I still think of myself as the boy with a sketchbook and pencil. At the heart of my work is translating creativity, brainstorming with clients. The character of a house touches people, it’s personal.
I could already draw really well when I was five. Drawing boats became building boats from paper and cardboard. And I built houses for the boy next door who had a model train set. I was about 10 then. While in secondary school, I took extra drawing lessons because I really wanted to draw. I knew I wanted to do something in design, and at art academy it became clear that interior architecture was for me. I like the fact that building is so concrete, it has a beginning and an end.
As an interior architect, I work from the inside outwards. I starting, in a manner of speaking, at the place where somebody would have their morning cup of coffee. I then continue working my way right up to checking whether the walls are in the right places. Maybe a façade has to go, a skylight should be installed or a floor should be lowered. Do any of the walls have to go? The incoming light is vital. As many windows as possible is my preference. Light is crucial when experiencing the ambience of a place, besides it also gives a positive vibe as well. And then you have artificial light. Because, let’s face it, you really want to experience that daytime ambience at night too.
I coach my clients, building trust and helping them discover their character, their style. This is at the heart of my work. It is almost like going on a journey together to look for their individual style and, once found, I translate it into contemporary life. I work analogue for company commissions. It is their personal style that I want to translate into modern ways of working. An interior is like a new jacket, see it as an extra skin. It has to be tailor-made. You could say I am like a tailor that cuts that extra jacket to a perfect fit. A house is a personal paradise, something I create for and with the client. That’s why the results are very diverse – from classic to modern to a very strong design feel.
The collaboration is all based on trust. Together, you have to get to the core. I don’t force anything on the client. My idea is to lead them to their ultimate goal, one that they are unaware of as yet. One that they themselves have to discover. And I am their guide in this. I don’t have one method that fits all. Every client is different. Sometimes, I show them a lot of examples or I make sketches. There are times that I go shopping with my customer.
It varies. You have clients that like to buy the accessories together with you and others who prefer to do the major bits themselves. Both are fine with me.
But I do prefer to keep charge of the fundamental things like how the light falls, the spatial layout, the lighting in the evenings, and sometimes a couple of the bigger basic items like sofa, dining tables or large cabinets. In general, the smaller the object, the more personal it is. And art? I prefer doing this together. This is where I happily apply my coaching. Sometimes, we visit galleries together or we commission an artist to do a piece. If they already have a collection, then I cast my eye over it as curator. Art is so important for the total experience.
An interior has to be comfortable. Comfortable to live or work, that is the crux of it. Design comes secondary to this. During the initial meeting with clients, I see a host of options for their houses at first glance. Options that will make the client happy and which are positive for the house. Look at it like this, people live in a house for about ten years or so, but that house has been around for about one hundred years. I feel I owe something to the architecture of the house. It comes naturally to me to want to change imperfections in a house, just like straightening a table. So I always try to bring the wishes and dreams of the client together with the original character of the house. I get a kick from the fact that the end result is often a real eye opener for people. And more importantly: that they are happy with the result.
How do I work? I draw a sketch within three weeks of the first meeting. Then I go to the client, show it and discuss it, after which I adjust the fine points. I draw up a plan so that contractors can do their calculations for their quotes. Over the years I have built up a network of reliable partners: construction managers, 3D-designers, architectural drawers, builders. If I need them, I bring together a team and that works well.
The best part of it is the moment when the design becomes reality. I regularly have fantastic brainwaves while dropping off to sleep. At that point, it is only something in your head. Six months later you are walking through it! It’s like flying – a small miracle that you feel every time you fly.”