It already seems like a lifetime ago, but just the other week I bolted to Eindhoven, in the Netherlands, to work at Dutch Design Week, celebrate the opening of a new Shapeways factory and start to understand just what’s so cool about Dutch culture. It had been 10 years since I was first in the Netherlands and the last time it was there it was January. I liked the country then, but it seemed small, quiet, damp and cold, though the architecture was beautiful and I liked how bikeable everything was and the cozy bars and cafes everywhere. This time I felt like I actually got a sense of the dynamism of Dutch culture, as well as the opportunity to live a few days in the life of a resident of Eindhoven.
Why Eindhoven? Well, Shapeways, the 3D printing service and marketplace where I work, was started there. We were incubated by Phillips and then became our own, independent company. The headquarters of the company moved to NYC in 2010, but there’s still an office and factory in Eindhoven and the company’s Dutch side has kept growing – growing so much we outgrew our factory and moved to a bigger one! I went over not only to celebrate the opening of the new Shapeways factory but to help set up and staff our booth at Dutch Design Week, the annual showcase of all that’s new and innovative in Dutch design that takes over Klokgebouw, a huge former Phillips factory in the Strijp-S area of Eindhoven. You can read more about my time at Dutch Design Week and the opening of the new Shapeways factory in my entries on the Shapeways blog, but here I wanted to share a little more about what I managed to discover about Eindhoven in the few moments I could step away from work.
I’d barely stepped off the train when Ruud, my colleague and guide extraordinaire, whisked me away from the station and put me to work setting up our booth for DDW. After he showed me a place that would become my home away from home in Eindhoven: Onder de Leidingstraat. It’s an organic cafe and market that was conveniently located directly under my room in the Strijp-S area. Strijp-S is a former Phillips factory district that’s been remade into a community of loft apartments, design boutiques, start ups, coworking spaces, and cafes. It’s full of history as a location of Phillips’ inventions and innovations and still feels lively and fresh.
Speaking of fresh, so was all the food at Onder de Leidingstraat, as well as the decor. Salads, soups, sandwiches, juices and pastries all are made fresh (as well as heavenly carrot cake) and they were probably the only reason I managed to eat remotely healthy on my trip. The staff were nice and welcoming and by my third day there they were already telling me, “See you tomorrow!” when I would leave the cafe. Right next to Onder de Leidingstraat is another culinary marvel: Intelligentia Ice, an ice cream parlor with flavors like white chocolate and rose water. I got a cone with peanut butter and cinnamon flavored ice cream and sat in ice cream reverie while I ate it.
Other Dutch cuisine treats: bar snacks. Specifically, bitterballen. Bitterballen are deep friend balls of gravy that you dip in a mustard mayonnaise sauce. Seriously, what else would you want to eat while drinking beer?
Eindhoven itself is an interesting town. Besides a few churches and factory buildings it was leveled in World War II and most of the architecture is quite new, though the layout of the town is traditionally Dutch, arrange around a town center of market squares and pedestrian streets with ring roads extending out. I got a chance to sneak away from the intensity of the Dutch Design Week booth to wander around the town center and check out some of the intriguing shops. Let me just say this: Dutch shoes are amazing. I scored a pair of navy blue, heeled ankle boots. I also found a design and clothing store that offered minimal, dressed up clothes that seemed more mature than its oddly teenybopper name of Sissy Boy, where I procured a perfect grey sack-like dress (my favorite!) and a navy blazer made of out sweatshirt material (structured and comfortable!).
Ruud was the ultimate host. He’s also a DJ under the name Rudy Lime and manages to know everyone at every venue in town. We even managed to make a quick trip to Amsterdam (apparently too quick, as Ruud reported he got a speeding ticket on the way there) to catch some Deep House DJs performing as part of ADE, the annual electronic music festival in Amsterdam. I had no idea that DJs are one of the Netherlands biggest exports, but it was great to get a tiny taste of that scene. We also spent time chilling in Eindhoven at Cocktailbar Mundial, where Ruud also DJs regularly. As an aspiring cocktail connoisseur I was really happy with everything I had there.
Eindhoven also boasts great museums and other great places to eat and shop, but I was go, go, go the whole time, but I’m glad I got to experience just a little taste of what the Dutch call “gezellig” or a cozy, welcoming feel. I certainly felt welcomed and, in a sense, even at home, during my week there.
I also made a little set on Flickr to capture the non-work photos that I managed to take.