Wildenberg Interior Architecture: 20 years of architectural tours de force in which personal contact is key. Well worth a party – and a retrospective!
After graduating art school Stan van den Wildenberg wanted only one thing and one thing only, to work as an interior architect. “I took to my drawing table in my small attic room, ready for my first assignment. And it didn’t take long for it to arrive: the opportunity to design a villa in Leusden. This was the start of a great and exciting career in architecture. I see it as a privilege to improve the well-being of others with my designs.”
“I have always had a passion for beautiful things. After graduating from technical school for furniture works, 17-year-old me started work as a furniture maker. I quickly worked my way up to works manager and came into contact with a lot of interior architects. Frankly, I wanted to do what they did. So I enrolled in art school, where I learned the importance of a correct design of a space. What is it going to be used for? Who is going to use it? What kind of vibe does it need? Nowadays I enjoy explaining to my customers that the identity of an empty space has to be ‘madly architectural’. The impact a space has on the way we feel is just immense. Well-organised spaces make their inhabitants feel calmer and more comfortable. Areas that flow seamlessly into each other even contribute to better inner equilibrium. I am still grateful every single day to have the opportunity to help people design a space in which they can feel happier. As soon as the space is right and complete, it is time for styling. Furniture and accessories reinforce the space and its inherent energy.”
The importance of personal contact
“I am not much of a talker, but a much better listener for it. And this is something our customers value greatly, as multiple customer satisfaction surveys have demonstrated. I believe it is essential to fully and completely put oneself into the client’s shoes. When we tender for work, for example, we first want to really get to know the client. If it’s a business customer, I want to speak to a number of employees. I walk around the property to feel the vibes and ask what spaces are used for. I simply need to understand the identity. Only then can I create a 100% tailor-made design and prevent a ‘mishmash’ in which everyone can find something agreeable. We are very personal when it comes to dealing with our customers. I conduct the first visit myself and will then, based on this visit, map out the wider design vision together with a colleague. The next step is making sure that the entire team that will work on a project fully understands why the design is as it is. In our internal discussions we never talk about something being beautiful or ugly. Everything we design originates from our personal and in-depth contact, in which the function of a space always occupies centre stage. All in all this enables us to create the ultimate home, work or living environment for business and private customers alike.”
“The past 20 years have been beautiful, special and intense. My wife Linda and I have had to work hard, sometimes putting our passion before holidays. The crisis was quite tough for us as well. But I kept saying: ‘All we have to do is stay calm and keep our ground, and after the crisis we will find ourselves at the front of the line.’ And so we did. In addition to the many hours of hard work, the last 20 years were above all beautiful. I would repeat them in a heartbeat. I had complete freedom of design from day one, allowing us to embed our values into the company. The absolute highlight for me was designing the Entrepreneurs Square in front of the Chamber of Commerce. This organisation wanted to shed its dull and stuffy image. At first I informally joined a number of brainstorming sessions. Eventually I came up with a plan that was received with open arms. In 2014, Prime Minister Rutte and Mrs Jorritsma, then mayor of Almere, opened the first Entrepreneurs Square in Almere. That was a day I will never forget.”
“In the next couple of years our focus will be mainly on exclusivity, in addition to personal attention. We are not going to grow much more in terms of people. I deeply value our relatively small but highly professional and inspired team. This ensures we are all up to date on every design process. An interesting development for me is increasing well-being in the workplace. The New Way of Working hasn’t been new for a while now, and we have come to realise that people need each other live. Office gardens are not done in my opinion. What matters most is that people really feel at home in an office. I believe that combinations of work set-ups, variation in high and low and lounge areas are part of this. In a well-designed property, people are more creative and productive, and will be surprised to see what time it is at the end of the working day: ‘Hey, look at that, it’s time to go home again.’ Wildenberg will lead the pack when it comes to creating a sense of belonging in the workplace in years to come. Highly attractive spaces are an important and substantial success factor.”
Successes are there to celebrate!
“Without our loyal customers and clients we wouldn’t have been able to become the agency we are now. In May we celebrated our 20-year anniversary! We rented out a pub with a view of De Hof, the central square of Amersfoort, and the main stage of the Jazz Festival. We believe we should celebrate success, and we intend to do so in style. We are very grateful for the past few years and look forward to everything that awaits us in the future. Our dream is to rank among the top 5 of leading architectural firms. We are well on our way to doing so.”