With quick, direct flights from the UK, Eindhoven is a perfect destination for a long weekend away with a difference. An epicentre for young creative energies, Eindhoven feels like a city whose past heritage is being reimagined to ensure its future success.
To understand how Eindhoven became a creative magnet, it helps to know something of its history. The early foundations were born a 100 years ago when Gerard Philips and his father Frederik opened a small factory in the City, manufacturing the first mass-produced lightbulbs under the name ‘Philips’.
As the business became more popular a global Industrial Revolution too place and when they developed other products – Electric Razors, Vacuum Cleaners, Radios and Record players for sale, factories, warehouses and housing developments for the workers were constructed and the city blossomed up around a world leader in electrical innovation.
By the time the 1970’s had arrived the population of Eindhoven had grown to almost 200,000, however, there was a problems ahead. Eventually cheaper production costs in Hong Kong and Taiwan forced the company to gradually move production to the Far East. The company even controversially relocated their headquarters to Amsterdam and now in 2017, there are no Philips products made in Eindhoven at all.
Despite this, Phillip’s former heritage is still very strong in Eindhoven. The Philips logo is an ever-present on the landscape and while the vacuum (sorry) created by the exodus had a negative impact initially, the space it left behind created opportunities for the young people of Eindhoven to redefine the City.
With help from grants, many of the former factories have been converted into incredible and unique spaces; galleries, hotels, restaurants, bars and cafes, breathing new life into old.
If you fancy a more detailed insight into the heritage and innovation of a company that literally changed the world, The Philips Museum housed in the old factory where Philips made his first incandescent lamp, is a great place for enlightenment.
Emmasingel 31, 5611 AZ
Shopping – Dutch Design
If you’re not into museums, Eindhoven is an eclectic shopping delight, The Urban Shopper situated at Strijp-S – on the ground floor of the Anton building, is a former Philips factory. Inside are 20+ boutique shops selling everything from homeware to clothing, vintage stuff, to recycled gear and vinyl. Meanwhile Yksi Furniture, is an eclectic wonder selling jewellery, art and interior design accessories specialising in products from Dutch artists and brands. They also sell their own designs too and is well worth a browse.
Clothes – Dragster Jeans
Have you ever loved a pair of jeans so much that you just can’t live without them? Dragster Jeans is in the centre of Eindhoven and alongside their own range of awesome demin clothing and belts you can also visit and have a pair of jeans individually made to measure.
From dungarees to skinny fit to bell bottoms and everything in-between, there is a real craftsmanship in this family run business. Prices start from about €50 up to about €130 for a custom pair.
For more info visit
www.dragsterjeans.com Dragster Jeans BV, Nieuwe Emmasingel 32, 5611 AM Eindhoven
Furniture & Design – Piet Hein Eek
Located in another former Philips factory, the building contains a huge workshop, shop, art gallery and showroom and restaurant. Piet is a famous Dutch designer and his style and ethos is to create beautiful furniture that is handmade and simplistic, but that can also be mass produced. The huge showroom itself is an Aladdin’s cave of cool design – an Insta-grammers paradise, a place where the world of offcuts and recycling is taken to a whole new level. Not all of it is to my personal taste, but it does make you think what you could do with that old wardrobe in the garage.
You can really sense Piets love of the raw materials – the designs are simple, functional and logical, but natures beauty elevates some of them to iconic status. From the mezzanine you can explore room after room of unique furniture and look out across the factory at the production line.
If you’ve been to Ikea, you’ll know about their meatballs, however Piet Hein Eek do things with a little bit more sophistication and Dutch elegance. The cafe and restaurant across the way has such quirky charm and character to go with its amazing food, its worth the visit alone.
Open from 10am – 6 and 7.30 on Fridays
PRODUCTIE VAN PIET HEIN EEK B.V. Halvemaanstraat 30 5651 BP Eindhoven 040-2856610 (KANTOOR/WINKEL)
Coffee – Denf
Eindhoven has LOTS of places to grab a coffee, but if you’re looking for a place that has a real passion for it then go to ‘Denf’. The cafe is in a wonderful warehouse building with huge high ceilings and a chic, industrial decor. The owner imports the coffee beans from all over the world personally and roasts and grinds them on the premises.
The smell is amazing and the Thai coffee I had there was so smooth it was horizontal. An afternoon tea here with cake is a real treat I could get very used to. You can buy their own signature blend 801 to take away and the are looking at expanding to other cities in Holland soon.
Clausplein 4, White Lady Eindhoven
Food – Kazerne
This industrial exhibition space /restaurant was once an old fire station, but despite the high ceilings and large spaces it still feels so cosy and welcoming. There are many exhibitions and shows from local and International artists and when I visited I felt a wonderful, inspiring positive energy flowing through the building.
