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In the past decade Dutch design has been synonymous with furniture, with Eindhoven serving as its capital. But an hour’s drive north from the Design Academy brings visitors in contact with an industry that Holland has excelled in shaping since the 17th century: shipbuilding. The latest innovator in this field, family-run boatyard Damen, is based on the shores of the Merwede at Gorinchem, where naval architects sit quietly in exposed brick offices staring at 3d ship superstructures on the computer.

Started by two brothers in 1927, Damen first foc…

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