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What is waste worth by Renny Ramakers

July 17th 2014

What is waste worth?

Waste. What is the value of waste? In Cape Town everything is re-used and re-used and re-used until it falls apart. In Cape Town nothing is waste. Everywhere, from townships to more well–to-do areas, we can find products made of used or re-used materials. If it isn’t for economic necessity, it is for love of shabby chic.

shabby chic

This is how last week I started my keynote at Department of Design in Cape Town. Department of Design is a three weeks event, initiated by the Dutch consulate, with Christine de Baan as program director. What makes this official Dutch participation in Cape Town Design Capital 2014 so special, is that it is not a ‘business as usual’ presentation of design objects. But this initiative rather seeks collaboration with South Africa on topics such as energy, water, health, education and town planning. It is a program full of lectures and workshops featuring Ekim Tan (Play the City), Michelle Provoost (INTI), Jeroen Warmerdam (Tygron), Kristian Koreman (Zus) and others.

When we were asked to design an environment for this event, it was from the outset clear to me that this should be a welcoming landscape in which visitors could discuss, relax or have a coffee and that it should be entirely made of waste, sourced locally, executed by local producers and that after closure of the event all the materials should go back into the flow.

A beautiful little church in the township Khayelitsha, made of corrugated steel and painted in blue and white, was our guideline for the colours. It is our tribute to the anonymous people who created this.


In our Amsterdam based studio we searched the Internet and discovered numerous places where we could get waste. We made a plan and our team went to Cape Town to collect the materials, especially wooden planks, crates, corrugated steel and bicycles. It was a journey full of surprises.

In Cape Town nothing is waste. Even more so, waste is scarce. There is too much need. Consequently we had to pay a lot more than we expected, even for almost rotten planks and window frames. We had to skip the idea of using used crates in our furniture pieces. They just were not available. So we decided to make an exception and bought them new. Another limitation was the use of corrugated steel to cover the walls of the auditorium. Our idea was to make a lot of incisions in this material to give it more character. But once in Cape Town, we soon discovered that this should not be done. Since this material proves to be so valuable for the communities. It provides a roof above their head. Therefore every cut in this material would be an irreparable waste.

credit cards welcome

The biggest challenge was to work from a distance. In our studio in Amsterdam we made renderings and technical drawings and we monitored the execution by the local producers. Eventually we managed to achieve a 90% result of our renderings while 10% was improvisation on the spot.


doors to the future

cafe table

At first sight, I wished that some details would have been executed more precisely. But when everything was set up and the lights were on, the overall look and feel took this initial desire away . It was amazing to see how an environment covered with a seemingly random but consequent pattern of wooden planks full of cracks and splinters could give such a beautiful result. It was also an experience to see how everything fitted in this environment, the stools, the tables, the mobile coffee bar, the little houses… With a strong framework it does not matter whether there are a few planks more or less, and whether some details are not like they are supposed to be. It is a framework that allows improvisation.

playground cinema


Re-using materials and products is what we have done from the outset. Among the highlights of our first presentation in Milan in 1993 were Tejo Remy’ s Chest of Drawers and Rag chair. In 2010 we presented UP, a business model based on the redesign of dead stock. Re-using waste and leftovers represents the ultimate circular economy. But it is also a process with restrictions. It is not only that waste can be scarce, but it also fact that most companies prefer to destroy their leftovers instead of bringing them back into circulation.

Be that as it may, making things out of leftovers is a playful process with lots of opportunities for improvisation. It generates a unique sense of beauty, the beauty of imperfection, which is such a relief in our times of super perfection. Piet Hein Eek showed this already in 1991 with his scrap wood cabinet. Although we are used to design with leftovers, the Cape Town assignment was a surprisingly new experience with more roughness, and less control than we are used to. Improvisation on the spot had to bring everything together.

garden with the mobile bar


house of meetings

little house of relaxation

After closure of the event everything has to go back into the flow. My dream is that piles of blue wooden planks will be dropped in one of the townships, so that they can be used to make new houses and that at my next visit, I will find some totally blue houses or houses with just a few patches of blue. This would be the cherry on the cake.


Droog designs pavilion with inbuilt scrap landscape for Department of Design in Cape Town, SA

June 26th 2014

Droog presents a unique pavilion design for Department of Design, providing a temporary hub for the Department’s trade and matchmaking fair in the World Design Capital 2014 running from 8 to 26 July in Cape Town, South Africa.

As part of the Dutch participation in Cape Town World Design Capital 2014, the pavilion will be home to 60 companies with an interest in developing business relationships in South Africa, offering collaborative opportunities in establishing sustainable solutions for the region’s quality of life.

