Spotlight on a Maker of Noord: Daan Meeuwig

Makers van Noord is an exhibition at Amsterdam Museum Noord that puts craftsmanship in the spotlight, allowing the public to learn about different makers from the disctrict and their inspiring stories about re-use, sustainability and traditional craftsmanship. Related to this event, we are excited to share stories of makers in Noord online, starting with Daan Meeuwig.

Daan Meeuwig is a lamp maker, inventor, and builder who works in a shared workshop on Aambeeldstraat with five other makers. Through his company, Daan’s Handige Jongens Winkel, he crafts items like lamps made from oysters and chairs constructed from jerrycans. He was inspired to start making as a child by his friend’s father who would take them to a scrapyard where he could learn skills like drilling and welding. He notes that it was important for him ‘to have a space where I could rumble around and try stuff’. This ability to experiment is what he tries to replicate in his shop today; in addition to creating space for his own work, he aims to create a space “where other people can build and try” elements of makership.

Daan Meeuwig
Daan Meeuwig in his work space

Connecting people with the community

Meeuwig was introduced to Noord, and NDSM in particular, as a child, reminiscing that ‘as kids we used to go here and toy around with boats when these were still industrial sites’. He reflects on the area's industrial past and sees vestiges that still persist today, remarking on the presence of the past through streets in the area named after tools, like Hamerstraat and Aambeeldstraat.

He also visits hardware stores that have in more recent times started supplying local makers instead of industrial makers, describing these shops as ‘a remnant of when the industrial was here’. He sees a continuation of the story of making in the area through the physical, both in terms of industrial architecture in Noord and through his craft, steel working, that has had a long presence in Noord.

Meeuwig also reflects on his relationship to the area, particularly as he is the concierge of his workspace and often helps to connect people within the community. He has occupied his workspace for over ten years, though will likely need to move in the future as the land will be used for development. As other makers in the area have been facing the same pressure for years as Noord transforms, Meeuwig believes this has brought the maker community closer as they are “all in the same ship and need to move - that creates a bond”. 

Future maker spaces

Instead of feeling regret over the changing landscape of Noord, Meeuwig has instead focused on gratitude for the time he has been able to spend working in the area. While he looks forward to change in his future and feels that change is natural, he does so with a sense of worry for what an exodus of makership from Noord could entail, particularly as the area inspired him as a child to start making. He notes that “as a kid, I could go to a place where there were people working with steel. It was really important for me and it inspired me to do my work today. So imagining a city without places where stuff is made - I think it would be missed”.

While Meeuwig may need to leave his workshop in Noord in the future, he intends to stay connected to the area. He has been in conversations with project developers in Noord about the possibility of creating maker spaces in buildings planned for construction. These workshops would provide space for both newer and more established residents to experiment, create, and build both crafts and community. It also simply provides an outlet for joy in the area since, as Meeuwig puts it, “there’s so much fun in making”.

For this event, Waag Futurelab has partnered with Museum Amsterdam Noord, Pakhuis de Zwijger and the Hout-en Meubileringscollege. This exhibition is also presented in cooperation with the European Centrinno project.

Makers of Noord can be seen in Museum Amsterdam Noord from 18 June to 27 August, 2022. Public events related to the exhibit will take place in July and August.

 

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Ashley Laflin

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The Centrinno project is financed by the research and innovation programme Horizon 2020 of the European Union under grant no. 869595.