Early in the morning, I walk down this beautiful staircase, and the sun is shining in the hall. The first thing I do is make a cup of tea or coffee. I always make a plan for the day the night before. I put on some music; I love jazz — Gregory Porter is my favorite artist — or I listen to classical music. In my studio, I am met by all the beautiful fragrances of the perfumes and soaps from my shop. They float around me, and that scent, combined with all the colors and patterns that surround me, gives me inspiration and puts me in the right mood to make jewelry and accessories, and embellish small ornaments — my business.
My studio is one half of the front of my house. It has two large windows onto the street. In my small town, people pass by on the street, on their way to work or to the bakers (we have three independent bakers on our shopping street!) or the shops. They see me working and give a wave or come in for a chat. These small talks inspire me, too, and connect me with my neighbors. It is good to see people from the studio and for them to see me and know they are welcome to stop in.
On the other side of my house, I run a shop. I sell my jewelry and accessories — like my vintage necktie collars — all made by me, and gifts made by other designers and makers, but I also sell useful basics and foodstuffs. It is like a village shop with treasures! I love it when someone comes in for a necklace for a special occasion and leaves with the necklace and a jar of seasonal jam, or they come in to buy a bar of soap and leave with a tiny penguin sporting a crown on its head. That is the fun of my shop! Basic items mixed with unexpected finds!
I just love the classical style with a twist!
I have large, shelved cupboards that house all the materials I need for making things. I keep a lot of rolls of wallpaper around me as well, beautiful prints in rich, deep colors by Mulberry, Cole & Son, Liberty, Timorous Beasties and William Morris, and many vintage wallpapers with those subtle powdery colors. Everything can be combined. Dots, stripes, flowers, toile de Jouy, they go together. I see these things, look at my jars of beads and findings, and the ideas move to my hands. Old buttons, buckles, bits of ribbons and beads; oh, they make me feel so happy! These are the ingredients of my special creations. Clients just fall in love with them and want to buy them … but I can’t let go of certain pieces because there is only one of them!
People bring me their grandmother’s old button box and ask me to make something for them to wear: a necklace, brooch, bracelet or headband. They let me keep many of the other buttons so my collection, gathering bits from here and there, grows! But even though the sources are random — flea markets, “kringloopwinkel” (thrift/charity shops), friends — my materials are highly organized! They have to be! A place for everything, and everything in its place.
I cherish books with old binding; whether they are made of leather, fabric or paper, it does not matter. They give so much atmosphere in the house. The covers are often nicely printed. Lovely romantic representations with beautiful fonts. A pile of old books with faded subdued colors inspire me. They are usually books that people want to get rid of. … That’s a shame!
I got my creativity from my grandmother. She collected everything. She was organized, and she could make something wonderful out of bits of nothing. By the time I was 6, I already had these gifts from her. I grew up on a farm and had the freedom and space to develop these traits. At 7, I transformed an abandoned pigsty into a studio and was allowed to paint everything I wanted: the doors, the ceiling, etc. With an old radio in the background, I felt like an artist! By tinkering and inventing, trying and doing, I taught myself so much. I have no formal training in creative work.
I did forestry training! Super fun and interesting — but being creative is like a thread that ties all my interests together.
Along with my jewelry, I make little stories under small glass domes or in a porcelain cup or mounted on a plinth of old wood or concrete. These bring a smile to your face. They are little animals, old ones, in china or simple children’s toys in plastic or rubber. The sweet little animals look so happy and innocent and perform a little trick with jewels on their heads or around their necks.
Stacy Sirk on Adriette —
Although Adriette lives alone at her home in Gilze, Netherlands, from the moment you walk in, you feel you are surrounded by interesting people and curious animals. The paintings of people on the wall seem in conversation with each other. The small animals and miniature china figures almost seem to move when you look away. And, of course, the people who stop by are instantly affected by the energy of the house and by Adriette herself. Since she grew up on a farm, I am not surprised to see so many small farm animals used in her work: ponies, goats, ducks, mice. But then you notice more exotic animals and her fantastic collections of small figurines, a real mix, but many from romantic periods of time with a lace ruff at their necks or a Napoleonic-waisted gown. Even in her garden, there are china figurines peeking out under the greenery, looking out. You can’t help nodding at them as you pass.
Adriette has a vibe that is hard to describe; you feel so glad to be there and be in her company! She is as eclectic as her home, a mix of different eras and styles, but all so natural to her. The ease of her curated space is genius.
Her house looks like a house a child would draw. Central door, large windows, almost like a face. But looking closer, you notice so much more. The mansard roof looks like what we call a Dutch barn roof, turned sideways. The oval zinc decorative windows look like something from an elegant Parisian building. The large plain windows are a very practical Dutch design, suiting this house from 1900 that bridges the Dutch Art Nouveau and Art Deco periods but then is turned on its head by the 1930s front door with curiously sized windows. From being the home of a successful leather merchant to housing a small village butcher-turned-camera shop with an Elvis lookalike running the business (an old Polaroid from the ’70s, the proof), you know you are looking at layers of time, and it is amazing what has survived through conflict, weather and multiple owners.
I think Adriette is as close as anyone can be to an old-time merchant: greeting and knowing her customers, solving their problems, listening to their wants and offering the perfect solutions, and helping those who don’t know what they want find it, exactly. And making bespoke items just for them, not to be repeated and all the more precious because of that. These are the things we all want to find and experience. Luckily, I see a rise in the number of shops that understand this.
Three cheers for the independent shopkeepers, long may they thrive!
More on Stacy:
A retail specialist in buying, styling and store concept design, Stacy Sirk has deep lifestyle roots and decades of international experience. She is renowned for her uncommon creativity, found-object expertise, and the ability to translate progressive ideas into memorable expressions. She has worked with global brands, including Restoration Hardware, Nordstrom, Terrain and Nike, and also regularly collaborates with publishers to create books and magazine features.