Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Segunda Mano

Being a licensed Interior Designer in my previous life, which is not anymore a secret to the IT world that I now belong and which I also admit, is a big waste [that I gave up this career], is something that I look into during my free time as a value add in my home-making activities.

As a designer, I delight on the purest of things: Simplicity and Structure. And although I prefer the earth colors leading to the monochromatic representation and veering away from littered curios, I do make an exception when it comes to rendering an accent and emphasizing a focal point. This is when the exotic items I fell in love with comes into play and where the theme of simplicity and eclecticism achieves a culmination of harmonious co-existence.

Aside from that, we as Interior Designers have this relentless habit of creating something worthwhile from scrap materials or any used items. It does somewhat demonstrates a sense of cheapness, right? But the main idea is about --- ingenuity.

For many of us, the goal of this transformation has literally something to do with the challenge of re-creating something original and unique from out of nothing. These “nothing items” manifests in many forms such as surplus goods, leftover accessories, second hand discarded items, or even waste belongings of other people.

When I came here in 2002 to relocate for good, the first few places I visited were the flea markets, second hand shops, kringloopwinkels [recycling stores] and the Leger des Heils recycling shop [Salvation Army]. I had their addresses and schedules in our old computer desktop’s favorites and during my idle moments, I would spend my time surveying what they have to offer.

There are just so many treasures hiding in these places and it doesn’t necessarily warrant a trained eye to locate them, albeit it does take knowing what you need or want and having a good feeling about it. These low key and unexpected places are full of adventure with fabulous items waiting to be discovered.

One thing that I also learned here in the Netherlands, or in the western world for that matter, is that these cheap markets and shops are often frequented by moneyed people and well even the unanticipated. The negative stigma of buying used clothes or items, at least in this part of the world does not exist. It is not a taboo and it is surely not looked down upon.

A well known socialite painter in the Netherlands was interviewed a few night ago on TV about the stunning designer dress she was wearing. The interviewer asked her what type of shops she frequents and what kind of items she prefers. She, with full confidence and without hesitation said, “I like vintage clothing and I frequent the second hand shops.” Ah, there you have the answer, straight from the so-called elite’s mouth!

Anyway, last week, I had the chance to start my inevitable window shopping [that means not really buying, but just looking from the window or shelf] for my winter sport ski outfits and accessories. Not that I enjoy doing this chore, but I prefer to canvass for at least a reasonable period of time before finally buying them. So while I was busy hopping from one shop to the other, I passed by this recycling shop of the world renowned Salvation Army. This one was a huge branch in Utrecht Oude Gracht occupying three doors straight.

Naturally, my instincts were swiftly alerted. I got tempted and went in to check what they have.

By the entrance, I saw a black Persian inspired wooden footstool sitting on top of the large table. The footstool was covered in a slightly worn-out dark beige leather. Upon careful inspection, I concluded that it is a worthy item, could be antique, and coming from the Middle East. I flipped over the tag, it says, SOLD. Damn.

So I marched up further into the hallway of the Salvation Army stockpile, eager to take this short journey, knowing that maybe, just maybe, I will be treated to some pleasant surprises in the end. I found so many polished junk and wondered who would be crazy enough to buy these things. Well, of course silly me, people are unique and we all have different tastes indeed.

The shop was busy, I saw people come and go, some knew what they wanted... they attacked the targeted shelves with precision. Others were just lingering aimlessly, like me, in the hopes of finding a gem amongst the piles of rubbish.

A very interesting observation though, some of the people were very well dressed and I could hear from the way they spoke and the grace they bared, that they come from good backgrounds. Trust me, I know one when I see and hear one, regardless of race and the frock cover up.

About an hour later, I left the charity shop with a huge bag, with these interesting pieces:

A Gold Pot

This golden flower or plant pot reminisce the Emperor and Empress Eras, which apparently suits well with my home’s earthen color scheme. It also matches my round beige medley marble-top center table with edges adorned in Greek gold inlays.

Cost: € 4.50

A Plant or Candle Holder

This one is a wrought iron large candle or plant holder. I think this is great to hang in the outside wall of my entrance doorway with a plant that scales down.

Maybe an English Ivy Bush would be perfect?

Cost: € 2.50

A Wind Candle Lamp

And this, a big glass wind candle lamp with a wrought iron design stand and is about two feet in length, is now guarding my southern window at night. I can also put in two or three candles inside, well maybe after this red candle is finished.

Cost: € 5.00

“Segunda Mano” is a Spanish phrase and also a Cebuano phrase that means: SECOND HAND.

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