This week I found a really cool event to go to at BIRD, a nice little building which somehow is a restaurant and a pub and a club and a concert venue all at once despite any rule of logic. The event was called CityLab and it was basically a meet up of all the planners in the city, where people could present their projects to make Rotterdam a better city to the public.
By now, I think you’ve all come to realise there is always a catch in my blog posts, something that unexpectedly goes wrong because you only live once and what’s the point in not making it awkward amirite. So, fast forward to the night before the event, I find out it’s all going to be in Dutch. Marvellous, considering my knowledge of Dutch is approximately the same as a fish’s knowledge of the Amazon. However, I am so interested in the event I decide to give it a try anyway, despite being on my own as none of my friends want to engage in the pointless adventure.
I get to the venue and am welcomed by a cute little lady dressed in a costume that I cannot even begin to describe, if not by comparing it to a giant, feathery red velvet cake. She speaks to me in dutch, to which I reply I don’t understand a single word of the language and am subsequently welcomed by a confused stare. After explaining I am aware of the language barrier, she slaps a heart sticker on my chest and lets me in. Inside, the exhibition is full of little tables where the planners are presenting their ideas, in a quiet environment where everyone is amicably chatting between each other in dutch.
And then I see it. The thing that each person craves the most. The best idea of the whole night, which brings light to my eyes and warmth to my heart…. free food. I have mentioned the place serves as a restaurant as well and I soon find out by chatting to strangers that the chefs are all Italian, after which I am promptly welcomed by free bruschettas and pizza as well as free alcohol. By now I am absolutely living the dream, so I keep wandering about and pretending that I am very aware of what everyone is saying despite not having the slightest clue. Presentations go past and I manage to chat with a few of the planners, make friends with a group of students and also have a nice conversation with one of the founders of a really cool project.
The brand is called Granny’s Finest and, despite the bizarre name, it is actually a really cool project that I wanted to feature on the blog. Nick, one of the founders, explained to me how he got the idea whilst visiting his grandfather and seeing another old lady knitting nearby. He lets me know he studied in Milan at Bocconi and was fascinated by all the fashion in the city (he also knows some Italian), which brought the idea of combining the two things together: what the brand does is basically make grannies knit fashionable items such as hats and scarves, together with a short message from the granny who produced it, then sell it to the public. It’s a cute idea because you get something personal together with what you bought, which is the message from the old lady. You also help the world in the name of fashion: according to Nick, part of the profits go towards making life a little better for the old ladies, who get taken to trips all over the place on a special banter bus all for them.
I also manage to speak to another guy whose plan is to basically reduce the amount of pollution connected to a highway coincidentally situated right next to where I live. The project is called Nieuwe Wegen Islaan and I thought it was one of the most interesting ones at the event (despite it being full of cool ideas!! Hashtag No h8). Things get awkward when he asks me what brings me to CityLab: “So are you doing Architecture then?” Errrr, no. I’m just a curious erasmus student looking for some free activities to spend the time…