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May 12



In celebration of our newest Special Room, we had a chat with Swaantje Nijkamp from Buro Curious, a young creative company set up in Broedplaats VKG in the rear wing of Volkshotel. Read all about their passion for ‘experience concepts’, theatrical events and – of course – YOU ARE HERE.

Let’s start with Buro Curious. What’s it about?
Buro Curious originated with the fusing of Studio Liaan and Curious Behaviour. We design experiences. Depending on the context, content and the venue, we use art to enhance the impact of the event. Subsequently, the event’s content will more likely stick to the visitor’s memory. When designing ‘experience concepts’ we think about the whole scope of an event, innovation issue or social problem. We begin with advice and end up with a total concept. Besides making ‘experience concepts’ we also provide ‘experience products’. These are tools, games and performances that can be used separately or in combination to stimulate interaction and experience.

We’re thrilled to have YOU ARE HERE as one of our Special Rooms! How did you come up with the idea?
The creative workspace in the former Volkskrant building was already Buro Curious’s homebase, so when we heard about the plans for Volkshotel we started thinking about a concept right away – it’s in our nature. We were already hoping for a chance to cooporate, so when we saw the open call for designers we got to work immediately. We thought of what we wanted to contribute. Creating interactive concepts is what we do best and also what differentiates us from others. But how does one make a hotel room interactive? Eventually we thought of our main idea: we wanted to create a blank hotel room and invite the guests to colourise it.

Volkshotel set a few guidelines that the design of the room should meet. One of them was to incorporate something from the city of Amsterdam. This guideline really fascinated me. When you’re visiting a city, you pick a hotel that appeals to you. On the other hand, usually, the main goal is to get to know the city – not to stay in the hotel. Volkshotel is a venue that you never really have to leave, because there’s so much happening all the time. We decided to literally bring Amsterdam into the room, by projecting its most beautiful and characteristic spots on the walls. Not to keep the guests inside their hotel room, but to give them a sneak preview of what there is to see outside. That’s also why we didn’t choose the most obvious locations, like Dam Square – it’s in every travel guide. We picked spots that are frequently visited by Amsterdamians, so the room also functions as an insider’s travel guide.


Do you have a particular type of hotel guest in mind for YOU ARE HERE?
Haha, that’s a good question. To be honest, I think the room doesn’t appeal to one single type of person. You don’t have to be young or really creative. All you need is a sense of adventure and appreciation for surprises. Anyone who doesn’t play it safe and prefers the extra- over the ordinary should definitely experience YOU ARE HERE.

YOU ARE HERE currently offers 5 different experiences: Prinseneiland, Café ‘t Mandje, IJ-river, a night club and the Westerpark. What more can we expect?
We’re actually already working on new locations to videomap. The NDSM Werf, part of the old industrial docks in Amsterdam North, is the next hotspot we’re planning to incorporate. The vibe of the NDSM Werf is so different from other parts of Amsterdam, so we really can’t skip it.

And finally, is there another Buro Curious project that you’d like to share with us?
We just finished a concept for the Red Bull Bar Staff Challenge, Red Bull’s search for ‘Heroes of the Night’. The coming six months, teams from 50 selected Dutch bars and night clubs will compete in different challenges. The big kick-off event on the 11th of May took place at the Scheepvaartmuseum (Maritime Museum). We created an interactive entertainment concept for this evening and it was quite an experience. Two percussionists and an impressive gatekeeper set the battle mood at the entrance and inside the venue 17 performers helped the teams achieve extra points during an interactive performance. North, South, East and West teams battled to collect the most points. The whole experience was really theatrical and energetic, just the way we like it.

This special room deserves a special opening night. On Friday night the 15th of May, Café ’t Mandje opens a real dependence in Volkshotel, complete with a Dutch folk music sing-a-long, accordeon players, and Amsterdam treats like ‘Ossenworst’ (‘ox sausage’) and Dutch Gin.

Friday 15th of May // 5-8pm // free entrance // more info

YOU ARE HERE is a concept by Buro Curious – a young company set up in Broedplaats VKG (in rear wing Volkshotel) and graphic designer/illustrator Linde Ex. The room is made with contributions from Mark Thewessen and Diederik Schoorl. Architect Elwin van Heyningen implemented the room design.


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