Co van der Horst: that’s the name of the man in the photo above. He is our great-grandfather. He has open features, wears an elegant bow tie, waistcoat and dark trousers… and a pair of clogs. He started out as a street vendor with a rucksack. As things took off, he swapped the rucksack for a dogcart and later a horse and cart. Co van der Horst was famous throughout Amstelveen (then Nieuwer-Amstel) and the surrounding areas for selling household textiles and other such articles. When he started in 1905, he could never have imagined that this was the start of a family business that would still bear his name more than a hundred years later.


The lad in the photo is Co’s son, Jacobus van der Horst. He and his brothers, Gerrit and Henny, took over the shop from their father in 1941. By this time, the family had its own store on Dorpsstraat in Amstelveen, in a former alms house and retirement home. Alongside drapery, the brothers sold furniture, beds, carpets and other such items.


The family line continued. Jacobus bought his brothers’ share of the business and in 1962, his eldest son, Cees van der Horst, became his business partner. Cees had helped with the upholstery side since he was thirteen, and eventually took over the shop together with his brother Ad and his wife, Loes Wiemer. The shop continued to grow and by the late 1960s, they had grown out of the elegant building on Dorpsstraat. They partially solved the problem by erecting giant tents on the Plein 1960 every year for a furniture show known as Home & Garden, which they organised with their business partners. This situation lasted until 1972, when Co van der Horst moved to its current premises, in a building that was designed by Rob van der Horst. They believed in keeping things in the family!


Decades have now passed and a lot has happened. The fourth generation of Van der Horsts, in the shape of Stephan and Edwin van der Horst, are now in charge, along with creative director Karin Bisschop. The company marked its centenary by becoming a Royal Warrant Holder and expanding the shop to cover thousands of square metres. Countless big names from the design world joined the celebrations; Marcel Wanders agreed to make a unique design for nothing less than the toilets. But best of all, we still manage to inspire numerous customers who, just like us, appreciate a characteristic interior.

Although the very special history of Co van der Horst is not something we usually dwell on, the memory still fills us with pride. It is, after all, a magnificent achievement. A man with an entrepreneurial spirit started a business in 1905, which is still being successfully run by his great-grandchildren in 2014! And textiles, which is where it all began, are still revered in the form of a special collection of upholstery and curtain materials. If you look at it like that, not much has changed.