DGTL container arch at NDSM gets a new look

As we head into the new year, designers Sue Doeksen and Jord Noorbeek will provide the iconic container arch at NDSM wharf with a new look. As most festivals were cancelled in 2020, the arch – a landmark on the site that normally celebrates festival culture – has been looking somewhat desolate. Stichting NDSM-werf decided to change this and invited illustrator Sue Doeksen – who has had a studio in the NDSM warehouse since 2012 – to create a new contemporary design for the arch. For this assignment, she joined forces with Jord Noorbeek, graphic designer and resident of Amsterdam-Noord.

The container arch that normally offers a welcoming sign to festival visitors in particular, now does so for every visitor at NDSM. The words ‘BE KIND’ will be painted onto the surface of the containers’ front side. This was inspired by the famous words and legacy ‘Be kind’ (‘Wees lief’ in Dutch) by Eberhard van der Laan, the late former mayor of Amsterdam, whose portrait can be seen on a wall next to the arch. Disguised and abstracted in both form and color, the text is part of a larger graphic work. “We created new letters from geometric shapes, so you might not recognize the words in the photo until you get back home,” the designers say. Meanwhile, design at the back of the arch shows an abstract and pointy halo. Lastly, the sides represent the versatility of NDSM: the face of a wise owl on one side and a (court) jester on the other, both abstracted as well.

The designers Jord and Sue sought for a peaceful and abstract design that contrasts the wharf’s abundance of graffiti works with a combination of text and shapes defined by colors that partially blend into the surroundings. “Especially in these times that demand us to be more individualistic than ever, Van der Laan’s message proves its importance once again: be kind, to others and to yourself. Now more than ever,” comments Petra Heck, curator of Stichting NDSM-werf.

Known to many as a lively and raw festival site, NDSM, like other locations in Amsterdam, has experienced quiet months due to the measures surrounding COVID-19. Heck: “At Stichting NDSM-werf, we aim to compensate for this lack of liveliness by implementing new artistic interventions. Previously during ADE with artists Boris Acket and Vladimir Grafov, and now with the graphic intervention on the container arch by Sue Doeksen and Jord Noorbeek.”

Changing festival landscape

NDSM usually adjusts its appearance to all the festivals and events that take place there throughout the year. Now that, for the time being, these events cannot take place, Stichting NDSM-werf – responsible for managing, curating and programming the terrain – sets out to commission artists to create interventions, this time transforming the iconic container arch on the Docklands between the NDSM Warehouse and the new street-art museum STRAAT.

Practical Information

To be seen from late January onwards.

Location: Docklands (between the two warehouses)

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