The KNSM Island in Amsterdam is vibrating with creativity. In particular the building that was once the canteen of the Royal Dutch Steam Company and now accommodates eight artist’s lofts. Behind the crimson front door you find the studio apartment of Jennifer and Liam Maher.
The supply route to KNSM Island goes by non-conventional interior design stores such as Dominio and Pol’s Potten. Stores where Jennifer and Liam shopped extensively in the designing of their loft beyond the square that you enter by a steep staircase, like one going up to a tree house, leads you to the largish entrance with the crimson front door. When Liam got to hear that his employer Oilily from Vermont in the USA would be sending him to their Dutch head office, on the advice of friends he and Jennifer explored the artistic KNSM Island as a possible place to live. They immediately fell in love with the place and especially with that one historical building on stilts that makes such a huge impression on the island: the former canteen of the Royal Dutch Steam Company. Until then Jennifer and Liam had lived contentedly in Vermont in a wooden church they had restored themselves, but to be able to live here, they wouldn’t need a second to think about taking the step. Two years later their signature was on the contract whereby the renovation of their part of the canteen taken up by the artists could begin followed by the part of the canteen purchased by the municipality. Jennifer, a producer of fashion events: we were proud to be part of the creative engine. We are intoxicated by the vibe that’s here and were inspired by the fantastic things the others had done with their studio apartments. `The previous occupant built a bedroom floor from raw steel supports in the five meter high loft, such that Liam and Jennifer wake up daily to the breath-taking view over the banks of the Ij. The two of them were less pleased about the coarse wall that split the three hundred square meter space. What a celebration that was when it was finally demolished and the light from the alley side to the North and the light from the river IJ side to the South met each other. Friends do not understand that I can still work with such a view! That same view was perfectly placed for the open kitchen. ‘The low ceiling was given an intimate counterbalance by our extra emphasis in painting it in the same grey as the walls, giving the effect of a cocoon.’ ‘The Ikea butcher’s block was supplied with a customised top and equipment.’ ‘Creative patchworking’, says Jennifer, ‘Liam is particularly good at it. You can see it over and over here wherever you look: stuff and materials recycled to something unexpected in an unconventional way. Such as the bookshelves made of piled up wooden benches, or the old canteen worktop where files are now hanging.’