Maarten Baas’ Utrecht

The German-born designer specialises in hand-crafted, limited-edition pieces such as the Smoke series of charred furniture that features in the Gramercy Park Hotel

Maarten Baas in front of the Tivoli
Maarten Baas in front of the Tivoli | Image: Maarten Kools

Ilike to have a lie-in on Saturday until 10am, before going for a leisurely breakfast at Orloff, a local café that’s also a favourite with the illustrator Dick Bruna. I have an orange juice, a double espresso and a smoked salmon roll while reading the newspapers and enjoying the music. They play classical until noon, pop in the afternoon and rock in the evening, so I always aim to get there before midday.

After breakfast I drive out to my studio on an isolated farm at ’s-Hertogenbosch, where my production partner, Bas den Herder, lives. It’s a good time to talk about our latest projects without being disturbed. After a simple lunch – usually soup – I return to Utrecht and buy vegetarian food at organic store Ekoplaza.

Although I live in the city centre – in an apartment that was once part of a children’s hospital – I can only hear birds and bicycles in my street. Utrecht is a bit like Amsterdam, but quieter and less touristy. I enjoy strolling around the peaceful streets and particularly like its proximity to Amsterdam, Eindhoven and Groningen, all of which I often visit by train at weekends.

In Groningen I’ll spend Saturday afternoon in Groninger Museum, looking at the neo-expressionist paintings and the postmodern, mainly Italian design. A lot of the work transcends the borders between art, fashion and design. Then I meet up with family members – my uncles and stepmother – for an Italian meal in the museum’s MendiniRestaurant, whose interior I designed. The food is great, and I love seeing my chairs being used by people there. In Amsterdam I meet designers such as Kiki van Eijk and Joost van Bleiswijk for supper at chef André Amaro’s Ketelhuis. Another favourite restaurant is at Hotel de Goudfazant – I know the owner well and I like the industrial feel of the place as well as its laid-back atmosphere.

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If I stay in Utrecht, I’ll meet up with friends and go to the cinema or theatre. The last production I enjoyed at Theater Kikker was Mirrors, a dance performance produced by Boukje Schweigman. And I never go to commercial cinemas as there are three art-house ones in Utrecht. I recently saw a fascinating documentary about the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei at the Louis Hartlooper Complex.

After the cinema or theatre, I tend to cook at home – usually pasta with fish and vegetables, which I try to make like a real Italian. Then we go to Tivoli, which is a great place to hear live bands and enjoy the dance evenings. I listen to a lot of classical music in the day but like to hear rock in the evening. My favourite artist is the US singer-songwriter Tom Waits, but I’m still waiting for him to perform there. If I’ve been to Tivoli I get to bed around 2am, but I’m not really a night person.

Sunday morning also starts around 10am. I have breakfast with my sister, Heleen, and her daughter, Yara, at her home in Utrecht, then I play football with a group of friends in Wilhelmina Park. We have a game most Sundays.

Lunch is often at Sector 3, a quiet bakery that serves small, organic dishes at lunchtime, after which I might visit my mother in Zetten. Although I’m not religious, I feel Sunday should be a day for resting, contemplation and exercise – completely different from weekdays. I try not to check emails and don’t even use my phone. It’s good to step back and allow time for other things to sink in. I consciously try to maintain Sunday as a rest-day and don’t try to fill up my time. I think the value of doing nothing is really underestimated.

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Sometimes I have friends round on Sunday evening and we cook together or play a game: poker, Monopoly or Risk. If I’m alone, I enjoy the silence and get to bed well before midnight.

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