or on the IBM campus. These workshops show the children what it means to work in IT, and how IT can help solve the global issues. By showing children what is possible in this world, IBM aims to help them make informed decisions about their studies and career choices. When young people dis-

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Discover Benelux | Special Theme | Corporate Social Responsibility

IBM encourages its employees to give back, by offering support, mentoring, and practical skills to society.

cover that a career in IT can involve working to improve public health, tackling world hunger issues or improving education, they realise that there’s far more to this work than they may have initially thought. The opportunity to interact with adults active in the IT branch gives young people an invaluable insight into the profession and the chance to develop a better informed outlook for their future.

World Community Grid In our time-hungry society, we all struggle to fit everything in around our daily lives and

IBM understands that some people really have no time to give away. Therefore, they came up with a solution: let employees give away the capacity of their computers or phones for important scientific research. Humanitarian researchers seeking answers to everything from curing cancer and AIDS to developing sustainable energy sources often lack access to the massive computing resources required for their work. IBM World Community Grid is addressing this challenge head on by aggregating the unused computing power of millions of desktop and mobile devices into a “virtual su-

percomputer” for no-cost humanitarian research. The results have been significant. For example, one cancer research team used World Community Grid to cut its research time by 66 per cent. Nearly all IBMers donate their unused compute time to World Community Grid, and the programme is open to the public worldwide.

What are the advantages for IBM to give away time, knowledge, experience and technology? That is simple; the world of technology and innovation changes rapidly. For IBM it is very important to keep their employees happy and flexible. By visiting other companies, organisations or foundations, IBM employees will notice that what they have ‘at home’ is comfortable. This way, they also stay flexible and innovative. For more information about IBM: For more information about Semmy foundation:

The brain power of IBM employees can be put to good use in the fight against HIV.

For more information about the World Community Grid:

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Head Offfice - Square Ambiorix 28, 1000 Brussels - T. +32 (0)2 743 51 11 - F. +32 (0)2 743 51 12

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Discover Benelux | Business | Columns

What communicates? TEXT: JOSIAH FISK | PHOTOS: COURTESY OF JOSIAH FISK When you boil down a country’s identity, what do you get? Hint: it depends on who’s doing the boiling. Someday when you’re feeling light-hearted, thick-skinned and in need of a geography quiz, you might enjoy taking a look at The site’s creator, London-based designer Yanko Tsvetkov, has been having fun for the past five years creating satirical maps. In his “Mapping Stereotypes” project, each country is labelled not with its name but with how a certain group or individual allegedly sees that country. As it says, this is about stereotypes, which is why it’s not for the thin-skinned (or the prudish, for that matter). But for the rest of us, it can provide not only some guilty-pleasure laughs but also a fascinating, if not vaguely horrifying, look at what happens when one group boils another down to a single idea. Take Tsvetkov’s map “Europe According to Luxembourg”, commissioned by Der Spiegel. The UK is labelled “Gentlemen”, Switzerland is “Boarding Schools”

and Germany is “Smartasses” (so much for not biting the hand that feeds you). After that, the knife starts to cut a bit deeper. Portugal is “Seasonal Workers”, France is “Liberty, Equality, Arrogance” and Norway, Sweden and Finland are collapsed into one zone labelled “Cool Mythology, Boring Culture”. The map goes a lot further with most other countries, though here in this magazine I won’t. It’s fun to see how widely the stereotypes vary as the viewpoint changes. In a map of the UK’s views, for instance, Western Europe is the “Evil Federated Empire of Europe”, while to Greece it’s the “Union of Stingy Workaholics”. Russia is, variously, “Gas Vault” (Germany), “Napoleon’s Dream” (France), “Married Priests” (Spain), or “Men Shorter Than Me” (Silvio Berlusconi). What makes Tsvetkov’s project an example of brilliant communication is that it forces us to see how

stereotypes say more about the people who hold them than the people they are aimed at — while taking the sting out of the entire concept of the stereotype through the use of humour. Josiah Fisk The maps also remind us of another important truth about communication: you’re always sending a message. Not only that, but you can never fully know or control what it says. That’s up to the listener. The best you can do is to try to improve the odds, and hope that true communication, that rare and miraculous thing, will actually occur.

