Yasmin Hilberdink is the founder and director of the String Quartet Biennale Amsterdam (SQBA). The idea to organize a string quartet festival originated in 2015. I’m not a musician, but was overwhelmed by the beauty of this form of music, it is beautiful and pure. Four players trying to form a unity requires dedication and perfection. With a quartet you hear every note, which makes it exciting for the players and for the audience. The second edition of the String Quartet Amsterdam Biennale will start on January the 25th, Lloyd Hotel is the festival hotel. Here you can sleep, have breakfast and dine amongst the artists. Lloyd Hotel has its own signature, I immediately knew that the musicians would have to sleep here. It’s original, it’s genuine, it’s fun, it’s a place where you can be yourself.’

How do you get people to love string quartet?

With the biennale I wanted to bring this art form up to the 21st century. We think about every detail: what context do you create, how do we take the audience on a voyage of discovery and even what do you serve for lunch… The biennale is an immersion in music. When you go to a performance you want to recognize a piece you love, but you also want to be surprised. So we experiment with form and length.

I also wanted to showcase the people behind the work. It’s a tough job, the musicians spend more time with each other than with their family and partners and the work requires a high degree of discipline. Yet the quartets often live in a rather anonymous manner. They have told me, ‘We are like ships at night’; they know about each other’s existence, but don’t see much of each other. Except during a festival where they meet and listen to each other. This is something they find very exciting and challenging.

When did you fall in love with string quartet music?

When I was in my early twenties. Friends took me to a series of concerts of the Beethoven cycle with the Alban Berg Quartet in Vienna.. The hall was packed and I felt it was something special. The music touched me. I started “understanding” the Beethoven quartets and recognizing the compositions when I heard them elsewhere. When I was in my late twenties I was offered a job as director of a castle near Vienna where there was a concert program, this is where I learned to understand String Quartets and started loving the music. The music is so pure, I love that. Sometimes I compare it to bread. The ingredients are simple, but baking a good loaf of bread is an art or a craft. It also fits in with the current time where people are searching for simplicity.

What makes string quartet so beautiful?

You can say that string quartet is a rigid form of music.. Each person has a very specific role. One carries the melody, the other sets the tone and yet another lays the foundation. Haydn was the first to work with a string quartet. He lived in the time of the Enlightenment, he was a freemason, as was Mozart. The string quartet was a reflection of their beliefs. They created their work by following the ideas of the Enlightenment: equality and equivalence. It is not always the king or prince who have the leading role sometimes it’s the chamberlain. I like the idea of working together as one, and it’s still relevant today.

Which people do you attract?

Of course we attract string quartet lovers. But we also want the string quartet to be known amongst a wider and younger audience; classical music lovers, the cultural omnivore and those who have never been to a concert hall before.

We work with schools to stimulate classical music among children. We have a project with the Leerorkest, in which children who are already playing in an orchestra form string quartets and receive extra lessons for a year. Four quartets from the Leerorkest performed during the first edition and were incredibly proud. These are small and vulnerable projects, but if every cultural organization would initiate projects like this, we could create something impressive.

How are the preparations for SQBA going?

We have already started on the next edition. We have so much to organize, the catering, the decoration of the building, we are busy with PR and are in contact with all string quartets for their travel schedules and overnight stays. It feels a bit like the morning before you throw a party, we are very focused on our work. Our team is growing each festival. Ticket sales are going well, a number of concerts are sold out and we have an advantage over the first edition where we had a lot of last-minute ticket sales.

Can you recommend certain concerts?

I am very proud of the Turkish Borusan Quartet because I was born in Turkey. String Quartet is a Western art form, it is very special that there are quartets from so many different countries taking part. The Borusan Quartet is a very good quartet and they play the music of modern Turkish composers.

When you’ve had a full day, you’ve seen and heard a lot, you’ve eaten well, what else do you need? Bonbons or a glass of champagne? My tip would be to listen to Beethoven’s late quartets at 10.30 p.m; they really are the epitome of classical music.

In addition, we have a series at half past nine in the morning. Why not start your day with a beautiful piece of music? Listen to music by Haydn or Beethoven’s early quartets; light and sparkling, a happy start to your day!

Why not an annual event?

It’s like a party with fifteen chocolate pies, that’s fantastic but you shouldn’t have that every year. With more than 25 string quartets from all over the world, more than 50 concerts in eight full days it’s the highlight for all string-lovers and musicians.

