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Category: Dutch Designer

Nienke Sybrandy

Tuesday, 4 September 2012 by Irene Hoofs

Nienke Sybrandy dutch designer

{Photography: Marjon Hoogervorst ~ Words: Sandra Jacobs ~ Translation: Nanette Watson}

Face-to-face: a designer's profile with Nienke Sybrandy from Studio Nienke Sybrandy

Nienke lives with Sander in a new apartment in IJburg, Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

When you look out your window you see..

I see the playground from the school located around the corner, with children playing the entire day. We used to have an open view of the Rembrandt tower but now everything is completed filled with new construction. What’s good is that the trees are getting bigger all the time.  We don’t have a garden but we do have lots of windows. What’s also nice is that we are right at the lake (IJsselmeer) as soon as we walk out of our street.

What do you like to do most when you are at home?

I like to cook and eat together with Sander. We love Italian food: lots of pastas and risottos. I recently found a very nice book with lots of delicious recipes: La Cucina Verde (the most delicious Italian vegetable recipes). I also like to read a lot of books. The television is hardly ever on. It is actually silly that we have two television sets.

Ijburg dining table

ijburg flowers

Do you take your work home with you?

YES. I often keep working in my studio until late, so we also often eat at Italian times. Sander has usually prepared dinner by then. Sander is really my sidekick. When you work alone, it’s still good to be able to consult someone every now and then.

Do you use your designs in your own house?

Not really, except for the new cushions. I have one damask tablecloth, but that really only gets used at special occasions. Sander really wanted to have one of those. When you move into a home, there are often already holes in the wall. The house is passed on to the new occupants with a past of its own. By putting a golden plug in the wall you can mark the spot, reminding you of the previous occupants.


ijburg design

What would you take with from your house if you were only allowed to take one thing?

Coincidentally, this happened to me about two years ago. There was a car on fire at 6:00 in the morning in the parking garage underneath our house. We heard someone knocking on our door and sirens going off. Sander handled the situation very well but I was sort of paralyzed. At that time I did look around to see if there was anything I really couldn’t do without. I ended up taking a picture of my dad. I am very attached to that photo.

Was there ever a moment while growing up where you thought: yes, I’m going to be a designer?

This happened almost by change. I like to be ‘taken’ by a story and I think theatre is a great way to tell stories. I went to study theatre design and wanted to do more with costumes, but that wasn’t a subject taught at the school I was at, so I ended up going to the Rietveld Art Academy instead. During my graduation year, I encountered a way of working in the textiles department that I really liked a lot. I ended up graduating with a series of products: ‘Zonder Titel, met Verhaal’ (‘Without Title, with Story’). All of a sudden, I was a designer, but it only really came together for me once I started my Master’s degree in Free Arts. 

Nienke Sybrandy wallart

My work comes about from observations of daily life, small events in and around the home, the streetscape and everyday uses. My most favourite material, and muse, consists of objects that are so self-evident that they get overlooked. The work isn’t particularly colourful. Not so much consciously, but with a poster such as the ‘Bloemkopieën’ (‘Flower Copies’) it is part of the design. It simply has to be in black & white.

What would you like to change in your home?

I would never choose a red kitchen again. We chose this kitchen when the house wasn’t built yet. You buy a house based on a drawing and then you need to choose a kitchen at a very early stage.  Simply because it was possible to choose a colour we thought: red may be kind of fun. You do end up getting bored with it very quickly though.


dutch living room

Where do you want to live 10 years from now? What does your dream house look like?

I’d like to live in the neighbourhood of the ‘IJmeer’ lake. With a garden and a wood stove on the ground floor, and a shed to rummage in; the freedom of the outside but also the freedom of the city nearby. The nice thing about the city is that you can be part of it, that there is space for everyone. 

Who is your example/hero/favourite designer?

I admire many designers, artists and writers; I don’t consider one specific person as my example.

appartement in ijburg

Ijburg wonen

Name a negative trait of yours that is causing you the most problems

I am often in two minds about something, and that costs a lot of time. I really want it to be exactly right (I set high demands for myself). I am a bit clumsy at times; I tend to drop things... 

What inspires you? Do you perhaps have a favourite blog or website that you like to visit?

My inspiration is GOOGLE. You enter something and then you go from one to the next. You are ‘taken’ on a journey and that is what I like about Google: from an interesting blog to a review of holiday pictures. You can find the most amazing things this way. The Herbarium of Naturalis (the Museum of Natural History in Leiden) is also great. Other than that, photography is a source of inspiration for me. 



 Nienke Sybrandy her collection is available at BijzonderMooi ~ in Dutch ~ in English ~ in German

..Nienke Sybrandy 

..all images by Vorstin 

..translation by xPattyCake




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