Ben's Amsterdam Residency: Week One

Ben’s Amsterdam Residency: Week One

I’ve arrived. In more ways than one.

Since landing in Amsterdam early Monday morning, I’ve seen, smelled, heard and tasted more than I can recount in a single blog post. Already, this pilot trip of Block Club’s residency program is a success. My phone is full of photos, my brain is full of thoughts, and my laptop is full of notes on topics ranging from travel etiquette to branding philosophy to Dutch design to urban living. Rest assured, I’ll be reporting back on these and plenty more concepts in the weeks to come. This much is for sure: I really love it here.

My first impression of this beautiful city is that is a case study in dichotomies, a perspective that this gemini notices with ease. It is a city of immense depth but shallow stairs, narrow buildings but wide windows, great density but refreshing airiness, gracious diversity and staunch self-pride; it’s both urban and pastoral, ancient and futuristic, charming and blunt. Streets here are famously populated by more bikes than cars, therefore dividing traffic between four- and two-wheel vehicles, and narrowing pedestrian sidewalks to what feel like grounded catwalks—everyone has a lane here. It is a theme I have seen pop up elsewhere, notably the myriad nationalities and ethnicities (and cuisines, yum!) that reside primarily in my neighborhood, which is called De Pijp, (deh pipe). A contact I have here dubbed this Amsterdam’s Greenwich Village, which seems accurate. Lots of artists, young people, cafés (more on those later), bistros, families and brands…lots and lots of brands (much more on that later).

In the meantime, I’m working my regular workday, six hours ahead, and thanks to the bright and patient minds back home, I’m able to video- or teleconference into almost any meeting I’d normally be in the room for. It’s a pleasure being able to see my team’s faces and hear their voices every morning (3:30 p.m. my time) for our routine scrum meeting. It’s also nice to be able to show clients who are joining in on a conference call that regardless of my physical location, the work continues, and even sharper than before!

Pretty soon, I’ll be meeting with a few local creative agencies to pick their brains and share Block Club’s work and ideas. I’ll also be exploring the city (as well as hitting the road) to load up on inspiration.

It’s my day off, so I’m heading out to see the popular City Center core of the city, home to all that you’ve ever heard about this romantic, intoxicating, strange Dutch place. Stay tuned…