Eindhoven, capital of Dutch design

Jeroen Apers, Wednesday, 16 October 2013

It was the Philips family’s drive for innovation that put the quiet village of Eindhoven on the map. Philips was one of the first companies to mass produce the light bulb. Many years later they were incredibly successful with both the cassette tape and the compact disc. Having established itself through innovative design, it is hardly a surprise that Eindhoven boasted the first Design Academy in Holland. This educational institute, which evolved out of an old design school, produced many world-famous designers.

One of them is Maarten Baas who just recently became famous with his ‘Smoke’ graduation project in which he literally burnt design classics and then preserved them in a clear epoxy coating. His controversial furniture is currently hip, hot and happening with a large fan base all over the world, including Brad Pitt. One of his latest projects is Real Time, a series of clocks in which video projections give the illusion that people inside the clock are manually moving the hands every minute.

Among the Academy’s 1990 graduates another student achieved world fame with his graduation project. Piet Hein Eek invented a revolutionary scrap wood cupboard. The idea to recycle old materials was rather innovative back in those days and was copied many times ever since. When in Eindhoven, be sure to visit his design factory on the outskirts of town where you can also directly buy his furniture.

The Dutch Design Week is one of the annual highlights in creative Eindhoven. In October this festival - which is largely free to attend - attracts more than 200,000 visitors. Throughout the week there are more than 300 venues where designers and artists showcase their latest work. The Witte Dame (White Lady), a former Philips light bulb factory in the centre of town, hosts the Graduation Show, for instance. Here you can admire the collections from the latest Design Academy talents, the design stars of the future.

One of the latest hotspots that warrants a visit during the Dutch Design Week is former factory site De Strijp. These former Philips buildings are now home to a number of contemporary design companies. During the Design Week, the site is turned into a lively festival area with great eateries, bars and exhibitions. Right in the middle you’ll find restaurant Radio Royaal which is also a great place for food and drinks when there’s no festival. In their own words: “wining and dining amidst 300m² of unpolished industrial design.”