Titled ‘FLOW’, the spectacular structure will occupy a restored Art Deco building in the original Museum District of Cape Town, seamlessly connecting the building’s two levels with a landscape of re-used materials. From second-hand bicycle seats and scrap wood to used carpet tiles and plastic crates, the entire design implements used materials sourced within Cape Town to bring it to life.

“All materials we use are sourced locally and will go back to the source afterwards. The whole process is constantly changing and adapting to what and whom we encounter there.” Eliza Mante – Designer at Studio Droog. 

The core concept of the pavilion design is to solely use everything that is already available within the city, this  includes services – whereby Droog has engaged with local artisans to contribute to the final design. The forest of scrap materials envelops visitors, inviting them into a new environment to foster discussion, inspire change and exchange of knowledge.

The space features a playground for kids, a café with hanging plants, house-like structures made from tessellating window and door frames, and sound-proofed walls made from egg cartons. The design reflects the shared South African and Dutch practice of introducing life back into used goods, as well as engaging the surrounding community. This is further amplified by the design’s end-of-life, where all materials will be returned to the environment to re-enter the system, through recycling, re-selling or donating. Old chairs might be returned to the carpenters, or scrap-wood resold to scrap sellers.

About Department of Design
Department of Design is a three week-long event that supports sustainability and collaboration. It is the initiative of the Government of the Netherlands as part of their contribution to World Design Capital Cape Town 2014. Representing a R4.5m (300,000 euro) investment, it brings over 60 different Dutch companies together with South African counterparts in a programme that address challenges in water, health, energy, food and urban development and how to co-create sustainable solutions.


Work of Floris Kaayk exhibited at Hôtel Droog

May 22nd 2014


Floris Kaayk, Volkskrant Art Prize Winner, in the Courtyard

In 2014 Floris Kaayk (1982) has won both De Volkskrant Art Jury Prize, as well as De Volkskrant Art Audience Award. This is quite unique and happens for the first time in the eight-year-old existence of the Art Prize. Kaayk is a filmmaker and animator, working with online media. To celebrate Kaayk’s prize winning streak, Droog proudly exhibits three of his renowned works in the Droog Courtyard: The Order Electrus (2005), Metalosis Maligna (2006), and Human Birdwings (2012).

From Thursday 22nd of May on view in the Droog Courtyard


Design Column #7 ‘Wasted Matter’ is on view at the Droog Gallery

May 22nd 2014


For the second time this year, Boijmans’ quarterly Design Column exhibition travels to Amsterdam after showing in Rotterdam. Design Column #7 ‘Wasted Matter’ is on view at the Droog Gallery from 21 May to 29 June 2014, showcasing the view of young designers on our current use and waste of resources. Droog will also host two public talks with designers and guest speakers; on 12 June (Building on (e)waste) and 26 June (Material ♥ Tax).

Creative solutions for use and waste of resources
Worldwide prosperity continues to increase, standards of living are rising and the world population continues to grow. Despite this situation, it seems that we currently waste around 98 percent of all available energy on this planet. The urgency for a sustainable use of resources grows daily. There is moderate attention for green sources of energy. But new forms of energy are always considerably more expensive than traditional methods of extracting fossil fuels. And so we stick to the existing system. A growing number of designers is concerned with this dilemma. They operate outside the system to look at the problem from a completely different angle. They are creatively using waste and are searching for „new” organic materials, or, are exploring new ways to generate energy.

Ideas that make a difference
Every three months the Design Column focuses on a news item in the form of a small exhibition at Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen and subsequently at the Droog Gallery in Amsterdam. The column is a place where new ideas are made visible, where the power of imagination is given expression. Designers and artists are especially interested in experimental imagination. With their idiosyncratic vision, they see things differently and are capable of bringing about change. The Design Column creates a space for these innovative concepts.


Take a look: Droog interior design

May 21st 2014

What can Droog do for a home or work space?

We like to share our expertise in interior products and projects in our brand new look book for 2014. The lifelike interiors display our products in inspirational settings for a house, hotel, bar, garden, office or shop.

Modern, economic, extravagant or classical, Droog products fit almost every style and add a timeless value to a home or office. Different exciting and colourful interior settings reveal how small additions and adjustments can turn a tiny space into an environment with deluxe feel. That is the intrinsic value of our well-designed objects.

Who better than the designers that developed your favorite products, can design a space that will wow you even more?

Go ahead and take a look.


Droog wins Amsterdam Business Award 2014

May 9th 2014

Droog has won the Amsterdam Business Award 2014. Director and co-founder of Droog Renny Ramakers accepted the award at the galadinner at NH Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky on May 8th. The jury commended Droog for the company’s distinctive course, business instinct and for putting Amsterdam on the global map as a design hot-spot. SkyNRG and Wefilm were also competing for this entrepreneurship award initiated by MeerBusiness Amsterdam, now in its fifth year.

