An ode to 25 years of friendship between Jan te Lintelo and Winston Gerschtanowitz
LINTELOO has something to celebrate: the launch of the Winston sofa. It is the crowning glory of the 25-year friendship between Jan te Lintelo and Winston Gerschtanowitz. What unites these men? Their love of the good life and their passion for entrepreneurship. While preparing salmon à la Jan—“there is nothing more enjoyable than cooking for others”—they toast their lifelong friendship.
How did you meet?
Winston: “As a 20-something, I left home for my first small apartment in Amsterdam. It was awesome. And because it was mine, I wanted to furnish it well. A friend of mine knew Jan and I ended up in his showroom. We hit it off straight away. He made me lunch, and soon we were talking about anything and everything. And, of course, I tried out his sofa. In short, I immediately knew I wanted it. Why? Because from the moment I sat down, I simply had to relax.”
Jan: “I had just started out on my own. I grew up surrounded by sofas and chairs: my parents had a furniture shop in Haaksbergen. After studying woodworking and furniture design in Rotterdam, I went to work for the Dutch firm of Pastoe, and later Gelderland. In 1994, I designed my first sofa: the Easy Living. At the time, it was the largest sofa available in the Netherlands. And one with a high feelgood factor, because of its soft, generous cushions. The polar opposite of those Spartan things where you can only sit up straight.”
You kept in touch and became friends. What’s the connection?
Jan: “Winston and I share a lot of the same interests. Our conversations are about travel, cars—we are both aficionados—and how our families are doing. But we also talk about business. Those are true peer-to-peer conversations, despite the fact that Winston is some twenty years younger. We don’t even see each other that often. I travel a lot and Winston leads a busy life too. But that doesn’t really matter.”
Winston: “Our friendship is based on quality, not quantity. It is well rooted and therefore blossoms, but it does not need daily watering. We both find it important to enjoy life. We are aware that we should not take anything for granted, that we are in a special place, and that we are privileged.”
Describe one another. What do you admire in each other?
Jan: “Winston is upbeat, cheerful, happy. He is the prime example of what a human being should actually be like. I think this boy wakes up, every morning, in a great mood, bursting with energy. He took major steps, businesswise, but is still the same person he used to be. Always interested. Incredibly positive. Of course, he has had moments in his life when the chips were down. You can either hide in a corner or accept and change things. That is Winston. Every time we meet, he lifts me up.”
Winston: “Our friendship is so natural, that it is difficult to put into words. I talk to Jan about life, not just about business, but also how I am really doing. Even if it has been months since we last met, we simply pick up where we left off. Jan is sincere, in everything he does. And his spirit is young, living life to the full. He is always looking ahead, brimming with plans. Most of all, he is caring and knows how to cook an excellent meal, which he often does for me. Like today’s salmon.”
Jan: “I have been known to say: if I hadn’t ended up in furniture, I would have ended up behind a stove. There is nothing more enjoyable than cooking for others.”
Winston, laughing: “We will be standing in the kitchen and he will constantly be calling out: ‘Oh, this time I’m going to cook you something so delicious, oh, and it is ever so simple. See how good this is, see?!’”
Jan: “Cooking is very inspiring. If I am busy and my head is bursting, I will step behind the stove and forget everything. My cooking is fairly basic. I love good, pure produce, not 500 spices on a piece of meat or chicken, you know? I am fortunate to be friends with famous chefs such as Margot Janse, she ruled the kitchen of Le Quartier Français in Franschhoek (South Africa), and Sergio Herman, who was awarded his sixth Michelin star this year. It is so much fun to be in the kitchen with them. You learn something.”
Back to the sofas. Winston, after your first LINTELOO, you developed a taste for them?
Winston: “Since then, I have moved five times and I have never had a home without a LINTELOO. I chose another one, every time. That was mainly because of the type of home I would be living in—later on together with Renate and the kids. Each setting asked for a different set-up, whether it was a corner sofa, a two- or four-seater, or a single armchair. But they all shared the same relaxed, deep seating.”
Jan: “That level of comfort has always been very important to me. You have to be able to live on a sofa. In the old days, we sat up straight and decent, with our cup of coffee. Lounging was simply not done.”
Winston: “Fun detail: one of my first homes was decorated by Piet Boon, who had just started out for himself. At the time, Jan and Piet did not work together yet (since 2014, LINTELOO does Piet Boon’s production line, ed.) I often joke about having seen this connection between them before they did! By the way, I never simply got rid of my old sofas. There is one which I had for eight years, that has spent the past four years at a friend’s house. And it still looking good.”
Jan: “It is easy to get the removable covers cleaned. That is comfort, too.”
Winston: “When it comes to interior design, cosiness is important to me, the idea that you immediately feel at home. Julian and Benjamin playing on the sofa with Odi, our labradoodle. Renate, who in the evenings may occasionally open up her laptop there, for work. Taking a nap. You can do it all. Have I ever spent a night on the sofa? Not since I met Renate, haha. It did happen, sometimes, when I was younger: I would be watching tv, fell asleep and did not wake up till the next morning.”
Jan: “I always say: people with taste and a casual lifestyle sit on LINTELOO. They live nonchalantly but in an elegant way.”
And now there is the crowning glory of your friendship: the Winston sofa.
Jan: “The Winston is a redesign of the Easy Living, my first design. It has been translated to today, becoming even bigger. This is not a sofa which is shouting extreme new design. More of a basic sofa that suits both modern and traditional homes, depending on the coat you give him to wear. And it is exceptionally comfortable. So, I did not need much time coming up with a name. This sofa has a high cuddly factor, just like Winston.”
Winston: “I feel honoured and I love having a sofa named after mee, after 25 years of friendship. Really, really nice.”
Finally, you have know each other for a long time. Which memories do you cherish?
Jan: “What comes to mind is the holiday which Winston, Renate, and their children spent with us in our home in Cape Town, some years ago. That is when we really spent a lot of time together: we went for dinner, toured the region, met up with mutual friends… South Africa is so beautiful. The vineyards, the stunning coastline, you can go on safari and there is great food.”
Winston, laughing: “I always call Jan South Africa’s ambassador.”
Jan: “That is fine by me. Twenty years ago, we built a house here, where my partner Lars and I go to as often as we can. Our business life is hectic, we are almost always en route: to Italy, where we manufacture, or to the US. This place really feels like a resting point. This is where we enjoy the lovely views, where we stop, looking at a gorgeous sunset. That is true wealth.”