Studio BOOT

Studio Boot happily mixes life and work. Petra Janssen laughs: ‘We always have. Design can be done at any time of the day – as long as the rest of the family is okay with it!’

Art imitates life, as they say. Now that their sons Jan Gradje (21) and Piet Pelle (19) are as good as grown-up, Edwin Vollebergh (1962) and Petra Janssen (1966) can divide their attention between Studio Boot, Social Label and the ‘Werkwarenhuis’, all three located in Den Bosch. The couple poses in ‘the thing’: a 1970s Volkswagen 181 that they’ve painted like a commercial on wheels for ‘graphic design and other nonsense’. That car isn’t a typical example of corporate identity but shows, like the lettering on the shop window, their great preference for visual typography and for playing with language, which is characteristic of the way Studio Boot approaches work. Irony helps to negate any concept of significance that is often associated with design. It’s fun, but it’s also necessary, Edwin and Petra feel.


‘BOOT’ is, for starters, a fairly strange name for a ‘design studio for fashion, illustrative and graphic design’, as their first poster from 1992 states. The acronyms ‘Bijzonder Originele Ontwerpen & Tekeningen’ (Exceptional Original Designs & Drawings) and ‘Bel Ons Op Tijd’ (Call Us On Time) revealed the business’s character to clients who could appreciate the fun in that. Fashion brands like Oilily, Sacha Shoes, Red Rag Shoes and Nike (before Wieden+Kennedy) were presented in a gripping manner by the photographical styling of Janssen and Vollebergh’s typography. Its mixed style often brought Studio Boot in competition with other renowned studios, like Koeweiden Postma and Dietwee Ontwerpers. Their teaching positions at the Design Academy Eindhoven resulted in a friendship with Piet Hein Eek, who would later advise the couple on the renovation of their combined home and business premises on Van Tuldenstraat.

The central space; a boardroom table, archive and for Vollebergh a place for screen-printing posters.
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Cryptic slogans, spatial constructions and fantasy fonts.
The heart of the building; a two-storey atrium


There’s no shortage of space in the former garage that Janssen and Vollebergh renovated in 2006. The entrance is in the middle behind large garage doors. On either side are two studio spaces, with windows all around. The heart of the building is a large rectangular skylight, a two-storey atrium. On the ground floor there’s a kind of play area with a library on one side and a screen-printing area on the other. The transition between workspaces and kitchen living room can be closed off with a large wall made from doors, windows and cupboards, designed by Piet Hein Eek. Together with Vollebergh, he also designed the large steel doors that lead from the kitchen to the garden, which is shielded from the outside world by a big high wall of old brick, and breathes the tranquil intimacy of a convent’s court in the centre of town. Janssen and Vollebergh are very sociable people, who in their free time love to bring friends and guests together around a big table. Their style is warm and open-minded. After about 25 years in the design business, they started to look for ways to pay it forward. In 2015 Social Label came into being, for the local production of design products by special-needs people. To present and sell those products they subsequently founded the ‘Werkwarenhuis’ (work department store). Not long ago, Queen Maxima came by for a visit.

The kitchen and dining room is closed off from the central hall by a spectacular cupboard wall of several metres, designed by Piet Hein Eek. Two large grey steel sliding doors with double glazing were installed towards the garden. The huge table is a former 1950s boardroom table. Around it are, among other things, three-seater sofas with a flower print by Piet Hein Eek. The three copper-coloured bulbous lamps above the table are by Tom Dixon.

‘dull’ is never an option for the two

The kitchen consists of the ‘Piet Hein Eek wall’ and a kind of island reminiscent of a science classroom: a sink at either end and elevated glass shelves for the ingredients. Only the microscope is missing. The furnace in bright green – ‘dull’ is never an option for the two – is by Solitaire and they got it for next to nothing because of the colour. By now, Vollebergh is hooked on buying through international auctions. The latest acquisition is a Russian jukebox.

This interview was published in WOTH No6. This issue is still available in english via Bruil & van der Staaij. Or get a subscription here!

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