Julien Rademaker’s most regular visitor is the mailman. The art collector and curator of the interior blog Gevonden op Marktplaats receives so many deliveries every week he often cannot even guess what is inside each package. No matter which new find makes it into his apartment in Amsterdam, Julien knows how to turn an unassuming piece of furniture or object into a stunning decorative feature. His exceptional eye for detail and profound knowledge of art and design history have provided him with the perfect skills as a furniture collector and gifted interior stylist. Having spent weekends browsing through flea markets from an early age, Julien has successfully translated his love of collecting into a personal blog project: Gevonden op Marktplaats. He uses this platform to showcase an ongoing curation of rare and stand-out furniture, objects, art, and other curiosities that he spots on Marktplaats – the Dutch version of the auction website ebay.
Julien unearths and pounces on what others overlook, placing old things in new contexts. His quirky selection attracts a multitude of daily viewers hunting for the next thing to add to their home or simply seeking inspiration. Beyond exciting others with vintage finds the success of his blog has caught the attention of various shops and brands. Nowadays Julien is in demand as a stylist for shoots for magazines and production companies, drawing on his private vintage collection for set designs. We meet the creative collector and his girlfriend Maaike in Julien’s apartment that resembles a showroom more than a living space and take in his spectacular collection.
This portrait is part of our ongoing collaboration with ZEIT Online who present a special curation of our pictures on their site.
Julien, can you tell me about ‘Marktplaats’?
Marktplaats is the Dutch version of ebay, an auction site with all kinds of things hidden in the mysterious depths of the internet. Funnily enough the site’s personal charm actually relies on its confusing and slightly uninviting appearance, which I guess gives the impression of affordability to viewers. But as uninviting as it may seem, you can find some pretty special treasures.
One man’s trash – is another man’s treasure right?
Yes and actually this is literally how the idea of my blog was born. People want to throw out their old stuff and someone else might need or want it. The only problem is that Marktplaats is a bit confusing and people sadly hardly ever have the patience to browse through the range of furniture on display and therefore never find pieces that could potentially complement their living room perfectly. Now, that’s where I come in!
So you’re the middle-man, almost an interior-broker.
Indeed you could call me that. Maybe I should add it to my title and demand money for it (laughs)! Sometimes I actually receive gifts or small donations for the blog, which is a nice gesture. But the truth is, I just love browsing for furniture or other items and am happy to share what I find with others.
How many things in your house are from Marktplaats?
Things come and go all the time. My apartment functions almost like a showroom that’s constantly changing. But on the blog, I don’t sell things. I make a selection for people who don’t want to go through all the “crap”. Some things might look boring at first glance, but when you put them in the right context or style them in the right way they become super interesting. I like this contrast. Look at these Murano vases here for example. Usually this style is perceived as over the top and old-fashioned. Combined with these slices of gemstone and this wooden table I think it looks really cool. People just need to see how it works. So ideally, I first design a composition and then sell everything as a whole.
How did ‘Gevonden op Marktplaats’ (Found on Marktplaats) start?
It started two and half years ago. I was working as a graphic designer and art director for some agencies but wanted a change. I wanted to work more with objects and three-dimensional spaces. Secondly, I moved into this apartment and simply needed new furniture – vintage furniture of course. In the beginning I was looking everywhere else but Marktplaats. I thought there might be some cool stuff, but I didn’t want to go to the effort of trawling through pages and pages online. Initially it just didn’t occur to me. But one day I did take the time and suddenly found all these amazing things. I thought “how can I show people that there’s all this cool stuff on that site?” I couldn’t buy everything, that would have been way too expensive. So the idea of the blog was born pretty quickly. At first I only sent it to my friends and shortly after this it went viral. Within one week a popular website picked it up and wrote about it which drove even more traffic, media attention and followers to the site.
Besides a great idea, you also tapped into a modern zeitgeist.
Indeed, at first it attracted people from my industry, mostly creatives and designers, but it spread so quickly. I guess my blog inspires people to see things from their grandma’s living-room in a new light and context. In addition to that furnishing your house with vintage finds is pretty unique. You are not likely to see the same items at your friend’s or colleague’s house.
What reactions have you had to your blog?