The String Quartet Biennale Amsterdam can be visited from January the 25th till February the 1st in the Muziekgebouw. Tickets are available at www.sqba.nl. With the discount code SQBA2020 you get a 15% discount on the best available price for a room at the Lloyd Hotel during the String Quartet Biennale Amsterdam.


Musician and visual artist Kay Sleking starts with Tango at the Haven in the Lloyd Hotel.

Kay Sleking, born in Amsterdam with Kenyan roots, raised in the Bijlmer and Amsterdam East is a musician and visual artist. Scarlatti, Tchaikovsky, Stevie Wonder, Clifford Brown, Piazzolla, Kurt Schwitters, and Anselmo Kiefer let his molecules dance.

As a teacher at Codarts (Rotterdam conservatory), creative director of TangoJazz Land and orchestra leader, Kay has a wide network of (inter) national musicians who work in different genres; from classical, tango and jazz to Indian blues. He himself studied classical guitar at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam and Codarts (Rotterdam Conservatory), with a master’s degree in Argentine tango. In addition to guitar, he plays double bass and bandoneon.

As the creative director of TangoJazz Land, he organizes performances in which tango and jazz come together, with the TangoJazz Orchestra El Elegante as the highlight. This orchestra consists of tango and jazz musicians from the Netherlands, Suriname, Estonia, Russia, and Spain, who, as a common denominator, love tango, jazz, and classical music. Astor Piazzolla realized it already; innovation in music exists by the grace of exchange. His beautiful compositions, based on Argentine tango, are peppered with influences from jazz and classical music.

On December 1, the premiere of this new and unique TangoJazz Orchestra El Elegante in the Lloyd Hotel is the perfect place for this fusion of genres. The history and ambiance of the Lloyd Hotel, designed as a meeting place for travelers, gives an extra dimension to the tango. In combination with jazz, it will be a wonderful Sunday Afternoon. Lazy or “media luna”.

For tickets and info visit: www.tangojazzland.com


When its pouring outside, you’d better pamper your Californian guests. Actually, the word ‘friends’ is more appropriate. The band members of Venice have been coming to LLOYD for over 12 years and feel at home here. They make a small tour in the Netherlands, to promote their new album. Because singer, guitarist and bandleader Michael Lennon knows a good cure for a jet lag – keeping a normal rhythm and not giving in to fatigue – he gets up early for this interview. He starts the day with a latte oatmeal and I join him.

The American band Venice is praised for their West Coast sound. The band consists of the brothers Michael & Mark Lennon and the brothers Kipp & Pat Lennon. Born and raised in Venice Beach, California. Since the 80’s they perform together. Influenced by Crosby, Fleetwood Mac and The Eagles they have developed their own folk/rock/soul sound, Venice is recognizable by the four-part vocals. The Lennons consider the Netherlands as their second homeland. ‘The canals of Amsterdam, the diversity of the city and the large cultural offer are reminiscent of Venice. We visit almost twice a year and always sleep at LLOYD.’


Michael talks about his favourite room at LLOYD; in the front, in the corner, on the 5th floor. This room has many windows and a special open bathroom. Each band member has his own favourite. ‘That’s what makes LLOYD so special, for everyone there is a beloved room. They are all different and when I’m here with my family I love to show them around. At LLOYD you feel free, we’ve had release parties here and rehearsed in preparation for a concert. On Father’s Day, we’ll give a surprise performance in the restaurant.’

Fame in The Netherlands

Venice has just released a new album: Jacaranda Street. This album was made with drummer André Kemp from The Hague, known from Kane and Waylon, among others. The album is well received and Michael is proud of that. ‘It’s special to keep a successful band together for so many years. We are very grateful for all the experiences and keep looking forward to new possibilities. If you’ve been working in the same style for years, you sometimes think it has to be different. For this album we wanted to make a new sound. André helped us to stay close to ourselves and to make what we are good at: sharing our own story and instrumental surf music. He brought refreshing inspiration. And with success, because it’s in our top 3 best albums.’

The unexpected fame in the Netherlands hit Michael. ‘The first time we were in Amsterdam CD stores still existed. One of those shops had organized a party for us. When we arrived we saw that the windows of the shop were fogged up by the many people who were waiting for us inside. In The Netherlands, people love the cheerful, relaxed beach music. We were surprised that our music worked so well and are very grateful for all the positive reactions.’

LLOYD experiences

Because the brothers have been guests in LLOYD for so many years, they have plenty of stories to tell. Michael recalls enthusiastic: ‘The LLOYD is for us a place where everything is possible. The building is an experience in itself with unique stories. Since a year a lot has changed, like the new restaurant and the restyled rooms. I remember once we were in the restaurant and we heard stumbling on the stairs. About six employees were busy lifting down a large statue of a dick. The statue had to go outside through the restaurant. Such a display would never be possible in America. It was such an absurd moment, but at the same time it shows how open-minded LLOYD is.’

