Visiting SieMatic Amsterdam

In previous posts I covered my voyage to Germany with SieMatic’s North American design partners for our visit to IMM – the furniture show in Cologne.  After the show we jumped on an ICE high speed train at 300 km/h to see SieMatic’s new flagship showroom in Amsterdam’s Vondelpark neighborhood.

SieMatic Amsterdam Exterior

This new studio is unique in many ways, one of which is full integration into this wonderful old townhouse steps away from the Vondelpark, a lovely urban green space just a couple blocks away from the recently renovated Rijksmuseum.

As we discussed above, SieMatic has revolutionized their approach to displaying product towards one of full, realistic environments.  The full building envelope is part of the experience, much the same as any top-level luxury product.  The townhouse selected for the studio itself is magnificent and no doubt provided the designers from Schepers Architects (along with SieMatic’s in-house department) tons of inspiration for the layout.

Entry At SieMatic Amsterdam

Upon entry you can see how the space is divided, as you choose to go up or down to the visible, inviting living spaces.  The effect is like a peek into actual apartments, as the individual spaces are decorated so well it looks as if the residents had stepped out minutes prior.

White SieMatic S2 Kitchen at SieMatic Amsterdam

This is the first display upon going down the first landing.  This is the S2 series in Lotus White gloss, accented with only stainless steel and Titan Oak veneer.  The herb garden is congruent with the trend we saw in Cologne.  The backsplash compartments seen below are used many times in the this studio.  These small details impressed me over and over; the individual displays show a masterful hand for detail.

Herb Garden Island

The apartments blend into each other with transition spaces, such as below.  Large walls have clever lighting and copper panels with a patina effect, combined with photo murals.  These scenes compliment the style of the room and bring the whole ensemble together.  These transition spaces are shared between several kitchen alcoves, but the effect is one of overall harmony as together they feel like an expansive, single environment.

Transition Area

The furnishings and decor are expertly chosen and curated.  Remembering we are in Amsterdam – a city of small apartments and narrow townhouses – the designers and studio staff have honed in on what works for their local market and the types of buildings they will be asked to work with.

Small Amsterdam Kitchen Display at SieMatic

Above is an S3 kitchen, using a combination of materials in a smart manner.  I like how the architects kept the window frames black in all the rooms – a nice unifying feature – and played off it with dark accents wherever possible.

Kitchen at SieMatic Amsterdam

Amsterdam has small houses, and yes the studio addresses this with small display environments.  I found these small rooms to be very inspiring.  The use of shelves, decor, creative backsplash storage elements and use of color and materials is again masterful.  The above display sports this fantastic storage wall behind the cooktop and sink:

Creative Kitchen Backsplash StorageOn another floor is this transition space with a wall of gloss Graphite panels mirrored by a copper/photo wall.  Instead of merely moving you through to the next space, I found these transitions to be very inviting and like a palette cleanser as you moved to the next apartment.

Another Transition Space at SieMatic Amsterdam

In the upstairs spaces the original building details are more visible, and the entire top floor feels like one grand apartment.  The kitchen furnishings are still quite modern here, but the overall feel is still Classic as the room environment is the rightfully steers the room’s style.

Classic SieMatic Kitchen Environment

The other spaces are just as nice or even more so, with integrated work spaces for consultation with clients or in our case, for a luncheon meeting for 20 people.  As I mentioned in my IMM posts above, I had come down with a fast case of flu and unfortunately didn’t stay in the showroom for to document everything.  I’m sure my colleagues were glad I didn’t spend too much time in general population.

Overall, this studio presents a very convincing luxury environment, and one undoubtably effective at making Amsterdammers feel at home.  Although this presentation is quite different than say New York’s flagship showroom, it is still undeniably SieMatic.  And in my office, as we work on future SieMatic projects, this will be our challenge; as we renovate spaces around the world, we shall increasingly draw on local conditions and inspiration for new studios without diluting the unique luxuries of SieMatic’s global brand.

