I fell in love with Amsterdam the way one falls in love with a man in uniform. From a distance he’s spit shined to a polish, orderly, and sensible in the most romantic way. A fresh summer fling, the one you’ll tell your future granddaughters about, the one that got away. Up close and personal though, his eyes reveal he’s seen some shit and if you get involved, you better brace yourself for long winter nights. The kind of coldness that brings to mind porridge, burlap coats, and other Depression era flashbacks.
When I arrived in the nippy Netherlands, I wasn’t prepared for this. Early August in Los Angeles meant that 67° was the low. During my visit to Amsterdam, 67° was the most high, the holy grail of heat. I knew it would be best to set my ex-pat ambitions elsewhere, but I couldn’t resist engaging in a short, sweet Dutch rendezvous. I spent a great deal of time in Amsterdam scoping out concept stores. Those well curated boutiques tailor made for folks who prefer store-bought goods that come with an even better back story.
I stumbled upon the concept of a concept store while researching ways to expand the alternative art space I cofounded a couple years ago. Many of these retailers dedicate wall space to works by emerging artists. What a perfect way, I thought, to blend my appreciation of contemporary art with my adoration for the gutsiness of artisanal brands. Launched by brave folk who quit their day jobs and forge new futures out of clay, leather, or even candle wax. On the way back home to LA, I incurred a hefty overweight luggage charge having stuffed my bag with goodies from said stores. Below are my favorite culprits and the bounty I loaded from their racks.
Cotton Cake trots the glob searching for food, fashion, art and other good things that inspire. Their New York style waffles caught me by surprise. A crisp mix of spelt flour, buckwheat, and flaxseed left me light and guilt free. I added their signature smoothie and got a ripe combination of fruit & veggies, chia & hemp seeds, almond milk, plus tiny bites of raw cacao nibs. Eyeing their display of the Sunday Suppers cookbook, I went ahead and grabbed a copy to spark my hubby's culinary imagination. www.cottoncake.nl
Six and Sons offers vintage furniture found across Europe, design services for your interiors, as well as clothing, books, and magazines. Opened by former art director Alexander Six, the store is an eclectic fusion of rustic and industrial. I picked up a cheesecloth journal made in Japan and discovered books by the German publishing house Gestalten which specializes in titles on creative culture. www.sixandsons.com
Tenue de Nîmes was built for the blue jean enthusiast. You can get quite an education on the heritage of denim by dipping into their store and posing a few questions. While dungarees are their foundation, I fell for a ceramic tea pot. In the spirit of marital compromise, I left the kettle on their shelves, but can't stop thinking about its pressed floral design which took me back to the textured wall decor of my grandparents' first home. With two locations and an additional shoe store in Amsterdam, you can pick up where I left off and actually leave with some of their wares. www.tenuedenimes.com
Restored champions the slow living movement by selecting goods that give pause. Accessories for the home and body carefully chosen by shop owners David and Marijke that often promote the works of promising new designers. I bought two necklaces by Turina, a jeweler local to Amsterdam and the best little city guide written by blogger Anne de Buck, a Netherlands native. www.restored.nl
Is there a concept store that drags you in? Tell us about it. Add links to your faves in the comment section below. Or use the hashtag #curatoriousSHOPS on Instagram when uploading pics of the places you love.