An interview with Ernst Jan Zantingh
by Kay Hare
How did you get involved in interior design, does it run in the family?
My father was a landscape architect, so yes, the influence of design runs in the family. I decided to study construction, furniture design, and business at Intercollege Den Haag in the Hague and HMC Rotterdam University. But the primary influence in design came from Jan Des Bouvrie when I worked for him for seven years in sales and management.
How important do you think it is to study interior design? Is it something that can be taught?
I believe that when you are interested and curious about any field, you should study it as much as you can. By putting yourself deep into the study of what you love, you can develop the skills and understanding of how it all works and your context within it. Of course, everyone has their style as we all have unique gifts.
What is the most challenging project you have done so far?
The most challenging project was my house in the south of France, due to it being a new build. We bought the property in Montauroux, France only 25 min from Cannes in 2004, which was completely bare. The land was terraced, plus it was our first project in France, there was a big learning curve as to the administrative and legal technicalities as well as finding the right people to help me build the house. When you are making something new in a different country with a completely different culture, you quickly become humble to the process. I also had to consider the design for my whole family. I have three growing boys, so I wanted a home that would be comfortable for everyone. It is my dream house, and it is one of my favorite places where I spend my time.
What is your dream project?
My dream project to build new houses as I did with my own home. My passion lies in creating harmonious concepts for living. My talent lies in understanding how people choose to live and applying their concepts of designing spaces. Of course, my values as a native Dutchman are in delivering projects that are on time and budget. Functionality and efficiency are in my blood!
How do clients find you?
Many of my clients are repeat clients, and the majority of them are international. I think for them, I represent someone who feels like them but has the experience of living in the south of France for 15 years and understands how things work down here. My company is highly present in all aspects of digital marketing, and since I am a loving social man at heart, I have a large network of friends and business partners both here in France and back home in the Netherlands.
How important is social media, or is it more word of mouth?
Both. Word of mouth will always the best form of marketing, but as we are all connected on social media today, we find that we can easily share our ideas and projects with our clients and prospective clients through these platforms. Inspiration is a good thing!
What is your favourite house?
My home, Villa Zantos is my favorite because it represents my personality. I am a social person. I like to entertain. I want to be comfortable, and I love to be with my family and friends, and for me, it is my retreat. One of my favorite aspects is when I invite guests to my home for lunch or dinner, and I can see how comfortable they naturally feel and how my personal spaces give them a better understanding of who I am.