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

Why can’t English speakers speak English? TEXT: STEVE FLINDERS | PRESS PHOTO

My job is to support people who need skills for working internationally, from language to leadership. And when I’m working with clients whose native language is not English, here are two of the commonest calls for help: “I’ve worked hard on my English and when I’m in an international meeting, I can understand the French guy and the Greek woman and the Korean (or whatever) but I have real problems understanding the Brit, and as for the guy from Texas, I have absolutely no idea what he’s saying!” “There are people from all over the world in this project group so why is it that the Brits do all the talking?” Many NNSs (non-native speakers) invest a lot of time, money and effort in improving their language competence when often the responsibility for failures in international business communication lies with the English native speakers (NSs), who make no such effort. So here are a few observations and recommendations designed to shame NSs into action and to make NNSs feel more empowered: 1: Since the British and Irish are at the bottom of the EU language learning league, NSs are quite

likely to be monolingual. Many have little idea how difficult it can be to communicate effectively in a foreign language. Monolinguals have not learnt the strategies that foreign language speakers use to ensure that messages get across. 2: If a NS tells you s/he doesn’t need a foreign language because everyone speaks English now, remind them that often enough the language of business is the language of the client. (And do monolingualism and a narrower cultural view go together?) 3: Through lack of confidence, NNSs allow NSs to dominate in meetings even when NSs are outnumbered. This shouldn’t happen. More communication goes on nowadays in English among NNSs than between NSs and NNSs, and there are more non-native speakers of English in the world today than NSs. English is no longer NS property. My own ‘standard British’ dialect of English is spoken by maybe 10 million people today, a small minority within the global community of English speakers. Next month, I’ll look at what I think NNSs have a right to demand from NSs in order for successful communication to take place.

Steve Flinders is a freelance trainer, consultant, writer and coach who helps people develop their communication skills for working internationally. He’s also a member of the steering group of Coaching York which aspires to make York the coaching capital of the UK (

Steve Flinders

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Discover Benelux | Business | ING

Your Private Bank in Luxembourg Why Luxembourg? In a fast changing political, fiscal and economic environment, the stability of a country is extremely important. And the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg is a low risk country, with a stable political, fiscal and social system. It is also one of the few countries that Moody’s has granted an Aaa rating with a stable perspective. TEXT: FRÉDÉRIC COUSIN | PRESS PHOTOS

Luxembourg is Europe’s largest investment fund centre and the world’s second largest, after the US. Expertise, technology, infrastructure, regulations – these have all been developed over the years with the goal of positioning Luxembourg as one of the most attractive international financial centres. Private banking represents an important pillar of Luxembourg’s financial sector. Unique vehicles for financial engineering have been developed here in order to service international clients with cross-border assets. For that purpose, Luxembourg was one of the first countries to implement a legal and regulatory framework especially for family offices activities. Discretion and professionalism are positioned at the heart of our well-known culture in Luxembourg and represent the cornerstone in building a solid relationship with Private Banking clients.

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Private Banking at ING Luxembourg Unlike other Private Banks, ING Luxembourg offers services that go much further than mere portfolio management; services that integrate the concept of asset structuring – moveable assets, of course, but also property – and may even incorporate artistic assets in a more comprehensive approach. ING Luxembourg has a natural international approach and grants you access to almost all of the markets in the world and lets you use the currencies that are most convenient for you or your interests. Moreover, choosing a universal bank that is part of an international group gives you access to all the products you and your family need as well as allowing you leverage on a global network. Another advantage of ING Luxembourg is its extensive loan expertise. Our private

banking clients benefit from tailor-made lending products in order to precisely meet all of their requirements, whether it be for liquidity purposes for an investment, the acquisition of their dream home on the French Riviera or financing the acquisition of a yacht. You think Luxembourg is too far? Combining the strong development of new technologies and its history of data protection, ING Luxembourg provides its clientele with new tools and state-of-the-art reporting tools and online solutions.

