Design Travel Guide: Amsterdam

    Amsterdam design travel guide

    The issue with travel guides is lack of inspiration, design orientation and amount of crowd on popular sights. I found out that a successful design trip is a combination of beautiful places, modern technology and being in well thought environment and small everyday things.

    To find design kicks I plan where and what I’d like to see. I combined spots, good coffee places and museums.

    Last update – 6th of March 2019. Check guides for Helsinki, Tokyo and Prague.


    Stedelijk Museum of modern art The permanent exhibition is ok. Have a collection of DeStijl art and architecture. The March display I saw was good too. Adult ticket €18.5

    Moco museum of modern art Moco is a small museum in a traditional Dutch house. Exhibitions are great. Better buy the ticket before the visit because of the line. There are discounts.

    Amsterdam Public library The library is free to enter. Free Wi-Fi. On the top floor, there are great cheap food and coffee. In addition, an amazing view of the city. Interiors and sitting spots are great too.


    Metro stations worth visiting: Noord, Noorderpark, Centraal Station, Rokin, Vijzelgracht, De Pijp and Europaplei.
    The two-hour ticket should cover visiting all of them with taking pictures. Around €7 total.

    Take a free ferry to Noord part of Amsterdam. A ferry departs from Centraal station. Visit NDSM. It’s an old shipyard turned into the creative district.


    Cafe George (Leidsegracht 84) Opens at 11:00 and excellent for a late breakfast. Coffee is good. French food is tasty. Free Wi-Fi and outside sitting with a view on a canal.

    Fou Fow Ramen (Elandsgracht 2A) Amazing and nourishing tiny Japanese restaurant. Portions are big, noodles are tasty and dumplings are delicious. All is cooked by Japanese folks. Free Wi-Fi. The place is popular among locals so expect a line during lunch and dinner. Price for regular ramen €14.

    Pancakes! Amsterdam A chain of Amsterdam pancake places. I was in two located in Centraal and Berenstraat 38. Pancakes are tasty and suit well to start the day. Breakfast from 3 pancakes and coffee around €14.

    Pllek restaurant (tt. Neveritaweg 59) Near NDSM ferry station, open fireplace, tasty food and soups. Cosy space made out of industrial ship containers. Noise level is super comfortable.

    Buffet van Odette (Prinsengracht 598) Stylish, expensive and classy buffet. Good for breakfast. €18. View on a canal and interior are cool. To show off :)

    Soup en Zo (Jodenbreestraat 94) Tasty, cheap soups and bakery. A tiny place with bar stools and big windows. Soups from €5,50. There are two other places in the city. Different locations have different menus.

    Sandwiches t KUYLTJE (Gasthuismolensteeg 9) Big and tasty sandwiches.

    Schipol airport has a democratic prices in restraints. A proper dinner for €12.

    Locations and places

    Oostelijke Eilanden A district on a north part of Amsterdam. Modern architecture and bridges. A district around Python bridge has modern houses for locals with amazing views.

    NDSM An old shipyard turned creative district. Right near the ferry station, there is a Russian submarine. Legend says that Dutch bought it for €1 in St. Petersburg, brought it to Amsterdam and run out of money.

    Jordaan – district is less touristic and has amazing old 17th-century houses.

    P.S. Designers and creatives share your picks and interesting spots by mail or on Telegram.

    6th March
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    How to Ask for a Discount

    There are two important rules about discounts: “Always ask for a discount” and “Ask for discount for everything”.

    The trick is to ask politely and show respect for people. You might not get a discount, but with some persistence and kindness, the chances are very high.

    The template of how to ask for a discount

    1. Greet the company or if you know the name of the person greet personally
    2. Thank for service or feature you like
    3. Show respect and give the company right to say no
    4. Ask “How can I get a discount?”
    5. Give a reason why to have a discount. It can be a big purchase, that you are a new client, your birthday is coming or something else. Don’t lie.
    6. Thank again.


    Hello, dear Amazon!

    Thank you for your wonderful service! I greatly respect the policy of the company. And I will understand if you can’t answer my request.

    I am thinking of getting a premium subscription for a year. Can you please tell me how can I get a discount?

    Thank you for your time.

    It may happen that you will get a rejection. And it means that negotiations started! Thank again a person who replied and asks for a different deal: three months for the price of two, a gift card or something else.