Kazerne will soon be expanding and a historic courtyard and buildings at the back is to be converted into a luxury boutique Hotel and a further ‘Michelin’ quality restaurant. The current food is Italian inspired, inventive and just how you imagine; responsibly sourced, beautifully cooked and artistically presented. The 3 course €35 menu is highly recommended.
Dutch Design Week
Today Eindhoven is an exciting city full of new ideas and along with Milan it’s now seen as the most important European city of design and innovation. There are many events throughout the year that cultivate this success further, including STRP Biennale (see pic below), but none are bigger than Dutch Design Week (21st-29th Oct).
It is the biggest design event in Northern Europe and each October Dutch Design Week attracts 295,000 visitors, 25000 designers and has happenings in hundreds of different locations across the city. The focus at Dutch Design Week is on experimentation, innovation and design of the future. Nowhere else does such emphasise and support go towards the work of young and upcoming designers and as a result many of the ideas are pretty revolutionary (some are completely crazy too). Finding the unexpected is a big part of what makes it such a fun and inspiring event.
Mondrian to Dutch Design – Hip to be Square
2017 is a hot year for design in Holland, it is 100 years since the birth of De Stijl, probably Hollands most important contribution to twentieth century culture. What started off as a magazine in Leiden evolved into a global icon of modernity. One of its founders was Piet Mondrian and it’s core elements were based on lines, squares and primary colours. The Dutch architect Gerrit Rietveld was famous for taking the concepts further into furniture and building design (see Exploring Around Eindhoven below).
All across Holland there are special events happening in celebration, for more info visit www.holland.com
Exploring around Eindhoven
If you have transport and fancy a day out of the city, here are a couple of places design fans will enjoy checking out.
The Textiel Museum
The Textiel Museum in Tilburg is 30mins by car North West of Eindhoven. It isn’t a dusty momento of the past, far from it. There are some incredible old working looms and machinery to see, but it is also home to many students and established textile experts developing groundbreaking weaving techniques alongside fashion houses working on their new fabrics. It is fascinating to watch the architects, designers and artists at work inside the TextielLab. OMA Architects, Jamie Hayon, Kustaa Saski and Viktor & Rolf are just some of the famous pioneers of fabric who have worked in the lab.
There is also a fantastic exhibition space featuring unusual fabric pieces and mixed media installations from artists from all over the world and there is also a very nice shop and cafe too!
Gerrit Rietveld in Bergeijk
For fans of the the influential Dutch Designer, Gerrit Rietveld the town of Bergeijk is a great place to visit as there are several opportunities to see his work. The Ploeg factory is the only industrial building he ever designed. www.deploeg.com the factory is open to visitors and in the reception area you’ll also see one of his iconic chairs (see instagram pic below).
The Bungalow Rietveld designed for the van Daalen family is just a few hundred yards away from the factory in a secluded woodland location. The Bungalow carries thorough Rietvel’s ‘square’ philosophy in both the exterior and interior design. Interesting too is the original furniture, somehow it feels both futuristic and retro at the same time. There are 2 further Rietveld designs to see in the town. On the main road is a large freestanding clock and just across from it is Reitveld’s bus shelter. Like great design pieces they fit beautifully in their surroundings I only wondered if the locals were aware of the pilgrimages made to see what to them are perhaps ordinary, everyday things.
Above Clockwise (Rietveld Bus Stop, The clock in Bergeijk, The Deploeg Factory, (A delicious Mondrian Cake from the factory), the interior of the van Daalen bungalow).
Where to Stay in Eindhoven – The Art Hotel
The Art Hotel occupies a special relationship with Eindhoven’s past as it is actually located within the famous Light Tower. Built in 1909 this was the very building where Philips first produced and tested their early lightbulbs. The building itself was revolutionary for the time as it was made from concrete and had very large windows to allow maximum light into the factory.
Now fabulously converted into a boutique style hotel, it’s a 10 mins walk from the railway station and right in the centre of the city. There are 230 rooms including an art jacuzzi room and an über cool New York style loft apartment. The decor is modernist chic – every room in the Hotel is different and the huge high ceilings and hard industrial concrete fuse with luxury Italian styling to wonderful effect. Downstairs, the large round bar is as popular with the locals and the friendly staff mix a range of Gin-tonic or local beer combinations late into the night. There is also a ‘proper’ restaurant (Brasserie Lumen) headed by renowned chef Stefan Been and for the strong-willed, chilled champagne for breakfast at the fabulous buffet.
If you want to really relax there is also a Turkish Steam room and Sauna, Haman Mess and treatment rooms for indulgence and pampering. It’s the perfect base from which to discover other reinvigorated buildings in the Eindhoven area and rooms start from just €100.
Art Hotel, Lichttoren 22, 5611 BJ
You can find direct flights from the UK to Eindhoven and Amsterdam is only just over an hour away by train. For more ideas on things to do in Eindhoven visit https://www.thisiseindhoven.com or @visitholland or www.holland.com