Adventures in Dutch design

Entrance to showUP

Contributor Denre Bruins, writes:

About half a year ago someone told me about this great contemporary gift and homeware exhibition that I should visit, Amsterdam-based event, showUP.

Unfortunately, as so often happens, important exhibitions and events overlap and showUP is on at the same time as Autumn Fair. Keen to see this undiscovered exhibition, I nonetheless planned ahead and decided that rather than drive to Birmingham I’d take a quick plane ride to Holland for my seasonal new product inspiration.

I only live half an hour from Luton Airport and from there it’s another 45 minutes to Schiphol in the Netherlands. I took the 8.00am plane and I was at the show by around 11.00am Dutch time. As the show is located very near to the airport and conveniently laid out, this left me plenty of time to get a good impression of what was on display.

Workshop by Leonie & Lois

As soon as I walked through the doors I felt a buzz of creativity surrounding me. Stands organised to be designer-style-disorganised encouraged visitors to browse from left to right rather than take long strolls the length of the exhibition hall, as usually happens at fairs everywhere and not just Birmingham.

People displaying their craftsmanship made the show feel more lively than I could have imagined. ShowUP was filled with interesting characters and – with tempting food stands both in and outside the exhibition hall – I almost forgot my reasons for being there on a perfect sunny day. My real reason for being there was to discover what the Netherlands had ready to go instore, design wise.

Beautiful flowers and vases at the restaurant

With many of the most renowned and coveted Dutch home, gift and stationery designers displaying their latest creations for the coming seasons it was a real feast for my eyes and senses. Trying not to be too distracted by all the beautiful designs and colours I kept on my business hat and made my way through the two halls looking for things that really impressed me as outstanding.


For example the beautiful wooden prints by KEK Amsterdam enable you to bring a true Dutch Old Master or stylish contemporary classic into the home. The images are printed on a single piece of Ecoplex. This eco-friendly birch plywood, 18mm thick, is made out of several thin layers of wood. As a result, the sides of the panel get that characteristic striped look. They also do spectacular wallpapers.

Or this simplistic but sophisticated TV Stand by Vogel’s that reinstalls the TV as a genuine piece of interior design.

And maybe not quite so sophisticated but with more and more people riding bikes certainly extremely useful: Wobs supplies specially designed bike gloves which are made from 10 recycled plastic bottles each and also enhance visibility in the dark. The gloves have a soft furry lining, are water repellent and are available in many different fashionable prints. A great gift for an active guy who loves cycling. (mentioning no names!)

It may be clear that showUP had much more to offer than just the products listed above and during my quest I spoke to a lot of interesting people and got to know their brands and different visions. One thing they all had in common was the view that showUP is good for business and led to valuable leads for all of them.

I for sure will be visiting the next edition of showUP that takes place on the 4th and 5th of February 2018 at the Expo Haarlemmermeer in Vijfhuizen, the Netherlands.