Eindhoven is a city in The Netherlands best known for its world-renowned high-tech design innovations, bringing about new concepts and possibilities. But, how do these innovations reflect on their restaurants and retailers?
I was invited by Visit Holland and Eindhoven City to explore the concepts immersed into the everyday culture in Eindhoven and uncover how these aid both local consumers and visitors to the city.
Read on to discover more about Eindhoven’s innovative restaurants and retailers as well as where to stay in Eindhoven.
Eindhoven: A city built on design & technology
In 1891 electrical company Philips was founded in Eindhoven, creating a new world of possibilities for Dutch design. My first glimpse of Eindhoven was stepping out of the train station to see the incredible design of the station, which looks like an old-fashioned Philips radio, complete with frequency display, speaker, antenna and dialling wheel.
The industrial area surrounding the Philips buildings became known as The Forbidden City, as scientists worked on highly classified projects, developing everything from medical equipment to creating the first radio player.
As a fan of Dutch DJs Tiesto, Martin Garrix and Hardwell (having seen their sets live at EDC, MK Bowl Milton Keynes) I was also interested to learn that Eindhoven is also the home of the original components used to form electronic music.
Philips is a brand celebrated throughout the city of Eindhoven, with even a football stadium honoured in the brand’s name. Whilst the brand may no longer be developing products in Eindhoven, the city has continued to evolve, bringing about innovative art spaces for local designers, fresh ideas to the hospitality industry and a personalised shopping experience to keep consumers shopping locally.
Shopping in Eindhoven
Away from the commercial brands known throughout Europe, many of the local brands in Eindhoven proudly create garments to be worn in the Dutch market, creating designs local consumers will love and retail spaces where it is not uncommon for shoppers to enjoy a beer or a coffee whilst they browse the rails.
The former ceramic workshop for Philips is now occupied by designer Piet Hien Eek. I got to visit the high street store, where I learned the brand proudly use 70% sustainable materials, using eco cotton, recycled plastic; aiding the environment as well as making comfortable clothing for consumers. Such materials are used to create one of designer Piet Hien Eek’s specialities, salvaged dry denim; a popular product sold throughout The Netherlands.
I was pleased to see concept stores similar to the ones I loved during my press visit to The Hague and Den Bosch. Including my favourite from my recent trip to Haarlem, Sissyboy, which has a flagship store located in the iconic Blob building.
These concept stores, generally involve a number of small independent retailers coming together to invest in a retail space to provide a variety of items for shoppers to browse. This is an affordable avenue for startup businesses to bring their retail ideas to life by renting an area of a store to work together in a collaborative way.
The former Forbidden City, known as Strijp-S, is an urban landscape holding a skate park and a number of concept retailers and eateries.
Urban Shopper, in particular, hosts 20 retailers under one roof. This unique space occupies the former Anton Building, part of the Philips factory hall and now contains a world of goods: from trinkets, books, Moroccan lamps, clothes, bikes and artwork.
As we browsed inside Urban Shopper, outside a group of locals were partaking in a street art class, creating their own graffiti style designs on paper. Evidence that the city, once ingrained in more traditional methods of design is now embracing modern aspects of art and culture.
Food in Eindhoven
When it comes to food, Eindhoven has it all. From speakeasy coffee shops tucked away in hidden streets to art gallery launches in chic restaurants, Eindhoven is a city that is keen to expand the minds of all who visit the city.
Each restaurant and retailer appears to have their own identity, something that is intriguing from a tourist perspective.
Our first food stop on our trip was meeting the group of bloggers and journalists who had travelled from various parts of Europe. Our meeting place, the Downtown Gourmet Market, is appropriately a place that serves a variety of world cuisines and restaurants under one roof.
From pho and buns at Vietnamama to a selection of Spanish tapas, it would be wrong not to try it all, wouldn’t it…
I cannot recall seeing many commercial food chains in Eindhoven and from my experience, there is no requirement for them. It is easy to see why consumers are choosing to shop local, even the coffee shops have a home-away-from-home vibe where locals are spread out with their laptops and guitars surrounded by foliage; creating a breathable and welcoming aesthetic.
A concept I would love to see in my own hometown, away from the big corporate coffee chains that have a presence in so many towns and cities.
The unique concepts we experienced shopping do not end with the retailers. The restaurants are all about collectively bringing together the world of food and design, as I soon discovered.
I didn’t see any dessert specialities similar to the Bossche Bol from Den Bosch, but I did discover even the desserts in Eindhoven have their own creative element! The proof is in the pudding at Intelligentia ICE, an ice cream store that uses a variety of vegetables, fruit and herbs to create their unique flavours. I surprisingly loved their Cream Cuban Cigar flavour ice cream!
Our group got to attend the preview evening of the new expo: Born at Night by Space Caviar, held at Kazerne restaurant. This exhibition encourages locals to explore new possibilities of design and question what it really is.
Born at Night creators Joseph Grima and Martina Muzi explore the special way technological components are being used in Chinese megacity Shenzhen and, how combining these components can create something new altogether.
As we browsed the design launch, rows upon rows of diners were sampling the food and wine provided in the open restaurant.
I continued to be wowed by the venue that brings creatives together to enjoy art and good food as I tucked in myself.
After getting my fill of Italian cheese on my recent trip to Puglia, my eyes lit up as I saw the burrata served to our group, along with beef cheeks and roasted tomatoes.
Kazerne really is innovation at its best, providing creatives with a unique space to showcase their work as well as giving diners in their restaurant a whole new food experience.
Not content with merely owning the restaurant, founders Annemoon Geurts and Koen Rijnbeek are bringing their dream from eleven years ago to a reality. Their upcoming design hotel with private members club will have eight bedrooms and enable guests to sleep among the artwork! Watch this space!
Following our meal at the chic expo launch, our night was brought to a more of a sour, than a sweet end at Emma restaurant, where we were served a rhubarb and goats yoghurt dessert with meringue. The mix of meringue added a sweetness to the otherwise sour tasting dessert and provided an interesting contrast.
Emma, to my delight, is an Instagram dream (I’m a sucker for venues like this) and I couldn’t help snapping the pink backdrop with fairy lights.
Though it had to be said, I was slightly perplexed by some of the artwork on display in this restaurant…
Where to stay in Eindhoven
After a day browsing the many stores and restaurants of Eindhoven, you’re probably wondering where we stayed… in a design hotel, of course!
Located in the heart of the city, Inntel Hotel Arts Eindhoven is a hotel combining both modern art and of course, touched by the history of the well-known Philips brand.
Built in 1909, the hotel suites are situated in the former monumental light tower and are where the Philips light bulbs were produced and tested.
I was particularly enthralled by the artworks in the hotel lobby, which compliment the art history of the hotel.
Inntel takes pride in the fact that no two rooms are exactly the same, enabling their designers to create a distinct look and feel for each room. I just couldn’t get over quite how big the rooms are, with floor-to-ceiling windows, a sofa, desk area and, that was before entering the humongous bathroom!
A rainforest shower and huge bathtub…if only I’d gotten a chance for a soak in there. The light-up vanity mirror was also a convenient touch for applying my makeup.
With all the innovations seen across the hospitality and retail industries, it is very easy to understand why the city is known as the capital of Dutch industrial design, famed for its Design Academy and the University of Technology.
As our minibus left Eindhoven for Rotterdam, I wondered what the urban landscape of Eindhoven would look like in the years to come, as the city of design and innovation continues to evolve once more.
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