Renny Ramakers: “The Amsterdam Business Award means great recognition for Droog. We go off the beaten track in developing and designing our projects and products, which makes the process really exciting for us. It is very stimulating that our pioneering attitude is both recognized and rewarded”


Here, There, Everywhere a 4-year journey

May 1st 2014

Droog releases Here, There, Everywhere, a visual and textual anthology of realistic and imaginative design projects by Droog Lab in collaboration with Winy Maas, Metahaven, Jurgen Bey, Richard Hutten, TD, Mieke Gerritzen, Erik Kessels, Bas Princen, Diller Scofidio + Renfro and others.

Edited by co-founder of Droog Renny Ramakers and Droog Lab curator Agata Jaworska, and designed by Thonik, the 224-page book is a compilation of 16 projects in nine chapters, with essays, conversations and talks by David Allin, Jurgen Bey, Koert Debeuf, Theo Deutinger, Greg Lindsay, Winy Maas, Justin McGuirk, Heleen Mees, Charles Renfro, Wouter Vanstiphout and Daniel van der Velden.

Here, There, Everywhere is a journey through diverse places of the world, from the Canadian Arctic to the deserts of Dubai, with outcomes ranging from a luxury brand inspired by Russian consumption patterns with Metahaven to an imaginary society with space for a million identities inspired by Belgium’s apparent lack of a singular national identity with Erik Kessels.

The projects are a culmination of four years of self-initiated work by Droog Lab in collaboration with partners, designers and clients. Initiated by Renny Ramakers in 2009, Droog Lab scans the world for emerging developments, exploring the broader relevance of local findings.

Here, There, Everywhere will be available on and at the Droog store in Amsterdam for 39.00 EUR (ISBN 9789090281735).

Here, There, Everywhere is supported by the Mondriaan Fund.


Win a stay at The One and Only Bedroom at Hôtel Droog

April 14th 2014

De Bijenkorf will host a special Droog pop up store in Amsterdam from April 14 till the end of June, carrying a range of products for living room, kitchen, bedroom and garden. Get ready to recreate the Hôtel Droog hospitality experience at home, and find new products like the Sticky Lamp White and Glass series AA exclusively at de Bijenkorf pop up store.

Winners stay at the One and Only Bedroom
Three lucky winners were chosen and now get to spend a night at the One and Only Bedroom at Hôtel Droog in the city center of Amsterdam.

The winners are….
Anysa Grammenoudis, Pauline Matsbergen and Imke Kempkes Congratulations!

Check out all the submissions below.
You can still visit our pop up store at de Bijenkorf till the end of June





Rijksmuseum and Droog present during Salone del Mobile Milan

April 10th 2014

Rijksstudio m2: dressed with fantasy, a new environment for minimalism

Inspired by the rich collections of the Rijksmuseum, Droog created a setting for a studio – entrance, bedroom, kitchen, living and dining. This presentation is complemented by wallpaper that renowned graphic designer Irma Boom subtracted from works of famous painters like Vermeer and Rembrandt in the museum’s collection. Additionally Droog presents new products, first on display in Milan last year, and now available to the public.  

Rijksmuseum: Rijksstudio m2
Rijksstudio m2 is a setting for a studio in which the richness of the Rijksmuseum collection resonates in walls and ceilings. 18th-century tapestry is transformed into wallpaper, a painting with birds and clouds is part of a reflective gradient wall in the bedroom and 17th-century landscape paintings are animated. The sober furniture in the space forms a sharp contrast with this elaborate treatment, but is just as much inspired by the Rijksmuseum collection. The pieces reflect the furniture as depicted in homely settings in famous paintings. A bath tub, a daybed, a writing desk, a mirror, a night stand, and a candleholder are all carefully executed in wood and leather in a new appearance. Minimalism in a new environment dressed with fantasy!

Renowned graphic designer Irma Boom created wallpaper that complements the presentation using the colour palette she deveioped as part of the new house style for the reopened Rijksmuseum in 2013. This so-called DNA of the Rijksmuseum is based on the highlights of the collection and is used in a variety of different visual manifestations.

Rijksmuseum: Rijksstudio m2 is supported by Heineken.

Droog products
A range of new products inspired by the Rijksmuseum collection is now available, such as glass series AA, 3D printed napkin rings and the rubber tablecloth Table skin. Droog also presents new products from The New Original series, inspired by iconic Chinese products, such as lampion lights and Tea for one and two teapots by Richard Hutten.

Join us in Milan
April 8th – 13th
Tue – Sat 11.00 – 20.00 / Sun 11.00 – 19.00
Via San Gregorio 29, 20124 Milan
Public transport: Tram 1, 5 or Metro Line 1, 2, or 3


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