    Be kind, use the template and ask for discounts.

    23rd February
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    Clean Inbox: Add Emails to Calendar as Task

    In my daily routine, I use the approach called “Clean Inbox”. Each email requires some action and later will be deleted or archived. For example: when it’s a quick reply I do it on the spot. If I need to hold email I move it out to “Hold” folder. When I need to think about a reply I create a task in the calendar about that.

    I used to manually create those tasks. It appeared that simple drag-and-drop of the email into the Calendar app can magically move all the data. Link to the message will be saved with the email theme.

    Email to Calendar

    Same approach I use for reading web articles. I drag-and-drop them and web link will be copied to the calendar. Organize and save the time.

    15th February
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    With Clients, Provide

    benefit and care

    In my opinion, the most important idea from the negotiation course. If one’s act with intention to bring benefits and care – it helps to solve the task and bring profit.

    In short

    Any conversation is a negotiation.

    Any negotiations can be systemized and logical.

    Negotiator aims to create long-lasting mutual cooperation.

    Never lie or manipulate. Be honest.

    The benefit to another side. Stick to personal interests.

    No need in this deal.

    Need is usually outside those negotiations.

    People feel your need.

    Luck of need is allowing yourself to say no.

    You can always say NO

    Allow client to say NO as well.

    Ask open questions.

    Understand what is really worrying the client.

    You want to help and take care of the client. And do that honestly.

    If they said “No”, ask why?

    Control the process, not the result.

    1st February
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    Self Design: Plan for 2019

    This year I am interested in user interfaces, business models, leadership negotiations, time and self managment, people direction and guiding, patterns of counterintuitive thinking.

    To read

    1. The Visual Display of Quantitative Information by Edward Tufte
    2. Envisioning Information by Edward Tufte
    3. Beautiful Evidence by Edward Tufte
    4. Start with NO… by Jim Camp
    5. Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi
    6. Do It Tomorrow and Other Secrets of Time Management by Mark Forster
    7. Справочник издателя и автора by Arkady Milchin
    8. Dao Toyota by Jeffrey K. Liker
    9. Orgmanagment thinking by Georgy Shedrovicky

    To watch

    1. Ludwig Bistronovsky – How to create interest (Summary)
    2. Yandex design school
    3. Yandex mobile UI school
    4. Yandex project managment school
    5. Product design by Tamara Kulinkovich (Product love formula. Love = Interest - Excitement + Enjoyment - Happiness)
    6. BangBangEducation talks
    7. Happy Film by Stefan Sagmeister
    8. The End of Navel Gazing by Paul Adams (UX is not in the center. Leadership is. All teams are important.)
    9. WWDC
    10. Apple September event
    11. Eugene Arutyunov – We want to play

    To visit

    1. Amsterdam (Published Design travel guide)
    2. Beauty exhebition by Sagmeister and Walsh in Vienna (Photos from the trip)
    3. Germany (Pictures from coal mine and road trip)
    4. Krakow (Pictures from the trip)
    5. Japan (Telegram notes from the trip in Russian and pictures from the trip)
    6. South Korea (Telegram notes from the trip in Russian, pictures from the trip and post about metro)

    To study

    1. Negotiation course by Ilya Sinelnikov
      (Got diploma and wrote about “How to ask for discounts” and “Most important knowledge”)
    2. People managment course

    To create

    1. Portoflio 2019
    2. List of all unfinished tasks (from book Mark Forster)
    3. Metro map (in progress)
    4. Telegram channel and
    5. Telegram stickers Link’s Awakening

    From Ivan Zviahin found a concept for personal growth and self-design. In its core a model of personal skills represented as the octopus. Each tentacle is a skill. To improve a skill one needs to do work. Ivan has a more detail explanation on how to create a list.

    14th January
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    Ludwig Bistronovsky – How to Create Interest

    Ludwig Bistronovsky is the art director in Art Lebedev Studio. He did a talk about how to creat interest (in Russian). To remeber the material and get most important ideas I made a summary.

    Ludwig creates interest by solving several tasks simultaneously. Those tasks should be complex. He switches those tasks. Ludwig sets up an assembly line to solve those tasks. To lower the pressure he uses breaks, sport, travelling. He uses the generator of unexpected events, which he does not control. He tries to solve hard tasks counterintuitively in topics where he has not succeed yet. He focuses his attention on solving the task, but not on how to make life interesting.

