October 2020, Amsterdam - With the acquisition of Brink & van Keulen 1646, young Amsterdam entrepreneurs are keeping centuries-old old Dutch crafts alive.
After four years of daily management of the company, craftsmen Rodny Heemskerk and Bob Koning will take over 100% of the shares in Brink & van Keulen 1646 BV from Konindustries BV. The craftsmanship and inventiveness of Rodny and Bob make it possible to maintain the old-Dutch brass-casting trade as the only one in Europe, with the production of the chandeliers 100% taking place in the Netherlands. It is now the right time for current major shareholder F.J. van Konijnenburg to hand over the baton. The takeover means that they are investing in the preservation of cultural heritage in the Netherlands.
The entrepreneurs have been sharing their passion for craftsmanship since 2008. They have realized many ambitious projects in the wood- and metalworking craft. The craftsmanship of the brass casting process, therefore, appealed to them immediately. Since 2016 the company Brink & van Keulen 1646 has come under the leadership of the young entrepreneurs. Now 4 years later, in 2020, they can call themselves owners of the company.
'We consider it a great challenge to maintain this Dutch heritage craft.' - Bob King
Amsterdam was the brass-cast centre of the 17th century, renowned brass casters were renowned for their high-quality products. With the relaunch of Brink & van Keulen 1646 - responsible for the delivery of thousands of old-Dutch brass chandeliers to historic buildings, royal palaces, and beautiful monumental homes - Amsterdam is once again at the centre of the coordination of the brass-casting trade.
Brink & van Keulen 1646
An old brass foundry in Haarlem, where beautiful chandeliers were produced for generations, was threatening to close its doors. This cultural heritage was not to be lost. Age-old knowledge was transferred and a restart on a small scale in Amsterdam was made possible in 2009 under the leadership of W.H. van Konijnenburg.
Till today the company Brink & van Keulen 1646 keeps the brass-cast craft alive and produces, replicates, restores, appraises, and mediates in the highest quality old Dutch brass chandeliers. With creativity and precision, Brink & van Keulen has produced or restored more than 800 churches since its existence. For example, after an absence of 100 years, in 2019 they completed and re-hung four impressive chandeliers for the Martini Church in Groningen. These chandeliers have a span and height of two and a half metres - the largest possible size.
The art of brass casting
There is a rich Dutch artisanal brass-casting history. From the seventeenth century onward, brass-casters fulfilled the need for lighting during the evening service for churchgoers by casting impressive chandeliers. These typical Old Dutch chandeliers are nowadays still in use and can be admired in churches, castles, and palaces. The chandeliers form an important part of the imposing interiors and architecture. Shiny brassware has not lost its appeal and today, it still inspires artists and designers in the design of furniture and objects.
Old craft and new techniques
The production is mainly focused on chandeliers of the old Dutch type, whereby the casting and polishing are done manually. Restoration and installation are also part of the activities of Brink & van Keulen.
Innovations are not shunned. New techniques like digital design, technical drawing and 3D printing of the moulds in combination with the original manual method, brings the craft to a new level. A computer-controlled 5-axis milling machine is also used to produce 3D models, including moulds for the foundry. The entire production process has now been streamlined and digitalised, making it more effective and efficient. Brink & van Keulen proved this in 2020 by using 3D printing to create a casting mould for the copy of a bronze statue, commissioned by the Amsterdam Museum. A breakthrough in the production process that offers endless possibilities.
'We look at how we can combine the old craft with the latest techniquesRodny Heemskerk
One of the first things the entrepreneurs did was to build a website and set up social media. On the website, you can see the company's video which shows the production process and in the webshop, you can find the chandelier and wall chandelier according to the original 17th-century model.