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Wunderman Thompson’s City Guide to Inspiration in Nature: Amsterdam Edition


Look a little deeper and Amsterdam opens up as an even richer source of creative inspiration, according to Bas Korsten, global chief creative officer at Wunderman Thompson

Wunderman Thompson’s City Guide to Inspiration in Nature: Amsterdam Edition

As the world’s leading researcher on inspiration, Wunderman Thompson knows a thing or two about the psychological link between people’s value systems and their sources of inspiration to predict how humanity will be inspired. In Wunderman Thompson’s Inspire InFocus report, being outdoors in nature ranked number one as the top source of inspiration globally. Even though life is starting to “get back to normal”, many of our new habits formed during the pandemic, such as taking walks during work breaks or exploring nature in our own backyard, have endured.

As we yearn to move, connect, and get off a plane and stretch our legs, out of a conference hall into fresh air, leave the confines of a hotel room, or even take a walking meeting or lunch in a park vs. a restaurant, here are some ideas for the next time you find yourself in some of the most inspirational cities around the world, for business or pleasure.


Name: Bas Korsten 

Title: global chief creative officer, Wunderman Thompson  

City: Amsterdam

Bas> I’m a big fan of neuroscience. Of understanding how our brain functions in order to see how I can improve it. Your surroundings are a crucial factor in the way your brain works. Tim Cook, CEO of Apple said it in an interesting way the other day. He uses walking in nature as a ‘palette cleanser for the mind’. I try to do the same where I live, just outside of Amsterdam, close to the city of Haarlem. There’s a lot of woods, dunes, and green spaces. And there’s the sea of course. All these natural elements help me to be a better creative. And Amsterdam as a city is so wonderful too. It’s actually a village disguised as a city. Multicultural, multi-dimensional, multi-everything.

Q> When do you find you crave inspiration in nature and where do you find it?

Bas> Always. I’m surrounded by windows here and luckily there’s a lot of greenery, and a lot of leaves dancing in the wind. Looking at these makes your brain go into an alpha state, a kind of wakeful relaxation where you can connect things in your head better. Every now and then I try to look away from the screen and look at the leaves.

I also like to walk my dog in the woods quite a bit. I find that’s a good place to disconnect from everything including technology and work. A creative brain needs that disconnect, so I try to force myself to go every now and then, to make sure I take in some green spaces.

Q> Where is the best place to people watch in Amsterdam?

Bas> I really like to spend time near Haarlem, which is close to the sea. There are quite a few tourists, especially in the summer and the recent Formula 1 races in Zandvoort. Other than that, I like to sit on the outside terraces and people watch. Amsterdam is a very vibrant, multicultural city so that’s a great place to see all kinds of people from all walks of life pass by.

Q> What’s your favourite hike or walk?

Bas> Even just walking through the neighbourhood is pretty, it’s quite green and you can head into the woods. It’s very relaxing, even though I always walk fast, I don’t do strolling. People may wonder why I walk so fast when I’m not going anywhere in particular. Well, “why walk when you can run” – which I like as a life motto!

Q> What are some interesting natural attractions near your city that are worth checking out?

Bas> The canals are just gorgeous. Water in a city gives an extra dimension. I had the same feeling when I was in Chicago – it just adds something to the vibrancy and to the dynamic of the city. Seeing the sun reflecting on the water in the morning when the city is just waking up is really quite special.

Q> Which season inspires you the most in your part of the world and why?

Bas> Spring. I’d take sun on my skin and a warmer temperature over layers of clothing and scarves any day! Not only that but the general feeling in the air is of a new energy, new life and a new chapter opening.

Q> What kind of weather do you get that’s unique to your area and when does it inspire you?

Bas> In Amsterdam we have a land climate, so quite a bit of rain which I don’t mind. I like the variation and the distinction between the seasons. In fact, I like the change most, more than any one particular thing. Having said that, at the moment, I’d love a bit of spring warmth!

Q> What’s your favourite park/botanical garden/body of water and why?

Bas> Het Wed is a lake just ten minutes from my house. It’s great for walking the dog around, but it’s also perfect in summer for swimming.

Q> Anything else to add that might involve wildlife, especially critters or birds or a specific example of when you were inspired by nature?

Bas> We’ve got a buzzard nearby, as there are quite a few big trees close to the garden for him to nest in. It’s such a magnificent bird with an incredible wingspan. I see that soar past my window and think how glad I am that I’m inside!

Q> And how about a quick day trip or weekend trip to somewhere near your location?

Bas> We sometimes go to Friesland in the north for a few days to relax. There’s this little hotel in the middle of nowhere, with really flat farmland all around – so it’s totally different scenery to take in and be inspired by.

Q> Best place for a run/swim or other form of exercise outside?

Bas> Again, I have to say that Het Wed is one of my favourite places to swim and run. Plus, I like to do exercises on the ninth floor of our office in Amsterdam – it has spectacular views of the Amstel river to enjoy while I work up a sweat.

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Wunderman Thompson Europe, Mon, 19 Dec 2022 14:22:42 GMT