Every object tells a story
This semi-permanent exposition shows the Droog mentality through its objects, exhibitions, publications and social events as it happened over the last 30 years. 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’s international debut in Milan was an adventure. Two individuals who hardly knew each other, Renny Ramakers and Gijs Bakker, 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, reused 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 non-existent at the 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, which put Dutch Design firmly on the map.
Droog became a label for a collection of products, carefully curated by Bakker and Ramakers. The selection process was primarily based on look & feel and content. They never took questions like “Will it sell?” or “Can it be produced industrially?” into their considerations. While a considerable number of products from the Droog collection reached shops, as many remained only 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.
The 1993 Droog presentation showed individual objects, each with its own strong narrative. Over time, the presentations in Milan became more thematic in nature. Droog addressed all kinds of topics, 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.
For a long time, Droog presented itself everywhere in the world but was rarely visible in its hometown Amsterdam. This changed in 2004 when Droog moved into a historical building on the Staalstraat, dating from 1641. 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 specially for their board room. Droog commissioned contemporary artist Berend Strik to reinterpret Rembrandt’s famous painting, and his version has been installed on the original spot. The new location was intended as a hub from which the Droog mentality could be disseminated through exhibitions, publications, social events, and educational activities.
It was the start of what Droog is today: @droog, a place where you can eat, drink, work, meet, and think, a place where creative minds come together and where ideas flourish. The spirit of Droog is present in all corners of @droog: from Tejo Remy’s chest of drawers in the hallway, the calorie counter on the stairs and the restaurant inside the fish tank, to the fairy tale garden. @droog is full of Droog heritage and open for new ideas.