Interview with Renny Ramakers

“It just happened; there was no plan,” says Droog co-founder Renny Ramakers.

Article by Benedict Hobson, published on, 26 July 2020.

Renny Ramakers looks back at how the influential design platform shook up the industry in the 1990s in the latest talk in our ongoing collaboration with Friedman Benda for VDF.

Droog launched at Milan design week in 1993 with an exhibition of work by young Dutch designers selected by Ramakers, a writer and curator, and Gijs Bakker, a designer.

In sharp contrast to most other Milan exhibitions at the time, the objects presented were rough and unrefined, made from repurposed materials and found objects.

Droog co-founder Renny Ramakers
Droog co-founder Renny Ramakers. Portrait by Wendelien Daan

The exhibition caused a storm and established Droog as one of the world’s leading platforms for cutting-edge design.

It would go on to launch the careers of a generation of Dutch designers, and some of the biggest names in European design, including Marcel WandersHella JongeriusPiet Hein Eek, Tejo Remy, Richard Hutten and Jurgen Bey.

Droog presented “a new kind of aesthetic”

“It just it happened; there was no plan,” Ramakers told curator Glenn Adamson in the latest of New York gallery Friedman Benda’s Design in Dialogue interviews that Dezeen is publishing as part of Virtual Design Festival.

“At a certain moment, I became bored. I thought: ‘I’m not interested anymore in what I do’. And then suddenly I saw very young designers coming up with something totally different.”

“They looked at the design world in a totally different way,” she continued. “They were not interested in styling, in refined products. They made things from scrap food, from used materials. They didn’t do decoration or whatever. And the products were so beautiful. I found a new kind of aesthetic.”

Before Droog, “everything looked the same”

Droog, which means “dry” in Dutch, was a reaction against two very different approaches to design that were prevalent at the time, Ramakers said.

On one hand, there was the highly decorative, postmodern approach espoused by the likes of the Memphis Group, which had gained in popularity throughout the 1980s.

On the other, many designers were trying to ape the success of British designer Jasper Morrison by creating extremely simple products, according to Ramakers.

Chest of Drawers by Tejo Remy
You Can’t Lay Down Your Memory chest of drawers by Tejo Remy was one of the designs Droog presented in Milan in 1993

The work Droog presented was completely different from both.

“Without the postmodern movement, it couldn’t have happened,” Ramakers said. “And also, without Jasper Morrison, it couldn’t have happened either.”

“[Morrison] was so influential that at the beginning of the 90s, when you went to Milan, everyone was making simple products: simple chairs, simple tables, either in wood or in metal or plastic. And it was so boring. It was so boring because it was just simple furniture. And everything looked the same.”

Droog combined “rough design with storytelling”

Ramakers made the comments while presenting a diverse range of Droog products and exhibitions, as well as other projects she’s been involved in throughout her career.

Knotted Chair by Marcel Wanders was presented by Droog
Knotted Chair by Marcel Wanders was presented by Droog in Milan in 1996

Influential Droog designs she presented include Tejo Remy’s You Can’t Lay Down Your Memory chest of drawers, which was first shown at the 1993 Droog exhibition in Milan. It comprises a series of found drawers held together by a belt.

Other iconic Droog designs include Marcel Wanders’ Knotted Chair, which was presented at a 1996 Droog exhibition called Dry Tech. It is made from lengths of hand-braided rope, which have been impregnated with epoxy resin to make them rigid.Related story”Young designers have to understand they are practising art” says Gaetano Pesce

According to Ramakers, what unites the Droog designs and makes them stand out is that they each have a story behind them.

“Before that time, design didn’t have a real narrative,” she said. “It was about form and function. And here you saw designers talking about daily life and making a connection with daily life. And I thought: ‘I can make a group out of it. I can make a group of products designed by these young designers.”

“There were interesting stories,” she added. “So it was the culmination of a rough kind of design with storytelling.”

Design in Dialogue

Ramaker’s conversation with Adamson is the seventh in a series of Friedman Benda’s Design in Dialogue talks we are broadcasting as part of Virtual Design Festival throughout May and June.

