Dutch design is known worldwide for blending innovation with a healthy dose of wit, subtle flair and even irony. Fuelled by a steady stream of talent from the internationally renowned Gerrit Rietveld Academy here, Amsterdam is a magnet for these modern-day design alchemists. Here's where you can find the results of all this imagination, and take home a piece of it for yourself.
This shrine to contemporary Dutch design has been turning heads on the charming Staalstraat since 2004, although the powerhouse creative collective dates to the early '90s. Beyond 17th-century façade of this design studio-gallery-store hybrid, you'll grin at the modern twists on everyday items that often rely on a little droog (dry) humor.
As you make your way through my Walking Tour of the Eastern Canal Belt, don't miss this haven of international period design pieces on the Prinsengracht. You'll find 1930s classics from Gerrit Rietveld himself, originals from Droog co-founder Gijs Bakker, as well as "the masterpieces of the most important designers of the last century," including Philippe Starck, Martin Visser and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (of "Barcelona Chair" fame).
As both a champion of rising design stars from Dutch academies and a staple store for established names, this favorite spouts plenty of inspiration and a varied collection of furniture, fabrics and accessories.
This sleek Dutch-design souvenir shop is appropriately located inside the modern Passenger Terminal Amsterdam on the IJ waterfront. You'll find mementos so stylish and unique that you'll buy as many for yourself as for your friends back home, like shoulder bags made from bicycle tires or my personal favorite, throw pillows fashioned from former Dutch mail bags.