Location: Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Gross floor area: 150 m2
Status: Completed in 2021
Beyond Space designed the office interior doubling as a showroom for the new waterfront location of a high-end interior designer specialising unique fabrics. Asked to reflect the company’s identity, we seized the opportunity to sculpt the interior from their own, lush materials. We filled the entire space with a rippling of ceiling-to-floor, semi-transparent, ocean-hued drapes — a kilometre in total! — lasercut to hew out distinct spaces serving both office and retail purposes. Through the folds, sight lines across the entire space are retained, never losing the connection with its inspiration, the water of Amsterdam’s IJ-river.
The new waterfront space for our client office and showroom dons directly onto Amsterdam’s main river IJ. The space benefitted from high ceilings and lots of light, but frankly, was otherwise quite boring. We wanted to create intimate and distinct working spaces without pulling up a single wall, retaining the strengths of the location and its connection to the water. The client’s brief to have their company’s identity and core business reflected on our spatial design quickly gave birth to the idea to sculpt the spaces from equidistant repeating drapes of a soft, semi-transparent fabric hanging from the ceiling, but cut at different lengths to allow for a meeting area, an office area, a seating area and a common area.
We chose a neutral, natural and water-like hue for the fabric. As such, it doesn’t distract from, but serves the anti-space hewn from it. Coupled with the drapes’ natural rippling, the colour also echos the calm waves of the water right outside. sculpting the distinct spaces surrounded by these layers of fabric has an acoustic benefit as well. They feel intimate and separate, yet through the folds one never loses sight of the entire space and its outside environment.
The drapes were lasercut to prevent fraying, and chord-weighted to guarantee just the right folds. A testimony to the client’s dedication to craftsmanship, the detailing is immaculate up to the double seams that connect strands of cloth. As such, our design is at once a magical display of what our client does best. We created a spatial identity, a design that translates the client’s core offering into their environment, so that it is at once an expression of their (brand)identity as well as a functional office space and showroom.
Although the idea arrived quickly, its execution posed many a challenge. What we had in mind was for someone to experience the intimacy of a bubble, but still retain the experience of the whole space, respecting sight lines through and through. We played around with different shapes and transitions, domes, bubbles, corridors, cubicles… The biggest challenge we stared down was to get the distance between the drapes just right, something we tackled by making well over fifty 3D-renders.
Even then, when the time came to do the actual hanging, we needed to make tweaks to the lengths of the drapes. For instance, we realised in practice that it was crucial to the design that the drapes didn’t touch the ground. When they did, the space felt oppressive, to cave-like, which, although an inspiration in the process, was not the effect were going for. The spacing we settled on creates a space that is at once divided and fluid, intimate yet connected, cosy yet light.
Project team: Remi Versteeg, Stijn de Weerd, Esther Bentvelsen, Tsz Ho Chau
Contractor: Wever Bouw, Roord Binnenbouw
Plants: Het Groenlab, Amsterdam
Photography: Peter Tijhuis