Tag Archives: space

Cool office redesign for storage provider City Box

City Box has undergone a considerable transformation. The Dutch branch of the supplier of storage space wanted to position itself as a quality brand and this meant its image of price fighter had to go. This called for a broad approach in which this vision had to be translated into concrete and tangible design ideas and implementations. The logo, pay-off, interior and exterior of the head office; work wear, signage of the branches, as well as the interior and exterior of the pilot branch in Den Bosch have been dealt with. Amsterdam based Studio Babette Porcelijn was hired for this extensive operation.

Sketch for City Box office redesign by Babette Porcelijn

Sketch for City Box office redesign by Babette Porcelijn

The client first
From the first moment customers connect with City Box, usually through the website or at one of the branches, they should feel welcome and that City Box is thinking along with them. In consultation with Babette, City Box’s Online Product Manager and external experts improved the website. The site addresses its visitors directly and offers them the possibility to arrange most things online. This functionality will be gradually extended in the near future. Not only the website, but also the reception area of the branches were improved. Before, clients had to ring the bell so an employee could let them in. Now, the door automatically opens. Babette designed a coffee corner for the pilot branch in Den Bosch where customers and employees can have a quiet conversation, or customers that are in the middle of moving house can recover their breath.

Coffee Corner in one of City Box's branches. Photography - Babette Porcelijn for City Box

Coffee Corner in one of City Box’s branches. Photography – Babette Porcelijn for City Box


Recycled materials in the interior design

The customer experience plays an important role in the new service centre that Babette equipped. Next to high-end materials Babette also used second hand products, building materials, and cardboard in the design of the interior. A counter made from stacked up removal boxes, different types of chairs all spray-painted in one colour, lamps made from porcelain cups or cardboard, a table top featuring old record sleeves, and Persian rugs; they all refer to the world of moving house, renovating or storing dear personal items.

Old record sleeves and unicolour painted vintage furniture recreate the world of storage and personal belongings. Photography: Babette Porcelijn for City Box


Use of vintage finds, recycled materials and hints to the world of storage and personal belonings in City Box service center interior. Photography: Babette Porcelijn for City Box

Use of vintage finds, recycled materials and hints to the world of storage and personal belonings in City Box service center interior. Photography: Babette Porcelijn for City Box

Babette: “It was fantastic to be able to create an overall concept like this. I got a chance to use all my skills and knowledge. From translating City Box’s vision into a brand strategy, to the design and realization of concrete solutions. To make all this happen I worked with various experts from my network and external companies that City Box does business with. I also received a lot of help from City Box’s own employees. Together we were able to deliver the quality that you can see today.’

Babette has a degree in Industrial Design Engineering at the TU in Delft. She spent ten years working for design agencies as a communication designer. Her clients included Sara Lee, Heineken International, KLM, and E.ON, but also for small and medium sized enterprises. Since 2011 Babette has been working as an independent strategic designer. She develops the strategy, design, and content of communication means. She works cross-media, creating interior design, graphic design and interactive design. Among her clients are ‘dienst Noord/Zuidlijn’, Griph law & tax, KWPS, Urban Resort and Pit4Business.


The hunt for the perfect, inexpensive kitchen island

Our kitchen was fitted by the company that renovated and revamped the building we live in. It’s nice, supposedly a high-end brand, but we miss space. Both for cooking and for storage. We have a lot of cookbooks, a lot of oils, vinegars and herbs, and because we live in an apartment, we need space to store empty bottles and paper. Moreover, we are in desperate need of an extra, small, fridge.

Kitchen as seen from dining room

Kitchen as seen from dining room

Same, but different angle. The two double doors on the right are our fridge and freezer

Same, but different angle. The two double doors on the right are our only fridge and freezer

View from kitchen towards the window

View from kitchen towards the window

If we were to have designed our own kitchen we would’ve put in an island of some sort. Plus we would have made use of the space under the window and created a u-shaped lay-out. As you can see we put two shallow storage units together to create a make-shift island, but it’s not ideal. It looks messy and still doesn’t give us the extra space we want. And there’s no room for an extra fridge.  Time for the real deal. As usual though, my challenge is to find something that is functional, but not expensive.

So yeah, this, for say a maximum of $150? I know I can…..

I went on a scavenger hunt online looking for existing work stations, kitchen islands, vintage desks, tables etc, but couldn’t really find anything that fit our needs. Mind you, it needed to allow us to store books, small kitchen items, a few drawers, a mini fridge and ideally also our garbage bin. It therefore needed to not be too open, a certain height to allow preparing food on it, a certain size to fit in the kitchen and ideally something that wouldn’t alienate prospect buyers as we are making looking to sell in the next few years….More and more I started to realise I might had to build something myself.

Have you guys ever heard of Ikea Hacks? There’s a whole world out there of people, the so-called hackers, using Ikea furniture for other, or better, uses then they are designed for. I check out the various websites and blogs frequently and stumbled upon a few kitchen island or bar ideas using the Ikea Expedit. A simple, cheap and understated storage unit.

I like how here you can see how a dark counter top makes it look a bit more solid.

As the Expedit is only 79cm high, and our kitchen is about 93, we would also need to put wheels or other underneath

We would also use two to create this L-shape. It would hide the fridge and allow for the garbage bin to be hidden too. This example still looks very cheap and frail though

This is starting to look like what I have in mind!

I really want the result to look as if it was part of the original kitchen design. So what I am thinking of doing is buying the high gloss white Expedits, adding a few of the high gloss doors and drawers. It looks a bit better and the white tends to turn a bit beige over time, which would be great as our kitchen is off white too. To match the counter top with our black granite kitchen one, I could opt for painting the work top faux granite. Or maybe I could fine a real granite counter top second-hand somewhere. Furthermore, I would  add height by putting black baseboards underneath, like our own kitchen has. And, I might even go as far as to attach the Tyda handles on the drawers to match the ones we have in our kitchen. All in all I think it would look like a proper island with tons of space and plenty of room in the nook of the L to put a mini fridge and a garbage bin. The total cost would be about $150. Not bad I think…..Yeah, I guess it’s time for a trip to Ikea soon!

Check out my Pinterest mood-board. I will keep you posted. In the mean time, any other suggestions are more than welcome!

I love the suburbs

Call me crazy, but I love suburbs. Ever since watching US movies and television, I have a fascination for them. The idea of urban development specifically designed with space – both private and communal – and convenience in mind is very intriguing to me. And I love how suburbs tend to immediately trigger people; both in positive and negative ways. Some people shiver at the thought of living in cookie cutter homes, with neighbours watching your every step. Others long for the space, yards and convenience that come with a move to ‘the burbs’. And a suburb in the USA is different from a suburb in France for instance. We all know the images of violent riots emerging in the Parisian ‘Banlieu’. And in some countries, suburbs are equally crowded as downtown, and often poorer than their inner-city counterparts. My fascination is limited to the classic leafy suburbs like in the movies. What do you think of when you hear the word?

Levittown. One of the first suburbs in the USA. Returning veterans longed to settle so suburbs emerged in many parts of the country

The very typical suburb Richfield. Once a very dull and uninspiring part of Minneapolis, now a popular place due to its proximity to town.

Brøndby, on the outskirts of Copenhagen

Suburb in China. All homes are the same

Paris banlieu with riot police

The Amsterdam suburb IJburg, takes inspiration from the historic center, with houseboats, canals and back-to-back homes.

Gorgeous Tampa suburb aptly called ‘Beautiful’. And this is the kind of suburb I love……