Floris Schoonderbeek is an artist, 3D and industrial designer. He graduated at the Academy of Fine Arts in Arnhem, The Netherlands. There he got his idea to design a new way of outdoor bathing: the Dutchtub. Floris specializes in designing spaces for people to enjoy outdoors. Recently he also designed a chair for the Dutch furniture manufacturer Arco. I caught up with Floris in the studio where he works to talk about his very original Dutchtub design.
The interview was conducted in Arnhem, The Netherlands on February 10th, 2006 at 10:30 AM.
On a grey Friday morning I am walking in one of the industrial areas next to the Rhine port of Arnhem (The Netherlands). It used to be all Akzo Nobel, now the area also houses smaller innovative companies. One of those companies is Dutchtub, creators of the fabulous new outdoor bathing experience: the Dutchtub. I will meet the designer Floris Schoonderbeek at 10:30 in their studio. I met Floris at the elevator, a friendly face and handshake welcomes me into their spacious studio with view over the river Rhine. Scale models of the Dutchtub together with other designs by Floris, like the chair “Gabriel”, decorate the whole.
So, Floris, what’s up these days?
I am just back from Sweden, where we have a stand to launch the Dutchtub at the Stockholm Furniture Fair. We drove there with a couple of Dutchtubs behind the land rover. One for the booth at the fair and one to drive around and use in the mid winter of Sweden. During fairs we’re used to rent a little house just out of the city instead of a hotel. We invite interested business clients to the house for a Dutchtub experience. We think presenting the Dutchtub is not about a nice presentation on the fair but a whole mentality. That’s why we present on a fair and somewhere in town where people can feel and even enjoy a Dutchtub.
Exactly, it seems like a design that grabs attention. It is one of those designs that clearly evokes emotions right away, puts a smile on your face. Do you think that is one of the biggest strengths of the success of the Dutchtub, that it makes people feel happy before they even tried it?
I think and hope the biggest strength of the Dutchtub is the mobility and with that the independence. It inspires people to think about locations and situations where to use it. It’s easy to make it your own that way.
What are the most important elements in the Dutchtub experience?
I think you could differentiate three different stages in the experience. First people see the appearance of the Dutchtub, the first reaction is usually surprise and “wow”. Then the second stage is investigating how it works and testing it. Not too long ago we had a man who bought a Dutchtub and told us that the day he got it, he got so much involved in making the fire, getting it warm and seeing the wonder of how it worked with the heating spiral, that he even forgot to get in and try! The third stage is where that man didn’t get to that first day: experiencing the hot tub and enjoying a nice outdoor bath on an amazing spot.
These three stages make the Dutchtub experience what it is. You can choose to take or move the Dutchtub anywhere which creates a very strong feeling of independence. A great example of that independence is shown by the following picture, which was sent to us by someone who bought a Dutchtub in Switzerland. The picture shows a Dutchtub being pulled up with a construction supported by cables. That’s how they moved their Dutchtub to their remote cabin in the mountains to enjoy it there. Another thing about the Dutchtub is the luxury and soberness at the same time. It’s a design product close to the essence of outdoor bathing. Everything is about the function of being outdoors in a warm tub.
Wow, I can imagine how enjoyable that must be. To see the sunset in a Dutchtub in the middle of the mountains. This was a Swiss client, With Jochem karstanje as the manager of Dutchtub you started to sell Dutchtubs in several different countries now. Do you see a difference between the people who buy them or between reasons for buying, in-between different cultures or countries?
There’s a big difference between people who buy or use the Dutchtub. Some buy it in orange next to the electric heated pool as object to show. Others buy it in grey to take it out in the mountains and use it more as an outdoor tool. What they have together is the feeling with the mentality of it. Being close to basics without having to be an “organic man” (someone who only prefers biological products and lives according to rules that preserve nature). We think land rover is another great example of this.
Each and every Dutchtub is numbered and therefore unique. You showed me that people send in pictures with them inside or with their very own Dutchtub. It seems like people really have a band with the product. Could you explain where this quick banding with the product comes from?
People who send the pictures take them themselves and want to show how they use the Dutchtub. We also ask for pictures.
I guess you could also use this database full of stories and images of people and their Dutchtub in their specific environment and setting. It seems like a great tool to get to know the “Dutchtubbers“. Did this concept grow steadily on you or was it a very rational decision to start numbering and collecting these stories (images)?
As a designer I’m most interested in the story after getting one. That’s why I kept it very close. The Dutchtub started as one out of a few projects to inspire people to go out in the public space. Holland is a small country, so I want to look for products that can make it feel bigger. By numbering the tubs and collecting the pictures we can make a database of tub users. By presenting the Dutchtub the way we do we make people understand the mentality and share it with us by sending pictures. In distributors contracts we also have a note where we ask for a picture of the new owner with the Dutchtub at his private place.
So, where will Dutchtub be in the next 5 years. Do you see any specific countries and environments where the Dutchtub concept will work and where you will go?
Our goal is to have Dutchtubs all over the world, used privately, at beach houses, camp sites or just cruising around on the top of a van. In the upcoming period we will present it all over the world, with the help of people who will distribute them in their country. This May we will have the lounge in New York, from there Africa or Australia. Finally we will make a book about a product that proved products can change the experience of our own environment anywhere in the world.