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Internal Production > 16.3 Self-Initiated Projects

Studio Thonik

by studio thonik

“The building is a fusion of two disciplines, architecture and graphic design,” says Thomas Widdershoven about the residential work building that he realized on the busy Wibautstraat in Amsterdam. The design is his in collaboration with architect Arjan van Ruyven. Widdershoven is not an architect but a graphic designer. In 1993 he started the design agency Thonik with his partner Nikki Gonnissen, also a graphic designer. The duo became known with house styles for Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen and the Dutch broadcasting company VPRO and a prize-winning political campaign for the Dutch SP (Socialist Party). The first building designed by Widdershoven is now located on the busy Wibautstraat in Amsterdam. It is a standing rectangular that is only broken by high corner windows. The striking feature is a black and white line pattern that runs vertically and horizontally across the facade and an external staircase that runs over the entire facade with diagonal lines, also in black and white. It gives the building a graphic, almost cartoonish look. Pragmatic design choice Behind the distinct aesthetic of black and white lines lies a pragmatic design choice. “I wanted large floor-to-ceiling glass windows on the corners of the building, so that you can see the entire Wibautstraat. This created a grid of its own accord. Then I placed an outside staircase on the facade to save space. This does not count towards the facade. To get a good rhythm of horizontal, vertical and diagonal, the outside stairs had to be angled at 45 degrees, which is actually too steep. But even then the stairs stood out too thinly at the hard grid with the dominant windows. The solution was found in a line across the entire staircase. The dimensions are based on the floor thickness between the windows, which was given exactly the accent the floor needed with three lines. We then designed the entire facade in these lines. ”
The high-contrast graphic pattern on its facade—an homage to the quasi-psychedelic trilinear typeface created for the 1968 Olympic Games—is just one of many references to its owners’ profession. The building’s cladding, a recyclable high-pressure laminate called Trespa, also bridges architectural and graphic design. “It is used in outdoor signage, so we were familiar with it as graphic designers,” says Gonnissen. Graphic motifs continue inside, most notably on the internal staircase (designed by Dutch collective Envisions), where a dynamic pattern of lines converge on sheets of laminated plywood.

  • Creative Directors
  • Art Directors
  • Designers Widdershoven (thonik) i.c.w. van Ruyven (MMX-architecten)
  • Illustrators
  • Photographers Ossip
  • Editors
  • Copywriters
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