Creating, unconventional challenges with materials, love for ideas, his care for every detail and the environment around him; can be seen in his iconic creations. He never stops pushing the boundaries and set criteria of contemporary design. As a true visionary, this art of innovation puts him at the service of a design, in which he emphasizes the essential and extracts the structural minimum of an object.
Boudewijn was born in 1977 and grew up in the village of Leusden. His father was a financial clerk who had everything in order far beyond the decimal point. You also saw that in the education of his kids. There were clear principles that were lived by. As a child, Boudewijn was involved in everything. Here the seed was planted for his great general knowledge. The technique was clearly taught by his grandfather. He was the chief technical maintenance man at the Koninklijke Luchtvaart Maatschappij (KLM) and worked daily on various aircraft of the KLM fleet. As a small child, Boudewijn went along regularly and was crushed by the technology and dynamics of the world of aviation.
The combination of structure and the interest in technology resulted in the young Boudewijn creating all kinds of structures. Whether it was made of cardboard, wood or technical Lego. The most diverse technical solutions were devised. That creativity was inexhaustible was also reflected in the constant remodeling of his room, programming computer games on the Commodore 64 and playing songs on the piano.
In 1988, at the age of 10, Boudewijn became an adult in one fell swoop. In February of that year, his father died at the age of 39. Everything important to a child at that age disappeared. He could no longer worry about marbles and other things that a ten-year-old child should worry about.
In the years that followed, the realization came that life is relative and it could just be that it will be over the next day. Boudewijn started living with that fact. A balance was found between enjoying and building. On the one hand he enjoyed life as if it were his last day, on the other hand he built his future with iron discipline.
After the death of his father, he had just left primary school. Because he worked a lot with his hands, it was thought a good idea to send him to the LTS (lower practil school), where he could master the carpentry technique. This school did not appear to be a protected environment and crime was rampant here. During this period he focused more and more on his sport of swimming, which would eventually grow into a top sports career with 2.5 hours of training every day. He trains together with the top players, with the best trainers that our country knows at that time. Here he is taught that you can only achieve your goal by working hard (and training). The trainer has no concession and no mercy. This shapes Boudewijn enormously, making him want to prove himself at the LTS. And this does not go unnoticed. One of the teachers sees potential and helps Boudewijn with extra lessons, so that he can go to the MTS (Middle Technical School).
In his MTS (Building – Construction) period, Boudewijn grows in his technical knowledge and solution-oriented ability. After having completed several internships, from the construction site to an architectural firm (INBO architects), Boudewijn returns to school. With the knowledge gained, Boudewijn takes over the CAD classes from the teacher, to teach his fellow students AutoCAD. During his internships, he obtains his diploma HAVO mathematics B in the evenings, which allows him to continue on to HBO (University – Bachalor).
At HBO, he opts to combine two studies: HEAO Marketing and Communication and HTS Construction engineer. His experience in construction is already extensive, but he wants to continue to develop and on the other hand discover more about the commercial world. In 2001 he graduated as a Commercial Construction Engineer.
DESIGN BEING TAKEN IN WITH MOTHER’S MILK
You are a product of your nurture (and your environment). As a child, Boudewijn is not aware of it, but when he looks back, he knows where his design language once originated. “As a child we ate our breakfast on a chair by Verner Panton, above the table we had the lamp Kandido lucitalia by Porsche design, on the cupboard was the Titio by Artimide and in the living room the chairs by Pierre Paulin. The house in which I grew up was a design by architect Henk Klunder; one of the minimalist Eurohouses in Leusden. ”
DESIGN AND ARCHITECTURE
During his 12-year time at school, he learned a lot about design and architecture from practical to theoretical level.
At school, the creative assignments were the moments Boudewijn looked forward to. Whether it was making a drawing of a future car at the LTS or whether he had to come up with a creative strategic solution for a case at HBO Marketing and Communications… Boudewijn had his say. A number of these school assignments at the time already gave a glimpse into what he would become later. While others made an ordinary, classic chair during the practical Timmertechniek lessons, Boudewijn – just 14 years old – set to work on the redevelopment of the Red-and-Blue chair by Rietveld and wrote critical reports about the first sustainable new housing development in the Netherlands entitled: Sustainable?
During his various internships and part-time jobs, he became interested in the design of spaces. During his time at an Amersfoort hospital, he learned that space and people have an enormous impact on each other. By merging three locations into two locations, there was an enormous challenge to find solutions with creativity that should result in the user and patient benefiting from it.
