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DB Amsterdam Tote Bag Competition 2017: The Winners

Uh oh, we’ve ran out of bags in Amsterdam. And we need bags. Nice environmentally friendly tote bags to carry our picnic gear to the park, and to give to our clients to take goodies home with them. So what do we do? We create new bags, with homemade designs on them that tell you something about us. It’s become a bit of an annual tradition, actually.

Celebrating our cultures

This year the brief was to visualise a mash up of the Dutch culture with your own. As we love to analyse our cultural mixes, this was a perfect task for the team.

Some very exciting ideas were submitted and it was amazing to see how many different angles people approached this subject. As we talk about our own culture and how that comes together with a ‘borrowed’ or adopted one, stories become personal truths, which is inspiring to observe. On that note, before we show you the winning designs, we wanted to share one extra entry that unfortunately didn’t make it to the top 3, but very much captures the concept of diversity of human beings and who we are. Thank you, Brendan, for these wise and beautiful words:

We are all cut from the same cloth.
Wij zijn allemaal uit hetzelfde hout gesneden.

We are all people. We are made from the same elements, we breathe the same air. We all need food and water; some like their bread with lekker chocolate sprinkles, others toasted with a healthy dose of butter. But we are part of one constellation, individual stars; who think differently, look differently, speak in wonderful and unique voices. We are rustig, we are loud; we are thinkers, dreamers, believers. And, we believe in treating everyone as we’d want to be treated, we care about our work, and each other.

The Winners

We held an exhibition of all of the designs in the Studio, and everyone chose their favourite 3. The votes were counted and the 3 with the most votes were selected to be printed. And so, without further ado, your winners…

Congratulations to Fabio, Gerwin and Raven for creating these smart, considered and beautiful designs. You will all be famous in Amsterdam (and wherever else these tote bags will travel).

For all the sausage lovers out there, you might fancy Fabio’s bag design, which reflects a true Dutch icon in the bigger world:


“As an Italian, the first close encounter I had with the Dutch cuisine left quite an impression on me… One of the first things that I discovered here is that sausages have a very distinctive ‘U’ shape. The ‘Rookworst’ is so iconic that it even became a recognised symbol of HEMA, the most famous Dutch chain store. So it was in honour of this renowned Dutch sausage that I created the Dutch sausage dog, because when we name animals after food, we should be ready to face the extreme consequences.”


Gerwin’s a-maze-ing design is one your brain will appreciate:


“In my design I’ve tried to capture the contrast of politenessin in the way the British approach people in comparison to the Dutchies, who are more direct and to the point. This is visually represented through a tangled maze for the British, and a straight clean cut maze for the Dutch way.”


And last but definitely not least, our lovely Raven used the guilty pleasure of many of us as her inspiration for this bold design:


“Languages often have their own little quirky sayings that everyone knows and uses, but sound completely ridiculous when translated into another language. The Dutch love their cliché phrases, and it’s a shame we can’t use them in conversations with our expat friends without sounding like idiots. To break this little language barrier, I chose to highlight one of our proverbial gems, ‘Helaas pindakaas’. Literally this means ‘unfortunately peanut butter’,  but would translate to ‘too bad’. Apparently this was first used by schoolchildren as a joke, and became so popular that adults started saying it as well. It was even used in a newspaper in 1993. So, if a Dutch person says something that initially makes absolutely no sense to you, just ask them what it means. There could be a really nice story behind it!”


You can imagine the happy faces when the printed tote bags arrived in the Studio and everyone could pick their favourite. It’s like having Christmas in July!

A special thank you to Richard, who is responsible for the beautiful photography. If you want to see more of his work, click here to go to his website.


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