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How often do we meet someone who perfectly aligns with our ideals? This is the story of how Dutch designers Brecht Duijf and Lenneke Langenhuijsen from Amsterdam-based design studio Buro Belén met, saw resemblance reflected in one another and started their eponymous design business together.
The story goes that they were drawn to one another’s work at Salone del Mobile, Milan’s Design Week. When unpacking their products, it became clear that they shared a commitment to certain colours and materials – which was apparent in the similarity of their work. Of course, this prompted discussions between the pair which revealed several other markers that they had in common.
With time and several collaborations later, their Netherlands-based studio Buro Belén was born with Brecht Duijf and Lenneke Langenhuijsen at the helm. Known for their distinctive and artistic use of materials they both bring their own style to each project; Brecht incepts ideas to life, while Lenneke will root it in reality – together they allow cultural projects to flourish. Whether it’s a textile curtain made from bioplastics, a ‘soft’ wall covering made from shiny threads that link to become an artwork or hanging walls woven with yarn, Belen’s work is as curious as it is skilful, creative and crafted. It’s also very much rooted in culture – either taking influence from the past – as at the Dutch Pavilion in Dubai which featured indigenous vegetation - or future themes which tap into social trends such as their work with the sun – its patterns and its potential for harm or good.
Shedding light on their varied projects, Belen say that “We believe that everything is interconnected. We wish to offer openness, and study how the transient nature of this interconnectedness brings new insights and aesthetic materialisations that are accessible to everyone.” Concerned for the feel not only of their materials but how they sit within the context they were made for, and in turn how they make users feel, a very natural side product of their work is to be sustainable.
To this end, Buro Belén’s work is featured in museums around the world, including MoMa New York, Vitra Design Museum and Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. Several of the studio’s projects have also been featured in exhibitions curated by Ilse Crawford, Paola Antonelli, Jan Boelen and Joseph Grima, among others. Recently they were recognised as by Formafantasma as one of 25 creative leaders of the future in Wallpaper.
An intriguing new step for the duo is their entry point into the world of hospitality creating their first boutique hotel De Durgerdam and restaurant De Mark on the lakeside retreat of Durgerdam - 20 minutes east of downtown Amsterdam. Their tactile work is the perfect setting within hotel interiors – and paired with their penchant for designing and creating individual pieces of furniture and furnishings, such as their self-named ‘hairy chairs’, ‘fluffed’ rugs and wooden textile cushions, this is an innovative new world of design.
We’re interested to see where this unique, of-the-now duo will head next.