Situated on one of Amsterdam's most beautiful canals, just off the busy Leidsestraat shopping street, The Frozen Fountain is - like the canal - a haven of tranquillity and quality. The store is bewitching from the moment you enter. A long, narrow counter, artfully decorated with a diverse and colourful collection of home accessories, catches the eye first. Cups, lamps, glassware... the arrangement of knick-knacks leaves visitors spoilt for options.
But don't linger too long at the front, planning all your purchases. There is plenty more to see throughout the two-storey shop, including unique and bespoke wares from sofas and tables to cupboards and accessories. "We combine furniture, like sofas from well-known labels such as Zannotta and Cappellin and lamps from Flos and Artemide, with self-producing Dutch designers that we think are the top of the crop," says Cok de Rooy, who together with partner Dick Dankers has been selling furniture and home accessories since 1985. "We don't just put any piece of furniture or accessory in our shop. We choose everything very carefully. Often we work with designers before they started to work for big labels."
The Netherlands has a strong tradition of self-producing designers. "We keep in close contact with students from design academies. It sounds like a cliché, but they have to be autonomic and original before we accept their work and want to sell it. Take a look at this black round pouf, for example. You might think that it is just a pouf. But have further a look; it's made of wool, hand-knitted with huge wooden knitting needles. These poufs - we have selection of different colours and sizes - are quite expensive, yet we sell a lot of them."
Indeed, apart from the obvious beauty and quality of the pouf, it also has a high cuddly factor. You just want to sit on it and let your hands touch it; almost stroke it like a favourite teddy bear from your childhood. "Our clients are very mixed," explains De Rooy. "Some furniture buyers like to spend money just for the sake of it, others want to buy just the right object. These are the clients we get. Selling furniture and home design is our profession, so we know why something is good. A client doesn't need to know why something is exceptional. As long as they can trust us. And we are trusted by our customers. We get lots of foreign customers as well, as we do worldwide shipping."
The Frozen Fountain has something that will appeal to all budgets. "Take this porcelain service by Alessi, for example. We only sell one service and we decided on this Alessi one because it's beautiful. And a plate is just 8." Some of the designers that were first picked up by The Frozen Fountain have gone on to become well-established. Take Joris Laarman. The Dutch designer came up with a rococo radiator. Dubbed Heatwave, it's a more art than house hardware, but is fully functional, and has won several awards. They were also early fans of Claudy Jongstra, a felt artist whose work is now displayed in the Victoria & Albert museum in London and the MoMa in New York.
Apart from selling furniture and accessories, The Frozen Fountain also hosts photo exhibitions. "Every six weeks we have a different photo exhibition from young photographers. Right now we show photos by Koen Hauser, one of the most original photographers around nowadays. I could go on and on," De Rooy says. "Many of the items here have a story behind them." Just before I leave the shop my eyes turn to a table made by Piet Hein Eek, a much-copied designer who works with scrap timber, left-over aluminium, old doors and window units. On paper, this might sound like a recipe for something cheap and undesirable, but the result is fresh and original. Like most of the things to be found at The Frozen Fountain.
00 31 206229375 email@example.com * Willem de Blaauw