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Mason Studio | Work From The World with Erin Kinninmont, Project Designer
Location: Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Going Dutch (by design). Amsterdam, Netherlands was Mason Studio Project Designer Erin Kinninmont’s locale of choice for her Work From The World venture. From pedaling through the city streets on bicycles or traversing canals, to perusing pops of colour and examining adaptable, sustainable living, Amsterdam offered an abundant learning experience. Always taking it back to their roots, with a vision for the future, Erin grasped Amsterdam’s preservation of heritage in the midst of their human-centred forward-thinking approach.
“Traveling to new places broadens your perspective and exposes you to new cultures which ultimately enhances your understanding and appreciation for design,” Erin says. “An important takeaway for me is that historical contexts and traditions inform design choices, helping designers to adapt and innovate.”
Read more about Erin’s journey below and connect with her at @erin_kinninmont.
How has this trip to Amsterdam contributed to your understanding of design?
Traveling to new places broadens your perspective and exposes you to new cultures which ultimately enhances your understanding and appreciation for design. In Amsterdam the long history of canals has greatly influenced the city’s architecture and overall urban planning. The expansion of the canal network in the 17th century led to its dense urban layout resulting in tall, narrow canal houses that the city is now recognized by. An important takeaway for me is that historical contexts and traditions inform design choices, helping designers to adapt and innovate.
What innovations did you witness, experience, engage with?
Amsterdam’s floating homes represent an innovative approach to urban living by embracing the city’s extensive network of canals. These homes built on floating platforms offer several benefits including adaptability to rising sea levels, create an efficient use of urban space, and offers a sustainable lifestyle to its residents. This innovative housing solution integrates harmoniously with the city’s waterways and provides its residence with a unique way of living.
Tell us about any signature elements synonymous with Amsterdam.
Amsterdam is known for its signature architectural elements like narrow, gabled houses with red brick facades with line the city’s canals. Dutch design is also characterized by simplicity, repetition, and functionality. They combine historic architecture with modern furnishings often featuring clean lines and a minimalist aesthetic. Amsterdam blends historic charm with contemporary design elements to create a distinctive style that feels laid back and effortless.
Is there an element of design you’d like to integrate in your practice?
I visited an exhibition created by Dutch design studio Raw Color whose central focus is on the investigation of colour through interdisciplinary projects. The show featured a selection of their work which explores different aspects of colour including density, proportion, translucency and blending. Colour theory is a tool that I would like to integrate into my practice because of its ability to influence people’s perception of space. It can change the way we experience light, size, temperature and mood. This is a design strategy that isn’t often used in Canadian interiors but a practice that I hope to see integrated more often.
How has this travel experience contributed to the way you think, act and live?
Amsterdam embodies a relaxed, socially connected, and environmentally conscious way of living which inspires me to make changes in the way I live back home. The city’s bike friendly culture promotes physical activity and a sustainable way to commute which is something I would love to integrate into my routine. Amsterdam’s relaxed and community centric values also encourages me to adopt a slower pace and a greater focus on work-life balance.
What aspects of community, inclusion and belonging did you witness or experience within the Amsterdam, and the local culture?
In Amsterdam, community is a central focus in their design approach and takes precedence over aesthetics. This reflects the city’s commitment to fostering strong social connections through design by promoting pedestrian friendly neighbourhoods with shared public spaces such as parks, co-working spaces, squares, and community gardens. Amsterdam’s emphasis on sustainable, accessible and people centric urban planning helps create an environment where residents are more likely to engage with one another and build a strong sense of community.