For further information, please visit or contact us by email at

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Discover Benelux | Business | Benelux Buiness Calendar

Benelux Business Calendar TEXT: EMMIE COLLINGE

To fill the gaping hole left by the overwhelmingly successful International Festival for Business 2014, we’ve cast our net wider and scanned Europe for events which could rouse your curiosity. FORMEX 13 – 16 August 2014 Stockholmsmässan, Stockholm, Sweden Nordic design’s largest interior design fair with 850 exhibitors, 25,000 national and international visitors and over 800 media representatives. This is the opportunity for Benelux suppliers to source the latest in Scandinavian interior trends in the areas of gifts, home textiles and furnishings. It’ll be wise to pay heed to next season’s trends, which will be presented at the expo: Soft Nordic, Wild Wood, Dark Fragrance and Raw Rustic Junction. EUROBIKE 27-30 August 2014, Friedrichshafen, Germany An important event for the global bike sector, Eurobike brings together thousands of exhibitors, who present hundreds of world premier pieces. With Chancellor Angela Merkel attending the show last year, it’s apparent just how vital this industry is to Europe. 2013 saw

based trade fair for gardens, spoga+gafa, is a key event for this industry. Focusing on garden living, care and creation, the spectrum of exhibitors couldn’t be more diverse and the accompanying programme of events is equally enticing for green-fingered enthusiasts.

Formex. Photo: Stockholmsmässan

in total 1,280 exhibitors from 54 countries present an impressive international selection in 14 exhibition halls, accompanied by about 300 world premieres. TENDENCE 30th Aug 2014, Messe Frankfurt, Frankfurt, Germany Revolving around the mid to high-end market segment of home interiors and giftware, this annual August event is crucial to international traders with regards to the profitable Christmas trade and the prospects for the coming spring and summer season. SPOGA+GAFA 31st Aug 2014, Cologne, Germany Given the Benelux’s rich fauna and flora, the Cologne-

UKTI MASTERCLASSES Run by UKTI, these masterclasses in international trade are vital for those British businesses looking to expand overseas. A thorough understanding of the foreign market isn’t enough; the technical know-how of website optimization, online sales and e-commerce will help to boost your business. Booking in advance required. E-COMMERCE FOR INTERNATIONAL TRADE 19 August 2014 Hallmark Hotel Hull, Hull, UK RESEARCHING OVERSEAS MARKETS 20 August 2014 Holiday Inn Guildford, Guildford, UK A course designed to give you the tools to conduct your own research, enabling you to benefit to the maximum from an overseas market.


Luxembourg was as always not represented at this year’s Football World Cup. But that doesn’t mean that we are indifferent towards this major sports event; the great thing is that we get to pick the team(s) that we want to support during the tournament. And when our number one choice gets eliminated, we can just go and select another one. “So, who are you supporting this year?” is a frequent question that you find people ask one another. As almost half of Luxembourg’s population consists of foreign nationalities, it is common to see all kinds of fanaticism displayed during the football month: people running around carrying flags; decorating their cars and their home, and wearing the shirt of their favourite team. We have many Portuguese inhabitants and when their team wins a match (which, as

you can imagine, is not that uncommon), you can be sure that the streets will be filled with honking horns and blaring music. Non-Portuguese friends of mine who live in heavily populated Portugese areas are following their games closely – prepared to potentially spend a sleepless night when Portugal plays. When they lost in their first game against Germany, the streets were super quiet and without knowing the final score, anyone could have guessed what had happened.

Most bars and restaurants show the games on TV screens. On one of the main squares in Luxembourg City, Place Guillaume, there is a giant screen for public viewing. That’s where I watched the Final. Despite not being a huge football fan, it’s fun to hang out with friends, enjoying the atmosphere with a couple of drinks and making the most of the warm weather. It’s also an interesting time because, depending on the progress of the tournament, ‘enemies’ can turn into friends, surprising bonds are created and vice versa. Luxembourgers don’t put all their eggs into one basket. We go with the flow and by the time the Final comes around, we will have decided who to cheer for and we will celebrate the night regardless of the outcome. That’s the beauty of it. Anouk K. was born in Seoul and shortly afterwards adopted by Luxembourg parents. She has been documenting her life and travels on her lifestyle blog since 2012

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Discover Benelux | Culture | Out & About

