complete set of mirrors

medium mirror

big mirror

detail of the big mirror


storytelling mirror maps

Commissioned by: Sweatshop Deluxe. Rotterdam

Developed in collaboration with Stefan Blokker (research and storytelling) and a wonderful group of Rotterdam inhabitants and visitors

Photography: Monica Monté

When I moved to Rotterdam, in 1993, many people told me that it’s a big scary city. So I got a bit nervous when moving, you know, as a young girl from Brabant, leaving for the city. You have to start all over again, you don’t know anyone. And yet I’ve never felt unsafe in Rotterdam. It’s a very multicultural place, but I normally don’t notice it that much anymore; only when my relatives from Brabant come to visit. My sisters always get so shocked when they’re here. But the weird thing about Rotterdam, at least the part where I live, is that it’s just like a village. Rotterdam, despite being a big city, seems to be made up of small villages.
— Patricia (51 years old)
I’m not really like most other Greeks I’ve encountered studying here. Most of them simply live together at the university campus and hardly ever go downtown. I love going downtown, it’s where stuff is happening! I think that when you’re a foreigner and only stick to your own kind, you’ll be missing out on a lot of cool stuff. Rotterdam’s art scene for example is really fascinating, there’s so much happening, but you can only find this if you know where to search. That’s why it might seem like a very enclosed world to an outsider. Another very important part of Rotterdam’s life is cycling. Everybody rides a bike here since everything is at a reasonable distance. That’s why I would love to live somewhere near the center, where I could always cycle to wherever I’d have to go.
— Kostas (31 years old)
I was really disappointed when I first arrived here, because I assumed Rotterdam would have been like Utrecht or Amsterdam, the old Dutch cities. But I decided to stay here. There is something about Rotterdam that I ended up loving. However, Rotterdam is a difficult city to truly understand.
— Ana (27 years old)
What I like most about Rotterdam isn’t a specific location, but the fact that it has people from practically every culture in the world. That is really the coolest thing about this city: its multicultural society. It’s a big mix of everything, you can see it in the foreign shops, restaurants, et cetera. There are so many foreign restaurants here where you can actually experience the local cuisine from those countries. I think that people seem to emphasize too much on when stuff goes wrong between different groups, and forget to realize how special it is to have all these different cultures living side by side.
— Ivar (19 years old)

‘Rotterdam Told by People’ is a set of mirrors that reflect collective interpretations of the city. Together with researcher Stefan Blokker, we wanted to capture the widest range of experiences the city has to offer. The people interviewed spoke about what was important to them and often pointed or drew that as well. We used the sketches as a starting point to obtain a map of personal meanings.

When looking into any of these mirrors, you will not only see yourself, but also people’s memories and opinions about Rotterdam. The map shows locations that interest and matter to both locals and visitors.

‘Rotterdam Told by People’ has been developed for local production in three sizes: a big mirror containing the complete represented map; a medium mirror containing a selection of the most popular stories mapped by location; a set of five key rings and five fridge magnets each representing one of the most popular icons of the city.


detail of the big mirror


brochure of stories (packaged with the key rings and fridge magnets)

key rings set

fridge magnets set