Text by Irene Labruna
Portrait by Boudewijn Bollmann
In Italy I’m Dutch and in the Netherlands I’m Italian
Jacco Bregonje is a Dutch designer who has been living in Italy since the early 90s. During Milan Design Week, he will be presenting his most recent collaboration with kitchen lifestyle brand Boretti. I had the pleasure to meet him and discuss the experiences that led him to becoming the designer he is today and how he came to design kitchens for Boretti.
Jacco Bregonje is from the South of The Netherlands. After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in architecture in Maastricht and in industrial design from Design Academy Eindhoven, he and his girlfriend moved to Italy. Italy was the hottest place to be, with its golden age of Memphis and its furniture industry. Thanks to his combined training Bregonje had the skills that helped him interact with the professionals in Italy where product designers were trained in architecture. The Italian maesto’s appreciated the young Dutch designers ‘for having their heads in the clouds, but their feet on the ground’.
It was 1992, exactly one year before his former academy colleagues participated Droog with focus on Dutch design on an international scale. From his desire to design at an industrial level, he began a ten years career at Whirpool headquarters in Varese. He contributed to the company with award winning projects. ‘Kitchen products should fit in with everyday habits and interiors, not just look good on retail shelves.’ His philosophy enabled him to set up a game-changing exhibition in Triennale and Louvre.
According to Bregonje, ‘Italy has a manufacturing industry that can no longer be found in The Netherlands, which is the reason I work here and am co-owner of Italian furniture label Felicerossi. Nowadays, I am able to enjoy the best of both worlds and feel free from territorial constraints. In Italy I’m Dutch and in the Netherlands I’m Italian. I can blend the values of the two countries.
I am European and embrace my independence and my status as a global nomad.’ Jacco Bregonje owns houses in both countries, and has sense of ‘coming home’ at each of them. The kitchen is at the heart of this sensation: “Despite my wife is a better cook I’ve learned cooking in Italy, playing with the finest fresh ingredients and dedicated tools.’ The Boretti brand was founded in the Netherlands, producing their quality kitchen appliances in Italy. One foot in the Netherlands and one in Italy, but still part of the same body. ‘In that sense, I do recognise myself 100%.’
Bregonje was introduced to the CEO Bob Schmeitz, and together they figured out the right chemistry and synergy. “We have an analogue, mechanical approach, as opposed to competitors who take a digital approach linked to smartphones. Why would you need a Bluetooth hood when you can turn it on with a push of a button? We believe in craftsmanship, which is the soul of cooking. We’ve incorporated interior design materials to improve integration in the kitchen. We’ve focused on the craftsmanship applied in classic Italian sports cars and kitchen tools. And we’ve created a wooden table whose universal proportions integrates into a stove and fridge so that it becomes part of the intimacy of the home.’ This same attitude is translated into other collaborations.
Jacco Bregonje is creative director of German brand Hartweil, which produces high-quality stoneware. Together with company EcoPixel and Creative Chef Jasper Udink ten Cate they’ve created a giant plate and serve epic dishes. The best moments during the Salone are when people meet up for a bite and chat while sharing a dish. Jacco Bregonje’s secret is that he truly enjoys creating with the best Italian craftsman through shared enthusiasm.
This interview was published in the magazine The Dots no.15 and distributed during the Milan Design Week 2018 where work by Jacco Bregonje was presented at BAR ANNE, Ventura Future and Design Language.