DESIGN & MANAGEMENT
(FG Style, Soap Ateliers, project Alfamar)
It was only during his HBO study that Boudewijn learned to bridge the gap between creativity in design and management. When, during his studies, he was asked by design agency SOAP-ateliers to let go of his vision on the process of a large renovation project in the Portuguese Algarve, it became clear to him that he needed to further develop this mindset. This became the subject of his graduation: “How can you manage very large projects as a small company?”. In addition to a lot of knowledge on this subject, the graduation report also earned him a 9.
REAL ESTATE / PROJECT DEVELOPMENT
After his last studies, Boudewijn started his career at IMCA real estate in 2001. This small real estate company fitted in perfectly with the steps Boudewijn had taken in his study. Here you were required to be able to work hard, make quick decisions, be creative and not be afraid to take responsibility for the multi-million Euro projects you worked on every day.
The projects demanded quite a bit of the young developer’s creativity. From an old copper factory in the center of Haarlem to the redevelopment of a business park in Maastricht. But also the development of a football stadium and the redevelopment of an old brick factory on the Nederrijn. The projects came in very quickly and work was done day and night to achieve the best results. The company had good working conditions. There was only one special exception: you were expected to take care of your pension yourself. For example, there were colleagues who put it in a fund, but others had a company next to which they invested in with the aim of ultimately achieving such a return that it could realize their retirement dreams. For example, one colleague had a restaurant in Rotterdam and another a shipyard in Sweden.
Because Boudewijn also made the choice not to put his money in a pension fund, but in a company, he started looking for opportunities. He had learned that trade could be good money and that it was scalable. The choice for trade was therefore quickly made. It was not difficult to predict from the history of Boudewijn that the future product had to have something to do with beautiful design. However, what kind of product did it have to be?
For this, Boudewijn consulted his colleagues. Perhaps one of the other developers needed a product for his project that Boudewijn could design, have produced and delivered? It could be anything. Door handles, window sills or doormats. Everything passed. However, there was nothing that made Boudewijn’s heart beat faster. Then came the opportunity to think of a washbasin for the new Reed Elsevier head office to be built. The famous Millennium Tower on Sloterdijk. And that was the spark that prompted Boudewijn to develop a product for this. He got the wishes and requirements of the product and the budget for which it had to be made. He came home with enormous enthusiasm and showed the first lines of his design to his girlfriend. She was skeptical, but he saw a bright future and the tremendous opportunity presented to him that needed to be seized. At all costs, he worked day and night to design the product. His money box was smashed and used to have a prototype made. Finally his design was there and he could hold what he had come up with in his arms.
START MARIKE BRAND
Opportunities in design
When the prototypes of the first design (red. Later this became the Well collection) were just finished, Boudewijn received many compliments about the distinctive design. When the large project, for which the wash basin was initially intended, was canceled, the disappointment was great. However, there was a nice product. Boudewijn had to make a strategic choice. There were four strategic choices for him to choose from:
1. Consider the design as a loss,
2. Market the design when it was a bit older and wiser,
3. Sell the design to a major plumbing brand or
4. Market the product itself, with a brand name that is still to be invented.
With Boudewijn’s background and today’s knowledge, the choice is clear. Arrangements were soon made with bathroom specialist stores through the yellow pages. Baldwin took a few days off and he went out with the prototype in his trunk. Of the twenty shops visited, six shops eventually dared to make the investment and hung the washbasin in their showroom.
Because there was no brand name yet, a beautiful and original brand name had to be found for the brand to be established. During an evening on a terrace in the center of The Hague, Boudewijn came up with the idea to name the brand after his girlfriend at the time. How good would this be? A typical Dutch name. From a young woman. That would sell marketing-wise perfectly. And it did! After the first press releases, curiosity was aroused and the brand stuck with the Dutch media, specialist retailers and consumers.
After Boudewijn had changed jobs and worked at Dekker Hout real estate for another year, the growth of the new Marike® brand began, continued fast. Every hour, every holiday and every dime went to the new brand. It came all together, when Boudewijn, just returned from an exhibition in London, drove from the airport directly to the the Amsterdam Exhibition Centre RAI were that evening the V.I.P. opening was planned of the Woonbeurs 2005. When arrived at the exhibition booth he saw his booth was far from was ready for the VIP opening on the same night.
Even though the paint was not yet dry in some places … A few hours later Boudewijn was tightly dressed, ready to receive the first VIP guests, at the Marike® stand. If only the invitees would not lean against the wall…
The evening was so successful that Boudewijn picked up his phone the next day, called Coen Dekker and quit his job. At that moment Boudewijn was in the middle of his own company and the real big adventure began.
