After a whirlwind trip to the Netherlands last week, I'm still buzzing from the exhilarating experience of exploring Elle Decoration's Inside Design Amsterdam. The pop-up route was like a treasure hunt set up in Amsterdam's Ijburg neighborhood. With dozens of showrooms highlighting innovative designs from Dutch artists, designers, and architects, it was impossible to leave feeling uninspired. Keep reading to discover some of the design gems I uncovered!
In the Netherlands only 10 percent of women have full-time jobs, a rate that pales to the 75 percent of working American women employed full time and increasingly filling management roles. But as expat Jessica Olien points out in Slate this week, the Netherlands consistently ranks in the top five countries for women. How come?
Instead of fighting for equal wages, Dutch women want the right to cut hours without repercussions from employers. A working female journalist explains: "We look at the world of management — and it is a man's world — and we think, oh I could do that if I wanted. But I'd rather enjoy my life."
The UN looked into the situation, worried that Dutch women did not have the same access as men, and found that in fact, many women did not want to work more. As a result they have more time to exercise, garden, and enjoy time with their kids or friends. In the US, our work influences feelings of independence and self-worth. For many of us, the dialogue of women's liberation is closely linked to the ability to climb the career success ladder; yet Dutch society promotes the freedom to live a balanced life, and studies show that this type of freedom results in greater levels of happiness.
Perhaps Dutch women are OK with not fully participating in the labor market because they've long had freedom to work. Ever since a plague put women to work in the 14th century, Dutch women have been able to work outside the home. Some historians consider that the first feminist revolution. Mix that past with a social safety net, which frees you from concerns over college loans or health insurance, and you can actually choose to not work. Do you wish more women here had that choice?
Source: Flickr User gribbly
Every pink slip has a silver lining, as long as you're Dutch. Unemployed women in the Netherlands are being given makeovers worth almost $1,700 — and the government is paying for them. I could get on board with this if the "makeovers" included interview lessons, a beautiful suit to make you look your best with prospective employers, and makeup and hair tips designed to help you put your best face forward when you're job hunting.
Unfortunately, though, the plan's stated purpose isn't nearly that empowering. Instead, the program is designed to help women find a new man instead of a new job. That's right, job seekers are being given makeovers, clothes, and life coaching in an effort to find them a "solvent husband." Why, that's almost as crazy as putting women in windows as though they were objects for sale. (Oh, wait.) If you were Dutch, would you protest or embrace this idea?
While minimalism is definitely not my decorating modus operandi, I do envy those who can tightly edit a space to perfection. Such is the case with the Amsterdam apartment of James Webb, a partner, along with Kirstin Gabriëls, in the firm gabriëls webb, a multi-discipline design and architecture office located in Amsterdam.
Although Webb no longer lives in this gorgeous apartment, he writes that having to move out of this space did motivate him to buy his own place, which is, no surprise, lovely as well.
I love the contrasts in Webb's first apartment, from the traditional, wide-planked wood floor with state-of-the-art speakers set upon it to the ornate candelabra set next to an ultra-modern turntable on the mantel. Curious as to what else resides in this modern, minimalist flat? Find out when you read more
I'd like to know what the Dutch are hiding in their bathrooms! A new survey released yesterday claims that 88 percent of respondents listed a visit to the bathroom as their most enjoyed activity.
I can think of a lot of other things I like more than answering the call of nature. Like what about enjoying nature? Actually "outdoor recreation" came in third place, preceded by a "good chat with friends," which placed second.
And as for the obvious answer? Only 21 percent of the respondents said having sex was the most enjoyable thing to do.
I could understand the UK survey from a while back that showed that eight in 10 Brits would rather get a good night's sleep than have sex — but enjoying going to the bathroom more than sex just doesn't make any sense to me!
All music is
electronic electric at Rotterdam's Club Watt. A newly installed dance floor traps energy generated from dancing, and then converts it to electricity.
Yesterday's New York Times profiled the sustainable dance club, explaining that people can see the results of their energy creation. The floor powers a light show displayed around the dancers. At Watt, other green innovations help keep the party going: rainwater fills the toilets, and everything from the bar is recycled. When it's cold, band amplifiers and other musical equipment generate the heat.
The head of the group behind the Dutch club says: "Our idea is that there’s enough energy in this world, you just have to use it the right way. If you have a full dance club, there’s lots there, you just have to turn it into a usable product.” Sounds like a great idea to me!
Dutch Anti-Islam Politician Won't Be Charged
Dutch legislator Geert Wilders will not be prosecuted for inciting hatred of Muslims with his film denouncing the Quran, prosecutor said Monday. Prosecutor said his film Fitna, or "Ordeal" in Arabic, and statements Wilders wrote in Dutch newspapers were hurtful and insulting but not criminal. The film juxtaposed Quranic verses against a background of violent film clips and images of terrorism by Islamic radicals. It aroused protests around the Muslim world after it was released on the Internet in March.
Remember the anti-Islam video "Fitna" put out by a Dutch politician last month? Well a young Saudi businessman has decided to give Christianity the same treatment. Raed al-Saeed's increasingly popular video "Schism," mashes images of aggressive behavior by Christians with aggressive Bible-verses.
Unlike the Dutch video of violence by Muslims played to verses of the Koran, the Biblical version is not motivated by a desire to stop the spread of a religion. Instead, al-Saeed wanted to show that any religion, including Christianity, can easily be cast in an "evil" light. He told NPR that "It's not the right way to judge a religion by a video made by a guy who hated that religion."
To find out what images made the Christian version, read more
What's going on between the Dutch and Islam? Check this out: Gerrt Wilders is the leader of the Netherlands's anti-Islam party and a controversial filmmaker. The politician has just made much-anticipated anti-Koran film and it's now playing at a computer near you.
The graphic internet film — "Fitna" — stars beheadings, violence against women, anti-Semitic tirades, and charred New York and Madrid terrorist victims. The soundtrack? Verses of the Muslim holy book. Sounds like a must see.
Wilders wants to warn people about a dangerous religion (in his view), and stop the Islamization of the West. Well someone should warn him about the coming backlash! One person already not happy with Wilders is the man who drew the controversial cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. The artist, whose drawings led to violent protests, says that the use of the drawing in Wilders' film is a violation of copyright laws.
Is this freedom of speech or a reckless incitement of violence?