After this anecdote I take Michael to our newest addition; the Bas Kosters room. Full of Cheeky drawings on textile. From now on Michael has a new favourite room.

Author: Catharina Burgman


Samira Boon makes architectural textiles and is the neighbour of LLOYD. She is a fan of LLOYD, and we are a fan of her. Samira is involved as a jury member in our partner Creative Heroes Awards; a platform for creative professionals. High time to visit Samira. She says the coffee tastes better with us, so first we meet in her studio to continue with coffee at LLOYD.

It takes a while to find the doorbell of the old headquarters of Koninklijke Hollandsche Lloyd. The high ceilings, tiled walls, stained glass windows, steel and ornaments are characteristic of the buildings with a rich history on the Oostelijk Handelskade. The iconic style feels like coming home to LLOYD connoisseurs. A cordial Samira welcomes us to her studio on the north side. The space is filled with her work, and you immediately feel what textiles can add to the experience of a space. Textiles are an ideal medium for Samira to make architecture and interiors flexible, but they do more.

I see architecture as a load-bearing construct in which textiles can form an interruption so that spaces can be transformed and flexibly arranged. Textiles can also be used to solve functional issues, such as guiding or blocking sunlight. The 3D structure gives very good acoustic qualities. Moreover, a space comes to life through the textile addition. It becomes a place with a soul.

Creative hero

Creative Heroes Award is a platform where enterprising people with a social commitment and a great creative ability meet each other. During the presentation of this award, six people will be proclaimed Creative Hero. Samira is a member of the jury, after she was one of the winners in an earlier edition.

A true Creative Hero knows how to combine knowledge from different disciplines. This is a complex process; you need to have knowledge of the market, business models, technical possibilities and you need to be clear on the horizon. We value connectors that are able to bundle knowledge and have a social impact. Personally, I think it’s important that a developed idea is accessible to many.

After studying architecture, Samira lived in Tokyo for 4 years. Here she learned Japanese and came to understand that her love for textiles is not fashion-related. She saw architecture and textiles integrated in old Japanese temples where they use screens to create a flexible space. The speed of innovation there made it an inspiring place for her. She started her studio in Tokyo and expanded to Amsterdam. After a few years she was commissioned to make ‘space dividers’ for Theaters Tilburg.

By joining forces with the ambitious client Theaters Tilburg, Tokyo University, the programmers of the computer-controlled weaving machine and experts from Textiellab Tilburg, it became possible to deepen my research into foldable architectural textiles. With folding techniques, based on Japanese origami, I wanted to make textiles both flexible and sturdy. Thanks to this collaboration, we were able to receive the Creative Heroes Award 2017.

Abstract gardens as a future

Winners of the Creative Heroes Award are involved with social themes and innovation. One of the current themes is the uncertainty that people experience as a result of technological developments and automation. People feel similar insecurity in public spaces where the human dimension has disappeared. Samira links these themes together in her work.

In the LLOYD restaurant you are sitting in a grand space. Despite its size, it is a pleasant place thanks to the low lighting, the vistas and the diversity in ceiling heights. The textile installations I make have the same effect: they can break through the grandeur of a room.

Experience and tactility are very important in Samira’s work. Some textile designs are discoloured by the warmth of touch. Among other things, Samira made scarves and other accessories from them. Samira is currently working on the Hortus Bionica project, in collaboration with the SensorLab Utrecht, supported by a research grant from the Stimuleringsfonds Creatieve Industrie. She develops interactive installations that can react in an integrated way to environmental factors such as light and wind using textiles and sensors.

Natural systems and shapes intrigue me. With this research, textiles can become almost something living, making us feel connected to them.

Living in the East of Amsterdam

After Japan Samira came to live in Amsterdam-East. The water is the first thing she mentions when you ask her what makes her enthusiastic about this part of the city. She looks at East with the eyes of a trained architect and likes to share her tips.

After Japan, Amsterdam was the most logical place to live in the Netherlands. The cultural offer is fantastic. East is a beautiful architectural area where different types of housing exist. LLOYD is a pearl in this area, just like the surrounding buildings. Together they give the neighborhood identity. The islands bring peace, there is little car traffic and at the same time it is a very diverse and social neighborhood. When you take the ferry, you have the feeling that you are away for a while. There is plenty of inspiration to be found at Pakhuis de Zwijger, the attractive Javaplein and the various galleries. But also visit the skatepark, it’s fun to watch!

