Art is an integral part of his life. His studio and design presentation in Het Arsenaal – a former armoury in the old Dutch fortified town of Naarden – form an ever-changing and amazing combination of art and design. His maxim would seem to be: no life without art – something he has turned into an art form. Early on, Jan des Bouvrie had already put the Netherlands on the map as a design nation and his creations for the interior formed a lasting breakthrough in the general approach to Dutch interior design.

Throughout his career he has integrated art in design and interiors. He grew up with it and it has always been an enriching element in his life. At Amsterdam’s Rietveld Academy he encountered leading avant-garde artists and started collecting their work. “I purchased from them direct and hung the work in my first interior design store, combining it with my furniture. I soon discovered that avant-garde didn’t sell. I hung on to those works and now they form the nucleus of my collection.”

The designer: “People who have art in their homes, experience every day the joys of being surrounded by their art, their own taste. Art-collecting is fascinating, as well as being a good investment.” An arresting exhibition of his design work and his art collection was recently held in the Singer Museum in Laren, the Netherlands. It was the first time the museum combined his design and art. “I worked on the show for a year and it was a great success”, des Bouvrie told us.

He has been active in the design world for many years. And he’s stayed youthful and fit, up-to-date and always on the look-out for new things and cutting-edge art. He showed us several books that he currently finds fascinating: Jimmy Nelson’s Before they pass away – a work of photography art about peoples that are on the brink of extinction.

The ruins of Detroit by the photographers Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre is another book on the top of his pile. It is an impressive photographic narrative of what was once a glorious ‘Motor City’. On the wall behind his desk in the studio there are life-size photos from the book.
Des Bouvrie’s work encompasses furniture design, interior design and architecture and in all three disciplines art resonates as a source of inspiration. He advises parents to take their children to museums and galleries from a young age. “A whole world opens up for them. Parents discover that children display an original, frequently unexpected interest in what they see. They discover entirely new things that have a very positive influence later in life”, as Jan des Bouvrie put it. The photos give an impression of the exhibition at the Singer Museum showcasing Jan’s design and his art collection.