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Creative content is king

How an abandoned NS office becomes a dreamy experience

During the Dutch Design Week the empty NS office at Eindhoven CS will be transformed into a colourful exiting mini design district. An unique architectural space which has been empty for years will show its illuminating colours from 21-29 Oct. Sandra Keja-Planken from Studio Noun and Job Keja from Skonk transform vacant spaces into creative experiences. They bring creative content and business purpose, combine unconventional concepts, solve vacancies and create added value.


Nowadays approximately 219,000 properties are vacant in the Netherlands (source: CBS). With these long-term vacancies, not only waste space purpose is lost, also its capital and development opportunities are being broken down. Job and Sandra bring unique creative concepts while programming at unexpected locations. Resulting in a range of experiences showing cities a new demand, they did not know existed. Job Keja, from creative concept agency Skonk, is known for rebellious concepts. His projects contain multifunctional layers of conceptual means and offer a balance between commercial and creative dreams. “Owners find it difficult to take risks on a long-term, relatively low rental contract. They are scared they must lower the value of the property. By working with us we initiate a brand-new rental and cash flow while putting the place on the map. And most importantly adding value at the same time.”


The concepts Job created have long proven themselves. Over the years the first Baut Amsterdam Restaurant and the Ping Pong Club in Utrecht immersed visitors and property owners into new experiences. Whether it’s his Ping Pong Club, consisting of 3 workshops, several studios, community gardens and yes, also a café area where you can play ping pong. The first Baut restaurant, besides receiving a groundbreaking 10- from the famous culinair journalist Johannes van Dam, showcased rooftop concerts, experimental exhibition, and poetry performances. And in those first 4 years several young people who were separated from modern society were trained to get back at it with a new healthy dose of pride, life and work experiences. 


All this resulted in a lease after the first 4 pop-up years, being 20x the rent for the same location they paid during the temporary period. In this case we created the value ourselves”. We have set up this business model for clients as an 'Asset Recharge model' from which we all reap the benefits. And where placemaking is no longer an event form in an industrial building that remains vacant for the rest of the time. Things can be done better, and we must raise the bar to not only 'benefit' from vacancies but actually help create value for a place and look at it from different angles.”


MESSMERIZING offers added value for all involved

The Dutch Railways (NS) approached Job Keja spring 2022, offering the 1,200 m2 vacant NS office space above Eindhoven Central Station. Asking it to be part of the programming at the Dutch Design Week for the first time ever. Sandra Keja-Planken (artist and interior designer, Studio Noun) was asked to provide the creative input. Together they developed MESSMERIZING, a mini design district showcasing 30 carefully curated (inter)national top designers and artists. These collectible objects guaranteed an enchanting experience in a raw architectural space. A bold and colourful MESSMERIZING showcase containing amazing crafts and smart reuse of (NS) residual materials. All programmed with an anthropomorphic touch by Sandra.


This uniquely set up managed to grab the attention of various trend watchers, brands and journalists. Being called an inspiring exhibit of the future merging art and design seamlessly by telling unique stories. In addition, thousands of interested people visited this temporary hotspot giving positive feedback on the raw beauty of this hidden gem.


Both Sandra Keja-Planken and Job Keja, took it all in and decided to go one step further with a concept called “Curiosity sets things in motion”. MESSMERIZING started out in 2022 as a pop-up and will continue in 2023 as a new gallery experience. Giving a unique purpose to an abandoned place and thus generates value for everyone involved. From NS to the city of Eindhoven to DDW and all participants and exhibitors. 


“For us, value lies in a possible longer-term use of the place. For example, as a pop-up hotel or creative space. While showing other forms of exhibiting, in which we work together towards new forms of exposure and fantasy like experiences. In the meantime, we address social themes such as vacancy. We want to stimulate unconventional connections and encourage those involved or visiting to be part of new ways into the future.” says Sandra Keja-Planken. And most importantly, the city (and everyone who drops by) gets a MESSMERIZING peek inside in a non-public location.


Projects by Sandra Keja-Planken and Job Keja show there still are inner-city places that are not yet being used. And potentially can become a whole new world of experience. ‘True value' is created for everyone involved in various ways. And so they are well on their way, for they are currently in conversation about MESSMERIZING as a nomad gallery in several Dutch locations as well as locations in Milan, Miami and the Netherlands Antilles.



Eindhoven CS

Dutch Design Week October 21-29


Consultant: Madeline Mackay
Tel: 020 - 776 7756


Ode al Mar by Sandra Keja-Planken
Ode al Mar


Studio Noun

SOCIAL MEDIA Sandra Keja Planken

About the organizers of MESSMERIZING

Sandra Keja-Planken

Sandra Keja-Planken is a self-taught designer and artist. Keja-Planken's works let you search for the connection between people, nature and behavior.

She is known for her innovative artistic interior design. Sandra has been dealing with what is the current trend for 15 years. With her fascination for nature, she works in a positive way with the meaningful use of natural materials in empty or conventional spaces. With her various craft collaborations, she wants to take a look at future environment, living and nature themes. Old buildings are restored and transformed into a total experience. Her spaces and objects have multiple functions, faces and shapes in one.


For the past 4 years she has been creating anthropomorphic design and collectible art objects under her own name. For her glass and textile art she collaborates with the TextielMuseum and Glass Museum. She also processes residual pieces of wood and recycled concrete into one-off pieces. Her works have been presented to Queen Maxima because of her unique way of working.


Job Keja

Owner of Skonk, co-owner of the first Baut restaurant.

For Keja, the end user is always central. Latent needs, behavioral patterns and diverse dreams are combined with new technical possibilities and unconventional market combinations. He is not just an advisor. He believes in what he does and because he really enjoys it, he carries out his own business plans as an owner and developer, taking on risk. This varies from developing and operating distinctive catering concepts such as BAUT Amsterdam and the Ping Pong Club Utrecht to redeveloping a monumental gem such as the Dierenasyl in Amsterdam Oost, or setting up a design exhibition in Eindhoven CS during Dutch Design Week.