once upon a time
“Was Droog Design a generation of young designers? That’s what it appeared to be. Or was it a movement? Not really. A collective, perhaps? A label? A manifesto? It was none of the above and all of them at once, but never at the same moment – certainly not for the long term.” – Wim Pijbes in “Renny Ramakers – Rethinking Design” by Aaron Betsky, 2019.
the talk of the town
Droog’s international debut in Milan was an adventure. Two individuals, Renny Ramakers and Gijs Bakker, who hardly knew each other, decided to join forces in February 1993 and make a statement during the Salone del Mobile in Milan with a selection of works by young Dutch designers. They had noticed a fresh trend in Dutch design, in the use of everyday, re-used materials and objects, combined with a down-to earth mentality. The designs were simple yet humoristic – literally ‘dry’, ‘Droog’ in Dutch.
Ramakers and Bakker had no plan, no expectations whatsoever. All they knew was that they were presenting a strong narrative and fresh designs. But they were not sure how their humble show, with work by totally unknown designers – the term Dutch Design was nonexistent at that time – would be received in ‘High Style Design’ capital Milan. To their surprise, Droog became the talk of the town. Now that the show had turned out to be an instant success, Ramakers and Bakker felt they should continue, and gradually Droog became an international movement, and Dutch Design was firmly put on the map.
seemingly basic, yet dictating ‘more’
Droog became a label for a collection of products, carefully sought out by Bakker and Ramakers. The selection process was primarily based on look & feel and content. It never included ‘Will it sell?’ or ‘Can it be produced industrially?’ While a considerable number of products from the Droog collection reached shops, as many remained as prototypes or concepts. For Bakker and Ramakers, that made no difference at all. Both found their way to international museums, especially MOMA New York and Centraal Museum in Utrecht.
Droog started in 1993 with a presentation of objects with a strong narrative. Over time, the presentations in Milan became thematic in nature. Seemingly basic and minimal in design, yet dictating ‘more’. Droog addressed all kinds of topics in its designs, from human interaction, high-tech materials and downloadable design to overproduction and climate change. Over the years, Droog collaborated with more than 200 designers inside and outside the Netherlands and was invited for exhibitions and projects all over the world, from India to Senegal, from China to New Zealand.
Droog presented itself everywhere in the world but was rarely visible in its hometown Amsterdam. This changed in 2004 when Droog moved into the historical building dating from 1641 at Staalstraat. It used to be the centre of the flourishing textile industry, housing the officials of the Amsterdam Drapers’ Guild. Rembrandt painted his masterpiece ‘De Staalmeesters’ especially for their board room. Droog commissioned contemporary artist Berend Strik to reinterprete Rembrandt’s famous painting which has been installed on the originally spot. The new location, was meant to be a hub from which the Droog mentality could be spread through exhibitions, publications, social events, and educational activities.
a place where you can eat, drink, work, meet and think, a place where creative minds meet and where ideas flourish.
It was the start of what Droog is today. The spirit of Droog is present in all corners of @droog: from Tejo Remy’s chest of drawers in the hallway, the calories counting on the stairs, the restaurant inside the fishtank to the fairy tale garden. @droog is full of Droog heritage!