by Zohra KhanApr 16, 2021
“It’s an overwhelming amount of stuff put together, though beautifully balanced. You never have the sense that you are in the midst of chaos although it is total chaos,” says Studio Job founder, Job Smeets, of his 2018 project. Titled ‘Always Close’, to signify the close relationship between the artist and the client as well as the closing of a deal, the Luxembourg City office of asset management firm, Creutz & Partners, is nothing like any financial institution you have seen before.
While one expects a sombre, corporate atmosphere, this office is anything but subdued. In signature Studio Job style, it bursts with colour pattern and fantastical but significant pieces of art, over 100, and all original to the studio. “I couldn’t understand how people had to go to such ugly institutions to give them their money! These people are also collectors themselves,” explains Smeets. “I tried to erase the corporate cape and created the opposite of what you would expect if you were going to a formal financial institution," he adds.
An irreverent comment on the power of money
“People with money, the clients of Creutz& Partners, they are not stupid. They often know about art and are sometimes collectors themselves. So, I didn’t think about function and the corporate environment, I just thought about creative freedom,” explains Smeets. The idea was to reverse the whole design, turning the office into one big art installation of sorts. A visit here now becomes an event, with the clients often surprised by the unofficial approach. “By creating this overwhelming situation in a space where people go to talk about serious things like money, it loosens them up. They are amazed by what they see. If you can get any emotions by entering a bank building, that’s already an achievement,” he continues.
When trust goes both ways
With this project, Smeets wanted to showcase a client who can give complete trust to the artist. “Creutz & Partners is a perfect example of a client that is intelligent and secure enough to let go and assign projects without creative restrictions. This is something I want the clients of Creutz & Partners to see; these people are trusting the firm with their hard-earned money. It was a very thought-out process; it’s not that I just got in and did something crazy. I really thought about the psychology behind the design language. ‘How would it feel if you were going to spend a million euros, if you were to give it to a bank like Creutz & Partners to invest?’ Yves (Creutz) always tells me how great the brainstorm sessions that he has with his clients in that space are, because it loosens up the atmosphere,” he explains.
A wonderfully weird world
Located in the heart of the Old Town in Luxembourg City in Luxembourg, the space includes an office, conference room, shop, client meeting space and a basement kitchen space. While the building is not open to the public, the exterior façade really catches your eye; with everything from heraldic flags, huge bronze planters with fake trees, neon lights and hanging signs, a custom-made Creutz & Partners logo, a carrot door handle and a big, colourful tapestry on the floor. “Your client is your muse; this could only be because Marcel and Yves (Creutz) gave me a blank canvas with the freedom to do what I want. They basically gave me the keys,” mentions Smeets.
Prints, patterns and art galore
As you enter the ground floor, the space is designed to represent a shop. A bear patterned wallpaper has been paired with a bright green trim and a dizzying black-and-white flooring. To the left is the seating area featuring the Studio Job for Seletti Hamburger Chair, an original Studio Job Curved Steel Lamp and big bronze meteorite filled with golden coins. A big antique blow-up bear comes alive when you push a button.
On the right, the wall is covered with squirrel-shaped ceramic money banks, each holding a gold nut. Behind the seating area is a DJ console adorned with bight yellow and orange flames which hides a coat rack decorated with angel wings. Further are the bathrooms designed like jail cells.
The first floor houses the office space replete with a large desk with bronze goat table legs, a curved street lamp art piece, hamburger lounger paired with one polka dot and one cat print armchair. The conference room on the second floor is where meetings are held. The space was created in response to the idea that the conference room is where deals might be closed.
There is a huge cigar installation above the conference table that is placed on a money-patterned carpet, a cupboard with a large heart drawn on it, a dartboard patterned rug in the seating area with a printed sofa, colourful bulbs, a bronze torso, and pink curtains with symbols of currency.
Finally, the basement houses the kitchen with a cigar conservatory. Calling on the design of a traditional stone cellar, this area features church bells on the ceiling and lit-up skulls as seating. There is also a robot that acts as a cigar and drinks dispenser. The walls are covered with patterns of bears and bulls while the flooring is another dizzying pattern of black-and-white.
"Some of these pieces were designed especially for the space and some we had previously designed. In investment everything is about the bull and the bear market so that is obviously a very strong icon. We designed squirrel piggy banks as squirrels gather nuts so we created a story about money in the space through the art pieces," he concludes.