- Article by Online Editor
- Photography by Courtesy i29
Three words to describe Dutch interior architecture practice i29? Just Call Us! laughs Jeroen Dellensen. On second thoughts, the co-founder of i29 Architecture adds, …or Contrast. Simplicity. Music!
Its been a busy few years for this Amsterdam-based design practice. Today its one the most nominated interior design practices in the Netherlands (dominating strongly in 2009) and among those nominations it has come to win a handful of awards and much industry praise. Since Dellensen and Jaspar Jansen established the practice in 2002, with an attitude to forge their own distinct path never forgetting to have fun along the way its been a non-stop path, and their dynamic approach is clearly working, as the accolades and commissions dont look like stopping.
A recent string of eye-catching projects designed by the duo have made interesting headlines, both locally [in the Netherlands] and internationally. Such projects include the temporary office space for advertising agency Gummo (a rather surreal recycled office blanketed entirely in a layer of grey spray paint), the school interior of Panta Rhei (which integrates carpets of texts with poetry inspired by learning and adolescence), a slick project called Power Office for Eckhardt and Leeuwenstein (which literally put the staff in a conceptual spotlight), and of course the serene loft apartment known as Home 07 (with its dream bathroom, integrating a lush vertical green wall, and which ultimately earned them a Best Bathroom of the Netherlands award in 2010). And thats just two years worth of work.
So what is it about i29s brand of interior architecture that keeps us wanting more? Our approach is practical, yet based on strong ideas articulated in clear concepts. We try to get to the core of things, but keep it looking simple, explains Dellensen. We do not style what is there. What we truly try to do is to literally design the space the stuff that is not physically there. And we can only do this by designing the physical material.
Indeed, striking custom-designed elements play an integral role in the practices interiors, transforming the space (and concealing functions) along the way, attracting our attention for its sleek aesthetic. The more outspoken features are contrasted with a clean layout and a sense of simplicity that is executed with honesty in materials, all of which contributes further to a clear, strong result.
For example, Home 07 saw the complete transformation of a claustrophobic Amsterdam apartment into a spacious light-filled residence. A central light well and staircase opened up the apartment, which was constructed with a mostly raw-pinewood backdrop, the highlight being a striking kitchen cabinet fashioned from laser-cut MDF. The dynamic fractal pattern travels across the cabinet to create handgrips to open the doors, with openings that widen to become cavities for shelves and eventually the window of the kitchen bar. Furthermore, the cabinet conceals the interiors new steel supporting structure. Concealment seems to be a red thread running through i29s designs. Its about limiting the noise in a space, says Dellensen. We aim to make a whole of the interior, and therefore dictate beforehand what you want and dont want to see. It keeps the design clean and clear, so you can read the interior as a whole and not get distracted by all kinds of clutter.
All this is to say that the future for i29 looks promising, with new office designs in the pipeline, more residences and a unique institutional project a workshop for people with disabilities to learn the skills needed for social reintegration. Perhaps this will begin a new phase for a duo that wishes to take their distinct approach into the care industry, where they believe well-designed surroundings can significantly improve the standard of living of people from all walks of life. Its honest, uncluttered architecture, with a healthy dose of no-nonsense and a hint of playfulness.
We try to look at it as a composition, as in music, says Dellensen. As with music, the silence is essential to the music itself. It is the same way with space. We work with structures and rhythms in an elementary and almost abstract way, not with fashion and style. If we can make people as happy in their interior surrounding, as listening to their favourite music, then weve achieved a lot.