I meet Jantine Vaartjes, founder of April And May (a creative studio and platform together with co-owner Vivian Hoebe) and veritable Pinterest queen, just as she’s finishing up on Working In Harmony, a three-way collaboration between Miscellaneous, Loof Furniture and April And May. Starting from Loof’s new Node 900 table, Jantine has transformed a nook of the Miscellaneous store, giving it a softness with rich fawn and brass tones that’ll be sure to keep us feeling warm all through winter.
On first impressions, Jantine seems stern and businesslike. Dressed all in black, she’s totally focused on the task at hand. When I ask her what objects she likes from our store, though, she breaks into a charming smile and says that everything’s so beautiful and that she couldn’t possibly choose (although she does single out an unglazed Hasami mug as being particularly eye-catching). We make our way across the street to have lunch with the effervescent Nina Klijs, head of communications at Loof.
Nina, could you tell us something about the Node table that April And May styled?
Nina Two years ago, we began a home collection, so for the bedroom and for the living space, and now we’re complementing these with a working collection. Until now, Loof has had a living room table, but now we’ve expanded it. Now it’s bigger, and it has a space for cables, so it’s more useful as an office desk. It’s exactly the same table, apart from size and so on. It really was about making it appropriate to the working space. We want to give the working collection this homey touch. With a focus on working in harmony, it’s more like slow living, a slow office…
Do you often find yourselves working with simple variations on a topic?
Nina That’s what Piled is, those tables that are standing in the [Miscellaneous store] window. You can choose if it’s going to be like a side table or more like a bookcase. So you can really make it your own.
Jantine The Piled series is so beautiful. You can style it in so many ways. That’s what I like. With some easy things, you transform it into something different.
Nina I think for us, as a brand, it’s interesting to offer furniture that the consumer can play with, but in the end, you, as the consumer, decide what you want… maybe you always use it beside the couch as a side table.
What ideas did you have in mind for styling Working in Harmony?
Jantine We are all so busy with work and kids and life, so for me it’s very important that you can have a space where you can slow down. We [April And May] are well known for our use of ‘non-colors’, and muted colors, to give our work a soft feeling. It doesn’t mean that we don’t like colour, because we like color, but it has to be in harmony together. So for this showroom, we really wanted to focus on that ‘Working In Harmony’ feeling. We thought, Miscellaneous is a store where you can buy products for working at home, or your home office, and for me immediately a colour popped into my head. That was a brownish color — I had a leaflet at home, and it was that… that beautiful paper-brown colour. For me that was the starting point of the showroom. I started to collect images that had that kind of feeling, and resulted in the colors we finally used for this setting. I think that it works well because we have also used closer tone colours, so, a little bit darker, a little bit lighter, and then you really get that feeling that it’s ‘in harmony’. Combining this with the wooden tones, and a little bit of dark reds, that burgundy colour, to give it a little bit more contrast. Also in my home, and our projects, we always like that kind of, tja, how do you call it? A soft, minimalist, kind of feeling… without getting boring.
Nina It’s warm, and you get a nice feeling… [When we style for Loof] we want to speak for ourselves, but I think in a shop like Miscellaneous we can be more specific in our style.
Jantine When you do it for Loof, you really start from a piece of furniture, and create a kind of feeling, or atmosphere, but it’s really the product that’s important. But when you’re in the store, it’s everything together. It’s like the table but also the accessories and also the color and it’s more the whole theme of the store.
Nina And it’s more like a temporary exhibition or presentation, so you can be more specific.
Jantine Miscellaneous really has a kind of feeling when you enter the store, it has a lot of Japanese designs and a lot of Scandinavian designs. It has a kind of feeling that attracts you that we also tried with the corner that we styled. It’s this minimal kind of feeling, without being boring. The Japanese [style] is a little bit warmer, with a little bit more darker tones. You can mix them together really well.
Nina And there’s something very authentic and crafty.
Jantine They’re both really into craftsmanship. It is so interesting to hear the stories behind the Scandinavian brands which go back a long time. It’s about craftsmanship, and all about how this chair or this table is made, and I think that for the Japanese designs, they also have these traditional techniques, and these very interesting ways of creating the product.
I’m always struck when I’m looking through the photos of Frama, for example, because they’ve always got this amazing use of textures and really fantastic settings. And then this really simple, modern Scandinavian furniture almost floating on top.
Jantine I think layering is a good word for it. Layering, I think, is very important. For me, it is like working with different color tones, that are a color family — or not — but not too many colors. Like, how do I explain it…? Soft color layers, but also the texture and the materials.
Nina It’s a very natural mix, the materials and colours. That’s also how you’ve worked on this setting, starting with the idea of a color and then adding the initial things and working from this feeling while adding the accessories.
Because you’re also renovating your own house at the moment…
Jantine We’re now living there for like, a year, so it’s sort of finished now — well, it’s finished, but we are now working on the outside. But that’s also a process. I start with a few things, and it’s very basic, and in the time that comes, I’ll add furniture, or color, or not color, or… it has to grow, I think. I am not the kind of person that says, oh, here is my home and it’s finished. No. No. I have my basic things that I want, and then it grows. There are people, and they style it in one week, and that’s every corner, every wall and every piece of the room is ready. Amazing, but that doesn’t work for me. Really.
This interview was edited and condensed for clarity.
Interview by Aidan Connolly