Designer Profile: Frank Tjepkema of Tjep.

Frank-Tjepkema-by-Thomas-Fasting-5-simple-BW (Custom)Name: Frank Tjepkema

Company: Tjep.

Position within company: CEO









. What direction do you feel design is moving towards in general terms?

As design and production tools become more and more intelligent through digitalisation, the reality of things will come closer and closer to whatever we imagine, making our manmade landscape more intuitive, emotional and organic. With regards to luxury I think designers need to strongly re-evaluate their approach to this category. The concept of luxury should go far beyond expensive materials and perfect craftsmanship in order to enhance status. Especially in yacht design one should wonder if luxury comes down to being isolated in an air conditioned box, or is luxury about your experience of traveling through nature and landscapes. What is your relation to the ocean around from your vessel? These questions don’t seem to be answered often.

. Name five key themes to consider when approaching design in 2015 and beyond.

Every project requires its particular approach. As a designer I’m not concerned with general themes but project, client, context specific themes. My approach to any theme is as follows: simple and recognisable yet treated in a way that has never been done before.

. And key trends that we should be aware of?

Tjep. commandment number seven: Thou shalt not conform to trends, thou wilt serve thy brothers and sisters by living thy own trend.


. What projects are you currently working on?

We are designing the visitor center for the European Central Bank for the new head office in Frankfurt designed by Koop Himmelblauw.

We are working on the Philips Lighting Application center in Eindhoven, a place where Philips will demonstrate the newest LED technology in a retail environment.

We will soon start to work on the Brussels Airport Common Lounge for the new wing.

A new restaurant design for Schiphol Airport conceived as art hub.

My more personal work includes a collection of limited edition handcrafted furniture called: Bronze Age to be unveiled and Designblok in Prague this October.

. If you could offer one piece of advice when it comes to design schemes, what would it be?

Start with the big idea and work down slowly towards details. The concept should be formulated in one sentence and understandable for a non-designer. If you have non designer grand-mother or grand-father that would be your reference.

. A designer’s work is so diverse – how do you manage to hold down a career and a life?

Diversity is what keeps the creativity flowing. You are often at your best when approaching a subject for the first time. If you stick to one subject project after project it becomes harder and harder to innovate. For me a day at work feels like life, in contrast a day at the beach feels like work. I’m exaggerating but you get my point. As I advance in my career it becomes easier and easier to let go of work to concentrate on quality time with my loved ones. The ambition is still the same but the sense of urgency to ‘get there’ is less dominant as you advance.

. How important are The International Yacht and Aviation Awards as recognition of talent and achievement?

It’s good to have a quality award specifically geared at Yacht and Aviation design. Recognition via awards is an important validation moment for both designers and their clients. My career was propelled when I won the Dutch Design Awards for the British Airways fist class lounge at Heathrow Airport.

. What are your aims and goals for the next twelve months?

Be clearer about my position as designer and make choices accordingly.


. Final thoughts; tell us a little more about yourself

The car you drive?

The region I live in Holland is very urbanised so my choice for a car was really a functional choice. The real luxury in Amsterdam is that one takes the bicycle to go to work: fun, healthy, ecological and extremely efficient. The contemporary car that I admire most: the Spyker Venator B6.

Your favourite place to travel to in the world?

I would say a place untouched by western consumerism such as Namibia.

Your favourite hotel/ restaurant/ bar?

Fogo Island Inn

The place that gives you the most energy?

Laugardalslaug, Reykjavik

And the place that enables you to totally relax?

My boat in Friesland, Friesland is a beautiful region of lakes in the north of the Netherlands.

Your favourite food and drink?

A Lobster at Abel’s Lobster Pound on Mount Desert Island in Maine.

Anything else interesting?

I collect figurines and display them all in one display in my house. They have absolutely no function, are usually not designed by designers and come from all over the world, it’s my personal melting pot of good and bad taste and I just love to look at it.