Design, Designer talk, Travel, Current affairs, People A design for life

Welkom bij Amsterdam

by Thompson Brand Partners

It’s good to get out of the office, even when it’s one as lovely as The Old Stables. So, to refresh and inspire Team Thompson we took Open House on tour to Amsterdam to immerse ourselves in the unique design and cultural offerings of one of our favourite cities.

We met photographer Hugo Schuitemaker who told us the story of his De Waterland project to raise awareness of flood impacts in a huge area of the country, which was devastated by floods in 1916. And, we had a design tour of the city, taking in everything from the architecture to the avant garde shoe designs at www.unitednude.com.

Here are 16 top reasons Amsterdam is a great place to visit, in the words of the team.

  • Ian – Founder & Creative Director
    As a creative person, it’s vital to have constant access to unfamiliar things – they go in and they come out later. This is especially important with typography. It’s theoretically so restrictive that it’s hard to imagine what’s possible sometimes. A visit to the Pathé Tushinski Cinema and another to the Stedelijk Museum more or less sorted this out for me. It freed me up to do something a bit more mad – madness being a vital ingredient sometimes.

  • Ollie – Designer
    It’s hard not to sound clichéd, but the I left the Amsterdam trip full of inspiration… The massive lettering on top of the Botel, the shipping container art studios at NDSM, the abandoned trams and Crane Hotel, the individuality of the townhouse architecture, the Athenaeum Nieuwscentrum newsagents, the pieces in Droog, even the bikes… all of it just set the cogs whirring in my mind, thinking about which nuggets of inspiration could influence my work and life back home.

  • Jimmy – Designer
    Well worth the early start. Amsterdam is a lovely looking place and it looked even better in the sun, albeit very nippy. It was good to see new parts of Amsterdam, once we worked out the ferry system :-) The NDSM centre for artists has to be the highlight for me, followed by the cafe next door – for a second I thought Emma had led us into some dodgy looking ‘cafe’ in an abandoned shipping container – but it was like a trendy Tardis in there. All in all, a relaxing day in good company.

  • Leanne – Creative Content Designer
    Visiting the NDSM was really motivating – working together off their own backs, without waiting for permission from a local council, creatives have built a genuine, meaningful cultural hub. Groups should take the initiative to create things like this more often. It was great to experience this with like-minded people, too.

  • Daisy – Designer
    This might sound ridiculous but, I used the time in Amsterdam to ‘see’. To explain, I spend so much time involved with a screen, that so much of what I see isn’t there. So I kept my phone on flight mode, allowed my attention to be stolen and took pleasure in ‘seeing’. It was therapeutic, relaxing and much more memorable than Google or Instagram, so I’m going to start taking digital detoxes (outside of work hours of course) to remind myself how to really ’see’, and that the grass is not greener on a digital display.

  • Chris S – Digital Design Director
    Having never been to Amsterdam before my expectations were high. Dutch design is fantastic all-round… the museums, the architecture, the interior and product design. I wasn’t disappointed. The amount of culture packed into such a small city is awe-inspiring and I’ll certainly be visiting again. Being surrounded by so much visual stimulus coupled with spending the day with all our lovely Thompsonites gave me a totally fresh wave of positive creative energy.

  • Jake – Designer
    Meeting other people who work in creative industries always provides some really interesting insights into how and why people work. So it was fantastic to meet Hugo and find out about his practice and how being so focussed has such an impact of his photography.

  • Jamie – Motion Graphics
    With this being my first trip to Amsterdam, I thought I knew what to expect. I’d been told all about the seedier side of the city but knew little of how beautiful the place was. The city seemed so relaxed and slow paced and it was refreshing to see so many bicycles taking over the streets. I can’t wait to get back over there. Very different to what I imagined.

  • Joe – Digital Development
    Seeing the artists’ essentially self-made colony at NDSM was immediately inspiring, and set the tone for the whole trip. It wasn’t something I knew existed and I was very impressed by the skills and motivation of the artists there.

  • Nick – Managing Director
    Amsterdam is a design city. And, I saw a new side to it. To have creative outputs, we all need creative inputs, and Amsterdam is perfect for that. The trip inspired me to do what I can to build Thompson to be even better – for me, for my colleagues and for all our clients.

  • Chris K – Digital Director
    We had a tour of the city in the afternoon a small point but one which stuck with me, was how close the buildings are and split into apartments. Legend has it (according to our guide) years of living together and on top of each other, has taught the locals to be considerate and respectful of each other, hence the Dutch relaxed nature.

  • Liz – Account Manager
    I definitely saw a different side to Amsterdam on this visit. Taking the water ferry over to NDSM Wharf gave me a different perspective to what the city has to offer. It was also good to get an insight into what the culture’s like, how people live and go about their daily life. P.S. I also learnt how awful it would be to get lost in a European city you are unfamiliar with – and how important mobile phones can be!

  • Emma – Account Executive and Office Manager
    I love that the way of life in Amsterdam is reflected in every aspect of the city’s design & culture. The fashion is practical enough to ride a bike, but trendy enough to show-off people’s personality. We had lovely weather, cold but the sun showed off how beautiful Amsterdam is.

  • Kirsty – Content Development
    I loved the outside-the-box approach to problems that I saw everywhere. Like building the narrow houses, with their narrow stairs, leaning forward so you can pulley things up the outside. And embracing an artistic community squatting in a dockside warehouse, putting in utilities rather than clearing them out.

  • Paul – Account Manager
    Excitability, creativity and freedom of expression ooze from every crevice of super-cool districts like NDSM a reminder that environment and community are essential to creative culture and its practitioners. We need to create spaces with just that kind of vibe for our own creative industries (especially young start-ups) to feel empowered and inspired by.

  • Rachel – Account Manager
    Of course Amsterdam is beautiful, stuffed full of culture and all that other good stuff, but what I appreciated most was getting to spend some proper time with this lovely lot. Obviously, we see plenty of each other usually, but there’s nothing that’ll stick with you like seeing the bloodshot whites of the boys’ eyes as they neck an ice cold oyster on a hungover morning, nor the terror in Daisy’s eyes at our creepy roommates in the hostel, nor staying up late to pig out on goats cheese until 4am… Good times were had.

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