Willem Velthoven at Trendtag

Trendtag afternoon: Willem Velthoven isn’t the best presenter but his content is always remarkable. I’ve been following his career since the first “doors of perception” event in the early nineties. Their CD-Rom documentation has just been incredible … navigation, user interfaces – just about 10 years ahead from anything else!

In Hamburg Willem Velthoven was talking about EL HEMA – an arabic version of the successfull HEMA stores in the Netherlands (similar standing like IKEA in Sweden). An amazing story!

David Garcia wrote: Put at its most basic El Hema was an installation in which the Mediamatic’s exhibition space was transformed into an Arabic version of this iconic Dutch retailing brand. The project was realised by an international group of designers, with a strong Arabic contingent, brought together and coordinated by Mediamatic who (bravely defying of threatened legal action by the company) appropriated the Hema’s carefully nurtured brand, brilliantly mimicking its design style and values, to recreate a range of typical Hema products and graphic design outputs the only twist was to substitute Arabic typography and Arabic models.

We should be aware that the courage shown by Mediamatic was not simply the classical David Goliath scenario (as we saw in the Mclibal case). The foundation not only risked bankruptcy, but worse, unpopularity, De Hema is a very popular company in the Netherlands, it is how many Dutch people like to see themselves. To a degree, to pick a fight with Hema is to pick a fight with the Netherlands. But amazingly (and luckily for the organisers) the project was a spectacular success.

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