This is a product with a conscience: The aesthetic installation created to liberate the confines of the traditional working environment. OpenCeilings endeavors to create a holistic effect enabling you to live and work more beneficially. We talk to Spaces tenant Michiel Jenniskens all about bringing the outside, inside.
Spaces: Hi Michiel, can you tell us a bit about what you do?
Michiel Jenniskens: I’m the co-owner and co-founder of OpenCeilings, along with Roderick Villevoye. OpenCeilings is all about bringing the outdoors, indoors, in order to open up imposing office spaces and uninspiring work environments. The idea was conceived back in 2009 along with another friend. We decided to create something that would bring a simulation of daylight and nature into a synthetic, man made environment. We thought of making the illusion of the skylight as an installation for all the ugly false suspended ceilings in environments where people work. When we were ready to launch our product, we had to create our own market as it was so new and different in the Netherlands. Skip forward in time and now we are selling to dentists, hospitals, hotels, clinics, offices – basically every place with an ugly suspended ceiling!
Did you business idea happen as a eureka moment, or was it something you developed over time?
Because of each of our backgrounds, the three of us thought we could make a good team. I studied psychology, the other guys studied international business and commercial economics. So, we dedicated a lot of thought to what we could create together using each of our areas of expertise. We came up with a bunch of ideas, finally deciding that this was the coolest one. It’s a unique product but it also has substance; its purpose is to affect people in positive and meaningful ways.
Our main clients are hospitals and offices, but we also have dentists, fitness centres and more and more retail stores. Retail stores are in big competition with the internet and need something that stands them out from the rest. They need to offer their customers a memorable experience, so by adding the striking visual element of OpenCeilings, it really leaves a lasting impression.
Your product is very clearly about changing the working environment in a positive way. Why is the concept so important to you?
In hospitals, we see a lot of patients that are there for days, even weeks or months at a time. Their environment is really clinical and imposing and can be very claustrophobic. It’s just walls, a ceiling and a bed. With the simple solution of OpenCeiling, you can bring in light and a more natural, organic feeling to the harsh hospital environment. We really believe this is impacts greatly on an individual’s healing process and overall wellbeing. No one wants to be stuck inside an ugly, utilitarian, soulless room; it detaches us from ourselves and places us in an obscure unnatural environment.
Whether people notice it or not, it affects us in a holistic way, improving our overall mental attitude and approach. Be it in an office or a dentist, being in a positive and more natural environment boosts morale, releases stress, which in turn leads to positive consequences for levels of productivity and healing. Just like Spaces does so well, you need to inspire people. You need to create an environment where people feel at home, where they feel relaxed, and that’s also what our product is about.
What are some of your business ambitions for the future?
The goal for us in the coming years is building a strong market internationally. Now we have installations in 15 countries worldwide. In places like Scandinavia, where it can be dark for up to eight or nine months of the year, it’s a huge contribution to the people that live and work there; they are going to work and sitting in their offices then going home at the end of the working day, all in darkness. There are many health issues attributed to this such as stress and seasonal depression.
We are also expanding to middle eastern countries where the new building constructions are huge but often uninspiring internally. Interestingly, it’s quite a culturally relative product. In Kuwait for example, our clients request images of lots of cloud because cloud cover reminds them of cooler climes. So they definitely don’t need any palm trees or blossom! So, in the end, anything is possible.
What kind of things inspire you outside of work?
What really inspires me is nature. Roderick and I both love to be outdoors and to travel. This is essentially the concept we have founded our business upon. It’s a simple idea, but a difficult balance to get right. Spaces also achieves this balance and is what attracted us to them initially. In our culture we have to work a lot of hours, usually sat at a desk behind a computer all day, so I really believe it’s important to create this positive environment. I’m very interested in making everyday living easier and more pleasant for people. Life should be as positive an experience as possible and whatever small thing can be added or changed to achieve this, should be implemented.
We would really like to invite everyone at Spaces to come and join us for a cup of coffee and take in OpenCeilings for themselves. It’s very visual – imagining it really doesn’t do it justice. So if you have a spare few minutes and are interested in checking out our office, feel free to drop either myself or Roderick an email and we’ll be happy to welcome you. If you want a space to host meetings, make a call, or even just take some time to relax, we will happily host you – just give us a call!
Great, thanks Michiel.