Graphic design studio thonik unveils its first work of architecture in Amsterdam
Graphic design practice thonik unveils its self-designed and built new studio on the Wibautstraat in Amsterdam marking its first foray into three-dimensional design. Designed by thonik’s co-founder Thomas Widdershoven in collaboration with MMX Architects, the building is a spatial manifesto of thonik’s design philosophy, characterised by social commitment and a playful take on modernism’s heritage. Founded in 1993 as a mostly analogue graphic design practice, thonik rapidly evolved towards digital, using moving images as a starting point for all forms of expression. Studio thonik is the practice’s latest creation and its first architecture venture.
“Designing and building your own workspace is still an experimental alternative in the current economic reality. For thonik it meant operating within a tangle of rules and constraints and having to soften up institutions and experts to get the right support. And it required a completely different attention span to a communications campaign. In fact, the process, from start to finish, took 12 long years. ” Thomas Widdershoven explains.
“ We couldn’t have done it without Arjan van Ruyven of MMX Architects, who proved to be an ideal sparring partner,” continues Widdershoven. “We put so much care and attention into the design,” says Nikki Gonnissen, thonik’s co-founder. “A building is not like a poster, it has a much longer lifespan.”
Celebrating thonik’s graphic roots, the lines on the facade refer to Mexcellent, a typeface designed for the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico. The combination of horizontals, verticals and diagonals attests to radical simplicity. The graphic cladding consists of 1 cm-thick panels of Trespa® Meteon® Lumen mounted directly on to the insulation material. “This sheeting consists of impregnated paper produced by a company in Weert in the southeast of the Netherlands – so it’s truly Dutch manufacturing,” says Widdershoven. “Trespa® is undervalued as a construction material yet it outperforms traditional brick. It is light, fully recyclable and has an undeniable graphic quality.”
The mixed-use development is home to thonik’s new office space arranged over two floors alongside a sake bar on the ground floor leading to a Japanese Omakase restaurant on the first floor. An event space dubbed ‘the thonik loft’ is located on the top floor and a rooftop terrace, open to the public, offers 360-degree views over Amsterdam’s inner city and the financial district, and seeks to be a hub for the local creative community.
The large windows make Studio thonik stand out from its neighbours, welcoming curious pedestrians inside, and an external staircase, balconies and corner windows project onto the street, connecting the interior and exterior. Studio thonik is a allelectric and zero emission building – its floor-to-ceiling windows are triple-glazed and layered with a special UV coating while the indoor temperature is regulated with an air source heat pump. The space also features additional solar and wind energy, high-quality insulation and smart ventilation.
“We see Studio thonik as an outsider in an otherwise utilitarian setting; the building positively energises and engages with the Wibautstraat’s overwhelmingly anonymous, post-war architecture and bearing witness to thonik’s belief that design should always contribute to a more beautiful and therefore a better world.” Widdershoven concludes.
Material Used :
1. Curtains: Vescom
2. Ceramic tiles: Mosa, Sphinx
3. Furniture: Richard Hutten, Hay
4. Lighting: SLV, AEG
5. Rugs: thonik
6. Textile acoustic wall: Vlisco