I am sure I don’t need to remind you about my obsession for ceramics and stoneware, however I do think this bunch of images I shot recently that support that (very healthy) obsession need to be shared with you (as I can only assume you share the same loves as me), immediately. One toe inside the door of Annemieke Boots‘ light-filled Amsterdam ceramics studio and the rest was history. Too much inspiration to name so let’s dive straight into the tour, shall we?
One glance at her studio and you will see that Annemieke’s work is inspired by Scandinavian simplicity, her designs derived from pure, simple forms. “My work is light, fragile and has something sweet, something soft about it. It is an extension of myself.” With a keen eye for detail, Annemieke admits that she once strived to make each and every piece exactly the same and uniform, but as her love of the discipline grew she came to appreciate the beauty in imperfection. “I have realised that the dents and bumps the occur naturally are precisely what makes hand-turned pottery special. Each item is carefully made with love.” Are you as excited as I am to see the rest of her studio? Click through to see the whole tour!
When searching for a studio space, light was an essential ingredient for Annemieke. “I spend much of my time in the studio. I’m here five days a week and sometimes also on weekends – creating, filling or emptying the kiln, doing administration or photographing my work. For this reason, the studio on the Buyskade appealed to me right away – it has floods of natural light, is in a great location and is warm, even in the winter. It was meant to be.” A lick of paint and new floors made her studio an ideal backdrop for her ceramics that is every bit as functional as it is lovely.
Annemieke shares her Amsterdam studio with three other ceramicists – Charlotte Kristensen from Copenhagen, Marie-Jose Schulte Fischedick and William Thompson. “We all have our own style, but assist each other in the creative process.” Collaborations also come through social media, such as product exchanges with other makers Annemieke connects with on Instagram. “It’s fun to do and I enjoy meeting like-minded creatives in this way. The Instagram community is particularly interested in the work that I do, which is beautiful to see.”
After running an interiors boutique in Amsterdam selling Asian furniture an accessories for several years, Annemieke was ready for a change and a creative challenge. “At a certain point, I had seen it all and wanted something new,” she explains. “I did the marketing, sales, styling and maintained contact with the customers. I knew all the tricks from start to finish and was ready for something else. Something creative. I did not know what I wanted to do and frankly I also lacked energy at that time.”
A visit to at the ceramicist Ingvar Bengtsson’s atelier while holidaying at their Swedish summer house couldn’t have come at a better time and was the trigger Annemieke needed to make the change she had been wanting. “While we were there, Ingvar sat behind his turntable and saw the magic in my eyes. He asked if I wanted to learn and the following week I started on basics of modeling. There in his studio it happened. I was behind the turntable, felt the clay in my hands and tears spontaneously prickled in my eyes. This is it! This is what I have to do, make ceramics. When I think back, I get goosebumps all over again. I totally didn’t know how I was going to make money out of it, but I did it anyway.” Upon returning home, Annemieke purchased her first turntable, signed up for a course and went in search of a studio space to practise her new skill. “It may look easy, but I can tell you, it is not!”
Inspiration for her creations comes in various forms. “I love natural tones inspired by nature, such as white, cream, blue and grey.” And while nature plays an important role where shapes and colour are concerned, Annemieke also draws inspiration in other art forms such as glass-blowing. “Copying a design does not work for me. It really has to come from within, even the process of kneading the clay. I put my heart and soul into the clay, and only then do I get the desired result.”
“Selling my own work was very daunting at first but it went almost automatically from the get go.” Aside from building on a collection of ceramics for her studio and shop, Annemieke also took on styling commissions which helped to build confidence in her skills and develop her creative network.
“I have always been very shy, but thanks to my shop I learned to strike up a conversation and from there things started coming my way.” Annemieke now stocks several boutiques with her wares and carries out regular commissions for several labels including By Mölle (and Avenue favourite) and Food Bandits.
Though Annemieke is perfectly satisfied mastering her skills with stoneware, she aspires to further broaden her craft, challenger herself and reach goals. “I started with stoneware with the goal of mastering that first before allowing myself to work with porcelain. This is such a special material that I wanted to save it for later. Continuously making the same things is not for me; I know I’ll get bored after a while.”
Seeing her work feature in publications such as Elle magazine has given Annemieke the incentive to keep creating pieces of beauty and function, and aspirations on creating more wares for the find industry. “There’s something special about easting off a beautiful, hand turned plate, I am convinced the food tastes better! But seeing people love my products simply amazes me and fills my with satisfaction and pride. I am so grateful to be able to do what I love every day!”
Thank you, Annemieke, for letting me into your creative space to capture you doing what clearly brings you so much joy. You are an inspiration and I wish you much success in the years to come. I had the best time, with my friend and Dutch copy writer Lotte Herink, sipping tea, snapping away and learning all about Annemieke’s creative journey. Deeply inspiring.
Hope you guys enjoyed this studio tour! Next up, my living room so keep your eyes peeled for the before and after reveal!
Photography: Holly Marder for Avenue | Copy: Lotte Herink | Assistance: Nina le Blanc