At Spui 10A you find a building created in 1891-1892 for furniture and carpet shop H.F. Jansen, designed in Eclectic (new French Renaissance) style by architect Eduard Cuypers (1859-1927). Some 300 people were employed here in various workshops, sewing rooms and offices. Jansen previously had a steam-carpentry factory with 170 employees on Spui in three old warehouses, but they burned down in 1891. When the new building on Spui 10 was finished, Jansen moved his shop here. Founder Hendrik Frederik, 74 years old, died in 1893, one year after the opening of the new building. His fours sons continued the business.
The building rests on 687 pine piles of 12 m (39 ft) length. The corner element, created by Atelier Van den Bossche & Crevels, once held three big brass plaques: “H.F. Jansen et Fils“, “Fournisseurs de la Cour” and “Installations Decoratives“. In 1911 Queen Wilhelmina granted the company the right to carry “Royal” in their name as purveyors to the court. The company closed in 1948, when none of the remaining family members was interested in continuing the business. The building became a national monument in 2001.
A Renowned Interior Decorator
What started as just another furniture shop in 1840 had become a firm with a solid reputation by the end of the 19th century, even abroad, and they won many prizes in various expositions. Clients ranged from rich citizens with their town villas, to rich entrepeneurs with their country houses, official organizations, the Beurs van Berlage, a hall in the Willet-Holthuysen house, the regents room in the Maagdenhuis and even the Dutch Royals.
Jansen took care of furniture and decorations for Paleis Het Loo, Paleis Soestdijk and Paleis Noordeinde. In 1898 he crafted the gilded thrones in Louis-XVI-style for the coronation of Queen Wilhelmina in the Royal Palace on Dam square. They were in use again when King Willem-Alexander was crowned in the Nieuwe Kerk in 2013.
Famous in Paris
Son Johannes Henricus, his name frenchified to Jean-Henri, was all the rage in Paris for quite a long time. Maison Jansen at Rue Royale 6 existed there since 1881. In 1911 he created a large 5-story workshop in the Rue Saint Sabin, “Les Ateliers de Maison Jansen”, employing 800 stylists and craftsmen, and the company had a worldwide network of offices. For more than a century their work was much loved by international high-society and royals: Paris, Côte d’Azur, Monte Carlo, London, New York, Buenos Aires, Havana, Caïro and the Kennedy’s White House in Washington.
Johannes Jansen was well-respected in the Paris art scene. He was co-founder and administrator of the Salon d’Automne since 1903, still existing today. He died in 1928 on his estate near Versailles. The firm met with financial difficulty when the Shah of Persia failed to pay a millions bill for the decorations of an exorbitant feast in 1971, just before his reign ended. Johannes had arranged competent successors, but after 109 years the famous design housed closed the doors in 1989.
Other Occupants of the Building
One of the tenants of the office space was the HWAL (Holland West-Afrika Lijn) between 1929 and 1969. They were one of the steamer lines maintained by the Verenigde Nederlandsche Scheepvaartmaatschappij (VNS or United Dutch Shipping Company), hence the building was also known as the Africa House. From 1975 on the famous book shop Scheltema, Holkema & Vermeulen was located here, before they moved to the Koningsplein in 1985. From 1985 until 2019 the building housed clothing shop Esprit with an adjacent lunchcafé of the same name. Today the building belongs to the Rituals chain, with restaurant Rouhi on the ground floor.
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