Our next designer In Conversation hardly needs an introduction – he was named one of our esteemed 10 international design visionaries earlier this year and has nurtured one of the most respected studios in the northern hemisphere. With a zero-tolerance policy for perfection, design powerhouse Thomas Geerlings is pushing all the right boundaries as founder and creative director of Framework Studio.
With ties in Amsterdam, Paris and Ibiza, Framework is an architecture and interior design studio that bases its practice on the criteria of ‘Alive Heritage’, ‘Sharp Knowledge’ and ‘Bespoke Innovation’. As a result, the studio does not adhere to a ‘signature style’ per se but instead are led by intuition and a desire to realise the unexpected. Following the release of Can Brut inside est magazine issue 44 ‘Modern Craft’, we sat down with Thomas to unearth his conviction and underlying passion for both his work and his team.
Some can pinpoint the exact moment they wanted to become a designer, while others see it as more of a natural evolution. What best describes your path to becoming creative director at Framework Studio?
Thomas Geerlings: I’d say I’m somewhere in the middle. For example, I can remember a time at my grandfather’s house when I was ten years old; I drew a picture of a house and showed it to my parents – and that’s where I feel like it started and never changed.
I began my studies at the Delft University of Technology a while later and went to pursue a master’s in real estate. My teachers told me architecture would not suit me. During my studies, however, I designed various houses and stores, which gave me an advantage after I left university to pursue architecture on my own. Starting my firm was a natural evolution from those formative years of learning and practising – and it has grown steadily ever since.
What made you choose Paris and Ibiza as the second and third bases of Framework Studio (Amsterdam being the first)?
Thomas Geerlings: We had great ex-colleagues leaving Amsterdam for their home countries and gave them the opportunity to start satellite studios with us. We believe in sharing knowledge, education and mentorship.
You say that you are not driven by a ‘signature style’ at Framework Studio, but what are some of your design hallmarks across your projects?
Thomas Geerlings: Of course, you want people to be able to recognise your projects, and there are common threads throughout each of ours – in the details and the bigger picture as well (our projects are principally about context). But we try to kill our darlings and be innovative every time we take on a project. No one likes seeing the same thing over and over again.
You approach each project based on three frameworks: ‘Alive Heritage’, ‘Sharp Knowledge’ and ‘Bespoke Innovation’. How does this reveal itself in your work?
Thomas Geerlings: Because we are innovative, eager and always looking for the next project, we possess a sharp knowledge of what’s going on in the field. We are constantly reflecting the heritage of the location, materials and objects that make up a project. Bespoke innovation is what we need to do to reflect the client’s needs.
Looking to your own home in Amsterdam, could you please describe something that’s interesting or unexpected – or deviates from your other projects?
Thomas Geerlings: A well-designed home is ultimately a tool to fulfil all your needs and desires. My home gives me and my family the opportunity to relax and encounter new things and people. Some may describe it as tidy and organised, but I would describe it as a playground for adults and children with art, objects, bikes and whatever else you can imagine surrounding you.
Thomas Geerlings: The insane tranquillity we managed to bring into the design. It’s such a relaxed atmosphere that flows throughout the whole house and gardens.
Craftsmanship is at the heart of what you do. So tell us, why is it so important to keep age-old craftsmanship alive?
Thomas Geerlings: It’s important for us to keep craftsmanship alive to bring emotion and quality to projects; to bring a personal touch and explore the intrinsic value of materials by treating and working on them.
Crafting and making are some of the most basic human skills; it’s why we have evolved to where we are today. We invented tools, we can work with tools, we can master tools. Craftsmanship is akin to making a great piece of art.
Thomas Geerlings: We are a studio based on the power of working together. We don’t have an ego or fixed vision. We see where we want to go as a moving target. We like to take on projects that satisfy and challenge the entire team, and we can only hope this continues over the next few years.