Amsterdam is the financial and cultural capital of the Netherlands. A skyline that boasts of a variety of architectural styles spanning hundreds of years; charming gingerbread houses each with a unique gable design, lined side-by-side flank the streets as do steel and glass skyscrapers.
Any time can be the best time to visit Amsterdam. The peak of the tourist season is July and August, when the weather is the finest. Over the years Amsterdam has managed to elbow itself into place as one of the most style-conscious cities of the world.
The city has a lot to see, its museum district oozes history and heritage while the Red Light District flashes its fluorescent ‘show’ windows and bars – Amsterdam is a veritable collage of contrasts. Beyond these images lies the Amsterdam that is a feast of innovative design.
A FASHION ‘STAY’ TMENT
Considering Amsterdam’s increasing stature as a city with style, ‘The Exchange’ hotel could not have found a more appropriate home. Here, architecture meets fashion and how! All 61 rooms of the hotel have been designed by the fourth year students of Amsterdam Fashion Institute (AMFI).
The brief was simple – treat the room as you would a fashion model…clothe it. And that’s what the students did, taking inspiration from Marie Antoinette to epaulettes to the costumes of the fairytale, ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’. The rooms in the hotel range from 1-star to 5-star depending on the size but irrespective of the size each room has been styled to make heads turn. But, modern fashion is not all about style, it is also about practicality and the young designers have kept this in mind; the ‘garments’ of each room are easy to remove and maintain.
Taking its marriage to fashion one step further, four rooms of the hotel have been left absolutely bare…with just a sewing machine, supplying the tools should inspiration strike a visiting designer. Considering the theme of this hotel, it is appropriate that it be located on Damrak Street often referred to as ‘The Red Carpet’, being the main street of Amsterdam and leading from the station into the city.
The name of the hotel though has no connection to the fashion theme. It has been named thus in honour of the architectural marvel across the road from it, the Amsterdam Stock Exchange. Its restaurant ‘Stock’ and a charming boutique ‘Options’ has names inspired by the stock exchange nomenclature. The boutique is the smallest departmental store in all of Netherlands and retails fashion and interior articles crafted by designers from across the globe.
At De Kaas, when the menu says Garden Fresh Salad…it literally means just that, fresh and straight out of the surrounding gardens! The restaurant is housed within a restored greenhouse whose glass roof floods the restaurant with sunlight through the day and at night duplicates an al fresco dining experience.
The Amsterdam Central Public Library was designed to be more than just a library, it was visualised to serve as a cultural centre.
The cafe and restaurant ensure that visitors spend more time here browsing through books; the theatres and galleries help occupy them further. To top it all the large windows maximise the advantage of its location, which overlooks old
Amsterdam and the meandering canals.
SHOW AND SELL
Step into the brown brick building of the Droog store and it feels like tumbling down a rabbit hole and into Alice’s Wonderland. Innovative products for the home and office from top Dutch designers are part of its inventory. A designated area for exhibitions has transformed Droog from just a store to a premier design destination
The Dutch Design Double, held in September, is a month-long fest of exhibitions and events that covers a wide range of design disciplines from industrial design to architecture to jewellery.
Furniture, textiles, ceramic, tableware and other baubles and accessories designed by top-notch contemporary Dutch designers find space in the home-ware store The Frozen Fountain. Presented more like an elegantly designed home than a store, the Frozen Fountain is ideal to scout for a souvenir that represents Dutch design at its best.