Because Boudewijn had already said ‘yes’ in 2003 to the question of a Belgian bathroom studio whether the Marike® brand was also exporting and the first export had already taken place, he smelled the internationalization of the brand. Exports were not haphazard, but a strategic plan was drawn up to enter and conquer solid and step-by-step markets. However, the reality turned out to be different. After winning an international design prize, attention came from all over the world and, against Boudewijn’s wishes, people often had to say no. Large and prestigious projects were accepted. So it happened that on Sunday morning, via a conference call at the coffee table, Boudewijn negotiated with a firm from Dubai to supply all the sinks for the penthouses of the Shoreline apartments on the world famous Palm Jumeirah in Dubai.
All major projects involved switching between customer, user, factory, transporter, bank and contractor. And this is precisely where Boudewijn excels. He knows how to recognize and acknowledge the qualities of everyone. Thanks to his creativity, he knows how to satisfy every party. This is greatly appreciated by each party, not only because of the result achieved, but even more because of the process towards it.
Due to the internationalization process, the brand grew very quickly in a short time. Sometimes Baudouin woke up in a hotel in the morning and had to look outside to find out in which city he had fallen asleep again. It was therefore not difficult to predict that this rollercoaster drew its interaction over his private life. After his relationship had been faltering for 2 years, in 2008 the choice was made to end it. Although the outside world thought it was a dream to go to all the parties around the world together, the reality is different than people suspected.
This step had a huge impact on Boudewijn. His “partner in crime” was now suddenly gone and started a smear campaign against him. This affected him enormously, both professionally and privately. In a very short time, Boudewijn went from being a flamboyant designer and entrepreneur to nothing. Everything he had built for years was systematically taken away from him. This even went so far that he was promised to “destroy him completely” in his private life as well. It became clear that this did not bother him when Boudewijn suddenly developed facial paralysis and half of his body stopped working.
After many court cases, justice prevailed. In 2009, Boudewijn was assigned the brand name and he was finally able to take steps to revive the brand. An investor was attracted and so Boudewijn could continue to build step by step.
Despite the financial crisis, which started around the same time, Boudewijn continued to expand the collection and the brand. The brand had suffered a significant dent due to all circumstances. And the financial crisis had caused a wave of bankruptcies in the (international) customer base. It was a concern to steer the beautiful, but battered ship through the storm. Although it was not easy, Boudewijn succeeded. During these turbulent times, he managed to successfully complete a few very nice and prestigious (international) projects with his team around him.
The Maritime Museum in Amsterdam, the Townhall Hotel in London, the Grand Kameha Zurich, the universities of Wageningen, Delft and Maastricht and the Ice Hotel in Lapland are just a few examples of the beautiful projects that were realized during this time. These were tough times, because the team had now shrunk to half of what there used to be. However, everyone had the energy more than ever to make the brand Marike® a success.
In private, things went well for him again. He met his current wife who became, as they say: The strong woman behind the entrepreneur. She – also an entrepreneur – understood Boudewijn’s vision and struggle, and supported him day and night. Together they moved into a small house in the center of The Hague. Their first daughter (Floreline) was born there. For Boudewijn, this meant that life should not only consist of travel and work, but that his (then) girlfriend and daughter came first. If there was an international appointment, he always made sure that he went up and down in one day, so that he could be with his young family again in the evening. Although he had to get up very early for that and sometimes change trains four times.
Over the years, customer demand has changed enormously. It has long ceased to be a nice product. Everything around the product had to be excellent. Service and experience became the new magic words. The fact that this is in his DNA was particularly evident in the implementation of international projects. As a Dutchman, he has a commercial spirit that has been in it from birth. This certainly did not harm the brand. The battle to deliver large projects was won against the large listed companies on several occasions.
It is unknown to anyone that Boudewijn’s designs are outspoken and distinctive. If an international jury also recognizes this with various design prizes, then this is the icing on the cake. Boudewijn sometimes says that he does not design to win prizes, but to make users happy with his products every day. In the meantime, he thinks it’s really cool when he gets another prize for one of his designs.
In the growth of the brand, there are regular moments when Boudewijn is asked to participate in all kinds of companies and brands. This was also the case in 2015, where he was asked to participate with a partner in a company that would focus on fun, simple and playful products for the interior. It should complement brands such as Moooi, Muuto and Hay. A very nice challenge that Boudewijn tackled with both hands. However, after 1.5 years, the relationship between the two partners got worse and worse, after which Boudewijn decided in the summer of 2017 to sell his shares in this young brand. The partner continued the brand, when it unfortunately stopped 1 year later.
Inspiration comes from moving and moving in areas that inspire.
According to Boudewijn, inspiration is everywhere; you just have to dare to open up to it.
