by Dieneke Ferguson
I had read some very interesting reviews about the Dutch Design Week so in 2014 I decided that it was time to visit the Dutch Design Week in Eindhoven combining it with a visit to my brother.
History of Eindhoven
Eindhoven is not big so it was very easy to walk around or take a quick bus. I hadn’t been really to Eindhoven before so it was a real pleasure to discover Eindhoven’s unique character that makes it so suitable as a base for the Dutch Design Week. The city has maintained its rural character whilst at the same time being a base for industry. It has an internationally important industrial heritage, which is built around a unique brand as ‘The City of Light’.
The origin and success is due a small glass factory that opened in 1891 and then in 1895 the family company Philips started to focus on the manufacture of incandescent bulbs. By the end of the 19th Century Philips employed over 1000 people and was one of the largest industrial employers in the country.
Subsequently Eindhoven rapidly grew from a predominantly farming area into a powerful industrial region in which technology played a central role. Fast economic growth followed and after the Second World War the DAF auto manufacturer propelled the city’s economic growth even more. This growth is evident in the city’s appearance with buildings and factories of the 1920s and 1930s alternating with contemporary office buildings for service companies and modern high-tech companies.
From 1937-1939 the Dutch modernist architect Dudok built the Witte Dorp (White Village) which currently is a designated conservation area.
Dutch Design Week
The Dutch Design week started in 2003 as a non-commercial fair where design, industry and business could talk to each other on “neutral” ground. Since then it has grown rapidly and has attracted more than 250,000 visitors in 2013.
The Strijp is one of the key areas of the Dutch Design Week. It was a main industrial area at the west fringes of the city. Here Anton Philips had his first factory built 1916, which provided Philips with glass. A cardboard factory followed, a gasworks factory and a physics laboratory (NatLab), for the research of new technologies. With many of the production and supply chains moving to Asia, empty industrial complexes were left behind. And it is now one of the main regeneration areas in Eindhoven using the creative sector to implement change.
Many of the empty industrial complexes, largely Philips factories were used a for creative exhibitions or have become home for the creative community. Many of these have studied in the Design Academy Eindhoven and in recent years haven’t moved elsewhere after graduation but stayed in Eindhoven instead. This has included Piet Hein Eek.
The Klokkenhuis (Clock Building) was a Philite Factory, the Philips name for Bakelite and was built in 1929 by J.R. Bouten. Initially the Philips factory produced bakelite, Philips however called it Philite. The production of Philite was stopped in 1970.Bakalite is an early form of brittle plastic, typically dark brown, made from formaldehyde and phenol, used chiefly for electrical equipment.
The Klokgebouw was one of the main venues of the Dutch Design Week. The exhibits in 2014 were curated by Maarten Kolk and Guus Kusters which led to a great combination of work.
Piet Hein Eek
In 2010 Piet Hein Eek saved a piece of Industrial history from demolition by opening his 10,000 sq ft new studio and store complex in an ex Philips Factory in Eindhoven. Next to the factory is also the showroom and the restaurant. Piet Hein Eek has brought together under one roof all kinds of different activities. The workshops (wood, steel, upholstery, assembly, spraying and ceramics) form the beating heart of the building. They are surrounded by the offices, showroom, shop, gallery, restaurant, storage and packing, studios that are rented out and even an event room.
11 factory buildings,remainders of the past gas industries give the NRE Terrain its historical character. Located near the canal and on the fringes of the city centre. It is currently being redeveloped and there are plans to develop it in a creative living and working area.
A former military police barracks which was launched just before the Dutch Design Week 2014. It is an exhibition space, promotes collaborations and it has a restaurant.
The Exhibition is called Open Mind with over 40 designers including Maarten Baas.
This factory started as a factory for cotton and linen goods in 1851. The family acquired a steam engine in 1903 for 7 weaving machines.
Witte Dame (White Lady)
This building was built in 1928-31 by architect Dirk Roosenburg in the Nieuwe Zakelijkheid Style. The building was used by Philips for the production of gloeilampen and in 1953 it was painted white. It became vacant in the 80s when Philips relocated production to other countries. The building was renovated by Bert Dirrix in 1998. Amongst others it houses the Design Academy Eindhoven.
Design Academy Eindhoven
The Design Academy Eindhoven was established in 1947 and was originally named the Akademie Industriële Vormgeving Eindhoven. In 1997, the Academy moved into “De Witte Dame” (The White Lady) building and subsequently changed its name to Design Academy Eindhoven (DAE).
Their Graduation Show was on two floors of the White Lady (Witte Dame), previously the head office of Philips. Mindboggling and I spent far too less time here. Normally I see a selection of their work at the Milan Furniture Fair.