OUT & ABOUT To our absolute delight, summer doesn’t look like it’s going to end any time soon so there’s still time to dine, wine, dance and prance. We’ve compiled a list that spans the whole of the Benelux and collected all the coolest events, festivals and shows so that you don’t have to. TEXT: EMMIE COLLINGE | PRESS PHOTOS

Summer days can be well spent pottering around flea markets, eating ice creams and enjoying a cold beer or you could grasp the opportunity to travel to the far-flung corners of the region, Groningen in the North of the Netherlands is particularly appealing and don’t get us started on how tempted we are to while away our days in scenic southern Luxembourg. What’s more, we’re especially taken by the return of Ghent’s Dok, a disused space on the river that becomes a hive of activity each summer. With DOKMarkt every Sunday in August, this’ll be the place to find the coolest vintage gems.

Welcome Aboard 12 March – 31 August 2014 Museum of Bags & Purses, Amsterdam, the Netherlands While roll-ons are the norm today – and the

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Discover Benelux | Culture | Out & About bane of the poor air stewards’ existence given their bulky nature – what did we use 200 years ago to lug all our worldly possession around in? From trunks heaved up and onto horse-drawn carriages, to today’s ultra-lightweight cases, and not forgetting Louis Vuitton’s luxury luggage sets, this Amsterdam museum has a stunning variety on display, but the exhibition ends this month so you’d better get packing.

CONGÉS ANNULÉS 1 – 31 August Exit07, Luxembourg Luxembourg’s premier hipster spot CarréRotondes once again has organised an August to remember. For the 6th time, the month-long festival boasts a dreamy line-up of djs, bands, films and exhibitions, as well as record fair and much more. Alongside the evening entertainment, there’s the accompanying OFF programme, which makes early evenings pass by in a haze of ambient live DJs and a casual aperitif. See the website for the full line-up.

Street A(rt)nimation 9 and 10 August Luxembourg City, Luxembourg Now in its 20th year, this street theatre festival has 25 international companies on its line-up with over 105 free shows in some of the capital’s coolest areas. With stilt walkers, acrobats, jugglers, dancers, comedians and jesters, what could be a better soundtrack to a weekend break in Luxembourg?

Brussels Flower Carpet 14 August Brussels, Belgium Leaving us speechless every year, the Grand Place is transformed into a horticultural delight for eyes and ears. Coming to life on the 14th August, with 10pm marking the grand unveiling, the next three days can be spent ooh-ing and aah-ing over the ‘carpet’.

Bathtub Regatta 15 August Dinant, Belgium If being Adolphe Sax’s hometown isn’t enough, Dinant – one of Wallonia’s cutest towns – gets an added dose of cuteness with its completely crazy Bathtub Regatta. Exactly as you’d never expect, over 25,000 people descend on this riverside town to watch the procession of homemade boats racing down the river Meuse.

Canal Festival 15 – 24 August 2014 Amsterdam, the Netherlands If you are planning to visit Amsterdam in summertime, make sure you catch the magnificent Grachtenfestival (Canal Festival) from 15 to 24 August 2014. For ten days the historic city centre of Amsterdam will play host to many classical music concerts at some of the city’s coolest locations. With newcomers playing alongside established acts, this festival, now in its 16th year, is not one to be missed.

Opera in the Garden 20 – 24 August Museum van Loon, Amsterdam, the Netherlands What could be a more fitting location for such a grand evening’s entertainment than the Museum van Loon’s splendid gardens? With operatic sound waves reverberating around the canal house’s grounds, outdoor summer concerts don’t come much more special than this. This year’s opera is focussed on Vom Fischer und seiner Frau, an opera by Swiss composer Othmar Schoeck (1886-1957).

Shell Belgian Grand Prix 22, 23, 24 August Spa, Belgium

Marking an annual highlight in the Formula 1 calendar, this August sees Spa-Francorchamps’s famous racetrack welcome the world’s top drivers. Top corners to keep an eye on are Eau Rouge and Pouhon.

