The potential of Dutch Design, witnessed across Europe

The potential of Dutch Design, witnessed across Europe

About circular project Council of the European Union

In the first six months of 2016, the Netherlands was responsible for holding the Presidency of the Council of the European Union. The EU member states held meetings at the Scheepvaartmuseum (Maritime museum) and the adjacent Marine Etablissement Amsterdam. From the reception area to the conference rooms and restaurants: Gispen took care of the interior design. Dutch design with the right balance of representability and effectivity. Optimal flexibility in use. 


Every six months the Presidency of the European Union is passed on to another member state. A large portion of the meetings will then take place in the country of its President. The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs selected the theme of ‘exploring’ for the interior design of its main meeting venue for the Dutch EU- Presidency. A theme which not only refers to the maritime setting of the venue and our heritage, but also to innovation and the groundbreaking aspects of Dutch design. Next to providing the right look and feel there was one more important requirement: the furniture had to be applicable in many different ways. 

A well-balanced entity

Gispen created the desired look and feel in collaboration with the architects from Studio Edward van Vliet. From the lounge to the conference rooms and restaurants. Halls of different proportions with different functions, including an auditorium with theatre chairs. Exclusively designed carpets by Moooi Carpets add warmth to the total picture. Bucket seats create a homely atmosphere. Efficiency and practicality was also demanded for, which shows in the sleek, white conference tables from Casala.


Dutch design

Eventually the result presented a well-thought out selection of brands and products, selected by means of trial installations in the Gispen Showroom. Full of Dutch design or design with an added Dutch touch. The Kartell chairs for instance, which are covered in fabric from the Dutch company Febrik– a striking detail: knitted instead of woven. The armchairs from Moroso, from Edward van Vliet’s Sushi Collection, are covered in the same fabric, which was exclusively designed for the Dutch EU-Presidency. 

Nederlandse touch

 De aftrap vormde een uitgekiende selectie van merken en producten, gekozen aan de hand van proefplaatsingen in de Gispen showroom. Veel Nederlands design óf design dat een Nederlandse touch kreeg. Zo zijn Kartell-stoelen voorzien van stof van het Nederlandse bedrijf Febrik – bijzonder detail: gebreid in plaats van geweven. Ook de fauteuils van Moroso, uit de Sushi Collectie van Edward van Vliet, zijn voorzien van dezelfde, speciaal voor het Nederlands EU-voorzitterschap ontwikkelde stof.

The client’s thoughts

‘The consultation areas are a good representation of the Netherlands’ top sectors. From design and upholstery to flower arrangement – we have much to offer in the Netherlands. Studio Edward van Vliet and Gispen added the right amount of so-called ‘Holland Branding’. This optimum environment for comfortable meetings is now provided with a subtle Dutch touch. And right from the start, Gispen attended every construction progress meeting. And when push came to shove, they delivered on time and assembled everything on the spot. A complex but successful operation.’

‘Gispen was fully involved, from construction progress meetings to the realisation phase. Design and function really went hand in hand'

Ester van Someren Project leader Hospitality & Design. Central Project management EU-Presidency, Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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Swift conversions

Given the many meetings taking place, maximum flexibility is essential. Rooms are converted and conference rooms are joined into one multiple times a day. The furniture needed to be easy to reassemble in a different setup. Therefore, all selected tables have foldable tops and are easy to move. Most chairs are stackable.




The architect’s thoughts

‘Gispen worked together with the architects from Studio Edward van Vliet. This is how they describe the end result: ‘The considerable use of shades of blue, the Dutch cloudscapes and unique patterns remind us of the proud  history of the building when it was still a naval base, and of the sea which connected us to the rest of the world.’ 

‘Typically Dutch in a temporary, international context’

Edward van Vliet Interior architect

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Temporary and unique

The Maritime museum in Amsterdam was also used as a temporary location for holding meetings. The central hall, a striking indoor area, formed the unique décor whenever such meetings occured. The museum was  temporarily provided with a conference setup with matching carpets from Moooi and AVL chairs from Lensvelt.  

Applied products