The other day I was thinking about when I first got interested in design. Not casually, but seriously, hardcore bitten by the design bug. I couldn’t think of an exact year. Was it in the Eighties when I was a teenager and decided to paint a white cabinet in my room in bright Memphis-like colors? Or when I first started buying these deliciously thick issues of Elle Decor Italia back in the 2000’s? The years go by so fast! One thing was very clear, though. Whenever I used to go to Amsterdam, I ran to the Droog Shop on Staalstraat as fast as my legs could carry me. And so when Droog asked me to write a three-part review about their one-of-a-kind location in the heart of the Dutch capital, I jumped at the opportunity. “Please be critical and honest”, they wrote, “because we know that your followers appreciate your opinion.” Well, okay then!
Eat. Drink. Shop. Think. You can do it all (and buy a kimono) at Hôtel Droog on Staalstraat 7B in Amsterdam. For more information, go to http://www.droog.com/.
Now, I have to say it’s pretty rare for a design afficionado like me to get such a request. Usually, when I get an invitation for an event, a brand or PR agency just wants the press to write a flattering review, mention the new collection and post the obligatory Instagram pic – with just the right hashtags of course. Not that there’s necessarily anything wrong with that. I normally only go to press events of brands that I appreciate anyway. But for Hôtel Droog to ask me to be critical and honest, is definitely worthy of praise. So here’s my review.
I was pissed off when I arrived at Droog Shop on a rainy afternoon in April. Pissed off because my favorite movie poster shop just across the street from Hôtel Droog had disappeared. Yup, the legendary Cine Qua Non has been replaced by a dime a dozen artisan bakery. In one of his final interviews, owner Eric Ipenburg observed that nowadays, people all want the same thing. “I always thought people were looking for unique items, but apparently that’s not the case.” An interesting statement, if you consider that right across Staalstraat, Droog Shop is still going strong after all these years. I’ve given it some thought and here’s what I’ve come up with.
You see, Droog Shop has something for everyone. If you’re a tourist with blue balls for Dutch Design, you could do worse than drop by Droog Shop and buy something that will both fit your budget and fit in your suitcase. The dish mop set you see below is my favorite example. Three almost Yves Klein blue foam balls (see?) and one holder designed by Droog co-founder Gijs Bakker make for the ultimate design souvenir. And it’s a steal at 6,75! I mean, who said that Dutch Design has to cost an arm and a leg? Certainly not me!
Suppose you’re not a tourist, though. Let’s say your a local. You have the dinero and you’re looking for that one item that is going to transform your home. An eyecatcher to catch all eyes. Droog Shop has you covered! The Do Hit chair, designed for Droog by Marijn van der Poll in 2000, will definitely break the ice every time you have people over. This chair starts out as a metal box that comes with a special hammer so that you can beat it into…well, whatever shape you choose it to be. Or how about the 1991 Chest of Drawers by Tejo Remy? It’s part of the collection of both MoMa and LACMA. From New York to LA – this chest is as famous as Patsy Gallant, y’all!
That being said, my dearest beloved Droog Shop, we need to talk. I have heaped loads of praise on you and I will keep doing so. You have been relevant for over thirty years and damnit, you have to stay relevant if you don’t want to end up like Cine Qua Non. Amsterdam doesn’t need another artisan bakery or – heaven forbid – one of those dreaded Nutella ice cream parlors. Here a couple of things I think you could do to stay ahead of the game.
1 – Update your lookbook
Hidden in the depths of the Droog.com website, I found a lookbook from 2014. Now, I realize that the world of design doesn’t move as fast as – let’s say – fashion, but it wouldn’t kill you to make a lookbook for this year. Doing so doesn’t have to break the bank. In fact, I think it would make for a kick-ass assignment for the students of the nearby Academie Artemis. You know I teach there, right? 😉
2 – Flaunt it!
You’ve got the goods, so why not flaunt them? Even incredible design needs more context than just a white space. In fact, I am positive that it would look a million times better. What would happen, for instance, if you use that amazing Rijksmuseum DNA wallpaper as the backdrop for that beautiful black credenza I saw in your store and then style it with some of your more shiny and luxurious items? Opulence is where it’s at when it comes to interior styling this year, so go for it!
3 – Bring in more young talent
It was great to see some very recent Dutch Design at Droog Shop, like Jelle Mastenbroek’s Money Socks. It would be even better if you showed more. Lots more. I’m sure dozens of upcoming Dutch designers would jump at the opportunity to be featured at Hôtel Droog, so why not turn yourself into a showcase for the very best contemporary design The Netherlands have to offer? There’s so much talent out there that I’m sure you could even do temporary exhibitions around different themes. So there!
What are your thoughts about Hôtel Droog and Droog Shop? Let me know what you think in the Facebook comment section! And don’t forget to Join me next week as I go upstairs for a visit to Café Droog!