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Showcase Of Web Design In The Netherlands

The Netherlands, also known as the “Low Countries,” is a small, crowded, muddy piece of land through which a few big important rivers fortunately run. In this country, you can find coffee shops, wooden shoes, tulips, windmills and a lot of water.

And everything is rather small! Well, at least most of the architecture is. How cute is that? But it’s also the land that brought the world many great painters, famous architects, and excellent graphic, fashion and interior designers. We all know Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Mondriaan, Rietveld, Koolhaas, Escher, Droog Design and Viktor & Rolf, don’t we?

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Dutch Web Design: Spin Awards102

State Of Affairs Link

Can the Dutch be proud of its Web design community? Is it capable of producing great websites? Has the community earned a place in Web design land, or is Dutch Web design still in its infancy?

A Virtual Discussion About Dutch Web Design Link

I invited a diverse group of Dutch Web agencies and freelancers to discuss the state of Dutch web design.

  • Harald Dunnink, creative director at Momkai
  • Wimer “Monokai” Hazenberg, art director at Booreiland
  • Rogier Strobbe, Frish Design Studio
  • Erik Leutscher, Eldesign
  • Maarten Kleyne, creative designer
  • Woud Hobbelink, Designphunk
  • Rose Calis, Toko Rose
  • Christian Annyas, freelance Web and graphic designer
  • Mattijs Bliek, Helium Workx
  • Michel Branco Bio, Branco Creative Studio
  • Ewout van Lambalgen, illustrator and Web designer
  • Erik van Nieuwburg, Rumbling Skies
  • Rolf Coppens, Grrr
  • Jens Kanis, designer and developer
  • Jonno Riekwel, Jonnotie
  • Nelleke van der Maas, Designed By Nelleke
  • Caspar Hardholt, MediaCT
  • Marten de Jongh, graphic designer at e-sites

Can Certain Web Design Characteristics Be Called Typically Dutch? Link

Erik van Nieuwburg: “There is a very typical Dutch school of architecture, photography and graphic design. But in the field of Web design, I do not see a typical Dutch identity. Perhaps this has to do with the international nature of the Web.”

Maarten Kleyne: “I do not think you can pin this down as, ‘This is pure Dutch Web design so let’s hang it on our wall next to the wooden shoes, tulips, cheese and other things.’”

Harald Dunnink: “A certain clarity and simplicity characterizes Dutch design. For myself, I try to bring the traditional conception of creativity, aesthetics and clarity of Dutch design into the digital domain.” Christian Annyas has a similar opinion. Also, Woud Hobbelink agrees and feels that sometimes, Dutch Web designers seem reluctant to experiment. The products are usually somewhat stiff.

Rolf Coppens adds: “Simplicity and conceptual working are characteristics you often find in our Web design.” Caspar Hardholt has a similar opinion: “I think Dutch Web design is less complicated and very natural. As the Dutch saying goes, ‘Just act normal — that’s crazy enough.’ And I guess we don’t like stock photography. We make it more personal.”

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Brandrepublic3

Erik van Nieuwburg: “Dutch Flash projects are more about being functional than about having rich animations, at least when compared to many English-language projects.”

Rogier Strobbe: “If I may pick out one element that the Dutch have been known for, it is surely typography. We have some of the best typographers in the world. Think of Gerard Unger4, Martin Majoor5 and Jos Buivenga6. Of course, the Web has never been known for its rich typography, but let’s hope that @font-face and initiatives such as Typekit will change that and take typography to the next level in the coming years.”

Rose Calis adds: “The big Dutch Web design agencies still control both the market and the appearance of most designs on the Web. Freelancers spend a lot of time on the latest trends, as their designs often show. But I think the Netherlands is running a bit behind.”

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Dutch Web Design: VPRO8

Christian Annyas nods approvingly: “It is hardly innovative. With the exception of a few.”

Jens Kanis: “You’ll see that we communicate more formally to our customers, while many US companies go for the informal approach. Look at Google and Apple. They talk to their customers differently than we do to ours.”

