An object that is tailor-made projects and adapts to the personality of its owner. In items that we wear or drive or program, these connections are at their most explicit. But what does that mean for a home?
"Our philosophy is based on a balance between functionality, aesthetics and individuality," says Piet Boon, the founder of the eponymous Dutch design firm. Headquartered in Zaanstreek, just outside Amsterdam, the design studio has specialised in building sleek and unique modern private homes and hotels since 1983. Notable commissions at Piet Boon include private residences in South Korea, the Netherlands and the US; and the De Kas restaurant in Amsterdam. In 2015, the company's work in converting a former military hospital in Antwerp into The Jane restaurant won three Domus Restaurant & Bar Design Awards: Best Overall, Best International and Best European
Its work in the hospitality industry has been extensive. Piet Boon's signature philosophy can be seen from the design concepts of the Park Hyatt Hotel, in Hanoi, to Las Vegas's Alon Hotel and the Fontenay Hotel, in Hamburg. "We make life more enjoyable for our clients by giving them the effortless environment they never knew they dreamt of," says Boon. "We feel privileged to be able to design interiors for various high-end hospitality companies and hotel brands all over the world, from Antigua and Amsterdam, to Seoul and Hanoi."
Piet Boon has been careful not to let the principles involved in designing an individual private commission slip away from their work in hospitality. "In some ways, those projects are similar to designing a private home," explains Boon. "We delve into the values of the hotel brand and try to capture its identity in the design of the interior - in the same way a private home is the embodiment of its owner."
All of this starts by talking to the client. "We ask a lot of questions, listen carefully and try to read between the lines," says Boon. "This takes a lot of time and effort, but we've managed to develop special antennae over the years. Like I said, we want to create something that you never knew you were dreaming of, but can no longer do without. Therefore, we never just realise a need or wish, we go much further, and push our boundaries to create something even better."
Once the studio has a firm idea of what would suit the client, the hard work of draughting is passed onto the studio's team of specialists. As a multidisciplinary design studio, Piet Boon takes on every aspect of a commission, however small. "We are lucky to have so many talented professionals working here," explains the designer. "Between them, our seasoned international team cover areas such as architecture, interior design, styling and decorating. Together, we form a highly skilled and motivated team."
As a result, each one of the studio's designs is unique. "Understanding the client, and their wishes, requirements and lifestyle is central to the success of any project," says Boon. "Each design starts with an extensive client intake, taking all important aspects into consideration - such as family composition, the way they spend their time and their own personal tastes - for a truly personalised design. This allows us to seamlessly blend our characteristic signature with the personality of the client."
Functionality is the starting point for all of Piet Boon's designs. Nothing the studio produces can be good, explains the designer, if it doesn't serve its intended purpose. "I started out as a contractor a long time ago and, back then, I would have to realise designs," he says. Many of the blueprints he encountered were badly conceived from their inception, something that would frustrate Boon intensely. "Eventually, I realised that I just had to design things myself in order to combine functionality, aesthetics and individuality. That's how I came to found Studio Piet Boom in 1983."
As for the most important factor in a design project, Boon is adamant, "flexibility and being able to adapt" is especially important in hospitality, where the needs of the hotel operator and the guest have to be balanced carefully.
"This symbiosis fuels the ultimate design experience that exceeds expectations," explains Boon. "Guests should be able to embark on an effortless journey, an intuitive discovery, regardless of the duration of their stay and whatever the destination might be. Having said that, we always seek to create a seamless environment for guests - catering to their needs every step of the way - so they can navigate and move intuitively throughout the hotel environment."
Not that Boon leaves out surprises. "At the same time, we like to incorporate unexpected discoveries for guests to enjoy their visit," he says.
Piet Boon's expertise also extends to product design. "Each item in our collection was born out of a need we could not fulfil elsewhere," explains the architect. "So, we would design it ourselves. We now have an extensive Piet Boon furniture collection, our own kitchen line, tableware, lighting, wallpaper, tiles, bath ware, hardware and flooring. Each year, we present our new furniture pieces at the Salone del Mobile in Milan."
The studio's clients span Europe and Asia, and Boon sees little difference in the design style being supplied to customers in either continent. "This is because they already have a preference for our design signature," he explains. "Our signature can be found throughout all our product designs... these products complete the Studio Piet Boon experience of any project and, at the same time, when used individually, add a piece of our character to any interior design space. Because our product offering is quite extensive, we are able to provide clients with various solutions, from furniture to flooring and from hardware to lighting."
Indeed, the deft way in which the studio balances functionality and attentiveness to the wishes of the client, with its unique and compelling design sensibility, has transformed its fortunes. "Our studio has grown from a small practice into a globally operating design company," says Boon. "To this day, we believe good design means creating beautiful solutions, in mastering mindful combinations of function and aesthetic."