Recognized wide and far as an emerging creative force in the 1990s with distinct traits all its own, Dutch design hardly needs any further introduction. Pairing out-of-the-box innovation with blunt practicality and a solid dose of wit, rather than prestige and decorative frills, one can say the design approach of design reflects, albeit in a nutshell, distinctive traits of the egalitarian Netherlands. And now, two decades on, Dutch design is given a new impetus, and one that’s facilitated by a striking newcomer to Amsterdam’s hospitality landscape: W Amsterdam. The five-star property has not only stirred up the scene – mind you, it’s a design-led hotel concept that straddles two landmark buildings – but also gradually transforms a rather bland stretch of downtown real estate into a heaving hub of creativity and social interaction.
Obviously, W Amsterdam’s a-grade lodgings and facilities pitch in for the greater part, but the drive to actively engage with the Netherlands’ creative scene has resulted in a significant additional venue that was masterminded by a team of five professionals, each wielding a different expertise. We’re talking X Bank, a hybrid store and gallery space situated in a detached wing, an early 20th century office building across the road from W Amsterdam’s primary site. The venue is conceptualized as a premium showcase for creatives from the flourishing Dutch design scene, and in particular budding talent in search of a much needed stepping stone and exposure. X Bank measures a whopping 700 sqm. [7,535 sq.ft.] spread over two elongated floors.
And similarly to W Amsterdam, its design is a collab effort by architecture practice Office Winhov and interior designers Baranowitz + Kronenberg. X Bank’s ground floor has a pristine, whitewashed setting, and serves as an exhibitions and events space. The lofty second floor is dedicated to retail and rubs shoulders with the duchess, the ornate, high-profile dining venue of W Amsterdam. The store has a industrial feel, largely defined by exposed utility pipes that run along the ceiling and an expansive steel grid. Furnishings comprise of a modular system of wooden boxes that provide highly flexible display and storage space, but also make up – in a stacked formation, obviously – an elevated walkway along the entire length of the façade. So, what beckons shoppers from the shelves?
The x bank store is a tightly curated affair, presenting a tantalizing and eclectic selection of goods, ranging from exclusive fashion pieces and accessories, to quirky homeware, toys and one-off furniture trophies. The merchandise on offer is predominantly designed by Dutch Talent, and will intentionally be rotated every six week to provide an immersive shopping experience that easily trumps the convenience of purchasing goods online. The store is home to no less than 180 Dutch brands. But let’s head back to the gallery space downstairs, shall we? Currently on is the venue’s inaugural group show, entitled Pot Luck 1, and presenting abstract notions on new materialism by six contemporary artists. But that’s not all. A program of art and design related lectures and other events will kick off shortly. An adjacent bar allows further on-site socializing, and soon-to-open lodgings, intended for an artist-in-residence, will surely add up to the buzz.