Amsterdam Modern is a deceivingly large warehouse near Echo Park, filled to the brim with unique mid-century Dutch furniture and accessories. It’s where I have bought SOOO much furniture (including my current sofa) and when I was doing the show I would make weekly trips here and pretty much fill up my CRV. Owner Ellen LeComte makes regular trips to Holland to restock her ever-growing collection, fueled by some combination of necessity and obsession. This weird and totally awesome furniture is highly coveted by set decorators (yes, Mad Men), interior designers (hi), and the general public (insert your name here). And yes, that is a gigantic Great Dane navigating his way through piles of valuable inventory — his name is Louie and he is surprisingly graceful.
Amsterdam Modern, Historic Filipinotown, Los Angeles
Owner: Ellen LeComte
1. How long have you been in business and how did you get started?
We’ve been around since 2009 –
Honestly, we (my husband, Roger, is Dutch and retails classic vintage cars) had a friend in the Flea Market in Amsterdam who was down-and-out and needed direction (aka a job). We decided to have him start picking for us, and importing to LA. Long story short, I did a better job, and being a shopaholic, the obsession began.
2. Why did you choose this location to open your business?
We chose this space to be closer to our clients and the heartbeat of the city.
Right now we’re on Glendale Blvd on the outskirts of downtown LA and near Echo Park – technically in Historic Filipinotown. We just moved to this new warehouse this past September, and it’s double the size of our old one in the Valley at 10, 000 square feet. After spending two years looking for the perfect space, we happened upon this (made for me) 10, 000 square-foot Mid-Century Building, equipped with offices, showroom and a warehouse! Finally, we found it and are happy! (Well, except for the fact that we’ve already managed to fill it to the brim…).
The location is superb because we’re closer to all our clients and more walk-in friendly (we’re now open on Saturday’s too). It’s fantastic to be able to draw a lot of new clientele from Downtown/Echo Park/Silverlake areas that maybe weren’t as inclined to make a trip all the way to the scorching Valley (just as much as we’re happy to be out of the scorching Valley).
3. How would you describe your store’s style/aesthetic?
Mid-Century-Modern-Eclectic-Industrial-Cool, how does that sound?
We like to think we’re more casual and welcoming than the traditional showrooms – somewhat eclectic and undeniably fun. We have so much inventory that it’s a little bit of a treasure hunt around here – but there’s always something for everyone. Everything is vintage from the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s and we try to keep things as original as possible even in refinishing or re-upholstery. We like to keep things classic and timeless – preserving as much history and character while showcasing just awesome pieces of design.
4. Where did you get your name from and what other names did you consider?
Since almost the entirety our inventory comes from Amsterdam and even my man… I thought the name “Amsterdam Modern” was self-explanatory
5. What types of items are your best sellers? (i.e. brands, specific pieces, etc.)
School chairs, without a doubt. We are the largest purveyor of mid-century industrial school chairs in LA, probably the country – we sell huge quantities to restaurants, bars, event spaces, corporate offices and hotels across the country, but also love selling cool lounge chairs and small dining sets. Friso Kramer is one of the most famous Industrial designers in Europe, especially in the Netherlands. They even made a postage stamp of his iconic REVOLT chair. I am proud to say that he is also a friend of mine, he is extremely active, vibrant and still designing (something we can’t say is true for 99% of the rest of our designers…) Our Tomado and Pilastro wall units are also very popular – they’re colorful, industrial, and minimal staples for every space.
6. What item do you have in the store now that you would want to have in your home?
Ahh, I absolutely covet everything (which is how this whole thing got started!) A few of my favorites are the Coen de Vries Wall Mount Bookcase, Gerard Van Den Berg “Rock” Lounge Chair, Artimeta Soest Mirror Lamp, the Pilastro two-section wall unit with a desk (and a vintage pin-up sticker!), and all the little Hala Zeist reading lamps.
7. What have you been inspired by lately? (colors, styles, themes, locations, etc.)
Wm. Rietveld, Industrial Multi-Colored Metal Furniture, Metal and wood combos. Un-expected Mixes.
8. Is there something you thought would sell really well but didn’t?
Kids school desks, but then again, if I hadn’t purchased 150 (to be shy), they might all be gone already!
8. Where do you mainly source your items from?
The Netherlands, 99.8% of the time. Occasionally England though as well – they have an amazing endless collection of teak sideboards, dining tables, chairs… We also have a small line of propriety items made by us – the most popular being the bamboo hoop chairs and wire plant stands.
9. What was the first big lesson you learned from opening your store?
Be my own buyer.
10. What would your one piece of advice you would give to small businesses
11. What stores do you shop at?
When I’m not shopping in Holland, I hate to say it, but I essentially live at Home Depot.
12. Do you have any plans to expand your inventory?
Most people like to do things one step at a time, but we’re totally against that. We’re always looking for new ways to expand, eventually this stuff will be gone-baby-gone, so, we’d better start making our own best loved things – by continuing to develop our own line of items, finding new partners, or buying the building next door… We also just celebrated the two-year mark of our joint venture with SHOPCLASS!
I mean, really, it’s impossible to pick just 8 things from the literally thousands of cool pieces at Amsterdam Modern. Peruse their online shop or get lost in the warehouse at 134 Glendale Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90026!
All photos by Jessica Isaac for EHD