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We are talking to the team from i29 – an award winning architecture and interior design office based in the Netherlands. Thanks i29 for sharing your insights on sustainability and for sharing some of your projects with us.

i29 works on a range of projects from residential, hospitality, retail, workplace and public buildings, and they believe that the diversity in their portfolio gives them the opportunity to approach their projects with fresh and creative eyes. Through their innovative designs, they strive to create a better future through their work.

We recently published a story their gorgeous and sustainable Floating Home project, which is part of a groundbreaking sustainable floating community called Schoonschip in Amsterdam. Read about it here if you missed the post.

In that post we learnt about the design challenges they faced when designing the home, and in this interview I’d like to learn about how they creatively approach their projects and sustainability.

Let’s talk about your design practice and what inspires you. How would you sum up the elements which fuel your creative fire?

Being able to work with so many great people, spaces and spatial challenges every day.

Floating home with black timber cladding
Floating home in sustainable floating village
Lounge room with water views in floating home

Can you give us a little insight into your creative process? How do you start the ideas flowing?

We love open communication and try to collect as much information as possible in a pleasant way until we have a clear picture of all the human, practical, technical and creative challenges involved. Together with our clients, partners and advisors, we draw up a program of requirements. We do not tell clients what they should do, but together we determine the best strategy. We then translate this into a clear spatial concept that clearly reflects the identity of a customer. The concept must show character and tell a story to the various users and/or target groups. We are a boutique design studio that works across all kind of projects. The great diversity in our portfolio gives the possibility to think “out of the box” and to work inclusive for all kinds of clients and users.

All our projects start with a good conversation. In this way we gain insight into the building, the people who reside in it and the needs and interests that play a role

i29 design studio with team talking around desk
i29 team meeting

What is your process for integrating sustainability into your process? Where do you start?

Making qualitative sustainable projects is, in our opinion, not always ‘the more the better’. With simple yet smart interventions a project can be of the highest standard and at the same time energy efficient, eco-friendly, and built with a small footprint. This starts from the very first day working on a new project.

What is one thing you think your industry could do better to move sustainability forward?

Build smart and keep it simple

Exterior of timber clad home
Black timber clad two story home
Man standing next to timber clad fireplace
Timber shelves in lounge room looking towards atrium and kitchen
Timber joinery and timber bunks

What was the biggest design challenge you’ve faced and how did you solve it?

Perhaps this was an interior project we recently finished for Felix Meritis. This unique building on Keizersgracht was built in 1788 for a society of scientists, artists, entrepreneurs and thinkers. It was a hotspot for creativity and cross-overs during intellectual movement “The Enlightenment”. The starting point was to show diversity and to give all rooms their own identity. Together they form a collection of colorful characters in the house of enlightenment. Working in such an important building with a long history was very challenging.

Felix Meritis yellow wall panelling
Felix Meritis lobby with blue walls and white ceiling
Felix Meritis courtyard with glass roof
Exposed timber ceiling trusses in Felix Meritis
Restaurant with blue seating in Felix Meritis

What is your favourite project designed by you or your practice?

One of our favorites is the Tiny Holiday Home, a small project with a lot of exposure. With a footprint of only 55 m2 this house still has a luxurious feel of space, and all around panoramas to the surrounding nature. On the outside the diversity in size and the interconnected positioning create a sculptural image, looking different from every angle. In order to intensify this sculptural quality.

Black timber tiny home with pond
Exterior of black timber clad home
Rear courtyard of black timber clad tiny home
Courtyard looking towards timber kitchen
Loungeroom and dining room with timber joinery
Close up of black and blond timber kitchen joinery

How do you predict that the covid pandemic will affect your industry? Has it affected your designs in any way?

What we learned is how people easily work together online, but still need physical spaces to get together and experience interaction on a higher level.

And one final question – who inspires you?

There is a long list of inspiring designers, architects worldwide, for example, we like Sanaa, OMA, Kaan, Formafantasma, Bouroullec Brothers, Konstantin Grcic and Nendo.

Thanks for chatting with us today! We really enjoyed learning about your creative process and we love your ‘keep it simple’ approach to sustainable design. Incorporating high standards with a small footprint sounds like the ideal goals to have when starting a new project!

Images courtesy of i29
Floating Home, Felix Meritis, Tiny Holiday Home by Ewout Huibers
Connecting with nature by i29

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