Celebrating their 30th year in 2017, pols potten are a Dutch design brand known for impeccable yet fun style and eye-catching colours. Founded by Erik Pol in 1987, the brand’s playful products offer a collection of traits which have made them instantly recognisable over the years. The brand are known as an extended family of mixed characters, balancing creative and entrepreneurial instincts which encompasses both the pols potten team and the collective of designers that work closely with the brand. The LuxPad takes a closer look at the history of pols potten and what makes them tick…
They couldn’t have originated in any other city in the world other than Amsterdam. The city’s culture and aesthetic has long run through the brand’s ethos and products, with Amsterdam’s renowned tolerance that dictated the success of the Dutch capital in its Golden Age now cited as a characteristic of the Netherlands as a whole. According to the brand however, the people of Amsterdam can also be stubborn and recalcitrant and it is this ambiguous image that pols potten aim to reflect in their collections.
The brand mix styles in a free and non-conformist way with rebellious characteristics which date back to the 1980s when Amsterdam was a fabulous mix of sub-cultures including punks, feminists, snobs and squatters. The key names behind the brand, Erik Pol, Frans Piek and Jan Wolleswinkel were themselves involved in the street culture and nightlife of the time which has led to the countercultural foundations of the business.
Inspired by Dutch Masters
Craftsmanship and traditional manufacture are not only integral to the production of pols potten products but also encompass the spirit and style choices of the brand. The Dutch Masters are reflected throughout the collections in glass, wood, ceramics, hammered metals and braided rattan and there is deep-seated cultural value and a sense of history among the modern pieces. Reminiscent of the worldly accessories displayed in the lush urban palaces of the Golden Bend of the Herengracht (one of Amsterdam’s most prestigious quarters), the brand’s products are ‘modern antiques’ with the photography and styling taking inspiration from 17th century still life photography and offering a glorious lustre.
Despite the large multitude of materials used in pols potten products, the items are mostly recognisable by their vivid colours and strong forms. Many of the designs over the last thirty years are so memorable they can now be seen as iconic and many of these have come from the pols potten studio itself under the creative direction of Jan Wolleswinkle. Artistic Director Frans Piek is responsible for choosing the colours that fit the approaching trends to shape the brand’s colour journey and lead to the vivid hues which appear in each new collection.
Sustainability is at the forefront of the pols potten mind, and the brand is well aware of the influence import and export businesses have on the environment. The brand is dedicated to ensuring traditional production methods are kept intact to minimise environmental impact in the local communities where the products are made including Indonesia, Vietnam and India. Jan Wolleswinkel has also won over large export partners in China to use sustainable packaging, for example the exclusion of polystyrene.
Many of the designers pols potten have partnered with have been similarly dedicated to sustainability, which is most keenly demonstrated by designer Diederik Schneemann through the Flip Flop Story. When walking on the beach in Senegal, Schneeman was amazed at the amount of washed up flip flops he came across and after some research discovered that some 30,000kg of the footwear wash up on the shores of Africa’s east coast alone which don’t decompose. The problem fascinated the designer and led to him creating products made entirely from recycled flip flops to promote environmental awareness and help stimulate the local Senegalese economy.
The brand’s vivid and imaginative designs are available to shop at Amara to fill your home with quirky designs straight from Amsterdam.