    To create interest don’t work too hard

    The harder you try – the more boring it gets. There is no interest when it is forced. As an example, Ludwig suggests hosts on a wedding who are trying hard to make the event fun. Eventually, they fail.

    Interesting experience is here

    It seems that interesting events are somewhere there. Adults think that kids have the most interesting life. Likewise, kids believe that adults have the most interesting life. Another project is more fun to do. Another company has a more attractive job. Another designer is having a time of his life and etc. However, the most interesting things are here. The trick is to find them instead of switching to a newbie’s brain.

    Changing the workplace, travelling to new destinations, meeting new people or updating the twitter feed are examples of newbie’s brain. Receiving new information or experiences are always interesting.

    To make interesting experince choose a hard task

    Harder than you usually do. The evolution encourages solving hard tasks and motivates us to continue. The best if you don’t understand how to solve that problem. If you don’t know the solution – it’s very good.

    If the designer never did a web page – give it to him or her. Have been only doing logotypes – try to code a web page. Was always travelling by plain – do the same but with a train. The harder it gets – it will be more interesting.

    Tasks that hard, almost on a limit of your abilities, makes life interesting. However, there should be a chance that you can solve it. Difficulty should be controlled and picked up properly.

    Lower the pressure

    As a common mistake, designers think that with complicated tasks it’s a must to push super hard. Work 20 hours per day, no sleep or sit till morning.

    Even with the hard task is important to lower the pressure. You need to plan breaks for your day because it’s the most important. Remove annoyance. As an example, Ludwig talks about deadlines.

    To remove deadlines the work should be organised like an assembly line. The tasks can be done in short 15 - 20 min attempts. After each attempt, Ludwig suggests taking a pause.

    Create cycles

    To stay focused it’s enough to switch between tasks and do it in cycles. Designers can take several projects and switch between them one after another. Smarter people include sports, cooking and daily life activity to their cycle.

    Inside the game can be several microgames. Ludwig gives an example of a tower defence game where first you shoot with your towers then upgrade them, that upgrade the character and cycle repeats. A cycle from 4 - 5 mini-games keeps a player interested and focused on a game.

    With planning work or day task cycles, you still understand: those are the same events or set of goals. To shake them you need to surprise yourself.

    Plan the surprise or use generator

    Human mind works as prediction machine. To create a surprise there should be created expectation or tension. After the expectation is broken. To do that surprise needs to be planed.

    When sailors are going to a crouse a captain arranges with a cook the menu. And some days, unexpectedly, there will be a carrot. Not scheduled or planed but by surprise.

    Outside forces can be a generator of unexpected. Travel to a new place, not knowing what to expect there. Some use questions from other people to find a topic.

    Counterintuitive thinking

    However, it’s still hard to suprise yourself, because you know how you think, what to expect and what drives you and what is not.

    Surprises, ideas, new techniques come to one phrase “What, was it possible to do it like that?” At first, it seems new idea seams strange because intuitively you are not used thinking about it this way. The key is to use counterintuitive thinking and use it as a template to solve task.

    If something is failing Ludwig stops and listen to how he thinks and tries to break the pattern. An impressive solution is strange and it solves the task. Nonsense does not solve the task.

    12th January
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    Text is the Most Important Part of the Interface

    Does not matter what canvas is used: web page, mobile or desktop screen or paper – the user interface is what allows people to interact with a service or app. To make sense of the UI we use text.

    user interface with and without text

    The text is everywhere in interfaces. Without it, the users fail to understand how to use the UI. Thus to make UI work go with clear messages, suitable typography, legible fonts and clear language.

    2nd January
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    Before Starting a Project

    Receiving the task. Clearing all details. Spending half of the week to design the first prototype. Work goes into the trash. Feeling of devastation. To save time, effort, nerves and make the design process structured and interesting here is a short template. This makes work useful.


    Person: target audiences, viewer, customer, user.

    Problem: an issue they are having. Pain or harm they are experiencing.

    Benefit: what usefulness you are going to give.

    Task: How are you going to achieve the benefit. A plan how to get to the benefit from the current state.


    I saw a social campaign in Prague. If trash stack up near the house, tenants can ask to dispatch it out of turn. Unfortunately, the ad was used as a solution. Prague citizens have to look for a phone of administration of the house. Next step is to send their request via the administrator.

