Just over a week ago I managed to spend a day in Amsterdam, having extended my stay at the inaugural European eCommerce Forum (of which, more anon).
After what seemed like weeks of rain and hail the Saturday was a glorious, warm Spring day.
Ian Worley had spoken at the conference – a really good session on ethnographic research aka watching your customers and responding to their needs – and he’d stayed over too. We therefore hit the streets for a 7-hour walk, with the focus on architecture (as you’d expect, given that Ian’s an architect by training and Amsterdam is a design/architecture dream city: dense, varied, compact and photogenic). I was still suffering from my “all manhole covers are ART” affliction, so spent most of my time peering floor-wards or fiddling with the exposure control to try and capture the first feeling of hot, bright sun on these winter-wearied eyes.
Conversation went from the Founding Fathers and their true intentions, to London Mayoral campaigns, raising kids, ecommerce, gadgets and bbq techniques – interrupted only by cravings for beer and peering at maps.
Amsterdam must surely be one of the most civilised and livable capital city centres in the world.
A discovery on this visit was the FOAM photo gallery. What a wonderful place. A lateral conversion over four floors, facing onto the canal, garden gallery, compact but selective bookshop plus print sales. Saw a great exhibition by Daniel and Geo Fuchs on “Secret Rooms” of the STASI. Jessica Dimmock’s “The Ninth Floor” [book] was a moving and rounded documentary of drug users in New York, taken with integrity and a rounded engagement with her subjects. It avoided most of the sunday-supplement heroine chic images and the exhibition ended – as she describes in the accompanying text – as she lost documentary objectivity at the plight of her (now) friends. Thought-provoking, and a reminder both of the power of photography and the value of a good showing space.