27 September, 2011

City sunday.

Pretend this is my front door.  Open it and come inside.
Take a seat, have a cup of tea. Brush aside the fallen petals from the tulips, try not to think of the encroaching autumn.  Brush aside the last remaining cake crumbs, try not to think of how quickly little boys become big boys. 
Because, yes, my sweet son has had another birthday.  All puffed cheeks and curls, he struggled to blow out all six candles on his Lego cake at once.  I wonder what he wished for.  I myself wished he knew more children his age here, so that I could have thrown him a proper birthday party, the kind that knocks me into next week with tiredness.  
What do you do when you've just moved, and your child doesn't yet have his or her circle of friends?  We decided to go to the movies.  My kids have been to the movies three times before in their lives, so it is a real treat.  The film was at an Amsterdam landmark, the Tuschinski theater, continuously running since 1921, with exception of one recent renovation. 
I could imagine Vincent Price designing a movie theater like this.  To call it lavish is a serious understatement.  Even today, there are still private viewing boxes--and love seats.  (I found another photo on Flickr of the interior, here.)
But the splendid photo of the foyer, below, was not taken by me.  (It was posted, uncredited--boo!-- here.) 
I neglected to take photos of the outside which, if anything, is even more outlandishly Art Deco, in keeping with the stringent demands of the original owner.  Unfortunately, being a Polish Jew by origin, he and his entire family were murdered by the Germans during the war.  
His Tuschinski is still standing, however, perfect where it is, kitty-corner to the flower market, and where all the big-name film premieres are held in Holland. 

The Tuschinski would be decidedly out of place in the planned Ijburg, built upon artificial islands, where the buildings look more like this.  [The 'j' in Ij is silent.]
This is where I found myself this past Sunday, in order to take part in Elle Decoration's annual Inside Design Amsterdam.  There were loads of designers, artists and furniture companies scattered across the airy islands in cool loft spaces in such a way that you sort of wandered from one striking arrangement to another, without ever feeling crowded by others.
I liked these pieces shown by Ilse Crawford, former chief editor of the English edition of Elle Decoration, and now herself a designer under the aegis Studioilse.
 Interesting rough-yet-smooth, ultra simplicity of of these bowls.  What do you think? (Note, I did not say they were practical...)
Look closely at this display of preserved flowers.  Can you think of anything much more exquisitely diaphanous?  I couldn't stop peering at these from different angles.
I also loved the concept and craftsmanship of this low coffee table by a pair of young Dutch twins. Who comes up with an idea to glue together pencils then cut them like a slab of wood--leaving the ends sharpened?  Tweelink, that's who.  They also made a dinner table out of coloring pencils, and the sides had more of a rainbow effect.
There were a lot of pieces to admire by both the up and coming and the established, but for sheer monumentality and vision, I'd say the prize goes to Barbara Broekman.  This piece below is 4.2 meters by 3 meters, and is a composite image of "Good" as drawn from the masterworks of Rubens, Veronese, Tiepolo and Caravaggio. 

Essentially, it is a giant collage (with a companion piece, "Evil".)
The piece is made up of inter-connected panels, each measuring sixty centimeters by sixty centimeters.  And that pixielated effect is because it is a Jacquard-woven cloth.
When you finally put your nose up to it, you begin to suspect that this involved an awful lot of work.  I have no idea how she managed the scale and variety of color, but it did involve the skills and machine of the Textile Museum in Tillburg.
If you are reading this from Holland, you can see one of Barbara Broekman's pieces at the Frozen Fountain, a contemporary art and design gallery in Amsterdam well worth visiting. If you love tapestry, explore Broekman's beautiful site to see some of the many works coming out of her atelier--and how she makes them.  And finally, you can also browse a preview of Inside Design Amsterdam in the October issue of (Dutch) Elle Decoration if you want more.  I didn't want to overwhelm you with photos, so I only selected a few.
After all that hard work of strolling and gawking and head-cocking and lusting (my breath was completely stolen by the B2 kitchen concept from Bulthaup--do check it out), I was ready for a cup of coffee in the sun.  Dispensed from a three-wheeled mini-truck. Overlooking the little harbor on Ij-lake.
When I can watch bridges go up for boats on any given day, I know I am in Amsterdam.
There are worse ways to spend a sunday.


  1. Lovely. Hope the kids are adjusting....

  2. Oh what a lovely little tour that was. You just got there, give it time and your kids will make plenty of friends and settle in.

  3. That tapestry is incredible. The work involved must have been monumental.

    I thought the cake very cute. One of mine has just had his birthday, didn't ask for a cake but went laser-gaming and to the cinema with pals. At 15 one doesn't celebrate with one's mother any more, except to take the money. I acted as a taxi service. I know my place...

  4. Plaisir de lire tes lignes.
    Le temps te gâte pour ton installation.
    Je suis juste de retour de 15j sur l'Estérel les pieds dans l'eau et la mer à 25°.
    Ici la végétation a très soif.
    A bientôt et merci pour tes coms.

  5. Hi Rose,
    Despite my concerns (the eldest did NOT want to leave the countryside), the kids really are adjusting very well. Whew! They just miss the animals...which we'll be seeing again soon.

    Hi WC,
    Isn't that a great movie theater? It makes going to a movie something out of the ordinary.

    Hello Sarah,
    Indeed, the tapestry is even more striking seen in person. Doubt your 15 year old would have been impressed, though! I think you get them back in their twenties, though, and then they're yours forevermore. So I have been told.

    Salut Micheline,
    33 degres a 16h, j'ai compris. Chez vous c'est encore plein ete, chez nous les feuilles brunissent et tombent. Mais je serais bientot de retour pour ma dose des Cevennes, donc je ne suis pas trop jalouse!


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