Willem Koolmees goes to great lengths to earn his living. He drives to Denmark about once every six weeks for a new supply of old lamps. He fixes them up and sells them. Seems too simple to live on, but Willem can do it.
During the holidays I came across a book at our guest house about a group of Danish painters in Skagen who made beautiful paintings. I couldn’t read the story of that group of painters, so at home I googled the book, which I think was called ‘Danish Light’.
I didn’t like the Skager painters, but I did like a different Danish light. Namely lamps by Louis Poulsen. I forgot the book and googled further for these lamps. Because such a lamp fits perfectly with our dining table.
Louis Poulsen is ‘design’ and therefore much too expensive… then look at the marketplace, maybe there is a good second-hand copy. That’s how I ended up on the Facebook page of Willem Koolmees, ‘specialized in custom made vintage Danish lamps’ . My ‘refurbishing’ is therefore too disrespectful for what Willem does, see the photos below.
Buying only a photo on the internet is difficult for me, so I called Willem for an appointment in Vlissingen. ‘Are you coming by train? But how do you get here? I’m far from the station.’ To my answer that we would take a taxi, he said: ‘I can come and get you with my van, but then 1 has to be in the back’ . No sooner said than done. On the way Willem said: I really think a taxi is a waste of money, then I’ll come get you.
On the shelves in his workshop at the business park in Vlissingen are countless old lamps, parts and Danish trinkets from thrift shops. ‘It’s not a showroom, is it, people work here.’ I choose a lamp and the colours, Willem tells me in the meantime.
Willem is not an average salesperson, nor is an average person. He adheres to all the rules, but is regularly surprised as to why. Anyway, he counts his blessings. He walks with his girlfriend in the area around Vlissingen, in the summer it’s like being on vacation. He goes his own way, driving alone all night to Denmark. Nice and quiet. Initially he looked for the lamps himself in thrift shops, now he has people in Denmark looking for him. In passing, he also takes other items with him that he expects to sell well.
He watches his money, how much do you really need? And he watches my money: he explains that he has the paint made special, it is more expensive than regular hardware store paint, but then the lamp gets exactly the right old-fashioned finish, what a new cord costs, and what it earns. Apparently it is a way of earning money that is catching on: he is now quite busy.
Last week I received my lamp, properly packed in recycled packaging material.
He is beautiful William! I’m very happy with it.
And … if you come across a painting by a Skager painter, I’ll recommend it!