I was recently very lucky to spend a day in Amsterdam on a design walk curated by Dutch interiors magazine Eigen Huis & Interieur. Days don’t come much better than that! One of the stops on the walk was The Frozen Fountain and we were treated to a short introduction by co-founder of the shop’s current incarnation; Cok de Rooy.
Named after the 1930s nickname for skyscrapers and a mathematical term used in perspective drawing in architecture, The Frozen Fountain was originally founded on 16 May 1985 on Utrechtsestraat in Amsterdam. The intention of the founder at that time, Dick Dankers, was to bring designers and craftsmanship together in order to create and present original collections.
Fast forward seven years to 18 September 1992, and a new Frozen Fountain was formed, with Cok de Rooy entering into a partnership with Dick Dankers and a move to a meandering, spacious, light-filled, location at Prinsengracht 629, which is where they are today.
The focus shifted away from craftsmanship towards pure design; and the contacts Cok de Rooy had with various art academies gained in significance. This, coupled with the Netherlands’ strong tradition of self-producing designers, resulted in a hotbed of talent coming together in one place. Cok de Rooy said: “We had all these exhibitions and it was great fun, and that was what we were doing in the first place, but when a customer came in and said “I’m interested in a sofa”, we’d say “Well, there’s a sofa…” and carry on with the exhibition – it was not a great business model! So we changed that, and decided to have a more commercial base, to do it more professionally”.
The range of products and furniture at The Frozen Fountain is still an inspiring and eclectic mix drawn from unexpected sources. The standard collection of furniture is combined with unique objects or limited editions from designers such as Piet Hein Eek, Jurgen Bey, Marcel Wanders, Ineke Hans, Hella Jongerius and Studio Job. Walls are hung with photography from young talent or established names such as Teun Hocks, Jannes Linders, Anton Corbijn and Inez van Lamsweerde, while carpet designs from Claudy Jongstra or ceramics by Vika Mitrichenka can be found in other places. Having established a successful business model, the team are able to have fun with installations and commissioned artworks again. Sitting alongside the permanent furniture collection, installations can be organised quickly to reflect the mood of the moment, and commissioning art offers the opportunity for an in-depth response to a particular subject.
It’s a space in which you can really feel the heritage of Dutch design, but far from weighing heavily, this sense of history provides a springboard for new ideas and new designers – there is a lightness and a freedom, which is very inspiring.