Marten de Jongh: “Best of all worlds!? The Netherlands is a multicultural society, and that’s what you see in its designs. Brazil is known for its illustrative qualities, the North Americans own the drop-shadow and use a lot of glass effects, and the French are more artistic. I think the Dutch have a little of everything.”

Michel Branco reflects: “Dutch designers characterize themselves as ‘unconventional’ and not mainstream. Perhaps an appropriate term for Dutch web design would be ‘unconventional Web design.'”

Is There A Dutch Web Community? Link

Wimer Hazenberg: “There is a Dutch design world, I think. Whether or not we can identify with it is another question — not with the establishment in any case, like Lost Boys.”

Jens Kanis: “It differs according to the person. I do operate in a Dutch Web design community, but I am mainly focused on the international scene.”

Mattijs Bliek: “Yes, there is one, but you have to search for it. My experience is that it is found mainly in the Amsterdam area, which certainly appears to be a creative hot spot in the Netherlands. I find that being around other designers who challenge and inspire you is really good.”

Erik Leutscher: “Web design is an Internet profession, which means that all you need to become a successful Web designer today can be found on the Web. I don’t think a ‘Dutch’ Web community exists.”

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Werkplaatstypografie9

Nelleke van der Maas: “I’m not sure. I don’t meet up regularly with other Web designers, apart from the new year’s drinks organized by creative recruitment agencies like Aquent. But because I freelance for advertising agencies in Amsterdam, I often see the same people at events, conferences and the Spin Awards102.”

Ewout van Lambalgen: “I’ve never noticed anything. I work as a freelancer, and I mainly follow international websites.”

Jonno Riekwel: “There isn’t a huge Web community in the Netherlands. Not that I know of anyway. I regret not having a community or organization that allows Web designers to come together more often, as Fronteers11 does for front-end developers.”

Harald Dunnink: “I prefer to be around people who love their profession, who are ambitious and creative. This could be a creative developer, illustrator, artist or designer, but also a baker.”

Erik van Nieuwburg: “The Flash community is a true ‘community,’ with much cohesion, because the group of people who make a living off Flash isn’t a very big one. I think it’s a great community, where you can often get immediate help with complex issues. At conferences, like Flash on the Beach and Flash in the Can12, you can meet up with Flash celebs like Keith Peters and Mario Klingeman, drink a beer or two and jabber away with them!”

What Does A Web Designer Or Agency Need To Be Eye-Catching? Link

Jonno Riekwel: “Plenty of design companies are in the Netherlands, but you really stand out when you’re transparent and do good things. Like Mangrove, which organized an evening to watch Objectified13. Agencies should do stuff like that more often.”

Jens Kanis: “It can be difficult to earn your spot in the Dutch design industry, but it is certainly possible. Invest descent time in good and clear communication with your customers, which will eventually pay off. Be honest with your clients, even if the message isn’t positive or pleasing.”

Erik van Nieuwburg: “If you are building a blog, for instance, you could see how WordPress14 does it, but you could also think about how the user would want it exactly. A great example is Nalden1615, where the established concept of a ‘blog’ was completely flushed down the drain.”

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Nalden1615

Wimer Hazenberg: “Do not accept the Web 2.0 style blindly. Go back to the basics, and from there you can create something that serves someone’s needs. We all know the basic styling tricks. It is more about finding a fitting solution to the issue at hand.” Ewout van Lambalgen agrees: “Don’t look too much to what other designers do, because it will only affect your own designs. (Un)consciously, you would always be copying from others, and then you wouldn’t stand out from the crowd.”

Caspar Hardholt: “You will be successful if you make your customers more successful.”

Matthijs Bliek: “To be completely honest, I do not like the term Web designer, because it limits you. Mike Kus puts it well in his article17 on 24 Ways: ‘A key factor in creating something original and fresh for the Web is to stop thinking in terms of Web design. Don’t design for the Web, just design.’ Do something crazy!”