Previous interviews in the series we have published include conversations with pioneering architect James Wines, who lamented the predominance of digitally created forms in architecture, and designer Faye Toogood, who revealed she suffers from imposter syndrome.

Ron Arad told Adamson that “business is always a necessary evil”, Stephen Burks discussed the lack of diversity in the design industry and Joris Laarman discussed the “magic” of digital technology in previous talks in the series that we have published.

In the most recent talk, Gaetano Pesce called on young designers to consider how to address social issues through their work.

Article by Benedict Hobson, published on, 26 July 2020.

11/7: Das Mag bookclub

Tove Ditlevsen bookclub with Nina Polak as host!

July 11th at 17.00h, publishing house Das Mag hosts a [email protected], featuring the newly translated book Childhood by Tove Ditlevsen.

Tove Ditlevsen (1917–1976) – ‘The best Danish writer whom you’ve never heard of’, is suddenly seen as one of the biggest literary stars of Denmark. The Copenhagen-trilogy is her most known work, of which the first part – Childhood – is now translated in Dutch by Das Mag.

Get your ticket!
€5 per person, including a drink.

Afterwards, you can have a three-course meal for €30.
See the menu.

Dutch-spoken event.

open for dinner!

Each Friday and Saturday we are open for dinner in the [email protected] (now corona-proof). The menu changes weekly. Choose your favourite dish or go for a three-course menu for €30,- per person.

Due to corona restrictions, we work with reservations only. Please make your reservation through this link.

Hope to see you soon @droog!


Friday 10 + Saturday 11 July

salmon rillette or burrata salad
with caper, fennel and dill

sea bass from the oven or stuffed bell pepper
with asparagus, antiboise and baby potatoes

strawberry tartlet
with tarragon and strawberry ice cream

Friday 17 July

with bacon crisps or green herbs, garlic and mayonaise

salmon trout or kohlrabi
with fennel, dill and sugar snaps

poached apricot
with almond, vanilla and basil

Please make your reservation through this link.

terrace for summer

For the coming summer months, we have a terrace in the Staalstraat! Looking for a shady (p)lace? Drop by for your daily dosis coffee, food and design at our new terrace in front of our gallery. Hope to see you soon!

27/2: Exclusive perfomance and artist talk by Diana Scherer

The sowing season is on at Droog. If you have not noticed yet, since a few weeks grass is growing on our gallery floor. This grass will be moved in a performance called Harvest on Thursday the 27th of February. After the performance, Diana Scherer will give an an exclusive artist talk in de gallery of Droog.


16:30 Doors open
17:00 Performance Harvest 
17:30 Break 
17:45 Artist Talk by Diana Scherer
19:00 End 

In the solo exhibition Hyper Rhizome Diana Scherer presents thirteen new works. Interweaving Scherer’s ongoing study of plant root systems, this exhibition presents a layered examination of how biological material can be transformed into sustainable textile. From a root-bound maxi dress to a knotted radicle tapestry, the exhibition explores the human-nature relationship and our compulsion to control our natural environment.


Diana Scherer is a visual artist living and working in Amsterdam.  She was born in Lauingen in Germany and studied fine art at the Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam. Her practice encompasses photography, material research, plant-root weaving and sculpture. Her works have been exhibited in several international solo and group shows. Recent examples include Earth Matters at the Textile Museum Tilburg (2017); the Tasis 2019 Art & Science exhibition at the National Museum of China in Beijing, Spring Tide at the Nederlands Fotomuseum in Rotterdam (2017); and A Queen Within – Adorned Archetypes at the New Orleans Museum of Art (2018). Her work Rootbound # 2, a dress grown from plant roots, is currently featured in the exhibition Fashioned from Nature at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London and Shenzhen. She received Rotterdam-based Het Nieuwe Instituut’s 2016 New Material Fellow for her work Interwoven.

Exhibition ‘Hyper Rhizome’ by Diana Scherer

From Sunday the 19th of January until 24th of Februari 2020

[email protected]

Staalstraat 7B, Amsterdam

Open Daily from 9.00 AM – 19.00 PM

In the solo exhibition Hyper Rhizome Diana Scherer shares with us a selection of growing objects, scientific research and plantrootweaving. For this installation she grew various wall hangings from roots.The new work is the continuation of the project Exercises in Rootsystem Domestication.

