‘Why can’t we have nice things?’
That’s the question we were asking as we’d finished browsing the second floor in Amsterdam’s newest and most desirable furniture store, Time & Style…
It might be useful to know that there are actually four floors in the Japanese manufacturer’s European flagship, which teeters on the edge of the Jordaan, on Marnixstraat (which, by the way, is a former police headquarters and a protected landmark) so by the time we’d completed all of them, we were having heart murmurs and had to sit down.
Our fluttering hearts weren’t caused by the stairs, but by the stunning – truly, truly stunning – pieces of furniture from this surprising addition to Amsterdam’s already well-served interior decor scene.
And it’s a surprise for a couple of reasons. Firstly because the quality of the design and craftsmanship is tangible in a way we’ve rarely ever seen. The sofas, tables, lighting, ceramics, beds and chairs ooze with infinite quality, care and flawless attention to detail.
The second reason it’s a surprise is because Time & Style exists with only one other store in the world… and that’s in Tokyo. So of all the places in Europe that a brand with this prestige and pedigree could build a flagship, how and why is it in Amsterdam?
Well apparently that’s down to a chance encounter with the city by the founder of Time & Style who visited Amsterdam during a long layover at Schiphol Airport. Cities including London, Paris and Berlin had already been ruled out for being too big and impersonal, and Amsterdam’s beauty, charm and global-village feel sealed the deal.
And when you think about it, that’s a similar story to the one told by all of the imported people we know in Amsterdam, too; it’s a city that catches you by surprise and then just makes all kinds of sense, so you stay.
Anyway, back to needing a seat…
When it came to finding a place to rest and steady our beating hearts, the only difficulty was in choosing which beautiful sofa, armchair or dining room seat upon which to park our denim-wearing derrieres.
Me: ‘Are we even allowed to sit on this?’
You: ‘Well there’re no signs on anything…’
So we sheepishly look about and lower ourselves onto a velvet cushion in slo-mo, like our bums are playing a game of sofa chicken with the seat police. Then, sirens! No not really. No sirens. Nothing happens apart from letting out a sigh as our rumps sink into feathers.
We do the same thing several more times across all the floors. Stopping en route between or across rooms to to chat to the polite Japanese staff (who’re very knowledgeable and understandably proud of their product), or to squint at the turning of an oak, walnut or ash table leg, or to ponder the life of that 34-year-old bonsai tree over there.
And then someone decides to flip over a price tag on the corner of a dining table. Ah…
‘And that’s why we can’t have nice things.’