Online | Interiors

Space, Light & Balance

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Inspired by the likes of Frank Lloyd Wright and Tadao Ando, this loft-like Amsterdam apartment blends industrial steel with warm wood

This Amsterdam apartment one of three in the same block that interior designer Ramses Caesar and Interior Studio van Maanen are currently working on – three brothers are occupying one each, having grown up next door, where their parents still live. At 80sqm, “this apartment was the smallest, but the client had the biggest ideas,” says Caesar. “We could have designed five apartments. It took a while to decide what we were going to do and what ideas we had to let go.”

The sublime final result reveals no hint of a jumble of ideas: in fact, its design was inspired by the work of Frank Lloyd Wright and the way the American architect crafted every element of a space, resulting in a streamlined and comprehensive aesthetic. The block in the early-20th-century building hadn’t been renovated in decades, but it had high ceilings – 3.3m high – and large windows, so it had the potential to feel incredibly light and spacious. The design concept was for a loft-like space – despite the fact that the apartment is on the first floor.

The redesigned layout retains sightlines from front to back, with views from the open-plan kitchen-diner through a living area and finally to the bedroom, which has a balcony. A bathroom is tucked away off the bedroom, concealed behind a wall of walnut wardrobes. “The facade in the bedroom is steel-framed glass; you can open it up completely. That was the most important thing to really give the apartment this loft-like feel,” says Caesar.

The materials palette mixes the traditional and the contemporary: the use of timber sums this up, with smoked oak parquet flooring in a classic Versailles pattern, but slatted walnut for the walls and the floor-to-ceiling built in storage. All the wood “creates a warm atmosphere next to the steel windows,” says Caesar.

The doorway leading from the living area to the hallway is also emblematic of this approach of a slightly softened version of industrial loft style. In metal framed glass, with the panes in various textures and opacities, and just a couple in a warm amber colour, the door was inspired by the glazing of Tadao Ando’s Shiba Ryotaro Memorial Museum Library in Osaka. “It really elevates the space, giving it a grand entrance,” says Caesar. Adjacent to the door, there’s a bespoke shelving system with a lift that can hide or reveal the television.

The bedroom also has some ingenious storage, with a bed whose deep, velvet-upholstered perimeter contains walnut-lined openings to either side, for a glass of water and a phone. “The client wanted to have a low bed to contrast with the high ceilings and glass facade,” says Caesar. Off the bedroom, the bathroom is one of the apartment’s most masterful spaces, with the rich walnut cladding paired with a monolithic stone basin and splashback, and an inviting bath tucked into a niche under a window.

As a bachelor pad for a twenty-something goes, this is a pretty sophisticated space. It will be fascinating to see how the other two turn out.