It is not surprising that interior architect Pieter Verbraak (47), a member of a Tilburg artist's family, has the artistic blood flowing through his veins. He grew up in Galerie Pjotr by his father Peter Verbraak and has been active for almost ten years as an independent entrepreneur with Pjotr-design. Verbraak's interior concepts can be found in school buildings, dental practices and offices throughout the Netherlands. Recently, one of his designs has even been prominently featured at the world exhibition in the Chinese metropolis of Chengdu. Reason enough to dive into the entrepreneurial story of this Tilburg-based creator.
In 1990 he started his studies at the Academy of Visual Arts in Tilburg: "Actually, I thought it was just a bit of a glimmer. I liked applied art and went to the Design Academy in Eindhoven. Moreover, I liked to colour outside the lines even then. That's how I was allowed to make a light object. I designed a lamp that could change the colour of the light using filters. My teacher didn't like it: 'There's no one waiting for that, Pieter!' Thanks to the rise of LED, almost everyone now has a moodlight at home, it's a generally accepted thing. Not that I want to hear the credits. But it does show how I feel about design." After obtaining his bachelor's degree in interior design in Maastricht, Verbraak started working for Forum Architecten, a company based in Tilburg. Here he worked for almost fifteen years on interiors for music store chain Van Leest, among other things. At the height of the credit crisis, he decided to start his own business. The start of Pjotr-design.
MAKING THE CUSTOMER THINK
"My signature doesn't reveal itself at a glance. Step by step, users of my designed spaces will discover connections between elements. Certain lines and shapes that fit together or come back in different places. I also have my own approach to functionality. Whether I design a workplace or a schoolyard, I always challenge my clients to think first. About what they need and how they prefer to work, live or study. Only then do I start designing with the aim of maximising the functionality of every room."
A PIECE OF THE NETHERLANDS IN CHINA
Also in terms of entrepreneurship, maximizing has recently become a theme for Pieter Verbraak. In 2018 he was asked by the Tilburg transport company GVT Group of Logistics to design the Dutch Pavilion at the world exhibition in the Chinese city of Chengdu. A city with sixteen million inhabitants and a special relationship with Tilburg. Together with Chengdu International Railway Service, GVT is the operator of the Chengdu-Tilburg Express, the only direct train connection between the Netherlands and China. "A challenging dream job," says Verbraak. "If I suddenly thought about the place where Dutch products and entrepreneurs are presented to the Chinese market. It has become a pavilion with four areas, based on things that make the Netherlands great: Dutch design, our DJs, our traditions and the fact that we are a logistic world power. I also worked with a grid, inspired by our parcelled polder landscape. In the middle is a watchtower where you can see all areas." In addition to a great deal of visual stopping power, it has also become a functionally powerful design. Each area has its own purpose, from presentation area to relaxation area. The Dutch Pavilion opened at the end of 2018 and will exist for at least five years. Verbraak is especially proud of the effect that the pavilion has: "It is frequently used and has already been called the most beautiful pavilion of the expo by visitors. That's not what I do it for in the first place, but the 'wow-feeling' that people experience certainly does something for me."
TILBURG: A ROUGH DIAMOND THAT IS
For an interior architect with a love for functional design Tilburg is an inspiring location. "I am very proud of my Tilburg. The transition that the city has undergone in recent years is great. I always saw the potential of the city. The only thing is that you have to discover our city to experience what a beautiful place it is. Tilburg is a rough diamond. We Tilburgers have been too modest for a long time, but fortunately that is changing. We dare to express our pride more. As a creative entrepreneur, I see places like the Spoorzone and Piushaven as gifts. Functional locations where the industrial image has not been demolished, but has been redefined".
SEARCH FOR ORIGINALITY
Breakthrough's appetite for growth, change and experimentation is great. Something that is fuelled by his guest lectureship at the Design, Product, Space & Media course at Sint Lucas in Boxtel. "I think it's important to pass the profession on to a new generation. Moreover, it is wonderful to work on something different two days a week and to discover new techniques. The knife cuts both ways: I teach students the trade and they keep me up-to-date and fresh. That's how I originally stay in my work."
A VIRTUAL LOOK INTO THE FUTURE
The future is razor-sharp for the ambitious interior architect: "In ten years' time, I will be modelling and designing with VR glasses on my head and shifting the shapes and objects in my virtual field of vision with my hands. I still design around people. Users that I want to let enjoy a beautiful and functionally designed space. The human aspect keeps on changing, only the techniques change. What kind of assignments will I have in ten years' time? Large, visible projects. I think it would be great to have carte blanche, creative and financial, when designing the headquarters of an international company. Preferably together with an architectural architect so that we can perfectly match inside and outside. I think that would be fantastic."
THE GOLDEN TIP OF PIETER
"Start from the goodness of man and be mindful of one another. Then always give 140% and go for the best result. Then together we will make the world a little more beautiful every day."
Click below for an impression of Verbraaks work.