December 11, 2011 in inspiring places
We had a wonderful few days in Amsterdam last weekend celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary. Even though the weather was somewhat cold, grey and drizzly we had an inspiring time wandering the historic canals, museums, galleries and shops armed with Pia Jane Bijkerk’s Amsterdam: Made by Hand and the Wallpaper* City Guide to Amsterdam. The Dutch locals were lovely – friendly, laid-back with an under-stated cool style and we came home thinking it was a city we could quite happily live in.
We took inspiration from museum and gallery trips including the wonderful Rijksmuseum that, even though it is mid-renovation the one open wing is filled with stunning artworks from the Dutch golden age (Willem van de Welde I’s pen paintings from the mid 17th century were just amazing and so detailed). We also visited the Van Gogh Museum, Foam photography gallery as well as touring a couple of the beautiful canal-side houses on Herengracht and the moving Anne Frank House.
What I love about Amsterdam is that, although you are surrounded by the historic architecture and canals it doesn’t feel old fashioned nor just a big tourist attraction. With the vast volume of cyclists buzzing around it feels like a living city and you can glimpse into real homes as you wander, seeing modern interiors and creative solutions that respect the heritage but are contemporary and forward thinking.
The creativity and individuality is evident everywhere. I loved this personalised bicycle covered in silk flowers.
We visited the famous flower market and also the Waterloopein flea market which was disappointing unfortunately as it was all general stalls rather than antiques or bric-a-brac, though it looked like a lot of stalls had closed up early. The farmers’ market on the Noordermarkt was fabulous and well worth a visit.
Touring the shops, my favourites were Moooi, Droog and The Frozen Fountain. Bebob Design had a great selection of vintage and new classic 20th century furniture. I always like to visit a major, old department store on a city break and we whizzed around De Bijenkorf which also has a good cafe/restaurant on the top floor. We stumbled upon a lovely little concept store called Maison NL and peered through the window of Raw Materials home store which looked interesting but was unfortunately closed when we found it. The American Book Centre was brilliant and opposite it Atheneum had a huge international selection of creative magazines.
All in all we had a lovely time celebrating our wedding anniversary and returned inspired. Thank you for making us welcome Amsterdam, we hope to see you again soon.
Sania Pell is a freelance interior stylist, creative director and consultant based in London. She is a Contributing Stylist at Elle Decoration magazine, with whom she has worked for over 18 years, and is known for bringing a unique aspect to photographic shoots for national publications, leading international brands and retailers as well as style consultancy for top architecture practices and property development companies. She is the author of best-selling book The Homemade Home and The Homemade Home for Children. A trained, former textile designer, Sania is also involved in many multi-disciplinary creative projects.
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