Charles Darwin was the first to watch the behaviour of roots. 
In his book The Power of Movements of Plants, he describes how roots do not passively grow down, but move and observe. A root navigates, knows what’s up and down, observes gravity and localizes moisture and chemicals. Darwin discovered that plants are a lot more intelligent, than everybody thought. For contemporary botanists, this buried matter is still a wondrous land. There is a global investigation to discover this hidden world. Scherer approaches the root system as if it were yarn. For example, the refined, white root structure of grass reminds her of silk and the powerful, yellowish strands of the daisy she compares to wool.  She developed a technique to control the growth of plant roots and with Hyper Rhizome the natural network of the root system turns into a textile. 

Diana explores the relationship of man versus his natural environment and his desire to control nature. The living material forms the basis of her investigation. She works with biological processes and develops her work by making interventions, both intuitively or by scientific means. Exercises in Rootsystem Domestication originated as an art project with an intuitive approach. It has also developed into an innovative material research and pursuit for a new and suistainable textile. Working on this project Scherer shifts between disciplines, from design to art, craft and science. To develop this biotechnique she collaborates with biologists and engineers from TU Delft Materials Experience Lab and Radboud University Nijmegen.

More about Diana Scherer

The project & exhibition is supported by Bank Giro Loterij FondsTU Delft, Mondriaanfonds, FondsKwadraat and Radboud Univerity Nijmegen.

On view: Opinion Cooler by Pauline Perrin

Are you yourself online? Visual artist Pauline Perrin uses a series of selfportraits to answer that question. Through digitally enhanced photography, she shows how media blurs our notion of reality, yet gives space vulnerability. On view until 12th of January in our gallery @droog!

20 Nov: Chef’s Favourites pop-up dinner

Join us Wednesday the 20th for an informal pop-up dinner. Our chef Laura prepares her favourite dishes in a three course menu (optional vegetarian). Enjoy a laid back evening in our cafe, together with your family and friends.

We also serve a vegetarian menu, please let us know when you make the reservation which menu you prefer.

Price: €32,50 (ex. service fee)

Book your tickets here!


poultry parfait
balsamic onion, crostini

fillet of sea bass
tomato, tarragon, green asparagus, couscous

chocolate mousse
almonds, raspberries

vegetarian menu

zucchini carpaccio
lemon, rocket, parmesan

stuffed bell pepper
tomato, tarragon, green asparagus, green peas, couscous

chocolate mousse
almonds, raspberries

15 Nov: Latin pop-up dinner


Join us Friday November 15th for a very special dinner. A little hint of one ingredient returns in each course: the banana.

One of our favourite part-time chefs cooks for us. Felix travels the world as a cabin attendant, and gets to taste the world’s different flavours. At droog he will serve his interpretations in a surprising Latin four-course dinner.

Enjoy a laid-back latino evening in our cafe, together with your family and friends.


€45,- per person (ex. service fee)

Book your tickets here.


four-course menu
onion, beetroot, chervil

iñame salad
avocado, tomato, salsa verde

ceviche red snapper
mango, coconut, sweet potato, cilantro

liquido merengue
maracuja, tequila icecream

vegetarian menu available on request

Workspaces for rent

[email protected]

When you’re looking for a workspace in Amsterdam there are numerous options, but here at [email protected] you can build your entrepreneurial dream.

Get together for meetings in the cafe or the meetingrooms, take a break in the fairy tale garden, get inspired by the exhibits and events. @droog has been the destination for creative minds for years. With [email protected] we want to connect ambition and creativity. The 17th century building @droog is situated in has an inspiring history: Rembrandt painted his “Staalmeesters” here, in the monumental part of the building. The first Chemestry Nobel prize winner did his groundbreaking research here and now it’s filled with contemporary design.

The open, light [email protected] spaces overlook the lively Staalstraat and the quiet courtyard. We offer 40 flexworkspaces and two private offices (up to max. 7 people).

