I have been to Rotterdam a few times as I have a very good friend who is from there, but I recently stepped out of the bohemian parts I knew well and walked into the core centre of shopping, art and design and I can safely say I loved it. Looks like I'm growing up.
Rotterdam is like Eindhoven in the way that it is design focused with sophistication in mind when it comes to shopping. The people of this city are proud to be from where they are from and subsequently are fiercely supportive of local products.
When it comes to shopping, one thing I took away was that in many of these independent shops, the design studios were attached and quite visible to the public. I like that. Designers do not keep things hidden, and when you live in a world that is disconnected from the realities of production, I thought this was a really nice touch.
Visually, Rotterdam is incredible. It was utterly decimated in the war, so they had to start from scratch. It almost feels like they just went to all the architects and said ‘yeah, sure – just do whatever’ -which has turned it into a mismatched, modernist metropolis. But, somehow it just works.
If you are into locality, clothing, art, interiors, architecture, food and have some cash to splash, then Rotterdam is the perfect place to go away for a weekend. You can get there easily with frequent flights from Manchester to Schiphol and direct trains from the airport which takes just thirty minutes.
Here are my top five places to shop in Rotterdam:
Keet is a concept store for start-up web shops, businesses and labels. Clothing, books, bags, accessories, cosmetics, posters and lots of other gadgets. In the brightly lit store, all of these beautifully designed products are shown off to their best advantage in the stunningly set out display. The name loosely translates to ‘collective’, and this is the basis of the store. Lots of vendors have small stalls or even shelves in the store which often belong to the creators themselves. There is also a beautiful coffee shop in there too (obviously) and some of the best cakes I have ever tasted.
Keet Store, Oppert 2a, 3011 HV Rotterdam, Netherlands
This shop really stole my heart. The products are high-end designer knitwear- think hats and scarves- which are made my little old ladies as a method of combating loneliness in the ageing Dutch population. The Granny’s, of course, make lovely warm hats and scarves, but they also make trendy shawls, bows and nice rugs or cushions. When you buy a product from Granny’s Finest, it will come with a handwritten note from the maker in which you can correspond with to say thank you. The proceeds from the products also go towards trips for the old ladies to go on- how cute is that?
Granny’s Finest, Mariniersweg 55, 3011 NE Rotterdam, Netherlands
Groos is a concept store with only high-end products from Rotterdam. This ‘department store’ in the Schieblock sells fashion, design, art, music, literature, film, delicacies and lifestyle products. The name of the store, Groos, is a forgotten Dutch word for pride which links to the fact that they only stock local products. If you wanted to pick up some art or prints in Rotterdam, then this would be the place I would suggest. They have some fantastic really high-end furniture and sculpture which is available to buy- but I just stuck to the postcards!
Groos, Achterklooster 13, 3011 RA Rotterdam, Netherlands
Susan Bijl is a Dutch designer and a colourful brand known for the durable nylon shopping bags with the signature flash. They seriously reminded me of Power Rangers, and I had no problem with that at all. She has been going since the 1990’s when she created her first bag to end all bags, but she has recently branched out to make laptop bags, and backpacks. The bags are all light, compactable waterproof, eco-friendly and are a great example of modern Dutch design. They opened their first store at Mauritsweg in Rotterdam in 2014.
Sudan Bijl, Mauritsweg 45A, 3012 JV Rotterdam, Netherlands
‘S Zommers Bloemen
Just calling S’Zomers a flower shop does not do it justice. A stroll through the shop is a sensation that tantalises the senses with the exceptional scents, colours and shapes you encounter. I think the best way to describe it would be if Marie Antoinette and Jean Paul Gautier moved to Rotterdam and opened a flower shop. The walls are bright fuchsia pink with huge bunches of flowers cascading from every wall. There is taxidermy, sculpture and art dotted about, and it smells better than Mother Nature’s armpit.
S’Zommers, Van Oldenbarneveltstraat 144, 3012 GX Rotterdam, Netherlands