The Linteloo gentlemen are not only our friends, but in a sense, they’re also patrons. They have a deep-rooted appreciation for how designers work. When we began
our partnership with them, they allowed us the freedom to create and a showed
a genuine respect for our creative vision.
Text by Elisabeth Fertig
Photography by Erik Tanner
Making its debut at Milan Design Week, “Heath and Oiseau” is the first furniture collection by George Yabu and Glenn Pushelberg for Dutch furniture maker LINTELOO.
The upholstered sofas and chairs in Heath are the sensuous lounge pieces to Oiseau’s turned-wood dining sets, defined by their subtly dropped height for an accentuated sense of intimacy and domestic comfort. Both groups feature gently curving lines and muted tones, for a look that is at once demure and bold, organic and urban-chic.
While individually distinctive, the pieces blend with each other seamlessly to evoke a cohesive style that’s all its own. It’s all the more notable, then, that the collection was born of a joint effort between two existing powerhouse design partnerships and is a confluence of four established designers’ diverse backgrounds and tastes.
To learn more about their collaborative process, we asked the principals of both Yabu Pushelberg and LINTELOO about their personal influences, creative partnerships, and the essence of taste.
How would you define your own taste?
George Yabu and Glenn Pushelberg (YP): Some people might say we’re modernists. But modernism often implies minimalism, and minimalist is something we’re not. What we are really good at is fleshing out a concept or notion and then editing that same notion to remove anything ancillary or unnecessary.
Our process is to look at something and design with a level of beauty that has subtlety, but also in way that enables the object or space to stand on its own and fit within the context of its surroundings. We are not interested in applying flourishes that obfuscate or hide or conceal; we strive for original notions that are not extraneous. The backbone of an idea must be clean and uncomplicated.
Jan te Lintelo and Lars Nikolajsen (LINTELOO): Simple is beautiful. Modern comfort.
How would you define your partner’s taste?
YP: We have a very similar thought process; our tastes run parallel. We complete each other’s sentences, dot i’s and cross t’s, in the realm of taste like everything else.
Jan and Lars, as partners, are considerate, respectful, and collaborative. They have a strong design aesthetic and design heritage that have evolved over time, but they maintain an undercurrent of purposeful, rational design that works in all that they do. They are both innovative and practical, and have a great appreciation for how things work and are put together, which elevates the resulting work. Happiness!
LINTELOO: Sophisticated [Lars]. Strong design ethic [Jan].
Have your tastes changed over the years working together?
YP: Our tastes have definitely evolved over the years, but we wouldn’t say they have changed. We are probably more open to broader influences and discoveries than we have been in the past. We have found that the more we see—through travel or new relationships—the better trained we become to be particular and discerning. We can now easily recognize when we see something “new” whether it is derivative of something we’ve already seen. This is really important to the process of making things that have clarity.
LINTELOO: Not much, really. We enjoy the comfort of life.
Is good taste a thing that can be taught, or does it come from a deeper place?
YP: Style is innate; taste is studied. One without the other is soulless.
LINTELOO: We believe that good taste is in your veins but is hugely influenced by your cultural background. You can learn a lot from visiting museums and even hotels, but you need a real understanding of the style and place.
What’s the last time you disagreed with each other on a question of taste? Who won?
YP: George has a more discerning eye in general.
LINTELOO: We never have disagreements about designs or taste, but sometimes there are cultural ethics that need to be discussed.
Is it more natural for you to work with a partner or independently?
YP: Actually, both. Working with a partner who is knowledgeable and contributes to the process renders a stronger result. A generous contributor will allow us the most say.
LINTELOO: It is always good to work as a team, since you get better results. When you work alone, there will be doubt about making the right decisions.
How do you choose the other designers and firms you partner with?
YP: That choice is always based on mutual respect; each designer or design discipline contributes a different voice to a partnership. Really good designers are always good listeners, are able to translate ideas and concepts, and are open to criticism to make improvements. Good designers are also good adaptors, a skill that adds even greater clarity to the work as the purpose becomes more obvious.
LINTELOO: The good thing is that most designers and even manufacturers find us, and we only work with people we like and understand.
How do you handle aesthetic differences that come up during the collaboration process?
YP: We are strong and clear and aesthetically decisive. We work to protect the basic concept that we believe strongly in and to make accommodations without disturbing that concept.
LINTELOO: There will always be differences, but you need to understand where you are going with a project.
What do you remember about the interior of your childhood home(s)?
YP [Glenn]: My mother always let me make my own choices—for years my whole room was painted sky blue. I had this incredible desk, made by my father, that looked like the back of a covered wagon. I thought it was the coolest thing on earth. I remember my room being comforting.
