Design thinking for food culture

In Search of Colour: Design Inspiration from Amsterdam in Winter

 Amsterdam townhouses along the canals are a designer's dream

A winter's morning colourspotting between the tall, narrow townhouses in Amsterdam can be a fairly sombre affair, doused as many are in shades of black and grey.

Put those against a late November climate, and a network of inky canals, and it can certainly inspire a premature coffee stop at the nearest Nine Streets café to warm up. 

But persevere, and you'll start to see the different hues and tones emerging to reveal a palette that is somewhat austere, yes - but soothing, and with an occasional pop of something stronger to loosen up the tightly-formed streets and canals. In fact, anyone who caught BBC's The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton recently will recognise the Vermeer-esque aesthetic of rich jewel tones against muddy reds and monochrome; still very much on show within the contemporary city streets.

One of the many things I love about Amsterdam is, contrary to its ordered grid layout and straight(ish), stern-looking structures, nature flows freely, with a profusion of potted plants grouped outside practically every doorway, and trees and foliage growing up, around and, sometimes, it seems, through the buildings. A sort of unstructured biophilia, and its pervasive presence adds a couple of unexpectedly dominant but calming shades to the palette.

 Rialto Cinema at Ceintuurbaan in De Pijp district, Amsterdam
 Vibrant Vespa canalside, by Amsterdam's De 9 Straatjes 
 Arnold Cornelis Bakery, Elandsgracht/Hazenstraat, Amsterdam
 The cosy and inviting Buffet van Odette on Prinsengracht
 'The Darling' - cool, eclectic lifestyle store, Nine Streets
 Deep, subdued colours, enlivened by peacock brights & plants

But I'll finish on one of my absolute favourite Amsterdam quirks: as darkness falls, you'll notice lights come on, curtains stay open, and blinds stay up, all across the city.

Yet, it's not an oversight... it's totally deliberate. For after all, how else would we tourists get to appreciate the resident Amsterdammers beautifully understated interiors and inherent sense of style? 

 Traditional Dutch architecture & interiors light up at night


Pictured places:

Rialto Cinema
A leading independent cinema in the De Pijp neighborhood in Amsterdam, specialising in world cinema and European art house film.

Arnold Cornelis Bakery
Considered an institution in Amsterdam, the acclaimed Arnold Cornelis bakery is said to have the best cakes and confections in the city.

Buffet Van Odette
This corner café on Prinsengracht has a great canalside location and delicious seasonal brunch menu.

The Darling
A charming concept store on Runstraat,
one of Amsterdam's Nine Streets, specialising in eclectic womenswear, jewellery and homeware.