Point 6 Return to Eindhoven
Remember travel? Going abroad? Airports and bus stations and packing and passport control? To me, it felt almost like a distant memory prior to Point 6’s trip to Eindhoven last week—the company’s first foray into foreign territory since you know what.
We are a company that mainly works with European clients. Being away from them for the past two years has been difficult. We’re thankful that through Zoom and Teams we’ve managed to maintain relationships in that time and even forge some new ones, but there’s no denying face to face is better. Generally speaking, the people in your life should not be Wi-fi dependent. There’s also a comfort in verifying that they physically exist from the shoulders down.
The trip had been speculated about for months, in the diary for weeks, and doubted probably right up until the moment we boarded the Eurostar at 11:04 on a brisk winter morning. For all of our collective hopes that the pandemic has now eased for the long haul, there is still that anxious trepidation that comes with committing to such away days. Even as the train was pulling away, I half expected Boris Johnson to unspool from a luggage compartment blowing a whistle and declaring that we needed to turn back around immediately as there had been a freshly implemented change in regulation.
As it was, that didn’t happen. The train set off with no hitches and our trip to the Netherlands had begun.
The big change since Point 6’s previous trip abroad some 20 months prior (other than the state of the entire world, of course) was that we were now taking the Eurostar. This was a decision reached after the pandemic gave us time to assess our previous use of air travel and decide it wasn’t warranted. If flights can be avoided, they should be avoided. We’re a company that wants to help the planet and it was about time we walked the walk when it came to embracing a more sustainable model of travel.
Though I was a first time Eindje—I’m led to believe that this is the correct terminology but can’t be certain; if you wanted a detailed cultural understanding of the place, you should have forked out for Lonely Planet— I’d heard a lot about the city from my co-workers and had misguidedly built a picture in my head of a sort of grey and brutish industrial heartland. Not because my colleagues had necessarily made it out to be this way (they love the place and would never say a bad word about it) but because I knew that Eindhoven was previously a Philips town, a one-company empire, and I had decided that literally every bar, restaurant, hotel and supermarket was at one point a factory of sorts, and therefore ugly. This was a somewhat malformed and over-simplistic conclusion.
As it turns out, the city has a certain jagged beauty to it, most especially at the time of our visit. GLOW, the city’s annual light art festival, was in full swing and very much part of the reason we timed our trip as we did.
We stayed in the Student Hotel, which despite any concerns thrown up by the name was nothing like student living. Bins were taken out every day, the stench of last night’s spilled beer didn’t linger like the ghost of hangovers past and dried out cheese gratings weren’t claiming squatter’s rights on increasingly confounding crevices. If this is Dutch student life, they’re doing it wrong. Though, as someone no longer a student, I’m grateful the hotel was of this cleanlier and more stylish ilk.
Friendly Faces, pt. 1
On our first full day in the city, having had only enough time for dinner, drinks and initial sight-seeing the evening before, we set off to Signify to see our wonderful Dutch-based clients, Andhika Willem and Jennifer Schoop.
Some of us had never met before, and I’d say it was nice to put faces to names, but in actuality we’d come across each other on Zoom multiple times. So, I suppose it was nice transmuting familiar faces into three-dimensional beings. We talked business and we talked non-business, and it was lovely, if bizarre, to remember this is the way things used to be.
After our meetings, we were lucky enough to undertake the Signify Lighting Application Center (LAC) tour, where we got to see the full power of Signify’s lighting offering in person. Having written extensively about the myriad lighting capabilities Signify has to offer, it was brilliant to get a chance to witness them first-hand.
In the evening we had dinner and drinks in the city but were in bed at a reasonable hour so as to be at least mildly well prepared for the work that was to come the next day.
Friendly Faces, pt. 2
Thursday morning, and the team divided. Half were back to Signify for more meetings with clients. Half, myself included, were off to the same compound, Eindhoven’s High Tech Campus, to meet Jan Willem Beijer of Sirius Medical, another of our clients. We were interviewing Jan on camera for a video case study of our work with Sirius, shot by the charming and talented filmmaking duo Jeroen van der Wielen and Oscar Vinck of about.today.
The shoot went well, the meetings too, and before we knew it, we were into the final evening of our whirlwind trip. And we couldn’t have asked for a better way to spend it than dinner with Jeroen, his girlfriend Chris, and long friend of the company Willemijn de Wit, Head of Visual Merchandising at Dutch department store, de Bijenkorf. This was followed by a night at GLOW, seeing some of the wondrous lighting displays co-ordinated around the city. It was a terrific evening, though the exhaustion of the full-on few days did hit me by the end. I don’t think it was the time difference that had me conking out the second my head hit the pillow.
And back again…
We had enough time to squeeze in an Amsterdam visit the next day prior to our train home, taking in the striking visual curations of satire, social commentary, splendour and surrealism that fill the Stedelijk museum. A delightful final sprinkling of culture on an already well-dusted trip.
We played Bananagrams (a Scrabble-esque board game) at Amsterdam station while waiting for our train and at one point I congregated the word ‘byzantine’, which, while not strictly relevant to the trip, does reflect well on me and thus, of course, makes it into the roundup blog.
Finally, flitting between weary and wired, we were steadily carried by the Eurostar home, disembarking at King’s Cross late in the evening. If you ever wanted a reminder you weren’t in the Netherlands anymore, the raucous stupor of a London Friday night will make you stingingly aware pretty sharpish.
After four full days of travel, meetings, sight-seeing and, frankly, stuffing our faces, we were back. And it’s nice now being able to understand the fondness that creeps into my fellow Point 6ers voices when they discuss the city of Eindhoven. I look forward to being back, to meeting these kind clients again, and maybe even beating ‘byzantine’ in Bananagrams, if I should be so lucky.