The best journeys we make are those without expectations. That's the thought in my head as I make my way from Amsterdam's Schipol airport to my hotel. I am in Amsterdam for 'Open Minds India', a program organized by the BNO(Association of Dutch Designers known by its Dutch abbreviation), with the support of the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, that will look at greater collaboration between Indian and Dutch agencies in the area of design. I am the only journalist that's part of this Design Mission to the Dutch city and I am here to absorb, observe and write my thoughts through the next six days.
The Dutch pride themselves on their sense of design, their city's planning and its architecture. As my host Peter Kirsten of the BNO makes his way through the deserted roads, he jokes that here, you make way for the bicycles first, then cars and then the trams. And after all that, he adds as an afterthought, you need to watch out for the police cars in Amsterdam that sometimes use the tram lanes.
We pass a well known bank on our way to the hotel. Peter likes the building, another designer doesn't. He explains why, "It tries too hard to stand out. That's the problem with architecture nowadays. The buildings may be beautiful but they don't take their surrounding environment into account and tend to stay isolated into themselves. " Rotterdam, he tells me, is proof of this in abundance. I have that inked into my plan for the next week so rest assured I shall see so for myself.
The day ends with a boat ride on the city's famous canals alongwith the rest of the contingent and my hosts Peter Kirsten and Rita van Hattum of the BNO. They are joined by Eva from the City of Amsterdam who gives a short speech about attracting interest from entrepreneurial talent looking at building their businesses in the city. Incidentally, there is an India festival taking place in the city right now that includes art, music and theatre activities. This study mission to the Netherlands has been in the process for the last few years and has finally come into fruition now.
Over the next few days, I am going to be meeting product designers, creative shop owners, editorial design agencies, visual merchandising agencies, branding agencies and see how they work. Back to back. The BNO has issued us a program for the next one week and everyday is chock a block with appointments with different Dutch design/ communications agency. The trip, I am told, will be worth braving the cold for.