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SieMatic Haus Fair 2013

Just back from SieMatic’s “Haus Fair”, the annual presentation of new product and display ideas at the factory in Loehne, Germany.  This year the company focused on “Great New Insights”, a major update to the interiors of the cabinets.  An elegant new drawer system was presented, with new internal accessories in wood and aluminum.  Some highlights:

SieMatic display cubes

Here, in a quiet moment during the show, are the SieMatic drawer system display cubes.  There are several options for the new drawer system, and the cubes show each level upgrade.  The core drawer will now be a very slim aluminum-color steel drawer box, for which custom sizes will now be available (!).  The upgrade will be actual aluminum, which showed a more refined level of finish.

SieMatic Island Detail

In this new “lifestyle display”, so called due to the integrated living space, the new drawer bodies are shown in the two main heights.  In addition to the drawer body finish, aluminum-front shelves and a square-profile grey door dust seal are now available.  Some details of drawer inserts – aluminum and light oak:

SieMatic drawer system 2013

The biggest innovation was a microfiber material SieMatic calls Flocking.  This new drawer mat is integrated into the insert system.  A felt-like material, flocking added a high-tech feel to the system.

Aluminum and Chestnut drawer system by SieMatic

The new chestnut finish coordinates better with some finishes where light oak would clash.  Note the integrated USB charging center.  As seen above and below, the inserts are sitting loose on the flocking mat and can easily be reconfigured.  The base of the accessory has a rubber grip, which holds against the flocking for a no-slip condition.

SieMatic Drawer Accessory System

Some views to the new “lifestyle” display.  Note the absence of handles; the drawers are released with a electronic “touch latch”, which is immensely popular in Europe at present.

SieMatic Display

This display combined existing finishes of Flannel Grey matte, Graphite gloss and natural walnut.  We were quite enamored of this combination and are starting to plan some new displays for North America like this already.  The walnut finish is shown as 5 wall panels in the middle of the room.  Also opening as touch latch, this helps make the room seem so much less like a “kitchen” and makes a Total Home integrated interior.  Note also how certain areas have doors or drawers which go all the way to the floor.  If not a primary work surface, this makes sense, otherwise, you would want a recessed toe space to get closer to the countertop without smacking your feet.

SieMatic Display

The best part about Haus Fair is catching up with your friends.  Here, Jonas and Wendy Carnemark pick finishes for some new displays.

IMG_1748

Relaxing with Marcia Speer, director of market development in N.A. and SieMatic Montreal manager Jean-Martin Lapointe.SieMatic, Loehne Germany

We stayed in the small town of Bad Salzuflen again.  I posted about this spa town last year – it is quite lovely.  Some of these timber buildings have dates as old as “Anno 1530”.

Bad Salzuflen Germany

Loehne is in northwestern Germany, making it convenient for me to fly through Amsterdam.  I always try and take a little time to revisit the city, this time seeing the Rijksmuseum for the first time since its 10-year renovation.  What would be a trip to Amsterdam without a walk down my favorite little street, Langestraat?  Search for past posts on this lovely little lane for more pictures.

Langestraat in Amsterdam

Again, another great release of new products from SieMatic.  It is a wonderful privilege to work with this respected brand, and I look forward to specifying these new interiors immediately upon returning to my office.

 

ISH 2013 Wrapup – Faucets

Part 3 of my report on ISH 2013 from Frankfurt, Germany.

Although this year seemed a little down on exhibitors and overall showing a conservative approach to new design, there were still many standouts.  Some companies, notably Dornbracht, eschewed new shapes and finishes for a focus on useability and electronic aids.  I concentrated on trends within the design envelope.

Laufen Faucet with Top SurfaceFirst up is this faucet by Laufen and Kartell, which I mentioned briefly in my report on fixtures last week.  Similar to a faucet by Starck, there is a flat surface on top for storage of bathroom items.  Above it is naked… and here:

Laufen faucet with Kartell tray surface…seen from the side with the polycarbonate Kartell “caddy” on top.  I really don’t like this piece too much; if you consider the caddy moveable, what if you or somebody else puts a bar of soap on top of the naked faucet – and then you want to put your caddy on top?  The soap will leave residue on the bottom of your caddy, if you put it there next.  Also, I don’t like the “business end” of the faucet being hidden.  I like to see where the water will be coming from.  I would rather see Kartell make little caddies that fit into spaces on the lavs perhaps, or on the mirror, accessories or something along the side.

