Dutch Design Week

Following up collaborations with design communities in Brooklyn and Los Angeles, four of Holland’s top design studios were brought together in Vancouver for the show’s third exchange program. Steven Banken, Ontwerpduo, Dirk Vander Kooij and Vantot formed the Dutch Exchange: Eindhovendelegation, and to bring them together under the roof of the Vancouver Convention Centre, local firm Burgers Architecture came aboard. Jumping feet first into the commission, Cedric and Mary Burgers booked a flight to the Netherlands to meet with the participants. The family’s Dutch roots made the project feel like a perfect fit, and the pair were anxious to explore the region in search of inspiration – which they quickly found.

On an afternoon bike trip they came across a quartet of archetypal white canal houses. The houses wrapped a tiny courtyard – an unexpected and alluring green space they learned is called a hofje. The search for inspiration ended there, and the design of the Dutch Exchange booth quickly came together. Each studio received its own “house” to showcase their work, and at the core of the space, an intimate den brings us back to British Columbia. The back of each house acts as a green wall, each representing a different theme with a variety of local foliage. Gro-Wall vertical planting systems, from Atlantis in Australia, are employed to host shade-loving ferns and Japanese forest grasses on one surface, and edibles such as blueberries and sage on another. The floral-heavy “beauty” wall and a water-themed collection of lilies and hyacinths complete the secret garden.Furnished with a trio of local maker Brent Comber’s Drum seats, sculpted from cracked logs of Western Red Cedar, the hofje formed an inviting escape from the show floor. “A lot of times at the shows, there’s no greenery, and no place to rest,” says Mary. “We wanted to provide a little escape.”

Throughout the show, visitors were seen sprawling out on the floor to stare up and admire the flora, kicking back on the
seats and taking off their shoes. A woman and her young infant even took over the space for a little break during the
show, says Cedric. “It was really satisfying to watch people actually going in and relaxing, using the space as it was intended.”

Erin Donnelly, Azure Magazine