#THE NOTEBOOK OF Piet Boon

Piet Boon - Studio Piet Boon - Ámsterdam

Exterior and interior designs for residential projects, hotels, resorts, beach villas, offices, private villas, product designs and collaborations with international brands (e.g. Land Rover)

 

1 – Who is Piet Boon?

Piet Boon is a Dutch designer, owner and founder (1983) of the multidisciplinary design studio Studio Piet Boon, in Amsterdam Area. He leads a dedicated and experienced team of architects, designers and stylists.
Studio Piet Boon® has a worldwide portfolio of private and corporate clients and is a respected and renowned specialist in total concepts.

2 – When did you discover that you wanted to be an architect?

Over three decades ago I started out as a builder with my own firm. We often executed plans, which were not functional at all. That bothered me and I often thought: ‘I can do better than that.’ One day I decided to just do it and started my career as a designer. In the early years we used this quote: ‘I won’t design something I can’t build.’ The deeper truth is, that functionality really matters. Not only in terms of cost, but also in terms of how you use a space. 
The knowledge and insight in building processes and years long experience I gathered when working as a contractor proof to be a huge advantage for me as a designer. It also allows me to talk to the many disciplines involved. It makes communication really easy. Which is vital for a smooth process. 

3 – A reference in architecture.

There is a number of architects whose work I admire for various reasons. One of the elements of our mission is that we are dedicated to exceed expectations and strive to excite and inspire, beyond imagination. This essential part of our design philosophy is what drives us. In history and also today, there are other designers and architects who work from a humane perspective. Frank Lloyd Wright, but also Tadao Ando and Zumthor, Shigeru Ban for their subdued, but impactful work and their use of materials like concrete and wood. And your own Ricardo Bofill.  From the very first start of his career he was genuinely interested in the world around him, in how a society works and evolves as a living organism. It all has to do with wanting to make works of worth. This deeper thought and layer in people’s work adds depth and quality.

4 – If you had not been architect, you would have been…

A sportsman or fashion designer. I grew up in a sporty family with a dad and two brothers who were mad about football and the great outdoors. At a certain point in my life I played water polo in the premier league. Sport still plays a major role in my daily life. On a windy –or even better: stormy- day you can find my siblings and me on the North Sea beach preparing for some serious kite surfing.

5 – One defect and one virtue.

Virtue: I am passionate about what I do My work is what I love to do best
Defect: I am passionate about what I do Like for anyone leading a business, a balance between private life and work is hugely important. Creativity needs quiet moments to flow.

6 – What is your house like?

I designed it myself 2001. It is an absolutely great house on one of the most enviable, almost rural places bordering a natural reserve and yet only 10 minutes from the very heart of Amsterdam. It is everything I wish a house to be: a warm and welcoming family home, functional, relaxed and sophisticated. The garden was designed by my great friend Piet Oudolf and selected by the BBC as one of the 80 most beautiful private gardens in the world. This stunning secluded garden offers maximum privacy and views into the surrounding landscape. The children are now studying and living in the city. So, this gorgeous place is up for sale!

7 – Sunday is a day for…

Sunday is strictly for family and friends, biking, running or kite surfing, or: to watch a match of my favorite football club AJAX.

8 – A place to look for inspiration.

Just open your eyes and look around you. You can really find inspiration everywhere. In street life, the changing colors of the landscape through the seasons, magazines, galleries and engaging conversations with other people.

9 – What is the last book that you have read?

The Eyes of the Skin by Juhani Pallasmaa. An interesting essay on the human aspects of architecture, nowadays referred to as experience architecture. He lectured on this issue last year in The Netherlands with Peter Zumthor. Basically, what this means, is that architecture is meant for humans. This sounds as an open door. But the thought behind it is, that human beings are sensory beings and architecture, or for that matter all disciplines designing spaces, need to be aware of the needs of humans. Our senses need to be stimulated. The touch and texture of natural materials, perhaps their smell, visual stimuli….they all need to be carefully considered and incorporated in projects. Somewhere Pallasmaa talks about the door handle as the hand shake of a building. That is so true. We often overlook these simple things, but it is our first encounter with a building. What is the first impression we want our users to have? 

10 – 15 Years from now…

Fifteen years from now I will still be doing what I love to do most: design and create. Studio Piet Boon will be an even more established name in the creative industries.

11 – When you think of architecture you think of…

Being in the fortunate position to design spaces to enhance people’s wellbeing and every day life by creating warm and embracing homes and inspiring and vitalizing environments.

12 – Pencil or computer?

Pencil, that is….if it is a freshly sharpened, nicely smelling real cedar wooden one J. Your question links to an ongoing discussion about the impact of the computer on architecture.
There is no question that we will ever want to go back to the pre-computer era with the comfort of so many programs, which are more or less a universal language which allows us to communicate easily worldwide. But pencil drawings and scale models have their own unique quality to which we can easily relate. It is also always amazing how clients respond to a quick hand drawn sketch.

13 – How would you describe your work?

Exciting, rewarding and inspiring. It is a great privilege to do what my team and I are allowed to do. Each and every project is unique and offers new challenges, a possibility to develop new solutions and simply: make people happy with what we do.

14 – One project you would like to do.

We are very proud to have earned ourselves a reputation in the hospitality world. Last year our studio was commissioned to do the redesign of the interior of the iconic Park Hyatt Tokyo Hotel. And this week we were asked to redesign another five star hotel. This time in Amsterdam (name still confidential). Currently we are also involved in a high end development on the island of Antigua where our studio is appointed as head architect of the whole project, which will include luxury villas and a hotel. Thinking about a project we would like to do, I would say a total concept, exterior and interior, for a luxury hotel, is high on our list. 

15 – Your opinion of Spanish architecture.

You have this rich heritage and long and diverse tradition, which is visible throughout the country. Different influences, like from the Mores in the South: your amazing Alhambra, elegant palaces and the charm of the rural más. That is all so very interesting. In my early years as a builder I developed a passion for building techniques and materials and your cities and landscapes are really laced with a wealth of beauty and culture. I deeply admire how contemporary architecture is incorporated in city plans and combined with historical buildings. I am fascinated by Ricardo Bofill’s work and philosophy and the way he has structured his team, which includes not only architects and designers, but also musicians, sociologists, filmmakers and writers. It shows his interest in society as a whole.

16 – How do you keep your own style while meeting your clients’ needs?

That is not so very difficult. Meeting our client’s needs is our first priority, but most clients select us because they like our style and design philosophy. In our three decades long pastwe never ever had a problem with our clients about keeping our style.

17 – In architecture, what are you better at and what do you have more trouble with?

We are at our best when doing a total concept. Our history -owning both a building company, as well as an excellent craft based workshop for exclusive made to measure furniture- allows us to really excel in total concepts. These guarantee an absolute and perfect harmony of every aspect of a project. Interior and exterior, even the outdoor spaces are in balance up to minute details. The quality of our team and the selection of partners where ever in the world is our strength. Basically, there isn’t a project we could not handle or have trouble with. 

18 – Your recipe for success.

Stay close to yourself, don’t compromise.

19 – What is the role of natural products in your projects?

I have an absolute passion for natural materials. They are durable and more importantly: they age beautifully. We want our designs to last a long long time. Timelessness and durability are important considerations when selecting materials.

20 – Your flagship L’Antic Colonial product is…

There are so many beautiful products, I could not select just one! It depends on the project and the way it is used, which product works best.

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