Inside Design Amsterdam: Kids on Roof

It should probably come as no surprise that my absolute favorite find from Inside Design Amsterdam was a kids’ brand. Yep, those hormones are kicking in all right. It was love at first sight for me and Kids on Roof, a Dutch company that makes colorful toys with a modern, architectural but still very playful feel.

I wanted to buy everything! A flock of swallows to hang over a crib, a playfully modern cardboard city to build and populate

a white cardboard house to decorate, a little tent for the back yard…

… and a rocket ship to reach for the stars.

Can you tell that I am already so excited for this baby? Little Mango has yet to grow proper toenails and bones, and here I am already dreaming of all the colors we’ll paint, the stories we’ll make up, the places we’ll go, the nights I will sing him to sleep under the stars.

Since Little Mango has a long, long way to go before he can start his astronaut training or camp in the back yard, I was able to resist my hormonal impulses to ransack Kids on Roof’s room at Inside Design Amsterdam. I also let out a little steam by buying this irresistible People of the World coloring book.

I love how the simple line art allows kids to create their own features, clothing, and details instead of just coloring them in. How fun is that?

I will just have to hang on to this until Little Mango’s fingers are ready to grasp crayons and start drawing. Let’s hope I can resist the urge to break out the crayons and beat her to it!

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Inside Design Amsterdam

Last week, I entered a contest on Petite Passport for tickets to Inside Design Amsterdam (IDA 2012), Elle Decoration’s annual showcase of Dutch design. I never win these things, so I was thrilled when I did win! Filipinos believe pregnant women are lucky, and in this case the superstition proved true.

Marlon and I spent an enjoyable (but cold) Saturday afternoon exploring the IDA 2012 route on IJburg, one of Amsterdam’s newest, most unique and design-friendly districts. The products, exhibits, even the neighborhood itself was designed and styled so appealingly, I must have taken over a hundred photos. It was difficult, but I managed to whittle down my favorites from IDA 2012 to a manageable list of 10… well, except one that just deserves a separate post.

Here are my top 10 favorites from Inside Design Amsterdam, starting with the one I actually took home:

This necklace by Yvon Visser, made of concrete and wooden beads, felt like a perfect token to commemorate our house hunt. Hopefully this is a sign that we’ll find our own little house soon.

House necklace Yvon Visser

When we do, I will think of the perfect spot to hang this clever paper pendant light: the Helix by Marc de Groot.

Helix pendant light Marc de Groot

These ABC necklaces by Sandra Turina were so cute, and so cleverly displayed.

ABC necklaces Sandra Turina

I have baby brain at the moment, so I couldn’t help thinking about how fun it would be to create an alphabet with found objects and unusual words to hang in the nursery. Filing the idea away for future use…

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Open Monumentendag: Amsterdam Heritage Days

Amsterdam is famous for its 17th-century canal houses. As a resident, I still get a little thrill riding by the Grachtengordel (Canal Belt) on the way to a Saturday night movie or lunch with friends. Plus, since we’ve started house-hunting, I’ve managed to peek (online) into canalside apartments, partially satisfying my never-ending curiosity about them.

But unless you have deeply lined pockets (or a fat expat package), canal houses are mostly off limits to regular folk—particularly those on the Herengracht, or Lords’ Canal. The Herengracht has been ultra-prime real estate since the 1700s—a fact documented in a now-famous study called the Herengracht Index, a 400-year overview of property prices by Dutch professor Piet Echholtz from the University of Maastricht.

Herengracht houses are proper mansions, so large and highly priced that individuals can rarely afford them; most of their owners today are law firms, banks or cultural foundations.

Herengracht canal houses

That’s why Open Monumentendag (Heritage Days) is so fantastic. It’s a weekend in September when the Netherlands opens over 4,000 designated monuments (54 in Amsterdam alone) to the public. Since it’s highly unlikely that I would ever own, rent or work in a Herengracht house, this was the perfect (and only!) opportunity for me to finally see inside these 17th-century mansions.

Share my voyeuristic pleasure. Please.

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Do not disturb

Sorry for the blog silence this week. There’s been much to write about—Open Monument Day, our first house-hunting tour, and the discovery of a neighborhood that I just might be in love with… and I’m frustrated that I can’t seem to find the time or energy to do it.

I’ve been busy with an unusual amount of work the last two weeks. Not complaining… income is always a good thing! When I’m not working, I’ve been sleeping a lot because I’ve been feeling under the weather on and off since last week. It’s more than a little frustrating to not be in control of my body and energy, but I’m trying to remind myself that duh, I’m pregnant! And that makes taking care of Little Mango’s housing situation (a.k.a., myself) my first priority.

Today I’m finally going to the midwife to get a quick checkup just to make sure everything is okay. Then it’s another busy weekend, with a few more apartment viewings and a free trip to Inside Design Amsterdam (!). So I know I need to get as much rest as I can now to avoid being a total zombie on Monday.

So, I’m offline for now. Be back soon!

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Missed the boat

I spent what was probably the last sunny, warm Sunday of the summer—of the year!— in Amsterdam’s famous Canal Belt for Open Monument Day (more on that in a separate post). While walking from historic one canal house to the next, I felt dizzy and had to stop for a break. Marlon and I ended up spending a good half hour sitting by the canals, just watching all the boats on the stately Herengracht…


… and the smaller, but more charming Leidsegracht nearby.

Boats on Leidsegracht

It was a gorgeous day to be out. For the Dutch, to be out on such a day invariably means getting on a boat and heading out on the water.

Boats on Herengracht

This is probably one of the things about I love the most about the Dutch culture: their affinity with water. It seemed like everyone was out on a boat that day, from crusty old-timers and their shaggy dogs in rust buckets to silver-haired, linen-suited gentlemen in sleek white pleasure crafts.

I love watching the Dutch in their boats. They just look so happy. It doesn’t take much apart from a boat, the water and some gas. Just throw in some food, drinks, a big squishy cushion…

Boat on Herengracht

… and you’re all set. Don’t forget the babies (and a change of diapers)!

Family boating in Amsterdam

If not in a park, on the water is where you’ll find the Amsterdam summer. For the ladies, it was the last chance to slip into those maxi dresses and sandals, and wear the last neons of the season before swapping them for sweaters, boots and varying shades of gray.

Friends boating in Amsterdam

And for the lads, it was the last chance to ogle tanned female bodies on display, and perhaps tempt them in passing with their shirtless goods. Sorry, boys. No more bare shoulders from here on in. Oh and in case you were wondering… Dutch gents really do slather on that much hair gel. This is not a summer thing, it’s all year round.

Lads boating in Amsterdam

I spent the summer (a.k.a. my first trimester) mostly curled up in bed asleep, waking up to occasional pangs of guilt at being indoors while many a sunny day went on without me. Now I realize I haven’t been out on a boat all year. Summer is gone, and with it goes boat season… and I just missed it!

Amsterdam boat bumper

Well, maybe there is no such thing as boat season. You just know these crazy Amsterdammers will still be out on the water in October, heck, maybe even November. If I get desperate enough, I might just join them.

Related reading: check out last year’s boat trip on the canals (and the bridge that nearly decapitated us) here.

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