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The Netherlands at the World Expo Milan

Every five years, the World Expo brings nations together to promote innovation for a sustainable future. Remi Oerlemans, creative director of DVP Europe Eventmarketing, representing the Netherlands, talks to us about everything from concept to creation. 

SPACES: Hi Remi, can you tell us about what you do?

Remi Oerlemans: I’m the Chief Creative Officer and Co-owner of DVP Europe, an events marketing company established two decades ago with offices in three continents across the world. The kinds of events we work on are product launches and campaigns for automobiles, fashion products and various media channels. The World Expo this year is our crown jewel project. Because this event is so special, it’s every five years, changing location each time. Its scale is so vast it’s comparable to an Olympic Village.

The Netherlands was not participating this year as the government had pulled most of the funding for the project, so it became a very desirable event for a lot of companies to participate in. Representing what the Netherlands has to offer is a big deal; it’s an exciting project that’s also a privilege.

What is the World Expo all about? 

The World Expo is a platform for the exchange of ideas and shared solutions, stimulating each country’s creativity and promoting innovation for a sustainable future. This year’s topic is ‘Feeding the Planet, Energy For Life’, exhibiting the new approaches to feeding the planet. There are participants from 145 countries each showcasing their unique perspectives on food and sustainability. It’s a great event that inspires people to discover new things, like agri-food and the grastronimic traditions of different parts of the world, as well as contribute their ideas to better our future, together.

It’s a really traditional event, based upon the old concept of the international exhibition, while at the same time it’s innovative, utilising new technologies in the development and presentation of ideas. The theme of food sustainability highlights essential issues regarding our food resources, so by inspiring innovation and ingenuity through this global event, we endeavour to find sustainable working solutions to feed the world whilst respecting the planet and its equilibrium.

How is the Netherlands being represented at the World Expo Milan 2015?

The concept for our pavilion is ‘Live Grow Share’. We wanted to give people the festival experience by deconstructing the confines of the traditional pavilion; all the other pavilions are closed in with four walls and entrance gates – ours is completely liberated from those confines. We’re an anti-pavilion. Holland is a very transparent and honest nation; we’re open and our pavilion is a reflection of that. It’s open-aired with food trucks, a courtyard where you can sit in the sun, performance areas and a rooftop terrace. We have a Ferris wheel restaurant, which you ride through the restaurant and order. It’s this circular economic detail that emphasises the sustainability.

The Dutch pavilion tells a story about food; it’s a narrative, showcasing what we in the Netherlands have to offer on an accessible level, which is important in engaging people. Our concept is based upon one of mankind’s most fundamental objectives; to improve our quality of life. Whether financially or socioculturally, these global challenges are interconnected and in order to sustain future life, solutions need to be found.

Throughout the 6 months of the Expo, we have partnered with a foundation to provide a trainee programme for Dutch students. They get to work on the project in Milan which is a great cultural exchange and educational experience for them. The World Expo is all about integration and working together with a deep impact. it’s one big gathering of people from all over the world to share ideas; a mix of cultures, cuisines, ideas, and they bring with them their different approaches to, and perspectives on food and sustainability. Let’s not forget that the theme is food, so it’s paradise to walk around.

A project so large in scale must be difficult to conceive and create. How do you go about this process?

There was very little money in the pot for the funding of the pavilion, so we came up with the idea of creating a self-sustaining pavilion. Each pavilion costs around 30 million euros; Dubai spent 60 million euros, we spent just five and have established a way in which it pays for itself. Our partners Gielissen and Totems designed and constructed the pavilion, which has just been awarded as the second best pavilion in the whole expo, behind only Japan, which we’re really proud of. Yes we are representing the Netherlands on a global stage, but a big part of it was created here at Spaces Vijzelstraat, our European HQ.

We have a more traditional office in Germany, but now we are taking a different and fresh approach; that’s why we fit so well in with the concept of Spaces. We’re moving away from the conventional agency aspect and connecting with a lot of different people. The openness and flow of the physical space helps us to connect with people and to create and we are already working with people from Spaces. We love that spark, and that whole principal of connecting with people and other companies to create more layers on top of this project, it really works.

Any last thoughts?

For all the people of Spaces who are interested in exploring our pavilion and others at the World Expo Milan 2015, we welcome you to connect with us and we’ll create a great programme for you; give you tips on the things not to miss.

Explore the event and book tickets here: World Milan Expo 2015. 

Check out the gallery below for a glimpse of the Dutch pavilion. 

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