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Sjoerd Vroonland: inspired by the waterways of Amsterdam

In the LINTELOO-collection, ‘Florian’ is steam bending plywood at its best. And recently, the relationship between designer Sjoerd Vroonland and LINTELOO was—literally and figuratively—tightened by ‘Clamp’.

There is a personal aspect to the connection between Sjoerd Vroonland and LINTELOO. ‘I grew up in the province of Zeeland, so when Jan [te Lintelo, ed.] spends time in his house there, I will drop by. When I had finished secondary school, I went to the Wood and Furniture College (HMC) in Rotterdam, as did Jan. But his emphasis was on interior advice, whereas I opted for the furniture making side. After graduating from HMC, I attended ArtEZ in Arnhem—a fantastic university of the arts, with a huge workshop, where I found space to evolve. When I truly started making stuff with my hands there, I thought: this is my language, this is how I can share my story with the world. So, I set out on my own. My girlfriend was living in Amsterdam and I got sick of travelling back and forth. I started looking, and in 2016 found a good studio space—workshop downstairs, drawing room upstairs—in Westpoort Amsterdam.

I love that raw edge around this pearl of a city. There is life, dynamism, change. Especially the constructive element of boats and cranes, the rusted part, sailing by. You will notice that in my work too: it is elegant, but you can see its construction. I am constantly aestheticizing the connections, the technical element, the artisanship. Having lived together for a while, next to the Vondelpark, we had a baby and then you find yourself in need of a different kind of house. We ended up buying a home in the Houthavens [lumber ports], 5 minutes from my studio. The way this neighbourhood is laid out, means you are surrounded by water. I am not consciously looking for water, but I do think that, having been born in the coastal province of Zeeland, there is this underlying feeling. I like having water around me. I have a boat and enjoy taking friends along, crisscrossing Amsterdam. Because that is the most primal way to experience this city. I can’t name any of the streets, but sailing through, in my boat, I know exactly where I am.’

The perfect moment to ask Sjoerd Vroonland for insider tips in, near and on the waterways of Amsterdam.

Sjoerd’s tips:

  • The Houthaven—sustainable residential area in the IJ, with car-free ‘peninsulas’. ‘The fact that lumber from all over the world would arrive here, is a great story for me in itself. And the newbuilds refer to the olden days, because none exceed four floors. It is truly built on the water, like a modern-day ring of canals.’
  • Swimming at BOAT&CO. ‘There is a huge jetty in front of the hotel. On a sunny day, there are loads of people stretching out on their towels, swimming in the IJ and lunching on the terrace behind the jetty. I actually prefer going in winter. Simply walking out of your front door in your bathrobe, at 7am. Lovely.’
  • The ship models of the Rijksmuseum. ‘A bit cliché maybe, but the Rijks remains a favourite. Especially early morning, when it’s not too busy and you ride your bike through the bike tunnel straight into the museum. You will find me at the ships models, a hall filled with floating boats. Phenomenal woodwork and so much history.’
  • Gallery Ron Mandos. ‘This is such a cool gallery, with, for example, beautiful works by Levi van Veluw. Go on a Saturday afternoon and have a drink there.’
  • Hotel Jakarta. ‘Almost entirely built with wood, both in its construction and finish. The indoor garden is spectacular. Timber construction is the future, as far as I’m concerned. The environmental impact of concrete is huge. And it feels so nice to be surrounded by wood: it breathes, it absorbs sound. Wood is much more alive. From the indoor pool you can look out over the IJ.’
  • REM-Eiland. ‘This platform was once situated off the coast of Noordwijk, initially home to an illegal TV station—TV Noordzee—and then a meteorological outpost. In 2011, it was moved to the Nieuwe Houthavens and today houses a restaurant, with great views from the terrace. Not a place you just stumble upon, if you don’t know where it is.’
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Sjoerd Vroonland

Na aan het Hout- en Meubileringscollege in Rotterdam studeerde Sjoerd Vroonland (1985) af aan de ArtEZ Academie, waar hij zich specialiseerde in productontwerp. Tegenwoordig heeft Vroonland zijn eigen label, dat hij runt vanuit zijn atelier in Amsterdam.

Zijn innovatieve producten zijn geïnspireerd door klassieke ontwerpen en worden gemaakt met materialen, technieken en vormen, die we allemaal herkennen. Van het archetypische zadel tot de ouderwetse wasknijper – Vroonland zet een spotlight op de kenmerken van hun aloude vormgeving en vindt nieuwe manieren om die toe te passen, in een spannende combinatie van contrasterende materialen.

In plaats van de ‘technische’ details te verbergen, kiest deze ontwerper ervoor om te focussen op de schoonheid van structuur en constructie: de eigenschappen van het materiaal worden gevierd worden en het maakproces is zichtbaar. Het resultaat is een pure en poëtische dialoog tussen ambacht, innovatie en onze hedendaagse manier van leven.

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