During the annual artist route in Amsterdam-East you can visit the studio of Samira Boon. On Thursday 27 June 2019, the 2nd edition of the Creative Heroes Award will take place in Undercurrent Amsterdam. Six professionals from the creative industry will receive this unique award from jury chairman Taco Schmidt. LLOYD wishes the jury a lot success!


Simon Stephens, 44, is a playwright whose productions include a highly acclaimed adaptation of Mark Haddon’s ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time’. His play ‘Song from far Away’ is set in Amsterdam with Lloyd Hotel written in as the chosen location of the principal character Willem.

You immersed yourself in Amsterdam for the play and here we are chuffed that you included the hotel in it. How did you go about building a Dutchman as the play’s character, Willem? Or is he not particularly different from an Englishman?

“I research my plays in any different ways. The writer Russell Shorto’s AMSTERDAM was an important book for me. But I was also inspired by many different sources. The films of Ozu or the British Film Director Terence Davies and the stories of Richard Ford were important. Much of Willem was inspired by a series of interviews that I carried out with the songwriter Mark Eitzel when we started work on the play in 2013. Willem crystalises an interest we both have in finding the humanity in the the financial traders whose work so often denies human compassion. But he is also drawn from Mark’s sense of self. And from mine.”

Each of your plays has a song attached to it. Often this is an existing one, what made you ask Mark Eitzel to write one especially?

“I’ve written with Mark before. We wrote a play about Brighton together. And we wanted to write together again. We may write more. We go to cities. Visit the cities. Wander round. Stay in the hotels. Drink in the bars. Meet the people. Write stories that make sense of what we find.”


Dressed in a gold costume we came across couturier for dogs Roberto Negrin from New York. He visited Amsterdam briefly to do a photoshoot and filming at Lloyd Hotel for an online commercial. RTL-Boulevard jumped to the opportunity of talking to him.

Christmas is a very good time for Roberto’s business, but the even better is Haloween. That’s when his clients really want to show off at parties and events. ‘Lots of people like the costumes and I love cross-play, dressing up as animal characters and the dogs as cartoon characters. So for us Haloween is huge’.

He came upon his passion by accident, seven years ago. His mom taught him some basic sewing techniques and how to take measurements. His first outfit won ‘Best Dress’ and ‘Runner-up to the crown’, and off he went designing couture for dogs. Now, he has clients all over the globe; doing commercials, tv-productions, and dressing out the pets for special happenings.

He was in Amsterdam to test the waters, to see how the Dutch market reacts to his sense of dress. ‘I find the Dutch are animal lovers, yet dog owners are still a little shy to the idea of dressing up their dog, showing their affection for the pets. We want dogs to be themselves, to be comfortable. We choose the right fabrics to match their fur and their skin. When you see the dog, it has to make you smile. It has to fit in with the dog’s personality. I supervise all outfits, because it is my creativity, if we are away, we try to do Skype interviews, so it’s a very personal approach. I treat my work not so much as a business, I see myself as an artist.Sometimes people try to force their dogs into a big gown, but I am more into tiny dresses or tutu’s. I have a name to protect. You don’t want to see a dog in the street struggling in an impossible outfit.


The exhibition ‘Asia’ in the Rijksmuseum, showed how Japanese design was introduced in the Netherlands through the 17th century VOC.

One of the specialties the Dutch elite loved immediately was the precious, luxury porcelain of Kakiemon. Soon this was favoured over the Chinese porcelain.

Now, the celebrations of 400 year porcelain crafts in the Japanese Arita region, brings the 15th generation, Sakaida Kakiemon, to Amsterdam and Lloyd Hotel.


This year we celebrate the Japanese-Dutch connection. What do you think we can learn from each other?

Firstly it is important to recognize that 400 years ago we already made these pieces of porcelain. And the Dutch with their tradition of trade, brought them to Europe. Of course both countries have changed a lot since then, and we have to take into account what the differences are to go further, together. In my case, I have to consider how we can offer a new Kakiemon style, in line with the tradition which is suited to the nowadays way of life. I think that is my task: keeping the essence of the tradition and creating new things.


Firstly it is important to recognize that 400 years ago we already made these pieces of porcelain. And the Dutch with their tradition of trade, brought them to Europe. Of course both countries have changed a lot since then, and we have to take into account what the differences are to go further, together. In my case, I have to consider how we can offer a new Kakiemon style, in line with the tradition which is suited to the nowadays way of life. I think that is my task: keeping the essence of the tradition and creating new things.


