Lorraine’s adventures in Leiden

It’s an early morning in May, and I’m waiting at the airport for a flight to the Netherlands. From there, I’ll make my way by train to Leiden in the north west of the country. The town is famous for being the place where the tulip was introduced to Europe, but I’ve got different decorations on my mind… 

After a lot of research online, I found a supplier based in the town that can help bring my forest collection to life, with high-quality natural bark, moss, acorns and pine cones that will give my door displays and interior decor an authentic autumn touch. 

Better still, they’re prepared to invite me to their showroom to cast a watchful eye over the products up close. 

Now that everyone’s using Zoom and Microsoft Teams, I could have taken a virtual tour of the showroom without leaving the house. Sure enough, I found plenty of suppliers who would only deal with me online, but I was determined to pay a visit in person, to touch and feel the material and source the products with care. 

I wanted to stand over the decorations I chose, love them and feel that I would put them in my own home. 

My instincts paid off. 

There to meet me in Leiden were Frans and Chris, who run the showroom and who showed me the various options they could supply ahead of Beyond No.6 launching later this year. 

With friendly guides to help, I spent hours walking through rows and rows of specially cultivated trees, poring over the displays and inspecting the natural materials. There were even different pieces of hanging wood, with treated branches of teak, and mango wood. 

It was like Disneyland or Willy Wonka’s factory for adults. I felt like I’d got the golden ticket to go into this place. The products, the displays and the quality of the materials … It gave me goosebumps. 

Together with Frans and Chris, I created two different versions of a forest scene, one 120cm high and another 90cm high, fixing and adjusting the positioning of the products, experimenting with different combinations of materials, before narrowing down my final selection. 

Of course, anyone could scavenge in a forest and, if they’re lucky, find some of the materials to create an autumnal door scene. But by doing it this way, I found a reliable supplier with a broad selection of what I’ll need, in the quantities my customers will want. 

The whole experience brought back vivid memories for me. It’s like when I was playing as a kid. For me, that’s just heaven. At the end, I stood back and there were two trees and five products. It was exactly what I wanted. It was simple… and I said ‘that’s it’.

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