Christian Annyas: “90% of all designers in the Netherlands are typical mediocre designers. The world of Web design primarily consists of rehashes of old recipes.”

Rose Calis, who has just started freelancing: “First, put everything you do on a list before you officially start as a freelancer. A beautiful and technically well-built website is not enough. A customer might give up on a poorly drafted briefing that is full of technical jargon. Be unique and refreshing, and above all keep investigating. You’re never too old to learn.”

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W13918

Nelleke van der Maas: “A portfolio that not only looks beautiful but shows that the designer has thought about usability. Attention to detail makes me notice someone. Have they put effort into designing their own icons, for instance? Or have they used nice typography, unusual navigation or any new technologies?”

Woud Hobbelink: “Experimenting. Freaking out with your Photoshop/Illustrator document!” Erik Leutscher agrees: “Dare to violate the rules. You might screw up a project once, but learn from your mistakes and become a better designer.” And Harrald Dunnink puts it succinctly: “Talent, the will to work hard, a healthy kind of dissatisfaction and a computer.”

Maarten Kleyne: “Sometimes innovation can be found under the hood of a design and can be more innovative than the design itself.”

Matthijs Bliek has these words of wisdom: “Take up new technology such as HTML519 and CSS320.”

Conclusions Link

The Dutch are individualists. Despite having created a big pile of outdated websites, this small community is getting its creative act together. Web designers from the Low Countries generally love clear design, incline towards minimalism and prefer to work conceptually.

Given the rich graphic history of the Netherlands, there is still much honor to gain on the Web. Hopefully, @font-face will accelerate this development.

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Heeftstijl.nl

There is no distinct Dutch Web community, considering the Dutch are individualists and internationally oriented. The industry is fragmented, unprotected and not well represented. The only Web design blog that tries to give the Dutch community a face and contribute to a sense of high-quality design for the country is Heeftstijl. Perhaps it is worthy of the term “Dutch Web design.”

Certainly, inspiration can come from many different sources. Erwin Olaf21 is highly valued, as is poet Wim T. Schippers22. Dutch designers refer to Bas Ording (Apple OS X), Momkai, Delta23 (Boris Tellegen), the late Kioken Inc.24, Jos Buivenga and Mediamonks as sources of inspiration.

And Now You Decide, With a Showcase Link

Adobe User Group

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Jens Kanis12025

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Iwit

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Dawn27

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G-Star Next Raw Reporter

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They29

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N831

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Grafisch Lyceum Rotterdam33

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Kunsthal35

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Vingino37

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Mode Arnhem39

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Annyas41

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Jochem Myjer43

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Hanazuki45

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Sapph Lingerie

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Creative Connection47

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Badabingdesign49

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Dewerkelijkheidverzinjeniet51

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Design.nl53

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VenhoevenCS

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Matias Jansen55

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PVDA57

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Doelstelling2

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Wehkamp59

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Unga Toys61

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Joods Monument63

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Dutch Design Agencies Showcase Link

Momkai11065

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Achtung67

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MediaMonks69

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Postmachina71

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Booreiland11773

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Onstuimig75

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Grrr11977

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Fabrique79

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Refunk.com

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Eldesign11281

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De Internetjongens83

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Creative Monkeys85

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Adena87

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Biqini

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Designer Showcase Link

Designed By Nelleke89

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Jeroen Homan91

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Jeroen van Eerden

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Sjoerd Dijkstra93

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Annyas95

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Frish11197

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Both99

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Helium Workx115101

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MKleyne103

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Jonnotie

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Toko Rose113105

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Wij Zijn Rood107

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Special thanks to Maarten Kleyne109, Momkai11065, Frish11197, Eldesign11281, Designphunk, Toko Rose113105, Christian Annyas114, Helium Workx115101, Branco Creative116, Iwit, Booreiland11773, Rumbling Skies118, Grrr11977, Jens Kanis12025, Nelleke121, MediaCT122, Marten de Jongh123 and Jonno Riekwel.