Chrome Mixer Faucet at ISH 2013Above is a nice design, with the square base and round lever language perhaps being in slight conflict.  Below are two faucets I noted the shape of, only because they look like things I have been developing for my client.  I didn’t note the makers.

Gold Faucet Chrome Mixer Faucet

These were not the only pieces similar to some ideas I had.  It isn’t easy coming up with something completely new of course.  Next, a nice shower set in white.  Colors (instead of plated surfaces) were down a little this year, but there were still some very nice examples.

White Shower SetI think the sharp vertical edges of this design lend itself to powder coating, as opposed to plated finishes.  The edges will be very hard to get right if plated, as the polishing of the brass/zamac is critical and usually done by hand.  The thickness of the powder probably hides any flaws.  It was quite crisp, however.

Now that I have mentioned colors, a company called Treemme is next.  These faucets were by far the coolest new designs I have seen this year.  There were wall mounts, lav mixers and a clever two-handle lav top faucet.  Designed by Emanuel Gargano, Marco Fagioli and Giampiero Castagnoli.  Just stunning.

5mm Faucet Info Board 5mm Faucet in Black by TreemmeI love the matte black finish.  I will need these for my bathrooms at home.  Above is the two-handle version – the mixer is very similar.  The other offerings from Treemme were also fantastic:

White Faucets by TreemmeI had been sketching things like this last year for my faucet project, but I thought… no, too radical.  Ha!

Another great faucet by TreemmeA different take on 5mm, and a lovely one.  I will need one of these too, for my powder room on the first floor.  Also shown were these high arc faucets, similar to some designs I saw from Ritmonio a few years ago.  The thin spout is just great.

Great Faucets from TreemmeHere are some other powder coated faucets, these by Steinberg.  I like the adventurous palette of color.  If you are going to go paint, why not get very creative?

Series 240 Powder Coated faucets by SteinbergLastly, here was an “industrial chic” style faucet from Waterworks/THG.  This was the only sign of the industrial/factory trend I saw at the show.  This trend is completely saturated in North America and I’m glad to see it is not very prevalent in Europe.  That said, this was probably focused on America, being Waterworks.  Interesting piece but not my cup of tea.

THG Retro-style faucet for WaterworksI finished up my trip to Germany by heading northwest on Deutsche Bahn, to visit my friends at SieMatic.  It is easy to then fly back home from Amsterdam, which gives me some time to take in some strolls along the canals in Jordaan and Centraal.  Of course, I walked my favorite street again, Langestraat.  This alley-type street is just amazing.  I love how there is no sidewalk, the houses are pretty much at grade level, and the height and width proportion is just right.

Langestraat, AmsterdamThis walk was early in the morning on my way to the airport.  I singled out a house, one of many, that I love.  Can I move in?  Maybe just for the summer?

Langestraat House, AmsterdamI wonder if my current neighbors will mind if I paint my red brick rowhouse in black?

Walking Amsterdam

I just got back from a trip to Amsterdam and Germany, to attend the SieMatic Haus Fair.  It was a whirlwind trip, with lots of rail travel and some side explorations.  Its easiest for me to fly into A’dam from Philadelphia, and then work my way over to Bielefeld Germany where the SieMatic factory is.

I have visited A’dam before, and I have been back a few times for similar stops at past Haus Fairs.  I usually arrive Sunday morning after a red-eye and then walk around and reacquaint myself with the charms of the canals, small cafes and bars.  This time I took a walk around the harbor as there was a marathon in town, and it was great seeing all the activity early in the morning.  Some highlights of my walk:

A canal near the red light district.  Note the old industrial building wall is one-and-the same as the dockside.Amsterdam Canal

A lovely little side street in A’dam.  Some things which are unique are the black-painted brick facades, the narrow sidewalks (often filled with plantings – but note this street does not have sidewalks at all) and paving stones on the roadway.  Also, the first floor windows are usually very large and often without any window shades.  The Dutch don’t mind people looking in the front windows.  This street is fairly narrow and notice how the building scale – 3 stories – matches that width nicely.Small Side Street in Amsterdam

