Slow Design: Pantoufle


We talk to Esther Blankers, who recently opened the beautiful homeware store, Pantoufle in Rotterdam.

What inspired you to open PANTOUFLE?

I had been working in advertising for more than 15 years and although I loved what I did, my job became more and more about writing strategies and developing plans. I missed creating something more tangible. I have always had a big passion for design. So when I quit my job, I gave myself some time to think about my next step. I knew that I wanted to create a space in Rotterdam, the city where I live. There are a lot of beautiful shops here but not many focus on handmade timeless design. The products at PANTOUFLE are made by the finest makers from all over the world. I love the simple things that elevate everyday life. Such as your first cup of coffee in the morning, the light you leave on for your little one, a soothing warm bath or a freshly made bed.

It's a lovely name, how did you decide on it?

I wanted a name that symbolises living in the moment and enjoying the little things. That’s how PANTOUFLE came to mind. And somehow I always remembered the kangaroo friend named PANTOUFLE in the movie Chocolat with Juliette Binoche. I have always found it such an endearing name.

What are your design criteria when you source products?

For me good design is timeless. It should not only make you happy today but last for many years to come as well. I hope that people find that with a little care and attention the objects in my store can be passed on to their children. Many items are made by hand and come from all over the world, from Europe to Japan. I think you treat a product differently when you see and feel that the maker has put in a lot of time and love in creating it.

Would you call PANTOUFLE a lifestyle store or is it something else?

Yes I think it is. The products you find in the shop will make the everyday more beautiful. So I don't only sell products for your home but you can also find a brass bell for your bicycle or handmade scissors to cut flowers.

Which John Julian products will people find in your shop?

People can find the beautiful Fluted Bowl and one of my favourite designs, the porcelain pestle and mortars as well as the Pouring Mixing Bowls.

Which products stand out to you (other than ours) as your favorites?

I am proud of all the products in my shop, but I have a weakness for Japanese design so I am very proud to represent Futagami, Fog Linen, Karimoku and Postalco.

And a few of your favourite places to visit in Rotterdam?

My husband and I always seem to find an excuse to go and celebrate something at Zinc. A tiny French restaurant near the historical harbour, the Veerhaven in Rotterdam. I also like Mevrouw Meijer, a beautiful small French restaurant in the Northern part of the city. For high teas and lunches my all-time favorite is Lof der Zoetheid, a mother and daughter team who make the best honest pies and salads in the world. For coffee I go to Urban 9, the espresso bar facing my shop. I am so happy that spring is here as I enjoy working in our small garden. Last year I started growing vegetables and fruit and I’m looking forward to doing that again this summer. And I love going to the city forest and visiting the little animal farm with my 2 year old son. 


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