Stagnation equals decline. Based on this idea – that there is always room for improvement – Aartsen has ambitious plans. Hard work is being done on the plans for the new building that will house our headquarters in Breda, for expansion in Venlo, for a move in Hong Kong and for extra cold stores in the warehouse in Breda. Currently, preparations for the new building in Breda are in the final stages. To find out more, we spoke with interior architect Jan Geysen, owner of PUUR interieurarchitecten in Antwerp.
'I have always been interested in spaces and interiors'. This is Jan Geysen. From his Antwerp office, he talked about his firm PUUR and the new building for Aartsen. 'Interior is an appealing mixture of mood, history and functionality. This often results in exciting assignments. After I graduated, I worked for a number of different firms, including in Amsterdam. I started my own firm, PUUR interieurarchitecten, in 2003. Now, I have an entire team around me. We design interiors for homes, shops, offices, schools, universities, restaurants and other public spaces.'
'We always listen very carefully and we want to find out why people need us. In doing so, we are always critical in order to be able to arrive at the essence. For example, we always look for good circulation.
What we mean by this is that a space shouldn't feel too small or too large, and it should be arranged logically without the need for signposts. Light is also important; how will you deal with natural and artificial light? What identity does a space need? In addition, we pay a lot of attention to functionality, acoustics and the appropriate mood and look.'
These fundamentals also apply to the new head office for Aartsen, of course. Grosfeld van der Velde Architecten created the design for the new office in Breda, and Pascal Grosfeld subsequently suggested using PUUR for the interior.
PUUR did not receive a specific assignment from Aartsen. 'We were new to the project and had a fresh perspective. We engaged all of the stakeholders in conversation, in order to inspire everyone and provide new ideas. As a result, we arrived at the decision to clearly separate the formal part of the new building from the informal part.'
The office is formal; the focus here is on working. By contrast, the historic farmhouse will serve an informal function and therefore has a different look. 'The farmhouse will have room for a lounge, a lunch room and the AKF.
The office pavilion will be professional but inviting, uncluttered and feature wood elements in the interior. It is unmistakeably a work environment. In the farmhouse, however, we look back to the building's origin. A handsome floor will be added, the upper floor will be removed and we will install a fantastic kitchen.
We will restore the authentic character in a contemporary way. These are two buildings that will have their own identities, but that will also complement each other beautifully. Even the reception area will have added value. It's not just a place where visitors will be welcomed, but one where they can 'experience' the company as they enter.'
'Aartsen is constantly evolving and continuously working on its identity. In our view, this calls for an interior that enhances this identity. We see that Jack Aartsen values quality over quantity. To me, this is a defining characteristic of Aartsen, which creates possibilities. We are taking our time with this new building. That is beneficial to the quality, of course, and by investing more time and attention to the project, we are making sure that the building will last a long time.'
Collaboration is extremely important in this project. 'We are collaborating with Jack Aartsen, Frank van der Velden,
the Grosfeld van der Velde firm and contractors and the like. There is a building team in which everyone can share their experience, insights and expertise. The conversation that I mentioned earlier is so important.
We are convinced that conversation breeds the best ideas. Happily, the collaboration between the various parties couldn't be better. The only word that accurately describes the collaboration with Grosfeld van der Velde is 'co-creation'. We are convinced that we couldn't have come up with it on our own, just as they are. I would like to give my compliments to Aartsen for letting us work together.'