Go to a fashion show with Boudewijn, take him to an art exhibition, to a concert or ask him a complicated question; he comes back with a pile of new ideas. He draws inspiration from the smallest details. He links forms, systems, colours, techniques, views and intentions and thus comes up with solutions that you would not expect. He learns from the creativity of others. Thanks to his photographic memory, Boudewijn can go back to something he saw or heard years before and translate this into a solution he is now working on. He dares to criticize existing solutions, models and ways of thinking in order to achieve a better result. And that is when the most beautiful creations are created.
In addition to the brand, Boudewijn volunteers for various supervisory positions, boards, committees and advisory boards. The knowledge that Boudewijn has acquired since the foundation of his first company is enormous. All the pitfalls he fell into and climbed out of made him who he is today. Of course you can leave all these experiences behind you, but Boudewijn chose to use his knowledge and skills to help others. Over the years he has been chairman and/or director of various boards. For example, he led the SOB (ed. Abbreviation of Cooperation, Education and Business) where he built bridges between schools and companies in The Hague. Has he been a board member and chairman of Young Management. Has he been on the selection committee of the Baby Tycoon Award, an entrepreneurial prize for young entrepreneurs. Was he at the cradle of the Big Improvement Day and was he one of the coaches of Breaking Out, an initiative of top entrepreneurs. He has also given many lectures over the years on a wide variety of topics. Sometimes it was about internationalization and doing business in Dubai, other times it was about marketing a high-end design brand.
At the moment he has made the choice not to fill too many secondary positions. The only position he still holds is a board member of the employers’ association and lobby club VNO NCW. There, after previously holding various other board positions for the region of The Hague, he is currently portfolio holder for Internationalization. Even there he is the silent force behind many developments that make the entrepreneurial landscape a little better.
Ultimate peace in a new nest for the family
In addition to all the developments, his private situation is also getting better. A day before his second daughter (Aimélinne) is born, he buys an old supermarket in Wassenaar with two apartments above it. The building belongs to the well-known Hague architect Co Brandes, who had it built in 1927 and himself moved into the adjacent building. The owner of the supermarket had stopped running the supermarket twelve years earlier and was now so old that he wanted to sell the entire building. The supermarket he had stopped running twelve years earlier, however, was still completely intact. Even the Coca Cola and Heineken flags of that time were still on the wall. Thanks to Boudewijn’s background in real estate and his enormous creativity, he designed a plan in which only the outer walls remained standing. Everything was changed. Old, non-original extensions were removed, the garage was added to the building and the layout was converted from a supermarket to a home. No less than 22 10-cubic containers were needed to remove all the rubble.
The building was completely stripped and completely insulated from top to bottom. The latest gadgets in the field of home automation were installed throughout the house and his daughters, at that time very young, were given their own floor that was fully equipped. The old cheese house, which was used as a space to ripen the cheeses at the time, was kept intact and deliberately not isolated, so that it is about 16 degrees Celsius all year round. An ideal place to keep wine and other food cool. Because Boudewijn is of course walking around in the world of bathroom products day and night, a lot of attention was also paid to this detail. There are two very luxurious bathrooms. The children have their own bathroom with a shower hidden behind a wall of black glass, a free-standing egg bath from the Calm collection and a large piece of furniture with a washbasin from the Simple collection.
In addition to the master bedroom and walk-in closet, the master suite includes a true wellness area. Here is a freestanding bath from the Soft collection, a Turkish steam bath, a mega rain shower and a glass 4-person sauna. The washbasin is the half-height Cezanne, placed on a Simple piece of furniture.
The renovation, including the preparation of the plans and permits, took three years. Boudewijn has now been living there with his wife and two daughters for ten years and after days of hard work he can relax with his family on weekends.
Contributing creatively to everything that comes his way. This will not only be reflected in products and architecture, but also in strategic choices for companies, NGOs, industries and politics. The main focus will be on positive growth to make things better for everyone in the future.
In the world of products and architecture, technological development will change a lot in the possibilities to achieve a goal. Yet old traditional techniques will always remain intertwined in Boudewijn’s designs. It is precisely the bridge between the craft and the latest techniques that make a product exciting, but also accessible for the user to start using it.
The future will also impose more issues and challenges. How do we deal with our raw materials, how do we value the burden of the production of a product in relation to the application and lifespan of the product. These topics will put more emphasis on good design in the coming decades.
For Boudewijn, these issues are challenges in arriving at a balanced design. It’s not a few lines on paper that make a product good. Thinking about application, sustainability and the future have become just as important to arrive at a good design.
The roads that Boudewijn travels take him to places where you least expect him. This leads to many new insights and creations for the most diverse challenges where he leaves his creative and problem-solving footprint.