Can Faik speaks to Piet boon, principal – and the creative vision behind – Studio Piet Boon –
Studio Piet Boon is a globally operating design studio recognised for crafting the perfect balance between functionality, aesthetics and individuality into one-of-a-kind architecture, interior and product design experiences. Studio Piet Boon was founded in 1983 by Piet Boon and Karin Meyn in Oostzaan, The Netherlands.
What three words would you use to describe Studio Piet Boon?
Timeless, functional and bespoke. It really is the foundation for all we do.
With so many hospitality designers in the industry, how does Studio Piet Boon stand out from the rest?
To get the most objective insight, you’re probably better off asking our clients. But it is most likely a combination of factors. On the design side, we have a rich history in creating bespoke residential interiors, and what we hear a lot from our hospitality clients is their appreciation for our ability to apply that expertise to guest experiences. Creating timeless comfort that feels like home.
Another factor is our DNA, it drives us to always go the extra mile, to deeply understand the client, to create the most thoughtful and elegant solutions, rooted in a design identity that connects with our audience. It just so happens that the way we have been designing for over 30 years really connects with the times we live in.
Being based in Amsterdam, which hotels are you currently working on, and are you working in Europe or the Middle East?
We would love to do projects in the Middle East, but we’re not currently working on anything there. In Europe we are very proud of designing what will define the new 5-star standard in our hometown of Amsterdam.
In Asia, the recently opened Andaz Gangnam Seoul was a wonderful project for us and we have just started working on a new 5-star resort in Japan.
Last but not least, in the Caribbean, we are working on an incredible resort project for Rosewood Hotels at the famous Half Moon Bay site in Antigua.
What particular trends have you noticed in hotel interior design?
What we see becoming more prominent is the desire to create a new level of comfort and homeliness in luxury properties. Which is a delightful development for us because we have been crafting luxurious private residences for our clients for over 30 years.
What makes a good designer or architect?
Aside from being informed, inspirational and technically adept? It’s the sensitivity to truly understand a client and to feel where their comfort zone ends. Navigating the balance between respecting their wishes and providing the creativity and expertise our clients expect.
What does design mean to you?
To be honest, I am not a fan of design for the sake of aesthetics alone. It needs to be rooted in functionality and comfort for good design to be relevant. Naturally a space needs to be visually appealing, sometimes surprising or thoughtful, but the tangible qualities for the user are key.
Do you believe simple design has become luxurious?
I don’t know that it has become luxurious, I feel thoughtful simplicity has always been a hallmark of good design. Certainly, it has always been the foundation of the Studio Piet Boon identity. When combined with quality in materials and attention to detail, the result will feel very special.
Social media, and especially Instagram, is becoming an increasingly important marketing tool for hotels. What are your thoughts on this and do you take this into account when designing spaces?
We don’t design for Instagram, we design for our clients and end users. Fortunately our design identity lends itself extremely well to photography and we love working very closely with our clients to both create and distribute the content they need to market their properties.
How important are public spaces in hotels, and are there ways in which you’ve used innovative design in these areas to facilitate innovative usage?
The public spaces are crucial to create a first, and hopefully lasting, impression for guests and really allow a property to create a sense of place. We work very closely with our clients to ensure a space is fit for purpose, but we also like to challenge them sometimes to take a different perspective. Blame our crazy Dutch heritage, we like thinking outside the box.
Is there anything exciting that you’re working on which you can tell us about?
There are many interesting projects we’re working on, but we treat our client relations with the utmost discretion so we can’t really disclose much. But our current portfolio spans projects ranging from luxurious beach resorts to inner-city sanctuaries.
What interested you about your newest project, Half Moon Bay?
Our client’s ambition to create a new standard of bespoke luxury unparalleled in the Caribbean, combined with the opportunity to create a destination that seamlessly blends with the natural surroundings. ‘Barefoot chic’ for the world’s most discerning traveller is a vibe that we are very comfortable with.
How long have you been involved with hotel design?
Our studio started over 30 years ago with a focus on bespoke residential design. We have been creating hospitality experiences for the better part of 10 years now, of which we have really witnessed significant growth in the last five years.
What do you love about being a designer?
The process of creation. Not for the sake of it, but to bring a client’s ambitions to life in a way that creates true value to their project.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
We like to really delve into a client’s life or perspective, that is always our starting point. From there we expand our frame of reference to include local culture and tradition. Art is often an important feature in our projects, and we like giving upcoming artists a platform when working with us. The creative energy of working with artists is often a beautiful reciprocal process.
What do you want in a hotel room?
Comfort and functionality first and foremost. When those qualities are thoughtfully incorporated in a space that is beautifully designed, it doesn’t matter how large a space is or on what floor it is located. It’s all about how it makes you feel when you reside in it.
What would be your dream hotel project?
Truthfully, we are working on several of them right now – The Half Moon Bay Antigua project is very dear to us and the projects in Amsterdam and Japan are among the highlights for our studio to date.
What’s next for you and the studio?
Global domination! No, quite the contrary, to be honest. For our craft to be applied in the way we believe it should, a considered approach is the only approach and we set the bar very high for ourselves.
We have also just expanded our footprint in product design with our new bathroom showroom in Amsterdam, something that’s been a long-standing ambition of mine.
So I’m very much looking forward to what 2020 has in store, and hope to be part of the Hospitality Leadership & Design Conference next time.