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Maaike Evers On Why Amsterdam Is The Best Design City In The World

For design lovers, a day in Amsterdam is worth a month in many other cities.

Maaike Evers On Why Amsterdam Is The Best Design City In The World
[Top Photo: Mihai-Bogdan Lazar via Shutterstock]

Welcome to Wanderlust, a weekly series on Co.Design where some of our favorite designers share their secret picks and insider tips for the best design cities on the planet. Today, Maiike Evers of San Francisco industrial design studio Mike and Maaike takes us to the Netherlands to explore the canals, cafés, and galleries of Amsterdam.

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What’s your favorite design city, and why?

It’s been a while since I’ve traveled to cities for their design offerings, but when I travel home I do make sure to stop by Amsterdam for a day or so. The reason I enjoy this annual visit is not only because Amsterdam is such a gezellige stad (friendly city) but also because Amsterdam is a hub where industry, craft, and commerce come together in a very experimental and provocative way, especially when it comes to design.

Where do you like to stay when you’re there?

I usually don’t stay overnight, but someone recommended the citizenM designer hotel when I was considering a visit before flying back to San Francisco the next morning. I really like their concept of removing all the stuffiness out of the hotel experience, and providing just the modern comfort you need on a fast stay.

CitizenM Flickr user Bert Kaufmann

Where do you like to eat?

My favorite would be to plan for a rijsttafel dinner at Tempo Doeloe on the Utrechtsestraat. It’s a meal that features many dishes with a variety of textures and flavors from Indonesia, mixed up with a touch of Dutch colonialism. During the winter season, poffertjes–or light, spongy pancakes served with powdered sugar and butter–are sold on the street and not to be missed.

Café de Jaren Flickr user Onno Kluyt

In Holland, afternoon breaks are just as important as dinner, so I make sure to have a coffee at Café de Jaren and have a late afternoon fluitje bier (small glass of beer) or Jonge Jenever (Dutch gin) in a bruin café (or pub) in the Jordaan district.

What design destinations do you visit?

On my recent trip I visited the Droog Store that is now combined with Hotel Droog. I very much enjoyed the Wasted Matter exhibition that was there at the time. I am always impressed with how Dutch designers take their explorations further: they are not afraid to experiment with materials, or try to address tough issues.

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Droog StoreJordanhill School Flickr

To see the latest in the furniture and accessories world, the Frozen Fountain is also usually on my agenda. This store predominantly sells contemporary design, but also sells classic design as well. It’s full of nifty yet functional examples of Dutch design, contrasted with more beautiful experiments.

Finally, I always try to make time to visit a small jewelry gallery called Galerie RA. It’s got the most fabulous contemporary jewelry collection.

Do you have any good tips for people going there interested in design?

Just walk around and let it all soak in. Upon arrival you might notice already the highly ordered urban planning, city and street graphics and posters.

I’d also tell you to look at the money, but sadly, the Guilder has been replaced by the Euro. It’s a shame, because the guilder banknotes had the most wonderful designs.