You may be interested in the following related posts:

(al)

Footnotes Link

  1. 1 http://www.spinawards.nl/
  2. 2 http://www.spinawards.nl/
  3. 3 http://www.brandrepublic.nl/
  4. 4 http://www.gerardunger.com/
  5. 5 http://www.martinmajoor.com/
  6. 6 http://www.josbuivenga.demon.nl/
  7. 7 http://www.vpro.nl/
  8. 8 http://www.vpro.nl/
  9. 9 http://www.werkplaatstypografie.org/
  10. 10 http://www.spinawards.nl/
  11. 11 http://fronteers.nl/
  12. 12 http://www.fitc.ca/
  13. 13 http://www.objectifiedfilm.com/
  14. 14 http://wordpress.org/
  15. 15 http://www.nalden.net/
  16. 16 http://www.nalden.net/
  17. 17 http://24ways.org/2009/a-new-years-resolution
  18. 18 http://w139.nl/
  19. 19 http://html5.org/
  20. 20 http://www.css3.info/
  21. 21 http://www.erwinolaf.com/
  22. 22 http://wim-t.nl/
  23. 23 http://www.deltainc.nl/
  24. 24 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=231M1x1JOfw
  25. 25 http://www.jenskanis.nl/
  26. 26 http://www.jenskanis.nl/
  27. 27 http://www.dawn.nl/
  28. 28 http://www.dawn.nl/
  29. 29 http://www.they.nl/
  30. 30 http://www.they.nl/
  31. 31 http://www.n8.nl/2009/home
  32. 32 http://www.n8.nl/2009/home
  33. 33 http://www.glr.nl/
  34. 34 http://www.glr.nl/
  35. 35 http://www.kunsthal.nl/
  36. 36 http://www.kunsthal.nl/
  37. 37 http://vingino.nl/
  38. 38 http://vingino.nl/
  39. 39 http://www.modearnhem.nl/
  40. 40 http://www.modearnhem.nl/
  41. 41 http://www.annyas.com/screenshots/
  42. 42 http://www.annyas.com/screenshots/
  43. 43 http://www.jochemmyjer.nl
  44. 44 http://www.jochemmyjer.nl
  45. 45 http://www.hanazuki.com/development/home.html
  46. 46 http://www.hanazuki.com/development/home.html
  47. 47 http://www.creativeconnection.nl/
  48. 48 http://www.creativeconnection.nl/
  49. 49 http://www.badabingdesign.nl/
  50. 50 http://www.badabingdesign.nl/
  51. 51 http://www.dewerkelijkheidverzinjeniet.nl/
  52. 52 http://www.dewerkelijkheidverzinjeniet.nl/
  53. 53 http://design.nl/
  54. 54 http://design.nl/
  55. 55 http://cargo.matiasjansen.com/
  56. 56 http://cargo.matiasjansen.com/
  57. 57 http://nu.pvda.nl/
  58. 58 http://nu.pvda.nl/
  59. 59 http://www.wehkamp.nl/
  60. 60 http://www.wehkamp.nl/
  61. 61 http://www.ungatoys.com/
  62. 62 http://www.ungatoys.com/
  63. 63 http://www.joodsmonument.nl/
  64. 64 http://www.joodsmonument.nl/
  65. 65 http://www.momkai.com/
  66. 66 http://www.momkai.com/
  67. 67 http://www.achtung.nl/
  68. 68 http://www.achtung.nl/
  69. 69 http://www.mediamonks.nl/
