HANS + MARIJKE BRUINSMA
With complementary skills and a shared vision, design consultants Hans and Marijke Bruinsma were already familiar with the UAE from earlier trade experiences before they made the decision to set up business here in 2006. Hans’ civil engineering and management background, and his expertise in spatial awareness and the need for balance when designing spaces, were matched by Marijke’s extensive experience in the fashion industry, where her knowledge of colours, textures and fabrics were drivers for success.
In 2006 the husband-and-wife team were drawn to Dubai for several reasons. Says Hans: “We loved the ‘can do’ attitude and broad vision for the future, as well as the 24/ 7 dynamics. As the building boom reached its pinnacle, we were sure that by offering a minimalist European style for the furnishing of all these newlybuilt villas and apartments we could create a niche approach to the industry, so we just started.”
Renting a showroom on Sheikh Zayed Road for maximum visibility was, they say, their best decision. They chose the fantasy name of Caspaiou, and the impressive Aqua lights that illuminated their showroom were like a beacon for design aficionados, who found within a retail space furnished as a warm and welcoming home. This was another strategic decision, matched by a knowledgeable staff. Early endorsements from The Address and Jebel Ali Hotel & Resort followed, with both selecting the distinctive lighting. Currently, Caspaiou offers more than 60 brands. “All brands have had their impact - even the smaller ones, as they provide the finishing touch,” says Hans. “But brands such as Meridiani have had a great impact as they have grown with us. Today, Meridiani offers a complete range of furniture, whereas when we started twelve and a half years ago, it was with one sofa.”
Meridiani’s design director Andrea Parisio is now both a friend and inspiration to the design duo, not least because the Italian brand understands the nature of UAE business. Caspaiou has nurtured smaller companies such as Linteloo (from the Netherlands, the Bruinsmas’ home country), while niche brands such as Laura Meroni and Ulivi Salotti also play an important role in their collections.
Word of mouth has been Caspaiou’s main marketing tool. “We are always excited when people come to us on the specific recommendation of an existing client,” says Hans, with a combination of pride and humility. Projects in the emirate’s key locations - Burj Khalifa, DIFC Penthouse, Cayan Tower and Palm Jumeirah - have increased their visibility and provided creative inspiration. Hans acknowledges, “Of course, each villa or apartment has its own particularities and challenges. In the UAE, one of the most rewarding aspects of our role in the residential sector is that we get to work also on extraordinary projects in terms of size, architecture or available budget, and with people from so many different nationalities, cultures and backgrounds.” And if Caspaiou now has an increasing global outreach (present in places such as Los Angeles), it is because the brand has grown organically, never deserting its own design integrity.