The Feast of the Artists 23 and 24 August Chassepierre, Belgium Street theatre is taken to new levels in this small Belgian town. As one of the most important events for street performers, Chassepierre has been running for 41 years already and its popularity just keeps growing. Expect every single metre of space in this idyllic village to be taken over by national and international performers of the highest calibre, while the village’s 200 inhabitants do their utmost to ensure you’re given a warm welcome.

Scene sur Sambre 29 – 31 August Abbaye D’Aulne-Thuin, Belgium All aboard for this floating festival on the river Sambre. Flowing through northern France and Belgium’s Wallonia, the river Sambre gets a welcome floating stage, playing host to the resounding echoes of rock, electro and pop music for three days.

SAX200 All year MIM, Brussels, Belgium Celebrating 200 years of Adolphe Sax, the Musical Instruments Museum is dedicating their entire fourth floor to the man from Dinant and his creation. Focusing on 'Sax, the inventor', 'Sax, the entrepreneur', 'Sax himself' and 'Sax after Sax', this year-long exhibition’s appeal is as widespread as Sax’s own inventions.

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Discover Benelux | Columns | States of Art




The Dutch Golden Age TEXT: MATT ANTONIAK

It was a magical meeting of minds when the Dutch led the world in economics, science and art. Widely considered the main basis on which the modern-day Netherlands is founded, the Dutch Golden Age left a far-reaching legacy that has maintained a strong influence on the art of the present day. The 17th century saw a preposterous amount of talented painters spring from the Netherlands, each bringing with them a unique style and a distinct change in subject matter. On the back of the patronage of the ever-increasing Dutch middle-class, religious and historical subjects were waved goodbye to, and still life, landscape and Genre painting were welcomed with open arms. In the process the names Vermeer, Steen, and Rembrandt became household names. Now they hold iconic status, and the documenting of everyday life that Genre painting pro-

moted has become a pillar of contemporary art. Such is the influence and significance of this time that it continues to inspire new works today. Painters such as Tjalf Sparnaay and Johannes Eerdmans rely on the Golden Age in the own work, and Colin Firth and Scarlet Johansson famously took to the screen in (a dubious) homage to Vermeer’s Girl With a Pearl Earring. Although it may not stand the test of time as well as the original, it shows just how relevant still the Golden Age is – over four hundred years later. It was a miraculous period, and one that may never be seen again.

Self-Portrait by Rembrandt van Rijn with Beret and Turned-Up Collar (1659), National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. Photo: Wikimedia Commons © CC-PD-Mark

Thoughts on travelling in the city TEXT & PHOTO: SILVIA DE VRIES

Travelling is wonderful, but you’ve got to return home some day. Even though I always relish sleeping in my own bed again, I have trouble adjusting to the everyday life in Amsterdam after a trip abroad. Recently I travelled to Cuba and later on, to Paris. These two trips to two totally different cultures left me feeling out of sorts once back in Amsterdam. One day, while sipping a latte in a neighbourhood café, I glanced at the tourists enjoying a holiday in the city I call home. That’s when it hit me, to make the transition from travelling to everyday life smoother, I could just travel the world within the borders of Amsterdam. Later that day I enjoyed a cup of coffee and a Finnish cinnamon bun. The following day I had breakfast at a French bakery, and ate Vietnamese for lunch. Last night, my friends and I ate Peking duck in the heart

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of touristy Amsterdam, followed by Italian gelato for dessert. I will always love travelling, and my travel wish list remains long. Easing back into everyday life by travelling around the culi-

nary world within Amsterdam is the best way to do so – at least for me. So while I will stay put in my beloved city for now, I can travel from Scandinavia to the Mediterranean, Asia and beyond in the blink of an eye and at any given time.

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Discover Benelux | Feature | The Golden Age

In the seventeenth century it was a tradition for young men to carry a young woman in the sea to cool her down. Often carried unwillingly, it was the 17th century version of roughhousing.


