- Category: Blog
- Published on 24 May 2011
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After a year of collaboration designing David Becketts new book 'Amsterdam... The Essence' we were able to celebrate the launch of the book with an evening of 'Art, Fashion and Passion' Monday 23rd May at the Westergasfabriek.
The event was covered by local Amsterdam television station AT5 and attended by interviewees featured in the book, Job Cohen, Henk Schiffmacher, Mariette Hoitink and Sjaak Swart to name a few. Louise Schiffmacher was the host for the night and performances by Bas Kosters & Shirley Hart, Def P & The Howling Coyotes, Fya Hopelezz, Lake Montgomery and the Brothers Grimm made for a fanatastic evening.
David explains the story of how the book developed.
“I fell in love with Amsterdam as soon as I arrived. Something about the atmosphere captured my imagination, and over the years I found my opinions and character being shaped by the city and its people. I consider this to be my home-town, and wanted to find a way to share my passion and joy for living in Amsterdam.
There are plenty of travel guides about this city - Lonely Planet and Rough Guide give comprehensive listings of where to go or what to see. What they don't answer is the most elusive questions of all - why is the city like it is, and why are the people like they are? 'Amsterdam… The Essence' is the first book to give those answers, by gathering the opinions and feelings of a diverse group.
The format we’re creating is very colourful and has as much emphasis on image as on text. When you show the Amsterdam story of creative characters like Def P, you can’t do it in black and white. That’s why I asked Sarah Loughran from Sphere Design to come up with a format that captures the vibrant essence of Amsterdam – and she’s certainly done that!
I believe that few people like the label “tourist”, and especially a section of visitors to the city want to know something more than the obvious tourist locations. Those coming to Amsterdam naturally want to do the boat trip and see the Van Gogh museum. But there is so much more to the city than the main tourist drag of Leidseplein, Dam Square and the Red Light District.
It’s the “underground” aspect of Amsterdam that is most vibrant, exciting and diverse - and that's the real essence of the cityEarly on, I decided my mission was to capture the heart and soul - the essence - of Amsterdam by digging into the experiences of people living here. What do they do, where do they go, why do they live here, what do they think and feel about the city?
As I started to talk to people about interviews for the book, I began to meet some creative characters from a diverse range of backgrounds and saw that they have a unique perspective. They could tell something about the hugely varied cultural world that exists in Amsterdam, which is very much more interesting at the less-commercial level. It’s the “underground” aspect of Amsterdam that is most vibrant, exciting and diverse, and this will feature in the book.
Equally, to learn about the city’s history and the changes it’s gone through needed interviews with knowledgeable residents who also have controversial views.
In terms of design, its focus is on readability. Over 150 photographs highlight the personal nature of the content – almost like a scrapbook of ideas and experiences.
My goal is to create something colourful, alive and absorbing that makes you want to read it even after the visit is over. It’s also been told by many locals that Amsterdammers are always interested to read what foreigners have to say about their city. So I also believe that for residents, the book can have a high value."
Me pictured with Job Cohen, the former mayor of Amsterdam also interviewed in the book.