  70. 70 http://www.mediamonks.nl/
  71. 71 http://www.postmachina.com/
  72. 72 http://www.postmachina.com/
  73. 73 http://www.booreiland.nl/
  74. 74 http://www.booreiland.nl/
  75. 75 http://onstuimig.nl/
  76. 76 http://onstuimig.nl/
  77. 77 http://grrr.nl/
  78. 78 http://grrr.nl/
  79. 79 http://fabrique.nl/
  80. 80 http://fabrique.nl/
  81. 81 http://nl.elweb.nl/
  82. 82 http://nl.elweb.nl/
  83. 83 http://www.deinternetjongens.nl/
  84. 84 http://www.deinternetjongens.nl/
  85. 85 http://www.creativemonkeys.nl
  86. 86 http://www.creativemonkeys.nl
  87. 87 http://adena.nl/
  88. 88 http://adena.nl/
  89. 89 http://www.designedbynelleke.com/
  90. 90 http://www.designedbynelleke.com/
  91. 91 http://www.jeroenhoman.com/
  92. 92 http://www.jeroenhoman.com/
  93. 93 http://www.sjoerddijkstra.nl/
  94. 94 http://www.sjoerddijkstra.nl/
  95. 95 http://www.annyas.com/
  96. 96 http://www.annyas.com/
  97. 97 http://frish.nl/
  98. 98 http://frish.nl/
  99. 99 http://www.bothdesignandmedia.com/
  100. 100 http://www.bothdesignandmedia.com/
  101. 101 http://heliumworkx.com/
  102. 102 http://heliumworkx.com/
  103. 103 http://www.mkleyne.nl/
  104. 104 http://www.mkleyne.nl/
  105. 105 http://www.tokorose.nl/
  106. 106 http://www.tokorose.nl/
  107. 107 http://www.wijzijnrood.nl/
  108. 108 http://www.wijzijnrood.nl/
  109. 109 http://www.mkleyne.nl/
  110. 110 http://www.momkai.com/
  111. 111 http://frish.nl/
  112. 112 http://nl.elweb.nl/
  113. 113 http://www.tokorose.nl/
  114. 114 http://www.annyas.com/
  115. 115 http://heliumworkx.com/
  116. 116 http://www.branco-creative.nl/
  117. 117 http://www.booreiland.nl/
  118. 118 http://www.rumblingskies.com/
  119. 119 http://grrr.nl/
  120. 120 http://www.jenskanis.nl/
  121. 121 http://www.designedbynelleke.com/
  122. 122 http://www.mediact.nl/
  123. 123 http://www.martendejongh.com/
  124. 124 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/2010/03/15/showcase-of-web-design-in-china-from-imitation-to-innovation-and-user-centered-design/
  125. 125 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/2010/02/23/shalom-showcase-of-web-design-in-israel/
  126. 126 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/2009/10/17/global-web-design-russia/
  127. 127 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/2010/01/26/showcase-of-web-design-in-germany/
  128. 128 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/2009/12/12/viva-mexico-showcase-of-web-design-in-mexico/
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  1. 1