YP [George]: My room was on the third floor of a Victorian townhouse in an attic-like space. My room provided an escape to a private world that was entirely mine. I froze up there in the winter because there was no heat, but I had a wonderful, warm duvet, handmade by my mother. It was a private refuge.
What did you take with you of the style you grew up with, and what did you leave behind?
YP [Glenn]: [Laughs.] Nothing! I can trace back to where wanting to be a designer came from: from a love of color, etc., that first grew legs in a modest suburban setting.
YP [George]: Design school broke down the constructs of what I had learned before and provided me with a fresh start. I wouldn’t say that I brought with me any of the style I grew up with.
Jan, you come from a family of furniture retailers. In what ways have you continued the style of your parents, and in what ways does the modern LINTELOO brand embody a taste all your own?
LINTELOO: The LINTELOO brand and style is completely different from Jan’s parents’ store. The craftsmanship and understanding of furniture-making is the same in both traditional and contemporary styles, which is something we learned from childhood.
What are the elements of the LINTELOO aesthetic that are inherently Dutch? What elements are universal?
LINTELOO: LINTELOO is definitely not a part of the Dutch design movement, like Droog Design, but we always follow our aesthetics, which have a more Dutch/Italian style.
Yabu Pushelberg is known for a style that exudes luxury and sophistication. What are the elements that define a glamorous aesthetic like yours besides the obvious, cost? Is a high price tag always attached to sophisticated taste?
YP: Luxury is a misnomer. We are interested in style, comfort, and chic-ness. This doesn’t have to be expensive. It’s more about paying attention to a mix of proportion, lighting, and volume, and to the essence of beauty.
Your interiors are often designed around works of contemporary art, including custom commissions. How would you define the boundary between art and design?
YP: Art is a cultural definer of today—it informs many forms of design and, in interiors, can add a layer of uniqueness. Art is not design, and designers are not artists. It’s important to recognize the difference; art is unfettered by justification. The best artist or craftsperson is a respectful contributor, and their work will make an interior stronger, richer, and clearer.
LINTELOO’s motto is “The Feel Good Factor.” How can design make people feel good?
LINTELOO: Design has to be comfortable and make people happy. We are not into “fashion” pieces or other objects just for the attention; we only make “real” furniture that can be used at home and last for a long time.
What is distinctive about the LINTELOO aesthetic that brings positivity to an interior?
LINTELOO: Our collection is made with people and the environment in mind and needs to make you feel comfortable and happy. The quality of the materials needs to be the best possible for the surroundings and have a natural feel.
George and Glenn, you have homes in three major cities and active projects all around the world. In what ways do location and local culture affect your aesthetic decisions on a project?
YP: We approach each new location by thinking of how we would live in that place, how our mood or sensibility would adapt to that place’s unique conditions.
What city most fits your personal aesthetic?
[YP – George]: Tokyo or New York. There is no perfect city or place. Cities peak, evolve, and grow or wane physically and culturally.
We are attracted to the notion of reinvention. Mid-size cities often have interesting points of view. Big cities often have sameness, big brands, and ample similarity, which is often not very interesting.
[YP – Glenn]: I have wanderlust for new things, new places, and love the potential for discovery in small, far-off places.
What influenced the choice to collaborate with LINTELOO?
YP: Certainly the relationship and kinship we felt with Jan and Lars. These two gentlemen are at a parallel point in their lives; they are serious, open, and want to make great things. They care about how those things are presented and are interested in the details. Like us, they are ambitious to become better at what they do and are motivated to improve.
What influenced the choice to collaborate with Yabu Pushelberg?
LINTELOO: We have worked with Yabu Pushelberg on several projects in the past, and there has always been mutual understanding and a lot of fun. We asked George and Glenn to design a new collection for us since they know exactly what we need.
What was it like to work together?
YP: The greatest benefit was the friendship gained—spending time together, enjoying good food, and creating something wonderful together. We have also learned a lot. Our greatest challenge in this first collaboration with LINTELOO was speed. We should have moved slower.
LINTELOO: The biggest challenge has been the distance and time, since we do all of our production in Europe and they work from everywhere new projects take them. On many occasions, they were travelling on other jobs, and we needed to catch them in between jobs to work on the prototypes in Italy.
What are the strengths of the collection? Did anything surprise you?
YP: The first prototypes were handmade by artisans. We were somewhat surprised at the commitment and excitement from the artisans in response to what we were trying to do. It was a huge vote of confidence that the workers would agree to meet on Saturdays, which are pretty sacred days off in Italy.
LINTELOO: The strength is the design experience of YP, especially in the hospitality business, combined with our knowledge of the production methods—but also our friendship was a factor.
Every day is full of surprises but the energy and dedication of YP and their team is something that we have never experienced before. We are looking forward to a long relationship doing great projects around the world.
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