Marloes Hoedeman, founder of lingerie label LOVE STORIES, has designed her 19th-century Amsterdam home in the tough-butfeminine spirit of her brand.
Marloes Hoedeman, founder of lingerie label Love Stories, has designed her 19th-century Amsterdam home in the tough-but-feminine spirit of her brand
Marloes Hoedeman is a high-flying Dutchwoman, an effervescent Titian blonde at the helm of the global lingerie brand Love Stories. She stands at 170 centimetres in flat, fluffy mules but somehow seems taller. Her face is sprinkled with light freckles, like ginger stardust. “Wow, don’t I look glamorous,” she laughs, disarmingly surprised at how well she scrubs up in front of Vogue Living’s lens.
The Amsterdam home Hoedeman and her partner, Eric Bijlsman, recently renovated is equally self-assured, stylishly nonchalant. A former warehouse on the Amstelveld just off Prinsengracht, the city’s fourth concentric canal from the old centre, the four-storey red-brick building dates from the early 1800s, its high, arched ground-floor doors giving directly onto the historical veld, what was once an open field. “It’s more of a neighbourhood than you find directly on the canals, which are mostly occupied by expats who are often away,” says Hoederman. “Here, we know all the locals and our kids play together on the veld.”
As for the adults, they often put out picnic tables and eat meals together. “Or we throw open the garage doors and invite our friends over for drinks. That’s great, because we can dance and have fun and when it’s over we just go upstairs.”
Upstairs, Hoedeman and Bijlsman have had the entire interior stripped back to bare bones, revealing the intricate brickwork typical of much Dutch pre-industrial construction. The radial concrete staircase, a Brutalist addition, spirals from the groundfloor entry up through the living and dining floor, then traverses the main bedroom before finally opening onto the children’s rooms under the steeply pitched eaves.
“The previous owner had lined the place in plaster, fake ceilings and floor coverings, concealing this incredible natural beauty,” Hoedeman points out. “We wanted to celebrate the authenticity of the structure.” ››
‹‹ Twenty metres long, what could otherwise be a cavernous habitation is lofty in the true sense of the word. The façade of the double-height living area is punctured with gently arched, metalframed windows; generous double doors give onto a balcony perched right in the treetops. “In summer, the breeze rustles through the leaves. In winter, the city is covered in snow, which muffles all noise. At any time of year, lying on the big sofa with [my children] Lola and James is one of my favourite things to do.”
Not that Hoedeman has much free time. With 18 own-brand stores around the world (including Sydney’s Bondi Beach and Warringah Mall, and, as of 2 September, The Calile in Brisbane), for which she designs not just the garments but also the interiors, and a collaboration with Swedish behemoth H&M, she is the epitome of what the Dutch call super druk (mega-busy).
Born in a small village in the northern Netherlands, Hoedeman studied interior and fashion design at Amsterdam’s Artemis Academy, quickly finding work as a stylist for the Dutch editions of Elle Decoration, Vogue and Glamour. “I was really focused on interiors,” she remembers, “but I always liked to have a model in the image as well. I would look at styles on the runway and interpret them for the home.”
When a friend put her forward to design the interior of a historic mansion in a forest half an hour outside Amsterdam, she met the client and thought, “Wow, I don’t know if I’m going to be able to do this. It was such a huge project, and he was such a demanding guy!” The demanding guy was Bijlsman, a shareholder in über Dutch brand Scotch & Soda, which sold to Sun Capital in 2011 for a reported US $400 million. “But I did the job, which was everything from cabinetry to teaspoons, and entailed 60 workers over 8 months to get it finished. And I guess I just never left!” she laughs.
But a mansion in a forest replete with chandeliers swinging from the trees “felt too grown-up. Deer would come strolling through the
garden, and it was dreadfully quiet at night. I needed more of a city life”. So she convinced Bijlsman to move back to the big smoke — or at least to Amsterdam, population 882,000.
The Amstelveld warehouse reflects Hoedeman’s penchant for vintage, much of the furniture and fittings, including the distinctive panelled oak parquet flooring unearthed at antiques markets in Amsterdam, Antwerp, Brussels and Paris. The ceiling-height living room cabinet is a bespoke piece by contemporary Dutch designer Piet Hein Eek, composed of recycled cupboard doors. The cognac leather sectional sofa by Mario Bellini was originally in Hoedeman and Bijlsman’s Swiss chalet. “The way it wraps around the metal stairwell makes it look as if it was made for this space,” Hoedeman marvels. Upstairs in James’s bedroom she has covered sections of the same sofa in a white towelling fabric “like a big, spongy teddy bear”. “Sometimes designers forget about comfort, but it’s a home and it should feel like home,” says Hoedeman. “Actually, I take the same approach to the interiors of my boutiques. Women are going to strip in there, it needs to feel intimate.”
Hoedeman’s skill — in her mix ’n’ match lingerie ethos as well as her industrial-chic interiors — is in celebrating toughness of spirit at the same time as acknowledging the need for softness. You can feel it in the hand-loomed Peruvian carpets offsetting the hardwood floors. Sense it in the industrial-steel cabinetry she’s repurposed into a bathroom in the middle of the main bedroom floor. (“It’s totally transparent, but I don’t care if I’m on the toilet and someone walks through.”) Intuit it, too, in the children’s bedrooms, where in order to retain the beauty of the 200-year-old vaulted timber ceiling but also ensure adequate warmth, she came up with the idea of insulating on the outside of the roof.
This may be no modernist “machine for living in”, but it is a modern approach to making history live and breathe, deeply, once again. VL
THIS PAGE Hoedeman in her Amsterdam home with her daughter, Lola, on a vintage Mario Bellini leather sofa; bespoke light dimmers modelled on DJ consoles; vintage oak parquet flooring from an Amsterdam flea market. OPPOSITE PAGE the front of the 1800s warehouse has been reconfigured to form a double-height living area, revealing the original timber beams, with a Brutalist concrete staircase spiralling up to the attic; sofa designed by Hoedeman and fabricated by local artisans; vintage plastic Casalino chairs painted silver chandelier made by Hoedeman from hardware.
THIS PAGE in the main bedroom, industrial steel bathroom module appropriated by Hoedeman; bespoke bedhead; ’70s lamp is a flea market find. OPPOSITE PAGELola in her bedroom; vintage Mario Bellini low chair covered in white towelling fabric; vintage drum used as a side table; sequinned showgirl’s outfit (framed on wall) found by Hoedeman on her travels.