For many visitors to Amsterdam, when getting off the train at Centraal Station the olfactories is filled with the sweet smell of marijuana. Not just culture vultures, Amsterdam is a mecca for experimental young people. Similarly, the generation of young men who grew up in the Dutch Golden Age, between 1600 and 1620, weren't much different. They were the first generation of youngsters in Dutch history to grow up during the economic and cultural heyday of the seventeenth century. They were the golden decades of the Golden Age. Holland was the richest country in the world. Its trade expanded to the far reaches of the globe and generated an unprecedented wealth. The country experienced a cultural and intellectual zenith with Rembrandt, P.C. Hooft and Vondel. In that period Amsterdam was a boomtown comparable to Shanghai today. Many young people from neighbouring countries such as the Southern Netherlands (Belgium) and Germany sought a better future in the Dutch Re-

public where they could find jobs, have religious freedom, and could build a future. The presence of so many young people also had its downside. When young people had leisure time, they often spent their time drinking, playing cards, and sometimes resorted to violence. Municipal authorities had trouble maintaining law and order. Unlike young people today, youngsters in the seventeenth century were not afraid of physical violence. Students, for example, were allowed to carry a pistol and young men from the lower classes were often armed with sticks, bats,

and pocketknives. It was not uncommon for fights to break out between young men, sometimes with fatalities. The root cause of a lot of violence was alcohol. Young people started drinking beer and wine from an early age because safe drinking water was not always readily available. Before coffee and tea were introduced, beer was one of the safest drinks. Young people had to learn how to drink with moderation. The youth of the Golden Age also had to learn to smoke in moderation. They were the first generation that became addicted to smoking tobacco with a pipe. For them, tobacco gave them a nicotine high. It was considered the drug of young people. Parents protested their teenagers' new addiction, but 50 years later, everybody was smoking. Foreigners complained that the country stunk like tobacco. Seks, Drugs en Rock ’n’ Roll in de Gouden Eeuw (Amsterdam University Press 2014) Sex and Drugs before Rock ‘n’ Roll. Youth Culture and Masculinity during Holland's Golden Age (Amsterdam University Press, 2012)

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Discover Benelux | Feature | The World Cup

Seven things we have learnt about the Benelux during the World Cup After the drama of Brazil with its tears and cheers, here is a tongue-in-cheek look back at seven things that we've learned from that nail-biting championship. TEXT: HARUN OSMANOVIC | PHOTO: DREAMSTIME

1. The Red Devil’s World Cup muse

4. Prince Harry scores for Belgium!

The game between Russia and the Belgian Red Devils saw far more attention paid to one young lady in the stands than the 22 men on the pitch. The reason? The pretty face of Axelle Despiegelaere from Tournai. Suddenly an overnight star across the globe, she reached over 200,000 Facebook followers and bagged a L’Oreal contract to boot. But, to everyone’s dismay, the illusion has already been shattered thanks to an inopportune hunting photograph that has bobbed its evil way to the surface. Oh well, for two weeks she can claim to have had the World Cup’s prettiest smile that entranced fans from Korea to Dubai.

In the second round game against the USA, as Belgium took the lead in extra time, it was time for the Internet to wake up and take some notice of who’d just scored the goal. Wait a sec, was it Kevin De Bruyne or Prince Harry who just helped the Red Devils advance?

2. Persieing is a thing [to do a Persie] Some 43 minutes and 22 seconds had gone in the game between the Netherlands and Spain when the unfortunately named Daley Blind sent a thirty-metre diagonal to Van Persie. Robin van Persie ran 15 metres before leaping to meet the ball in mid-air, granting the world one of the most graceful goals in World Cup history. This Flying Dutchman thus invented Persieing, involving a run, a leap and a face-first landing on the pitch.

3. Funny how falling feels like flying Van Persie was not the only Dutchman to fly, as indeed, Robben got some air of his own in the last few seconds of the game against Mexico. ‘Fatefully wounded’ by the Mexican defence, Robben dived onto the ground, winning a penalty that was the Netherlands’ ticket to the quarterfinals. Proving once again that the louder you cry, the more they listen.

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5. Flash Robben In the Netherlands’s first game against Spain we witnessed the gazelle-esque Arjen Robben sprint at the remarkable speed of 37km/h as he breezed past Sergio Ramos to score. To put it in perspective: that gives you a time of 9.72 for 100m, the seventh best time in history – a time wor-

thy of the silver medal in the 2012 London Olympics.

