by Pallavi MehraJun 04, 2022
Beyond Space, an Amsterdam-based design studio, has conceptualised the interiors of an office-cum-showroom for high-end Dutch fabric brand Siersema Interieur. The space's design is inspired by Amsterdam's IJ river, alongside which it is located. It features a kilometre of ceiling-to-floor, semi-transparent, ocean-hued fabric, which is laser cut to hew out distinctive workspaces. The fabric that sculpts the identity of the office and retail space, is from Siersema's collection. The design firm draped the fabric in a rippling effect, which is evocative of the movement of water as an ode to Amsterdam's IJ river.
Beyond Space is involved in art, architecture and product development. The firm designs buildings, spaces and objects that push the boundaries of conventional design. Siersema Interieur is a specialist in luxury fabrics. In their new office, the brand's polyester fabric has a leading role in the creation and design of the space. The bare shell of the space features high ceilings and plenty of natural light. Keeping the client's brief in mind, Beyond Space wanted to create separate working spaces without adding walls and retaining the views of the river.
To underline the client’s expertise, the design firm filled the entire space with fabric and then cut out the necessary areas. Since the drapes also work well acoustically, it created pleasant work spaces. Six spaces were carved out of the multiple layers of fabric, including a series of light-filled workspaces and meeting rooms. “The client’s brief to have their company’s identity and core business reflected in 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. The design of this new space is a magical display of what the client does best,” says Esther Bentvelsen, one of the architects who worked on Siersema.
Beyond Space selected a neutral, water-like, blue-green colour for the fabric. Layers of fabric were hung vertically and draped in a rippling effect from the office’s ceiling. “As such, the fabric doesn’t distract from, but serves the anti-space hewn from it. Coupled with the drapes’ natural rippling, the colour also echoes the calm waves of the water right outside. The drapes feel intimate and separate, yet through the folds one never loses sight of the entire space and its outside environment. Viewed head on, the polyester fabric lets through light and adds various layers of transparency. Viewed from the side, the spaces between the fabric allows for people to view the river outside. The hue of the drapes is light enough to avoid grabbing all the attention, but adds a subtle hue to the space, which is reminiscent of water or ice,” remarks Bentvelsen.
The design firm created a spatial identity 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. The semi-sheer polyester drapes were laser cut to prevent fraying, and chord-weighted to guarantee just the right folds. “Although the idea arrived quickly, its execution posed many challenges. 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,” remark Beyond Space founders, Remi Versteeg and Stijn de Weerd.
At the centre of the Siersena office is a common area, which features a kitchen island, modern pendant lighting fixtures and potted plants. “The kitchen and storage are located in the middle since people spent less time there during the day. In the evening, things turn around, and the kitchen transforms into the cosiest place of the office,” add the founders. The separate spaces are connected by openings and archways and the fabric is short in the communal zones and longer in the private workstations.
“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, too cave-like, which, although an inspiration in the process, was not the effect we were going for. The spacing we settled on creates a space that is at once divided and fluid, intimate yet connected, cosy yet light. The part we enjoyed the most is when the concept actually became tangible. So making scale 1:1 mock-ups of the curtains and seeing how we could actually execute the sketch design and transform it into a workable space was very rewarding,” add the founders of Beyond Space. While the design firm was able to successfully use fabric to craft the interiors of the office, whether this concept can be applied to other spaces remains to be seen.
Moreover, this new office and retail store is a great example of environmentally sustainable design. In all its projects, Beyond Space tries to use materials where sustainability and circularity play an important role. Since the firm only used easily recyclable fabric to sculpt the spaces and did not use any other materials, they were able to build what was needed with minimal resources. In addition, the design studio constructed the back wall out of oak wood and the floor from linoleum, which is 97 per cent made of natural materials.
Location: Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Client: Siersema Interieur
Designer: Beyond Space
Program: Office and Showroom
Gross floor area: 150 m2
Status: Completed in 2021
Project team: Remi Versteeg, Stijn de Weerd, Esther Bentvelsen and Tsz Ho Chau
Contractor: Wever Bouw, Roord Binnenbouw