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.

Lots of settings and backgrounds in my photographs tapped into the same themes and so I used some of my own images to illustrate the process of transforming a former government Office Building into a Livable Loft ( but one with a Cinematic subreality woven in..)

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 in part of the vast space provided a perfect mood to transform that part of the Loft in one of those ‘painters-attics’, you see in the old 1940 movies, with the difference that it had to function practically as a Junior Hotel suite , complete with open fireplace. Think abondened Hitchcock studio-set, but comfortable and no mildew on the walls.. I took to surfing the internet, looking for a secondhand gaslit artdeco fireplace, and designed a 3 dimensional Wall-decor sculpture to be built above the fireplace, ( starting with a small foamcore-maquette )

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

Both themes are ‘Make believe’-invented ones , and can go hand easily without having to place real mannequins. The true challenge I found was to have them merge into something people experience as a home-Loft and a film-set at the same time. The fact that the building once was a classic constructed office-space complete with high pillars an’ all ofcourse helped tremendously . . Walking through the space with it’s big open portals one already has the sense of wandering through a filmset, òr a departmentstore for that matter. Floorplan-Construction was definitely a big part of the process in order to create a livable Loft , but lighting , vintage-hunting and detailing was what gave the Filmset-presence it’s visual voice.

HIDING a HITCHCOCK

HITCHKok BEDROOM VIEW:

Toying with the concept for the house to become a photography & film location, ( apart from a big floating kitchenblock luxurious display-table ) 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 floor 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 photographed by furniture or fashion companies , and easy transforming back into a contemporary homeLoft 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 in order to find an industrial living-space with high ceilings , preferably set in a more spacious environment, and after a few visits to the old harbourtown ‘IJmuiden’ on the North-Sea coastline, opportunity knocked in the form of a former Post-office building , facing the Sea-Gates and a huge – still active- Steelfactory ..

With its 340 m2 of floorspace this former-Government-built-Postoffice showed plenty of possibilities , plus the prospect of living right at the edge of an old fishing-harbour – 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 view from the back porch on an industrial Steelfactory  and  Oceanliners – majestically gliding through the Seagates spelled three words ; Dream came True.

In their attempt to conform the old Post-office to a livable home-space ,the former inhabitants used fairly light materials ( up to cardboardboxed walls ! ), and the restoring-process  proved not to be a supercomplex 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
Portside Steelfactory-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 ‘Hollywood Cantine’-like ballroom.

When the big (former-) 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 Our chosen themes : that of retro Pacific Maritime-Hotel & abandoned Departmentstore seem to merge happily , when during the final phase of interior-decorating, (white its furniture-choices) the loft revealed a perfect symbioses between filmset and Classic Hotel-style Loft home.

IMG_8066
the Old CaféBar being cut & placed as a Room-dividing element

Café Belga
entrance- Room  Bar ‘Samaritain’