x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

De Kasstoor: Where modernity and sober classics contrast with colour

Cult shop From the moment you enter to a welcoming committee of sorbet-coloured SMEG fridges, it is clear that De Kasstoor is not your ordinary shop for home furnishings.

Olivier Smitshuijzen, the owner of De Kasstoor, in his furniture shop in Amsterdam. Olivier Smitshuijzen, the owner of De Kasstoor, in his furniture shop in Amsterdam.
Olivier Smitshuijzen, the owner of De Kasstoor, in his furniture shop in Amsterdam. Olivier Smitshuijzen, the owner of De Kasstoor, in his furniture shop in Amsterdam.

From the moment you enter to a welcoming committee of bright, sorbet-coloured SMEG refrigerators positioned by the front door, it is clear that De Kasstoor is not your ordinary shop for home furnishings. Step in and you've entered an entire design universe, a private enclave of the very best in modern and contemporary furniture and accessories. The family-run business has come a long way since 1892, when Hendrik Smitshuijzen first opened what was then Smitshuijzens on the busy Rozengracht (bordering the now-chic neighbourhood of Jordaan) to sell curtains and similar household goods. Some 70 years later his great-great grandson Rolf brought new cachet and adventure to the family business, renaming the shop Wonen 2000 (wonen is Dutch for "to reside") and expanding its offerings to include furniture by an array of Dutch and international designers. Soon afterwards, he added an annex specialising in products for bed and bath. Then he took over a former hat shop across the street at Rozengracht 202-210 - the current Kasstoor - first to focus exclusively on Dutch design, and later adding important international designers to the mix. Now, with his own son, Olivier, Rolf Smitshuijzen plans to open a fourth location, Design 020 (020 is the area code for Amsterdam), a kind of mall for exclusive home furnishings that will feature some of the top names in the field, with shops for Safretti, Dacks and Kartell, among others.

But back to De Kasstoor, where there is more than enough to suit any design-lover's fancy in the 2500-square-metre, three-storey space. Here, a silver mirror-topped coffee table with a base of imploded aluminium by Bruno Rainaldi shines bright reflections at the foot of a massive scarlet armchair large enough to get lost in, created by Gaetano Pesce for B&B Italia in 1969. Other fun finds include a sleek anodised aluminium Skipper Bellato table, the Vitra Slow chairs by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec, and kitchen and dining accessories from Alessi.

Currently, the second floor, with its soaring cathedral ceilings and white wooden beams, showcases work by Dutch designers and collectives, such as Pastoe, Gispen, and even a classic Rietveld chair. But De Kasstoor's assistant director, Onno van der Heide, notes that the store's arrangement and organisation changes frequently, and is increasingly becoming intermixed - which would explain the Eero Saarinen Tulip chair among the Moooi designs, and the whimsical glass cabinets from the Swiss firm Team by Wellis.

And, in what may be a nod to one-stop-shopping, a mezzanine level also offers textiles, from cut-out rubber curtains by Sahco to carpets by designers like Ulf Moritz, who cleverly combines wood with felt or rubber to create floor/carpet combinations - the rich, warm texture of the felt and sleek, industrial sheen of the rubber visible between the wooden panels. The great classics have a place, too, at De Kasstoor, with exquisite examples of Le Corbusier's classic LC3 armchair (designed with Charlotte Perriand), Mies van der Rohe's chrome and leather Barcelona chair, and the fabulously modern Saarinen Grasshopper chair - all of which, despite being more than half a century old, represent design that's as contemporary and fresh as anything emerging from the best studios today.

De Kasstoor, Rozengracht 202-210, 1016 Amsterdam, + 31 20 521 8112, www.dekasstoor.nl