The Loft is a fully designed and decorated loft space located along a canal in downtown Amsterdam, which is open twice per year for two weeks as a pop-up concept store for design enthusiasts to visit, be inspired and invest in an exclusive, lovingly curated collection of items for the home. Co-founder and head designer of The Loft, 28-year-old Kassandra Schreuder, invited me behind the scenes a few months ago to document the inspiring space for a 4-page feature in the Dutch magazine vtwonen. With the feature out this month, I thought you’d enjoy reading about The Loft and Kassandra’s role in the project. I translated Caroline Westdijk’s wonderful interview she wrote to accompany my images into English (you’re welcome) so those outside The Netherlands who are thinking of visiting Amsterdam could read along too. Get the full scoop, plus the full image collection I shot for vtwonen below!
After studying economics and consumer phycology, Kassandra started working at The Playing Circle, a company that rents out beautifully designed meeting spaces in unusual buildings throughout Amsterdam. It was during this time that Kassandra was given the opportunity to launch a concept called The Loft, a platform created to inspire those with an affinity towards design, art and interiors. Between the two-week, bi-annual pop-up events, design enthusiasts can shop the online boutique for a carefully curated selection of interior items.
“Our concept is very different from an ordinary shop, where you’d typically see ten items of a product that can be purchased at a checkout,” Kassandra explains. “When you enter the loft, it’s as someone really lives there, completely decorated from A to Z. For each edition we invent a fictitious person and we consider in detail how this person would live and how their interior would look like. I then create a design for the interior, complete with kitchen, bedroom and bathroom and start searching for furniture, design, art and handmade items to complete the picture. The idea is that everything that you see in the pop-up store is for sale, from the sofa to the artworks to the rugs, apron in the kitchen as well as the books on the nightstand. People visit The Loft to get inspiration for decorating their own homes. It’s far more interesting to see particular items in a particular context and setting, presenting you with ideas on how to bring together items in your own home.”
Kassandra searches all year for designers and artists that create products with the utmost care and attention. In particular, Kassandra was drawn to items that demonstrate craftsmanship, made in natural materials including leather, wood, steel, wool, glass, bronze, marble and brass. “They are designs in which the material is often used as a starting point in the design phase. The carpenter looks at the natural shape of a piece of wood, for example, which then evolves into a piece of furniture. In this way, the strength and natural beauty of a particular material is highlighted, resulting in authentic design with a tactile appearance you want to touch and feel from all sides. I call this crafted design,” explains Kassandra. Nowadays, more and more young designers are working in this traditional and handcrafted manner. One of The Lot’s most important goals is bringing to our attention this group that captures the zeitgeist in such aesthetic manner.
“During my search for beautiful products to decorate our lofts with, it struck me that it was sometimes very difficult to find such designers and crafters on the internet, so I blog on our website about the special people I come across in my work. In this manner, I bring their work together in one place and in doing so, inspire online readers. I also share images of beautiful products that I find on Instagram to put crafted design as much as possible into the spotlight.”
“Though I attend a lot of fairs, studios, shops and markets, I also make use of other meeting venues belonging to The Playing Circle as an office. I often have an intern working alongside me brainstorm for The Loft, or I work on my blog. An environment designed with lots of love and care is far more inspiring than the standard gray office.
The building in which The Loft is located is also the working environment for other creative industries, including the advertising agency Delight Agency. I consider the people that work here my colleagues and we often eat lunch together in a common kitchen and lounge area down the hall from The Loft. It’s very inspiring to have regular contact with other creatives.”
With The Loft a great success, Kassandra has hopes to extend the concept to other countries in Europe in the future. ‘There are plenty of local artists and designers who create unique products all over Europe,” she says. “It would be amazing to design loft spaces in Barcelona, Paris or Berlin to bring their special work in the spotlight.”
The next pop-up event at The Loft will be taking place from 22 August – 6 September 2015. A newly designed and decorated 350 square meter space will be open to the public for just two weeks. If you’re planning to visit, a phone call in advance is recommended and appreciated. The Loft is open from Tuesday-Saturday between 10:00-18:00, and on Sunday from 12:00-18:00. The Loft is located on Prinsengracht 583, in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Thank you to Kassandra and her team at The Loft for inviting me behind the scenes and allowing me to capture their beautiful and inspiring spaces, and to the team at vtwonen for continuously supporting my work.
Photography: Holly Marder | Avenue Lifestyle for vtwonen // Words and interview: Caroline Westdijk (translated by Holly Marder for Avenue Lifestyle)