An iteration of Interactive Space for our new home in Amsterdam
How can we create a dialogue between people and the space they are in? How do we invite people to reconnect to their physical surroundings without losing our rich digital culture?
These are some of the questions that were playing on our minds when we began building a new homebase in the west of Amsterdam. They didn’t arrive out of nowhere: our work as a studio tries to bring people back to the real world – not by removing technology from life, but by embedding it in the realm of the senses to spark connections with our real-world surroundings.
In our own day-to-day at Random, we are busy creating things that inspire others and make them feel something new, so it’s no surprise that our own space needs to nurture us to meet those goals.
Our new studio at Gillis van Ledenberchstraat gave us a fresh start to experiment with: a blank slate to explore our vision of Interactive Space in our own home, paying special attention to sustainability in the design. The dream was of an immersive, multi-sensory space that interacts with us in real-time. While technology is the beating heart of this vision, it is in harmony with the rhythms and elements of the natural world.
Small choices, thought up by our old friends at X+L who designed the space, invite a deep focus on the work at hand, such as the walls, which are made from recycled newspaper that absorbs sound to limit disruption as much as possible. Everything was designed for the studio using a muted colour palette and wood, concrete and metal, each detail made to age well and evolve over time. Starting with the social space of the Canteen at the heart of the building, the designers built outwards, creating open spaces that accommodate different uses such as the Cinema which can be used for presentations or gatherings, and also closed off with curtains.
Creating the space from scratch meant that we could design a space that not only worked for us but also for the environment. Sustainability could be part of the very fabric of the building – from its inner workings to the sustainable construction materials we used via the studio’s outdoor spaces that connect us to the city. We chose to make the entire building gas-free, heating it instead using heat pumps that run on electricity provided by a sustainable supplier and are built cleanly into the spatial design. Our 300m2 roof garden brings a new little corner of nature to Amsterdam West. It also provides us with natural insulation and retains rainwater effectively, slowing down the drainage and alleviating the sewage system.
Against the calm backdrop of the spatial design, we have built an interconnected technical infrastructure – something we call a Tech Theatre – that allows us to control the light, temperature, spatial sound system, art works and any other elements we want to include. Rather than trying to isolate the ‘perfect’ conditions for workplace efficiency, we see this system as a living entity that can behave in its own way, responding to the needs of its inhabitants as well as the ever-changing climate outside. A ‘tuning in’ that naturally affects our mood and wellbeing, which in turn feeds our creativity.
Though it has a strong character of its own, our studio is flexible and ever-changing, built to come alive through different exhibitions and happenings. For our first event, we had a party to celebrate our new space, commissioning a series of temporary interactive installations – each introducing digital elements into the physical space of our new home.
Creative Concept, Spatial Design, Interior Design, Interactive Design, Creative Technology
X+L Amsterdam – Interior Design, Light Installation – Aernout Meijer Studio, Photos by Kasia Gatkowska