We threw out a challenge to infuse the gift shopping and gift giving with adventure. Yes, we will SHOP like we're traveling. Remember the thrill of walking around the new city and being surprised by tiny boutiques, leisurely browsing and discovering never before heard of artisans and brands? Shops where owners are friendly and treasures are wrapped beautifully and you're sent off with a kind word and a smile? That only happens when you travel right? Well let's imagine for a moment that the 'new city' you're visiting is YOUR city.
I myself have left the bounds of the internet and descended to the street letting my feet touch the pavement and headed to the part of Amsterdam that is sure to surprise even the most blasé of shoppers, De Pijp. Its intertwining streets that seem to crisscross when you least expect it, house many local artist studios and boutiques resembling treasure troves filled to the brim with locally made goods.
Just a step off the main artery, Ferdinand Bolstraat, at Saenredamstraat 65, I discovered, Kesemy Design Studio and Shop.
As you peek through the window the joyful pastels call out your name. The shelves are lined with little vases, candle holders, cups and other home wares resembling more objets d'art then utilitarian items. I went inside to basque in the beauty and of course to run my fingers along the smooth and shiny ceramic surfaces...
Once inside I met Kesem, the owner and designer of Kesemy Design. She set the timer on her baking ceramics so she wouldn't forget them as we chatted. The shop happens to also be the studio where Kesem makes her creations and finishes them in a kiln. There is also space to hold workshops. Kesem moved to Amsterdam a few years ago from Israel, where she met her husband, Johnathan, who was working there at the time. Johnathan happened to be from Amsterdam and when his project came to a close Kesem decided to moved to his hometown.
Kesem has an easy way of infusing traditional touches into very modern and functional items. I immediately fell in love with the delicate wall tea-light holders pressed with lace.
One look at these and I was transported back to when I visited the Alhambra at night. The intricate design and tiles were illuminated highlighting the magical patterns in a whole new way.
Lace can be found also on bud vases, dishes and cups making it easy to mix and match while carrying out one uniting element.
Nature is also a big inspiration in Kesem's work. I was intrigued by the micro details of leaves etched into the ceramics. Kesem explained that she uses actual leaves, pressing them into the clay.
The effect is amazingly perfect and touchable leaf that seems to have just fallen imprinting itself into the ceramics glaze reminding us that nature remains the master artist.
It was a surprise to me that these usable works of art are actually affordable. There are plenty of pieces under 20 Euro which of course made my heart rate speed up as I realized I can take home a whole SET of delicious cream and turquoise tumblers!
And then I found jewelry...
We surround ourselves with objects that illuminate our lives, figuratively and sometimes literally...
Visiting Kesemy Design was a good reminder of how much more meaningful we can make our immediate surroundings. In this world of layers of technology and information overload, I think we are quite drawn to things hand made, to processes that are slow where we can return to basics. To knowing where each particular thing has come from, to know it's source. I brought home two little vases that day; and every time I fill them with flowers it gives me a strange sense of serenity that I know whose hands shaped these vases. Speaking of working with your hands, Kesem runs workshops right in her studio where you can sign-up to learn basics of working with clay, painting ceramics and making ceramic jewelry. You can bring your own bottle of wine, some friends and create. There are even classes especially for kids.
Follow Kesem's Facebook Page for workshop announcements.
I say, treasures definitely found! Happy treasure hunting!
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