With two extra days before our flight to Hong Kong, there was so much in the Netherlands we could have done. We could have seen Girl with a Pearl Earring in the Hague, or Delta Works, one of the seven modern wonders of the world. Instead, we decided to check out another major Dutch contribution to the world: Dutch Design. We did this in Eindhoven because they were hosting Dutch Design Week at the time.
Eindhoven, the design capital of the Netherlands and one of the design capitals of the entire world, is actually almost 800 years old. However, the entire city was destroyed in WWII (partially depicted in Band of Brothers), resulting in a rebuilt city that appears almost brand new.
Its not just Amsterdam, Eindhoven is also obsessed with bicycles. I’m guessing the rest of the Netherlands is as well.
Despite being off the tourist path, Eindhoven had another one of the best Airbnbs on our trip. We had an entire loft in a newly-remodeled everything-brand-new house, complete with laundry and a full kitchen, all for $45 per night. Our host even let us ride her bicycle when we went grocery shopping; this was probably the most Dutch experience we had in the Netherlands!
Dutch Design Week, the premiere design expo in the Netherlands, is held annually in Eindhoven and is part of the city’s goal to become the design capital of the country. Dutch Design, most commonly found in product design, is renowned for its elegant and unique aesthetics, commonly employing minimalist, quirky, and humorous designs in innovative and experimental ways. The style reminded me of IKEA and Apple, two of the most successful product design companies in the US.
Much of 2016’s Dutch Design Week was dedicated to solving the refugee housing crisis. Pictured above is one of the most innovative designs we saw: stackable/connectable rooms, allowing homeowners to assemble a house with the rooms they want in the layout they want, all for extremely cheap. And if this weren’t enough, each room is self-sustaining, meaning the same rooms that can be connected to make huge houses can also function on their own, resulting in small homes for people in need, like the homeless or refugees.
Another potential housing crisis solution is tiny houses, a movement that has actually seen quite a bit of popularity in the US.
A third potential housing crisis solution: adapting shipping containers to home and commercial use. Later on our trip, when Inna and I visited Christchurch, we stopped by an entire shopping mall built out of old shipping containers.
Dutch Design Week also featured some weird stuff. Like this exhibit, which imagined an economy governed by need and importance rather than supply and demand. This world was so fantastical, so science-fiction-y (as an example, every tree had a built-in computer, each one of which was linked through an underground wired root-like structure) that to me the exhibit was satire more than anything. To me, this exhibit illustrated why, despite its flaws, supply and demand is the best way to govern the economy of the modern world.
Speaking of weird stuff, there was this exhibit, one of the weirdest things I’ve ever seen…
I’ll spare you the weirdest exhibits (for example: purposely unattractive full-frontal nudity) and simply show you these: a giant pillow-bed (for orgies?) and a whale-rib looking contraption whose purpose I do not know, although it may have been for partners to recreate thrusting motions without actually touching each other.
And then there was this exhibit, a dark room with a bunch of projected figures crawling up the walls. This room completely stumped us, what the heck is this supposed to mean?
Finally, not part of Design Week but we are still in the Netherlands, here are some of my personal favorite Dutch designs.
Eindhoven was an interesting city, very modern and functional, but if it weren’t for Design Week it would have been super-boring. Because of WWII there’s nothing historic, and the city doesn’t even have tributes to its history or memorials to those lost. Also, outside of Dutch Design, Eindhoven doesn’t offer much in the way of art or culture. But Design Week was fun and we were happy we visited, and now its time for some super-excitement, for we’re heading east now, halfway around the world, to Hong Kong!