    Person: citizenships of Prague city.

    Problem: cluttered trash beans.

    Benefit: clean and empty trash beans.


    People are using banks because of strong motivation to save money or to receive more money. Money is needed for personal reasons: car, flat, school, university or business expansion.

    Person: clients of the bank.

    Problem: luck of money for a new car or flat. Wish to go to a good school.

    Benefit: help client earn or save money for those wishes.


    14th December
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    Teaching Yourself Product Design Thinking

    Making products is fun! Also, it’s like eating cactuses – painful and challenging. The goal of a product designer to deliver a working, purposeful and meaningful problem solving product for people.

    When I was starting making apps – I sucked. To develop an understanding of product design I learned to boil things down to smallest pieces and try to make sense out of it. I want to share the way I see the products now.

    Today I will be taking apart Revolut’s mobile app.

    Analyse benefits

    The first step is to understand why the product works. The key is in defining a useful output or benefits. I ask the question: „What will I get by using this app or web page?” Revolut built their product around three ideas:

    1. People want to save money because they are people don’t like to lose.
    2. People use the plastic card because it takes less space than cash (it also secure).
    3. People send money to friends because they need to pay for things.

    In my opinion, those are the three main drivers for customers to choose R product. Saving money, using a card and moving money — three formulas.

    User problems and goals

    The formulas help us to define three main problems:

    1. How to save money? Where are people lose money?
    2. What is a convenient means of payment everywhere?
    3. How to send money to friends?

    To solve those problems app sets several goals:

    1. Exchange currency with no fees.

    2. Use a multicurrency plastic card.

    3. Send bank and direct money transfers easy.

    Exchange currencies goal

    There are servera scenarios when people need to exchange money. People want to be prepared for the future and exchanging money beforehand. They are going on holidays or travelling to meet business partners.

    Or, clients have money in local currency and want to pay for something with the card abroad.

    To exchange currencies there is a separate screen.

    revolut exchange screen

    There are only four words on the screen: Exchange 2x and Balance 2x. Name of the screen and action are the same. Because the action is the button it’s not confusing.

    Beneficial detail with plus and minus near exchange amounts. Helps to understand what amount will be deducted and receive.

    If the user made a mistake by choosing the wrong order, currencies can be switched. Button help to fix the mistake without punishment. Also, check how huge are tap areas!

    Current rate has an icon with zig-zag arrow up. The same icon is on top and leads to more rates and alerts. It can be misleading and does not help to achieve the goal. A benefit could be to show a weekly trend.

    Last detail is a comma separator on the keyboard. Useful for BTC amounts.

    To reach the goal of exchanging currencies on the go no UI is needed. No UI is better than any UI.

    The exchange happens in the background when the payment is done.

    Send money to friends

    revolut payment screen

    Only one word for the headline.

    Revolut noticed common cases like splitting a bill in a restaurant or creating repeating payments.

    The idea of friends who in the contact list helps to find receivers. Contacts are at the bottom which helps to interact with the list. Their pictures help to recognize a person by visual or colourful spot.

    I am not sure about the magnifying glass. It serves the purpose to find the right person and it is far from the contact’s list. I guess people don’t really use it because first, it requires to stretch the finger to the top, click, wait for keyboard, start typing and choose a contact. Scrolling the list is much faster.


    Afte separating elements, I challange myself to reach mentioned goals with less or no UI at all. Or, how to make UI more functional without significant changes.

    Goal to Save money on exchange

    Goal to Send money to friends

    Doing these steps can help tomake assumptions about the usefulness of the UI. I will be happy to hear your thoughts and opinions. Don’t hesitate to contact me by mail or on Telegram.

    13th September
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    How to Name Files

    For 7 years in design, I worked on different design projects. Some were easy and straightforward. Some had twisting bumpy turns and last minute changes which lead to a mess in my files and organisation. During those years I found a small trick on how to stay organized with my work.

    A common designer’s project folder:


    I rarely recall to switch on sorting by date. And sharing a project on a flash drive with a colleague will remove all soring by date and files will be in a mess.

    To save time and keep project organised name all files in date format Year-month-day. My current project folder:


    I name files at the end of the day. To avoid typing date manually I use action from Automator. It adds the current date to selected file or folder.

    current date

    Share your tips with me by mail or on Telegram.

    22nd August
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