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Bridge, station, chair designer

At 32, Ben van Berkel (born 1957) designed the Erasmus bridge. This was later followed, inter alia, by the Agora Theatre in Lelystad, the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart (1822-Kunstpreis 2003), a department store in Seoul, the Central Station in Arnhem (German Design Award 2018) and, in 2024, the Ahrend Remode task chair.

"I want to send a message with my designs. Many people benefit from them and they should contribute to a healthy and sustainable living environment."

Ben van Berkel, UNStudio

Founder, UNStudio

Together with Caroline Bos, he founded Architectuurbureau Van Berkel & Bos in 1988 and UNStudio in 1998: a global network of specialists in architecture, interior design, product design, urban planning and infrastructure projects. The company has seven international offices - in Amsterdam, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Frankfurt, Dubai, Melbourne, and Austin - and more than 350 employees from 27 countries. UNStudio's mission is to make a lasting impact with their designs and help address societal challenges with concrete solutions.

Colour portrait of Ben van Berkel

Distinctive designs

What's distinctive about Ben's designs - be they a bridge, a station or a chair - is that they contribute to a healthy and sustainable living environment. Many people benefit from his designs. The designer wants to send a message with them and also surprise people.

Inspired by space crafting

Ben's sources of inspiration are inexhaustible. Reading about science, art, philosophy, and technology keeps his ideas flowing. He delves into electric car design - a whole new concept of design - and immerses himself in the world of astronomy and space crafting: The possibilities of the universe.

Ahrend Remode chair form stketch by Ben van Berke

Sportswear as inspiration for the task chair

When designing the Ahrend Remode task chair, sportswear was his inspiration. An avid runner, he is all too aware of the importance of good shoes: sneakers that are comfortable, support the body, get us moving, and improve performance. His iconic task chair - the Ahrend Remode - similarly needs to be comfortable to sit on.

‘A chair is not a sitting machine, but an object that supports you. It should feel like a sneaker: comfortable and moulding to your body.’
Ben van Berkel UNStudio

Aiming for a future of circularity

Ben van Berkel and Ahrend find each other in a sustainable partnership. Both are focusing on a circular future and extending product lifespan. They are also in complete agreement on the importance of durable materials and disassembly. This shared circular thinking is reflected to perfection in the Ahrend Remode: the most sustainable task chair yet. Fully modular, lightweight and made of circular materials, including plastic from the ocean.

Lecturer in architecture

Besides his architectural practice, Ben was - and still is - a lecturer at universities at home and abroad: the Berlage Institute in Rotterdam (1992-1993), the Architectural Association in London (1999), the Städelschule Architecture Class in Frankfurt as well as Columbia, Princeton and Harvard. In 2011, he was appointed to the Kenzo Tange Chair at the Harvard Graduate School of Design (2011-2018). In 2016, UNStudio won the BNA Kubus Award for its outstanding contribution to architecture.

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