Design agency thonik has reinvented itself. The development of a studio on the Wibautstraat in Amsterdam marks thonik’s first foray into three-dimensional design. The building is an eye catcher, manifesto, office and public venue rolled into one.

The new studio is the biggest milestone in thonik’s history so far. The agency started in 1993 as a mostly analog graphic design studio. A couple of years ago the approach evolved into digital first, using moving images as a starting point for all forms of expression. The studio’s structure implies a next, big step: spatial graphic design. Designed by thonik co-founder Thomas Widdershoven in collaboration with MMX Architects. “We couldn’t have done this without architect Arjan van Ruyven of MMX,” says Widdershoven. “He proved to be our ideal sparring partner.”

Thonik now understands that architecture requires a wholly different attention span than a communications campaign. The process from initial intentions to inauguration took 12 years in all. “A lot of care and attention went into this design,” according to Nikki Gonnissen, thonik’s other co-founder. “A building is not like a poster. This will be here for at least 50 years.”

Studio Thonik ©Ossip


The new studio is a three-dimensional manifesto, the embodiment of thonik’s design philosophy, which is characterized by social commitment and a playful take on modernism’s heritage. The lines on the facade refer to Mexcellent, a typeface designed for the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico. The combination of horizontals, verticals and diagonals attests to radical simplicity.

The graphic cladding consists of 1 cm slabs of Trespa® Meteon®, mounted onto the insulation material. Widdershoven: “Trespa® Meteon® is a lightweight paper-based cladding, made of natural fibers from sustainable forestry. It is locally produced in a Dutch factory in Weert. Trespa® Meteon® has a projected lifespan of over 50 years, that is one of the reasons why Trespa® is currently developing a re-use programme for its façade panels.”

Studio Thonik ©Ossip


Studio thonik stands out, but doesn’t dominate its environment. It’s a pearl in an otherwise utilitarian setting, positively stimulating the Wibautstraat’s overwhelmingly anonymous, post-war architecture. It bears witness to thonik’s belief that design should always contribute to a more beautiful and therefore better world.

The new building has six floors totalling 850 m² gross and 600 m² net floor space. The top to bottom windows are triple layered with a special coating. Facilities are fully electric and the indoor climate is regulated with a heat pump. Additional solar and wind energy make this a zero emissions building.

Design agency thonik was founded in 1993 by Nikki Gonnissen and Thomas Widdershoven. thonik’s clients include VPRO [Dutch leftfield broadcaster], the municipality of Amsterdam, Holland Festival, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen and Power Station of Art in Shanghai.

Studio Thonik ©Ossip


This article appeared in DAM76. Order your personal copy.