You might have heard the good news: we're having a baby! Well, a book baby, that is. After years of bringing you the best of the best of travel tips on the web, we decided to take pen (or printing press) to page & bring you an amazing, practical, beautiful guidebook to the city that is nearest & dearest to our heart. Which city is that, you ask? Why, Amsterdam of course! So now it's time for the countdown to begin.
As our publishing date grows ever closer, we want to give you some sneak peeks into what's to come to get you as excited as we are. Our book is nothing without the incredible shops, restaurants, bars & businesses we love, so it's important to us that you get to know them a bit as well. That's why, until the launch of our book, we are going to be bringing you interviews with the inspiring founders of some of our very favourite spots.
Today, we have the pleasure of introducing you to Alexander, one of the coolest & most talented florists in Amsterdam. This botanical mastermind has been crafting the most gorgeous bouquets we know for almost two decades now, & we must admit, we're curious just how he does it. Keep reading to find out how he got where he is, what inspires him & more.
gloobles: Flowers are pretty much the heart & soul of Amsterdam, so it's pretty cool to chat with someone we think is one of the very best in the city. Could you tell us about your earliest memories with flowers?
Alexander: The story all started decades ago, in the area of Niewendammerdijk, a beautiful, historic area situated in beautiful Amsterdam Noord. I grew up there & was constantly inspired by the environment around me. As a small child, I played in the forest behind my family home, spending most of my time building huts, creating my own gardens & making floral necklaces for my Oma (grandmother) in my secret hideaway amongst the trees. I guess it's no surprise that I'm in this industry. A lot has changed since then, but you can still find me in the field next to the A.P Bloem greenhouse, located in Aalsmeer, the flower capital of the Netherlands. We grow a few plants at our greenhouse & use them to add special touches to bespoke arrangements. It's a wonderful feeling to add something homegrown to an arrangement.
gloobles: So you were already enraptured by nature from a young age. It's all starting to make sense now! Speaking of, how did you end up in floral design?
Alexander: For the past 17 years, I have been working with a wide variety of florists, spending time in Australia & Saudi Arabia throughout my discovery years, gaining floral experience & pushing the boundaries of traditional floral design. After working as a florist for 10 years at other shops, I decided to open my own, & now I work together with a great team of people. It was the right career move & an organic transition.
gloobles: It sounds like fate to us. What was it like founding A.P Bloem? What were the hurdles?
Alexander: Floristry isn't the easiest career path. It's something that many people desire but not a lot of people can endure year after year. It's physically & mentally challenging &, combined with long hours, it can be a tough balance to achieve. I started with a tiny shop in a basement on the Prinsengracht & pounded the pavement finding clients & making my name, putting all the knowledge that I'd learnt from my peers to the test. I needed to pay rent & still make a profit, but luckily the hard work eventually paid off. We still service many of the original clients today, & the joys of creating something unique that strikes emotion in someone makes every bit worth it. The shop on the Kerkstraat is about designing arrangements, & the greenhouse is about designing atmospheres for an event, shoot or wedding, as we have the space & the inspiration growing all around us. Initially, doing everything on my own was a challenge, but now I am lucky to have a team that have specialised skills - photography, design, the arts, marketing & writing - so that we can all work within our own best powers.
gloobles: Wow! What a journey! Stepping into your shop today, you'd never expect that only a few years ago, things looked very differently for A.P. Bloem. We have a hard enough time picking our favourite spots in the city, so we imagine you find it just as tricky to pick a favourite flower, but we're dying to know: do you have one?
Alexander: Oh, that's a tough question, & the answer changes weekly. At the moment, I'm really into drying & painting materials, as we are working on a few bespoke projects. Dried arrangements combined with fresh, floral elements is really popular for photo shoots & bouquets. We did a shoot with Vogue last week using coloured grasses combined with lush florals & foliage to create a wall as part of a lifestyle scene.
gloobles: Oooh we can't wait to see how that turns out. How would you describe your style in terms of flowers?
Alexander: Our brand's signature style draws inspiration from the beauty of nature, wild fields & the Golden Age. Still life paintings that you can find in the Rijksmuseum (which is luckily only a one-minute bike ride away!) are often my muse. We sell flowers per stem so we can combine many different shapes & forms into one arrangement. It's a combination that visitors are always surprised by, as it's completely different from the styles found in New York, Sydney & London.
gloobles: Totally. That's why we love Dutch flowers - & yours in particular - so much. Your sense of style extends beyond the arrangements you create. In fact, your shop is pretty stunning in & of itself. Can you tell us more about the design of the shop? Why did you choose the location?
Alexander: Oh thanks! We opened our first shop in the Spiegelkwartier & grew to love the community there, surrounded by the arts & antiques, industries that serves nicely as an extension of our brand. We like being surrounded by businesses & locals who value the art of decoration & the beauty in things. Our shop was originally an apartment, so it was a bit of work to turn it into a retail space. We wanted to retain the charm of the neighbourhood in our store, so we kept certain elements like the original windows so that it didn't feel commercial. We designed a lot on our own - the workbenches, the metal framework that holds the fresh flowers along the wall & the powder coat on our zinc vases - to keep things original & our lines clean. Dark colours are a feature you notice when you walk in, & it allows the flowers to speak for themselves.
gloobles: All of the love & careful attention you poured into the space really shows. So, other than flowers, what inspires you?
Alexander: Nature in general serves as my inspiration. Taking time out to really slow down allows me to get inspiration. I recently travelled to Bonaire & found myself at the beach making sculptures from the wild elements I found along the shore. These elements influence our work without us consciously realising it. The more you witness, the more you can draw from. My son Floriën inspires me. What he expresses is so raw & untamed. He does what he feels is right at the time (yes, also tantrums!), & there is no filter. I witness pure joy watching him.
gloobles: Yes, you really get a new view into the world when you look through a child's eyes. Is there anywhere you like to grab a coffee to fuel yourself for a long day of floral design?
Alexander: It depends on if I'm near home or work. Public Space is in my neighbourhood in Amsterdam Noord & serves amazing bespoke coffee & food & is run by a young & passionate team with a desire to bring the local community together. Bocca is my city go-to, which is luckily a few metres from our shop on the Kerkstraat.
gloobles: Funnily enough, those are two of our favourites as well. What about lunch during a workday? What are you eating?
Alexander: Lunch is always on-the-go for me because of my constant changing of location. It's not always glamorous (read: eating a quick sandwich in the van!). If I have the time, I love The Bluespoon at The Andaz Hotel. Their food is thoughtfully-designed, and they are artists in their own right! Often, I am eating at our greenhouse with our production team between projects, & we enjoy a warm fire during the cooler months - gezellig!