Behind the scene

Taking a leap from photography to interior ; my latest project was both a challenging one as well as a natural-feeling one. Never having done a real interior project meant a lot of technical issues and decisions, for which I had to call in some help of a friend/interior designer who helped me out with the ‘big picture’ and a solid crew of technically skilled workers.

For the interior-finishing , I simply had to look at the backgrounds in some of my own photographs for lots of times I found myself with crew in a dusty old Hotel or a 30ties Trading company Building somewhere, and that was the atmosphere I wanted to project on to this new Home/studio.

The themes that have always inspired me throughout my photography career were “Hitchcock film-sets” as well as retro “Departmentstore window-displays” . (think Bullocks/ Los Angeles or the Samaritaine/Paris in the 1940ties )

The soft daylight that creeps in through glass skylights provided a perfect mood to transform that part of the Loft in one of those ‘painters-attics’, or 1940’s offices with the difference that it had to function in daily life as a Junior Hotel suite , complete with open fireplace. Much like an empty Hitchcock studio-set, but still comfortable enough ( and no mildew on the walls..), I took to surfing the internet looking for a secondhand gaslit fireplace in Art Deco style , and designed a 3- dimensional Wall-decor sculpture to be built as a Mantlepiece décor above the fireplace, ( starting with a small foamcore-maquette /see below )

foam core – miniature model of 3D Fireplace plaque.

Windowspace without mannequins…

Another theme that has always inspired me are the Departmentstore window-spaces, an example of such a strange world trapped inside a Bonwitt -Teller Bridal window display below.

The window display above looks exceptionally spacious, yet it’s the half size mannequins that play tricks on our dimension perception / Bonwitt Teller Dept. store 1940


OceanLiner Home ..

Toying with the concept for the house to become a photography & film location, the big pillared space should stay sparsely decorated. That way evoking the ‘abandoned’ sensation one gets in a department store after closing time , and at the same time keeping the floorspace usable for different kind of photoshoots.

left : Ciro’s Nightclub / Sunset Blvd. – L.A. right : Samaritain loft

Now, with the interior more or less finished ( complete with a 15ft tall mirrorwall ) , the Loft seems to work it’s magic, being comissioned by furniture or fashion brands, and easily transforming back from studio back into a contemporary loft. A home in which we spent many an evening wandering around, like a Hitchcock-extra who can’t ( and doesn’t want to ) find his way offset.

Start of Samaritain

After living for many years in the city-center of Amsterdam – We set out to look outside the city-borders to find an industrial living-space with high ceilings, and after a few visits to the old harbor town of ‘IJmuiden’ on the North-Sea coastline, opportunity knocked in the form of a former Post-office building, facing big Sea-Gates and a steel factory in the back of the house…

With its 340 m2 of floor space this former -Government-built- Post office showed plenty of possibilities , plus the prospect of living right at the edge of an old fishing harbor – still in reach of the City of Amsterdam – proved the perfect answer to our Lofty desires.

High ceilings and a very spacious lay-out, classic pillars, and a back porch where ships on their way to Amsterdam  majestically glide by spelled three words ; Dream came True.

In their attempt to conform the Post-office into a livable home-space, the former inhabitants used fairly light materials ( up to cardboard boxed walls ! ), and the restoring-process proved not to be a super complex one, apart from installing extra electricity hidden inside the walls and underneath it’s wood board-floors.  A 7-headed crew was knocking down walls , replacing floorboards, installing cables ánd dumping cardboard boxes soon after the key was in the door.

view from guestroom
above : Port side Steel factory view from the back of the building.

With it’s Geographic placement on the Harbour in mind , ànd an actual 4meter Long old Belgian Café-bar ( see below) having been left behind by the previous inhabitants,   it was decided upon to trade the ‘Post-office Label’ in for a Maritime Hotel-theme , complete with Café/bar and a ‘Hollywood cantine’-like ballroom.

When the large Public Office room was stripped and walls torn down,  the bare space reminded us of an abandoned 40ties department store. ( hence the name “Samaritain” , after the Parisian Department store )                The two themes of “Maritime-Hotel’ & “Department store”  seem to merge happily , when during the final phase of interior-decorating, ( hunting down Midcentury Hotel furniture ) , the loft slowly revealed itself  sweet balance between film set and classic Hotel-style Loft home.

the Old CaféBar being cut & placed as a Room-dividing element

Café Belga
entrance- Room  Bar ‘Samaritain’