    Haha, nice post. Nice to see some examples from other Dutch designers!

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  2. 2

    Nice post! Achtung, mediamonks en booreiland produce fabulous work.. As do loads of other agencies. We might be a small country, but we can roll with the big boys!

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  3. 3

    very good list and excellent design !! – i love all designer & designs !! – Excellent Work!

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  4. 4

    Frank de Wit

    April 22, 2010 6:30 am

    Nice post! Interesting to see whether Holland really has a webdesign community or has his own style.

    Is there a need for a Dutch webdesign community?

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  5. 5

    maurits rozema

    April 22, 2010 6:32 am

    im dutch, this is nice

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  6. 6

    Top to see some great designers and design from my country!

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  7. 7

    Although I spent some time in the Flash community (which at that time was one big group), I’ve never really seen a Dutch web design community or meeting place.

    Generally, there are only a few big Dutch web communities (Fok is one of the biggest forums in the world). Most people I know spend more time in English communities. I guess it’s because everyone here speaks English, so there isn’t really a need to limit it to Dutch-only.

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    • 8

      The reason why there isn’t a real community in dutch is because the dutch are amazingly well english orientated (like me), as compared to other coutries worldwide. Although there are some communities for design and or flash. for instance; http://flashfocus.nl/ . But I do find myself posting on other websites in English because you get a better result and much quicker response. As for the question if there is a true Dutch style? Not really… But then again, the internet makes it hard to create community styled identity… And styles change over time…

      0
  8. 9

    Cool list! Momkai is one of the best design studios we know, definitely with Flash!

    Too bad Yummygum wasn’t mentioned ;)

    0
  9. 10

    These are some well known websites for me as a dutch. Although I do mis a lot of works that haven’t been posted here. Still the highlight are in here…

    0
  10. 11

    Very cool post!

    1
  11. 12

    [quote]Mattijs Bliek: “… the Amsterdam area, which certainly appears to be a creative hot spot in the Netherlands[/quote]

    This is complete nonsense. Amsterdam is the creative hotspot? You might want to venture out of that place from time to time and visit other cities.

    Other than this rather ignorant remark which seems to be typical for those living in the Randstad, it is nice that Smashing magazine takes the time to look at dutch web design.

    Great article!

    1
    • 13

      I do agree with you Martin. Amsterdam as the Creative hotspot? The Randstad area has a lot of creative minds as it appeares. But you have to agree. The big monster companies are all located in Amsterdam and the surroundings. Although at the location of the old Van Nelle factory in Rotterdam are some great individual companies as well, so does Den Haag and Eindhoven.

      0
    • 14

      David Spreekmeester

      April 22, 2010 9:22 am

      @Martin: If you would have read Mattijs’ remark well before bluntly calling it ‘ignorant’, you might have noticed that he called Amsterdam ‘a’ creative hotspot, not ‘the’. Of course, luckily, there are many others too, I totally agree, but denying the cultural status of the capital is rather silly really, and I think offensive and defensive remarks based on inaccurate reading don’t quite strengthen your arguments.

      0
  12. 15

    Great Post..
    Thanks

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  13. 16

    Johan de Jong

    April 22, 2010 7:23 am

    Nice article, good to see the Dutch are “good enough” ;)

    Although designers from The Netherlands don’t seem to have their own “style”, I feel they have something else; they design “out of the box”, or better said; “out of the border”.

    I’ve never seen a real dutch design, but you can tell that they ain’t really fitting any style. And this global way of designing (and living) is something only the dutch can (imho).

    PS. yes I’m dutch too ;) PPS. and no, I’m not a design…

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  14. 17

    SPINA_W_ARDS?

    Either this is in a tongue I don’t speak or there’s something really weird with the kerning. Since we’re talking about a highly design-related issue, I guess and hope it’s not the latter. ;)

    An excellent collection of websites, though, thank you for introducing us to them.

    0
    • 18

      Exactly my initial reaction also! And no, I don’t see any hidden message in the odd spacing (I’m Dutch). “Spin” is Dutch for “spider”, but neither “spina” or “ards” make any sense.
      The whole typesetting of that image seems like a rush job. The font does not seem to be the same as the one used for the logo, and nowhere else on the website is all-caps type used.

      0
  15. 19

    I’ve followed an education on “Grafisch Lyceum Rotterdam” :D

    0
  16. 20

    Thanks SM… for the extremely stereotype depiction of Holland ;)

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  17. 21

    I like the “Dawn” show case, pretty cool !

    0
  18. 22

    I like dutch design, great article Edgar.

    0
  19. 23

    Ayman form Egypt Nice Post wonderful Design German

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  20. 27

    Good post, but the some of the examples in the showcase part are a bit random and average. I’m a Dutch designer myself and I must agree that we don’t really have a strong community over here in Holland.

    As others mentioned earlier; Dutch people are very international oriented and a lot of us Dutchies speak more than 1 language. We are active in international communities such as this one and many more around. I’m also running a few websites/portals/communities myself and most of them are international oriented to gather larger target audiences. One of those sites is http://www.webdesignerdaily.com for daily fresh webdesign inspiration.

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