For more info or would you like to [email protected] yourself, send an email to [email protected]

Opening hours holidays

We are open daily from 9am till 7pm, but for the holidays we have alternate opening hours:

December 24th – open till 5pm (kitchen closes at 4pm).

December 25th – closed

December 26th – closed

December 31st – open till 5pm (kitchen closes at 4pm).

January 1st – closed

View our cafe menu here.

Visit our online shop here.


On view: Space is the Place

Space is the Place

Het is de vraag of de mens het gaat overleven in de voortdurende strijd tussen de technologische toekomst en ons gewone mensenleven. Elon Musk bouwt een Starhopper voor 100 mensen die 1000 keer per jaar naar Mars zal vliegen. Een speculatief project dat onze dromen zal waarmaken. Want wie wil er nou niet naar Mars? Ondertussen wennen wij vast aan het idee de planeet te verlaten door steeds meer in de virtualiteit te leven. Ons lichaam past zich aan door het gebruik van de smartphone en infobesitas is geen ziekte meer, maar een standaard levensvorm. We leven als systeemwezens, we worden robots zonder dat we het in de gaten hebben. Menselijke condities veranderen, de evolutie gaat door. 

Space is the Place is een installatie van Geoffrey Lillemon en Mieke Gerritzen.
Tentoonstelling: @Droog, Staalstraat 7 in Amsterdam.
Van 9 Oktober tot 30 November. Opening 9 Oktober 17 - 19.00 uur.
Openingstijden: dagelijks van 9.00 tot 19.00 uur.

Geoffrey Lillemon (1981, USA/NL) combineert een absurdistische visuele stijl met nieuwe technologie. Als toonaangevende kunstenaar in digitale media, plaatst Lillemon de wisselwerking tussen de digitale en fysieke wereld op de voorgrond. Lillemon was de Invite d’Honneur in Centre Pompidou, werd in Boijmans van Beuningen geïntroduceerd met zijn werk “Like to Death” en was een centrale figuur/kunstenaar voor de Adidas Global “Collider” Campagne. Lillemon heeft onder andere gewerkt met Bernhard Willhelm, MGMT, Widen & Kennedy, Iris Van Herpen en Beyoncé.


Mieke Gerritzen (1962, NL) is ontwerper/kunstenaar en voormalig directeur van MOTI, Museum of the Image. Als curator/kunstenaar initieert en realiseert ze artistieke producties en publicaties. In haar werk reageert ze op ontwikkelingen in technologie. Met een kritische blik kijkt ze naar de effecten van digitale media met bijbehorende economische strategieën. Haar werk is opgenomen in de collecties van de San Fransisco MOMA en Cooper Hewitt Design Museum in New York. Gerritzen heeft 10 publicaties op haar naam staan en richtte in 2016 The Image Society op. Ze werkt regelmatig samen met Geert Lovink (Institute of Network Cultures) en Koert van Mensvoort (Next Nature).  


Gerritzen maakt momenteel op uitnodiging van Renny Ramakers een programma voor Stichting Droog Design. Space is the Place maakt daar onderdeel van uit.

Space is the Place is mede mogelijk gemaakt door Stichting Droog Design en het Amsterdams Fonds voor de Kunst.

Informatie: [email protected]

Coming soon: Expo by Mieke Gerritzen

Till the end of september our gallery is filled with some of the most iconic droog items. After that Mieke Gerritzen will come back with a whole new expo. Curious? Keep an eye on our site, or follow us on our socials: instagram, facebook and twitter.


shop eat drink work sleep think

Staalstraat 7A/B

1011 JJ Amsterdam
The Netherlands

Open daily
9 am – 7 pm


Now in our gallery: the droog collection

Our gallery is filled with some of the most iconic droog items. Come see the knotted chair, walk around the milk bottle lamp and experience the come a little closer (bench). The exposition is open till the end of september, then Mieke Gerritzen will come back with a whole new expo.


shop eat drink work sleep think

Staalstraat 7A/B

1011 JJ Amsterdam
The Netherlands

Open daily
9 am – 7 pm