6. Ooops After the Oranjes won against Mexico, the twitter account of the Dutch airline KLM sent a tweet saying “Adios Amigos” with a picture giving directions to the departures hub. What a cheek – although we have to admit it’s pretty funny. All’s well that ends well I suppose.

7. Where were Luxembourg? Enough said. There’s always 2018.

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Discover Benelux | Columns | Shallow Man

The Shallow Man gives up TEXT: SIMON WOOLCOT | PRESS PHOTO

Being polite and considerate in Amsterdam is sure to get you labelled as a stupid foreigner. My inburgering into the ways of Amsterdam society is complete. From today onwards I’m going to behave like a typical Amsterdammer.

for forty-five minutes, what’s the problem? The hazard lights are on. You’ll be right back!

MUST take place on the pavement, the road has suddenly become far too dangerous.

5. Exercise is overrated

8. Take your man eating cross between a Pit Bull and a Siberian panther to parks

Mobile phone contracts also cost a fortune, so why not beep the horn several times to get your friend’s attention? It’s seven am, so what?

HOW TO FIT IN 1. Cycle at night without lights Do this and then holler at any cars that almost hit you. 2. React to the chronic shortage of bins in Amsterdam Throw your litter on the pavement. You have to walk at least three or four minutes to find a bin, why bother? 3. Buy the biggest buggy you can find Then start leaving the bloody thing where people can trip over it and break their necks. Shake your head and give evil looks to people in cafes that ask you to move your buggy. 4. Double park your car in the street You’re only visiting your friends/family/lover etc

6.You’ve had a great night out with your girlfriends While cycling home at four am, shout loudly about what a great time you’ve had. Take shortcuts through quiet streets and make sure the entire neighbourhood knows that you finally got Jeroen’s telephone number while his girlfriend went to the loo.

Let the aggressive beast run free near children and runners. If anyone expresses their concerns about this, shrug your shoulders and say “if you’re afraid of dogs don’t run in the park.” To be even more asocial, tie your dog in front of the local supermarket and watch as people decide to go shopping elsewhere, rather than risk being mauled.

7. The journey to the bike stand is a hazardous one So you’ve ridden ten kilometers from the office to home, along roads and bike paths, but the last two minutes of the journey

For more of the Shallow’s Man Guide to Amsterdam see @Expatshallowman

How to avoid embarrassing moments with Luxembourgers TEXT: LIZ WENGER | PHOTO: PHILIP WENGER

It can be quite awkward when you greet a woman in Luxembourg and you start with the wrong cheek for kisses ending up on each other’s noses. Avoid it if you can! Here are some other face-saving facts you should know about Luxembourgish etiquette.

atory as in North America. Not tipping is a sign that you were not happy with the quality of food or service you received. Waiters and waitresses are paid a wage, tips (usually between 5% and 10%) are a bonus.

Punctuality Don’t be late for business meetings or private dinners and call ahead if you’re more than five minutes late. Otherwise people tend to question your overall character.

Personality People are polite but quite reserved and modest, at least initially. Boasting about achievements or exaggerating claims is considered rude. People will say what they mean but rather subtly and prudently. People are frank but not very direct.

Greetings If you are meeting someone new or if you are in a business environment, the most common greeting is a handshake. Once you get to know someone on a private level, it is customary to exchange three kisses on the cheeks. Some people only give two kisses but the standard seems to be three. Kisses are given amongst women or between women and men but not amongst just men. Start the kisses on the right cheek of the person you’re meeting so that your right cheek and their right cheek touch, which

brings me to the next point: don’t actually kiss their cheek, touch their cheek with your cheek and kiss the air. Appointments Appointments are necessary at least two weeks in advance, in business and in private. It is not common to drop by someone’s house unannounced. If you do, chances are you will make your host feel unprepared and uncomfortable. Tipping If you are having dinner or drinks at bars, cafés and restaurants, tipping is customary but not as oblig-

Establishing relationships Luxembourgers are a cautious people. This is true in business and in private where developing relationships is slow. Be patient, trust is established over time and not necessarily a given.

Liz Wenger is a certified Luxembourgish teacher, writer and founder of, a website focusing on teaching Luxembourgish to English speakers of the world. Join her on twitter @LearnLuxembourg to start learning Luxembourgish today.

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