We do business around the clock, but tend to forget our body has its own internal clock. Technology helps us get more done in a day, but no one is getting ahead. Today, more than ever we seek out experiences that make us feel human again. Does that sound familiar? It does to Arian Brekveld, a renowned but rather modest Dutch designer who believes design can help us improve our lives. We speak with him, just before he’s off on a 3-day trip, flying from one continent to another and then straight back.
Like no one else, Arian knows a long-haul flight doesn’t have to mess with your sanity. The famous Dutch designer Hella Jongerius commissioned him to co-design the business class seats for KLM airlines. As a trio, together with freelance designer Edith van Berkel, who specializes in textile and color, they turned KLM’s airborne office space into a place that makes you feel at home. Arian tells us all about the life-changing experience that comes with flying business class: “The luxury of a business class seat is so incredible that a 9-hour flight is just too short. You want to watch a movie, do some work, have a nap — it just can’t take long enough. And the best thing: you arrive more relaxed than when you set off. But that, of course, doesn’t happen all by itself.”
When we ask him what it takes to be able to rise above the clouds in ultimate comfort, he gives us a glimpse behind the design process: “Traditionally, all cabin seats of an aircraft have the same color. To create a sense of individuality, we highlighted the fact that passengers have their own space by giving each seat its own color. We created sophistication in the tiniest details: a small storage compartment with randomly placed dots adds a personal touch, while the blue skyline of the cocoon shell is designed to make you drift off in tranquility. Small elements, that give you the feeling you’re well taken care of.”
As you can see, Arian doesn’t do hands-off. In fact, he pursues a rare kind of perfectionism that makes you feel like everything is all right, just the way it is. The form, the interplay of lines and contrast: to Arian, a chair is never just chair. It might be an object, but in Arian’s world even an object has character. And exactly this human touch draws you out of your day-to-day hustle into a more relaxing experience. An experience that allows you to slow down and be reminded that our lives are not where we are going, but where we already are. Right now.
My daughters and I play field hockey. It’s a great way to spend time together as a family, while shaking off work worries at the same time.
With a little help from my friend the Powerfile, I manually create the shape of all my designs. Only when that’s done to my satisfaction, I scan it into my computer to optimize the form.
My backpack stands for freedom, being away from everything. This summer my family and I went hiking into the wild. It carried all our essentials: a great way to order life into manageable portions.
Put me in a big bath with loads of warm water and I’m happy. It helps me to relax and see things from a fresh perspective.
This is an unwanted essential that falls into the category: you better deal with it or else it will deal with you. Just kidding.
Arian’s three tips to purchase design that gives you that ‘everything is alright’ kind of feeling.
The beauty of a product is in its comprehensibility. Keep it simple. Do you get what you see? Great. Don't over-complicate things by thinking too much about its meaning.
If something is in your way, it surely doesn’t help you to relax. Having said that, you can also feel an overwhelming attraction to something that in a way you could say you need it.
Spend more, buy less, worry less.