This little car is a VW Polo.  I am something of a gearhead, and following transportation design is a passion.  Why a picture of an ordinary little Euro car?  This would be a perfect car for the United States, and I am confounded why VW does not bring it over to us.  This with a small TDI motor would get over 60mpg and has all the utility – if not the size – of an SUV.  It should be noted that, even with a marathon happening right behind me (many hundreds of people everywhere), there were no parking snags and in fact, no traffic at all and many empty spots on every street.  There really is little need to have a car in A’dam.VW Polo in Amsterdam

I walked around the harbor with the rain clouds looming.  Filling the harbor are all sizes of old boats in all descriptions.  Many seem to be antiques on display, but many interesting, quirky boats seem to be residences and private launches.  There is an incredible connection to the water in A’dam.

Picture in Amsterdam Harbor

Harbor in Amsterdam

Dock in Amsterdam

These docks seemed to be public, and I just wandered about.  That large “ship” in the background is Nemo, a large science center designed by Renzo Piano.  I didn’t go in, but I did go up top and have a view of the city and the marathon.

Boat in Amsterdam Harbor

One of the best things about walking A’dam is the mix of architectural styles and eras.  The Dutch are very adventurous with modern/contemporary design – some of the best design in the past 20 years has been from Holland.  There are many interesting public buildings around central A’dam with daring glass curtain walls, thin steel spandrels, acute angles, exciting colors.  This hotel and apartment structure was going up across a small bridge from Nemo.

Modern buildings in Amsterdam

There is a huge amount of construction on the dock sides and piers near the central rail station.  In the years since I have been visiting – about 5 or 6 – this seems to be an ongoing project.  Although I would not call A’dam “trashy”, inevitably you get a peek of nature and some of the uglier side to human development.  Space is at a premium here, so even this white swan has to squeeze into whatever space she can find.

White swan amongst the garbage in Amsterdam

A more cheerful harbor scene; the main train station – Amsterdam Centraal – is the large building in the background.

Sunny Amsterdam Moment.

Without too much time to spend, I went off to lunch and to have a few local beers.  I paused to snap this lovely, tilting building.  Many, many buildings in the “medieval quarter” of central A’dam lean in every-which-way.  Many of these buildings are from the 1600’s or earlier, and some settling in this water-logged city should be expected.  The ever-present forward lean of many buildings, however, was entirely planned.  The attic loft was a prominent storage area, with a pulley system installed to haul goods up to the top.  The lean of the building allowed large bundles of material and goods to clear the lower floors as it was hoisted up.

Black brick Amsterdam house.

I went to Germany later that afternoon on the Deutsche Bahn ICE train, but would return to A’dam on the leg back.  I usually stay in the medieval quarter on the Herrengracht – the “gentleman’s canal”, a quiet and lovely respite before heading home.  On the morning of my flight I walked up Langestraat – “longstreet”, once of my favorite little walks.  Unlike the canal streets, there is usually not a lot of street parking on these side roads.  Instead, there is a very rich fabric of old, smaller utility buildings and residences.  The sidewalk is usually very small and sometimes non-existent.  There are usually bollards to prevent parking and blocking in the double-wide front doors of small garages.  Combined with the lush plantings and little traffic, these side streets are an idyllic masterpiece of urban living.

Herrenstraat, Amsterdam

Langestraat, Amsterdam

Langestraat

One of these buildings would make a great studio/residence for Mick Design.  Of course, peering into the windows reveal many design studios, small shops, craftsmen’s workrooms and free-living apartments.

Citroen on Langestraat

In front of Amsterdam Centraal is the most incredible amount of bicycle parking.  Since I was up walking at about 7am, I was in the middle of bicycle rush hour.  It seems like everybody commutes on bike here – young, old, parents with children and shopping bags in baskets.  This is the multi-level bicycle parking deck in front of the station.

Bicycle parking in Amsterdam.

I would like to get back to the city soon, and also explore a bit more of Holland as well.

Next post will be highlights from SieMatic’s 2011 Haus Fair, and a special side trip to Wuppertal Germany, where I ride the 110-year old suspended monorail, Die Schwebenbahn.