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Made in Amsterdam: Sinterklaas at Design Bridge

The season of Sinterklaas has officially begun in the Netherlands. How do we know this? Well, Sinterklaas has arrived by boat, in great style, on his white horse Amerigo. Pepernoten (small spiced biscuits) are thrown. Children laugh. Adults lament the gifts for which they’ll have to fork out.

Yes, Sinterklaas is a strange Dutch holiday. But it’s a special one. As the weather grows grimmer and greyer, Dutch families gather each night as children place their shoes next to the radiator – complete with sugar cubes and carrots for Amerigo, of course – in the hopes of receiving a gift from dear old Sint.

We know what you’re thinking. No, it’s not Christmas. It’s different. It’s Dutch.

In the spirit of sharing the festivities of the season with our clients in the Netherlands and Belgium, we’ve created a bespoke client gift that is packaged with a little bit of our heritage, a little bit of sweetness, and a whole lot of craft.

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Chocolate letters are the traditional Sinterklaas gift, most commonly in the shape of the letter ‘S’, and this year we’ve made our S-shaped treats from 100% sustainably-sourced ruby chocolate. And to package it up? Our very special, bespoke wrapping paper that integrates a horse shape with an original map of the city and the letter ‘S’. Let us tell you a little bit more…

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Located on the Overtoom, our Studio building once housed the very first horse-drawn tram in Amsterdam. Despite renovations, much of the building’s heritage has been retained, and our meeting rooms are even named after the horses that pulled the trams: Star, Snip and Sorrell. And that’s not all.

“On my cycle to work one morning, I passed a horse sculpture on top of a bridge on the Muzenplein. This inspiration became the central idea of connecting the story of Sinterklaas, his horse, and our Studio home in Amsterdam.” explains Alex Normanton, Creative Director.

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Because poems are a traditional part of Sinterklaas, we have also crafted our own with the theme of horses woven through. Our poem is lighthearted and fun, encouraging everyone to get involved and embrace Sinterklaas, and is accompanied by a gift card featuring common Dutch expressions and greetings.

Each card has been hand-numbered and finished with a custom seal containing a horseshoe and three Xs. These Xs represent the city of Amsterdam, and the horseshoe references the tradition in which children leave their shoes out every evening during Sinterklaas – but with an equine twist.

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The gifts were all hand-packed in the Studio – a reminder of the loveliness of hand-made gifts, and that the importance of giving is not in the gift, but in the generosity of the gesture.

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Alex sums it up nicely: “This project has been one big collaborative effort involving the whole Studio – from design, illustration and copywriting, to a company-wide gift-wrapping session. It has been incredible to witness different skills working together to create our bespoke client gift for this popular tradition.”

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And finally, we’d like to say a very special “thank you” to this year’s Sinterklaas gift team: Gali, Kim, Gerwin, Anouk, plus everyone else in the Amsterdam Studio that got involved.

Fijne Sinterklaas!

 

Words by Kim McClure, photography by Sam Shirlow and Richard Rigby.

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