Amsterdamâ€™s artisan design movement today could be seen as an extension of its Art Deco past. Once home to Dutch Art Deco movementâ€™s forerunner – Jan Torooper, his influence can be seen everywhere. Torooper was born and part-raised in former Dutch colony of Indonesia.
His influence, and Indonesian past can be found in minute detail in anything from furniture and architecture still easily seen today, as well as clothing, jewellery and art found in vintage stores on the Nine Streets and in flea and antiques markets too. One of the most famous Art-Deco tourist attractions within the city is the Theatre Tuschinski, designed and built in the 1800s by Berlage â€“ one of the cityâ€™s most famous Art Deco architects.
Art Deco as I live and bathe
A Sauna Deco
Two distinct styles are at work between the Sauna Deco and the grandiose Amrath Hotel (see below). The Deco sauna is kitted out with swirling, organic forms in a fanciful French art-deco style. Thanks to the former owner of the sauna, the majority of the lobby areaâ€™s breath-taking fixtures were rescued from the scrap heap when a Parisian department store decided to remodel, including a remarkable cast-iron staircase. Spot the difference: some pieces are from the Dutch school of art-deco however, including the tiles around the pool, salvaged from the cityâ€™s bank (another of Berlageâ€™s designs).
Perfect for a Sunday morning swim, the Zuiderbad first opened its doors as an indoor cycle track over 100-years ago. The Zuiderbad first became a pool just a few years into its life, during the roaring twenties. Though there isnâ€™t too much roaring going on there these days, itâ€™s one of the most tranquil spots to enjoy a swim if you canâ€™t make it to a spa. Mounted fountains and original art-deco mosaics covering the walls give the impression of a Roman spa. In keeping with the Roman feel, every Sunday the Zuiderbad is open to nude swimmers for an hour (imagine arriving at the end of that hour?).
The Theatre Tuschinski
Almost psychedelic, the interior and exterior features of the Tuschinski are suggestive of dream-visions or early sci-fi artwork, incorporating both Art-noveau and Art-Deco styles. The switches between organic and otherworldly arenâ€™t at all subtle, but it is nonetheless a mesmerising building. The Tuschinski is by far one the best examples of the Dutch Art-noveau and Art-Deco styles, and happens to also be a fantastic place to catch a movie or see live music. Designed and built by Polish Jew Abraham Tuschinski, the structure survived the German occupation (though Tuschinski did not) by changing the name above the frontage.
Sleep in Art Deco
Eden American Hotel
Designed by Hendrik Berlage, who also designed the Amsterdam stock exchange building, the impressive exterior of Eden American along with its 1920s extension is a national heritage building. Setting back from the street, the grand faÃ§ade and fountain create a magical setting for a dinner date â€“ the classic-cool of the entrance lobby could be anywhere from Miami to Berlin. What really sets the building apart however is CafÃ© Americain, the hotelâ€™s bar and restaurant, detailing both inside and out belies an artisan triumph in art nouveau and art-deco styles.
The Grand Amrath
Built in 1890 the Grand Amrath hotel stands as a slightly macabre monument to the nieuwe kunst (â€˜new artâ€™) movement. Close to Centraal Station the Amrathâ€™s dark brick creates a forboding fortress-like exterior, itâ€™s monumental size conceals a number of the design features from the naked eye.
The Amrathâ€™s interior is an entirely different story, warm tones and beautifully preserved original features are everywhere. In the hotelâ€™s spa youâ€™ll find colourful designs in the updated pool area. An astonishing skylight illuminating distinctive decorative features, creating a cathedral-like space in the hotelâ€™s main stairwell.
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Â© Adam Spawton-Rice 2012
Images courtesy of the author