Colourspotting: Sensory Inspiration from a Wintry Amsterdam


A winter's morning colourspotting between the tall, narrow townhouses in Amsterdam can be a fairly sombre affair, doused as many are in shades of black and grey.

Put those against a late November climate, and a network of inky canals, and it can certainly inspire a premature coffee stop at the nearest Nine Streets café to warm up. 

But persevere, and you'll start to see the different hues and tones emerging to reveal a palette that is somewhat austere, yes - but soothing, and with an occasional pop of something stronger to loosen up the tightly-formed streets and canals. In fact, anyone who caught BBC's The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton recently will recognise the Vermeer-esque aesthetic of rich jewel tones against muddy reds and monochrome; still very much on show within the contemporary city streets.


One of the many things I love about Amsterdam is, contrary to its ordered grid layout and straight(ish), stern-looking structures, nature flows freely, with a profusion of potted plants grouped outside practically every doorway, and trees and foliage growing up, around and, sometimes, it seems, through the buildings. A sort of unstructured biophilia, and its pervasive presence adds a couple of unexpectedly dominant but calming shades to the palette.


And as darkness falls, you'll see lights come on, curtains stay open, and blinds stay up, all across the city. A deliberate move. After all, how else would we onlookers get to appreciate the Amsterdammers' beautifully understated interiors and inherent sense of style? 

Carra Santos