Museum Director Katia Baudin once described Dutch artist Frank Bragigand as the ‘last true modernist’. His practice includes a range so diverse it spans from the restoration of furniture to public space interventions and hotel bar design. But if only for the sake of context, ‘painter’ best describes Bragigand’s role in his latest exhibition, Art Language, on show at the Lloyd Hotel (2016) and Gallery Lumen Travo in Amsterdam.

The Lloyd’s history with Bragigand goes way back, when he was asked to design the popular Red Bar for the hotel in 2008. Complete with a mirror ball in the centre of the space and mostly standing-only places, the Red Bar demanded a kind of presence from guests. It wasn’t a place to get comfy, it was a place to move and socialise. Similarly, Bragigand’s latest work is a challenge to becoming comfortable in the world, one that, according to Bragigand ‘stopped being understandable at some point’.

Bragigand refuses grand gestures and statements in favour of phrasing uncomfortable questions about what art or painting is today. His challenge manifests in two parts of Art Language, the first is a series of wall-mounted colourful ‘painterly’ graphics – that is utilizing graphics and words but with a painter’s approach. In the second part of the exhibition Bragigand gives form to certain ‘constellations of knowledge’ around topics such as climate change and religion using white, ephemeral floating spheres – resulting in sculptural information visualizations based on years of research and reading by the artist.


Ursula studied languages at university and got a first taste of the creative world when she spent a year abroad working in a contemporary art centre. Since then she has always been interested in the business side of creativity and culture. Her first job was for a placemaking consultancy called Locum Consulting, then she spent a few years at the UK Design Council which she left to run operations for a photography start up. “All those things have been super useful for my job at Makerversity.”

What brings you to Amsterdam?

I run Makerversity, a co-working and learning space for professional and aspiring makers and creatives. We’re opening our second site in Amsterdam this summer so I’m here to help get it off the ground and recruit a local team.

When did you start Makerversity London and how did you come up with the idea?

Makerversity was originally set up by 4 designer makers – Joe, Tom, Paul and Andy – about 3 years ago. They had all found it hard to find the right kind of workspace in the city and also really cared about providing better opportunities for young people to make, so when an opportunity to take over some disused space in the basement of Somerset House came up, Makerversity was born! I’d known Tom and Joe for a few years through work and was part of an early group of Makerversity supporters and then formally joined about six months in to set up the operational team and run the business day to day.

Our members come from all sorts of backgrounds – design, business, technology, engineering, craft, art, innovation, marketing. We provide a good range of general purpose making and prototyping facilities, with both clean and messy space to work in. That covers digital machines – like 3d printers, vinyl and laser cutters, a CNC machine – as well as wood and metal working facilities, textiles, electronics and an assembly space. We like to work with our member community to work out what they need and build that into our machine offer as we go along.


Millions of Indian pilgrims descend on the city of Ujjain to bathe in the city’s Shipra river. This is the Kumbh Mela, the world’s biggest religious pilgrimage, held every 12 years. Now consider this: in 2016 for the first time in history, a transgender (hijra) congregation joins the pilgrimage and the high priestess at the head of this congregation is dancer-turned-movie-star-turned-reality-TV-star-turned-social-activist Laxmi Narayan Tripathi.

Like most revolutionaries, Laxmi has commanding presence. This kind of single-minded steely demeanour has served Laxmi well, not only in the context of photoshoots (which she excels at, by the way) but also at high-level meetings at The United Nations. It’s here in 2008 that she presented the plight of sexual minorities, claiming the first ever Asian Pacific transgender representation at the assembly. More recently she was called up for a high-level meeting at the United Nations on HIV/AIDS by UNAID on the issues surrounding the disease.

Moments of brevity are few though. In her home country, Laxmi has been securing the roll out of a 2014 Indian Supreme Court verdict on transgender. The verdict which she championed, sees the state and federal government commit to restoring the lost dignity of transgender people in society. “I was born to take care of people,” she says. “I am reclaiming transgender rights, Indian culture never discriminated against transgender, lesbian and gay people. It was a morality introduced by the British in our society.”

Part of this reclamation is about changing what Laxmi calls the “invisibility” of the transgender community. The biggest obstacle in making the community more visible is lack of inclusion, she says, “Policy makers can’t sit in rooms and decide policies for the transgender community without us”. Also, transgender debates can’t stay on the level of transgender bathrooms she argues, consider “proper workplace policies for the transgender community.” She stresses, “The most important thing is your constitutional right, the basic human rights cannot be taken away from you.”