Nederland
Belgie Belgique
Nationale Opera & Ballet

Enjoying an opera or ballet performance at the National Opera & Ballet is an experience that starts in the foyer. Located in Amsterdam, it is one of the largest cultural institutions of the Netherlands. As of February 2019, visitors can meet one another, have something to eat or drink in the completely renovated foyer. It is the result of a special partnership: the Dutch institute hired a Dutch architect, a leading Dutch designer and opted for the Gispen brand.

A WARM WELCOME FOR BOTH REGULAR AND NEW VISITORS

The original design of the foyer, which was created by architect Cees Dam, dates back to 1986. The furniture and entourage had not been changed at all since then. Els van der Plas, managing director of the Dutch National Opera & Ballet: "In 2018, we started renovating the foyer as part of our ambition to make the theatre accessible to a new and more diverse audience, but also to serve our regular visitors even better. We want to radiate hospitality and really embrace our audience." Dam & Partners Architects produced the interior design for the foyer in collaboration with Richard Hutten, who also designed the new furniture, which was produced by Gispen - entirely bespoke.

Furniture in full harmony with the architecture

When redesigning the foyer, Dam & Partners Architects and Richard Hutten went back to the essence. Original elements have been retained, while several layers of additions were peeled back. From there, they created a new, contemporary atmosphere. Richard Hutten: "People consider an opera or ballet to be a special night out. The foyer had to contribute to this feeling of celebration. We tried to create a warm, inviting, friendly and at the same time chic appearance. With matching furniture that is in full harmony with the architecture. Soft and round shapes, in striking contrast with the steel and concrete of the building."    

After a tender procedure, Gispen was selected to further translate Richard Hutten’s designs into the new furniture. From lounge sofas to upholstered footstools, from dinner chairs and matching tables to low easy chairs with side tables.

 

Each sofa is different in shape, radius and length

Patrick Lems, Category manager Lounge & Acoustics at Gispen: "During the many meetings with Richard we finetuned the furniture designs together, from tip-over safety and durability requirements to the selection of good quality fire-retardant fabrics. The largest, and at the same time best challenge for us was to manufacture the furniture in such a way that it would perfectly fit the foyer. With all its round shapes, this meant that every sofa had to be different in terms of shape, radius and length. The longest lounge sofa spans no less than 20 metres long. In total, we produced 134 metres worth of lounge sofa. In order to make everything fit, we first made a 3D scan of the foyer. Our experienced engineers then drew the furniture construction. Soon after we produced a prototype for the purpose of testing the seating comfort and checking whether the design matched with the rest of the interior. The upholstery was a rather complex puzzle, but we finally succeeded. Partly thanks to proper project management, also by Gispen." Richard Hutten: "Regarding fabrics, I wanted to create a blend of reds and a variety of textures. To achieve this, Gispen collaborated with various fabric suppliers. The result is a well-balanced and multi-faceted series."      

 

What do you think of the result?

Els van der Plas: "An opera can last five hours, including breaks. Before and during breaks you want your visitors to be comfortable, especially in the foyer. I certainly believe we have succeeded in this together. The phenomenal view is now being enjoyed much more than before. Those who lower themselves onto one of the sofas can enjoy the view of the city and the Amstel river. In other words, the foyer is both inward and outward looking. Gispen has produced a very special furniture series that, when you ask me, can very well become a classic. Gispen is even considering including these new products into its own product range. With names linked to the Dutch National Opera & Ballet.  

 

 

Photos:

- Chris van Koeverden photography

- Michel Claus photography

 

 

Richard Hutten
Richard Hutten, designer and art director

A WORD FROM THE DESIGNER

"It was a great honour to be asked to design both the interior and the bespoke furniture for this project. The furniture came about in close collaboration with Gispen. As the designer you are the father, while the manufacturer is the mother and together you make a child, hypothetically speaking. The result is fantastic, if I do say so myself. Fortunately, this is also what we hear from our client and the visitors of the National Opera & Ballet. As a nod to a well-known Gispen design tradition, I reapplied the iconic tubular frame, but in reverse."

THE CRAFTSMANSHIP OF RICHARD HUTTEN AND GISPEN IS VERY RECOGNISABLE TO US AS A PRODUCTION COMPANY. WE ENHANCE EACH OTHER AS DUTCH BRANDS. ELS VAN DER PLAS
Els van der Plas Managing director, National Opera & Ballet
Els van der Plas
Els van der Plas - Managing director of the National Opera & Ballet

The client’s thoughts

"The right presentation, efficiency in terms of the number of seats, various seating options and of course comfortable furniture, with colour schemes that match the large auditorium. It all comes together in the furniture series that Richard Hutten and Gispen designed and produced for us. Their craftsmanship and expertise inspire people and are very recognisable to us as a production company. We enhance each other as Dutch brands – this is clearly apparent in the end final result and I am very proud of that."

SERVICES PROVIDED IN THIS PROJECT