Well there have been some really nice reactions from the people who own the things I post. Most of them actually don’t know the blog and so they sometimes wonder why so many people want to buy my stuff and question why the prices have increased so quickly. In those instances I call to inform them. People who do know the blog use it for different reasons. There are some people who bid on everything I post and then there are others who spot something but then look for a similar item somewhere else on their own for a cheaper price.
So you are driving sales! Do you have bestsellers?
In terms of popularity, of course. If I post a sweet Danish sideboard that is definitely something people know and go crazy for straight away. But then again some of the things people don’t understand is the stuff I really like. That’s also the downside of the blog as I only post pictures directly from Markplaats. I can’t always present the items in the right context necessary to make people see the potential of the items in each post. I’m not interested in just pulling out Eames chairs all the time, that would be too boring. I want to show people how to arrange unusual things and unleash their full potential.
Who benefits the most?
I think everyone a little bit: Marktplaats, the people who want to sell their things, and obviously my readers and myself.
How many hours per day do you spend curating your blog?
I spend a lot of time on it. I love to browse and dig out hidden treasures. I update the Facebook site regularly and tweet daily. However, the pieces I find are in most cases posted first on the blog than on social media. The frequency of my posts also depends on how many good things I find.
What is the next step, a public exhibition or a shop?
Well I’m planning to do an exhibition in spring together with a friend of mine, Samir Bantal. Together we will select some favorite pieces and arrange them, create a new context for the items and then sell them. I could also imagine designing a pop-up restaurant or a cafe where you can buy everything you sit on and eat from. I like projects like this. There are so many possibilities to be realized.
I’m also planning to do more styling and production design. I recently did a big shoot for the Dutch newspaper Volkskrant Magazine where people could buy everything in the pages of the feature. Besides that I have been working closely with my friends at the production agency 100% Halal. I have also been doing some commercials and promotional videos for the Appelsap fresh music festival, Bacardi and Johan Kramer. My buddy Samir and I are currently working on a showroom design for FreshCotton, which will be a combination of new and old items with a very 80’s Memphis Milano vibe. In contrast, for the interior design project of 1%Club and AKVO we only worked with vintage 50s and 60s items.
I also still do graphic design, mostly focusing on corporate identities for stores and restaurants here in the Netherlands for young entrepreneurs with interesting ideas. Being a freelancer gives me the freedom to do a lot of things I really like to do. I would love to work on some interior design projects for private houses.
Let’s talk about your home, have you always lived in Amsterdam East?
No, I was living in The Hague beforehand but moved back to Amsterdam because all my friends live here. I moved temporarily to the Jordaan which is quite a popular area in the center. Then I found this place here in the east through friends of mine. It’s quite an up-and-coming area and somehow doesn’t feel like Amsterdam at all. I have more space here for all my stuff. It was basically a big white box when I moved in here; a blank canvas ready to be styled. Now I have filled it up and it is constantly changing. I’m curious about how it will develop and how many things will actually become ‘mine’ and eventually stay forever.
Do you have an absolute favorite piece that you would never sell?
That would have to be this African sculpture of a head here. I bought it in Marrakech, but it is originally from Kamerun. I love how it’s made purely from beads. It really stands out. Aside from that I really like animals. I have a sprawling Noah’s Ark in all shapes and sizes such as the parrot candle holders on the table, or this bag with a bird pattern which I actually found on the Noordermarkt and not on Marktplaats. It is so fashionable it could be a Louis Vuitton! The couch from B&B Italia will also always stay here with me.
The doorbell rings and the mailman delivers a package.
What a coincidence. Let’s see what’s inside!
This is actually really funny that I have a delivery right now. It’s a daily routine. I receive so many packages per week, sometimes I can’t remember what I have bought. I guess the mailman knows me pretty well by now. Let’s open it! Oh yeah, it’s the monkey candle holder, awesome! It’s from the 20s, from the Kurhaus in Scheveningen. Now the question of where to put it? I think the coffee table is a good spot. Let’s see how long he will stay. I guess you get the impression of Gevonden op Marktplaats now. Welcome to my life!
Photography: Mathieu Garnier
Interview & Text: Felicitas Olschewski