by Neometro

Dialogue | Herbert Ypma.

Design, People - by Open Journal

18th May, 2022

Herbert Ypma has carved a niche that unifies design, travel and the authenticity that stays with us long after we have left a destination. Through the vehicle of interior design, Herbert redefined the travel book genre in the 1990’s with his HIP Hotels book series which documents Highly Individual Places and articulates the resonance of immersing ourselves in the authenticity of the places we travel to and exploring culture in a way that is profoundly memorable. We chatted to Herbert about the intriguing diversity demonstrated across his professional life and the books he has penned.

Open Journal (OJ) | Can you please describe how you have navigate photography, design and travel? How did you arrive at the idea of documenting places and how did that evolve from Interior Architecture Magazine to establishing the HIP Hotels brand?
Herbert Ypma (HY) | For me, photography and travel are meant to go together.  And when I travel I’m always drawn to design ….whether it’s about interiors, or furniture or architecture … and to beauty…. in nature. Often, the best places seem to combine it all. 
Once a year, for Interior Architecture Magazine, I used to produce a special issue and I would move the entire team – to India, to Barcelona, to the South Pacific, to Los Angeles – for a couple of months. Extravagant … but so much fun! That’s when I started, with quite some consistency, to find really unusual and charmingly authentic  hotels. That…was the real beginning of HIP Hotels. 
OJ | What intrinsically draws you to a place above all else? Its natural surroundings? Its stories? Its people? Its design aesthetic? Its authenticity? 
HY | Authenticity is the biggest draw for me. It’s so important. In fact, it’s all important because surely you want somewhere in Paris to look, feel, and be Parisian. You want a place in Morocco to be Moroccan, no?  It sounds so simple and so logical but it’s amazing how few people in hospitality get it!!!

OJ | How does design contribute to the way we experience other cultures and places?

HY | It’s the magic ingredient. Imagine Paris without design landmarks such as the Louvre, the Eiffel  Tower, the Hausmann boulevards etc. Or New York without skyscrapers, or  Sydney without the Opera  House, Marrakech without the Medina, and so forth and so on. 
OJ | Describe one of the most memorable places you have been to.
HY | I was lucky enough to have visited Marrakech for the first time before the tourist boom started. The Medina was completely intact – a working Medieval City with all the sights and sounds and smells. There was not one foreigner living within the old city walls at that time. I had travelled a lot but it was still, by far, the most exotic place I had ever been to. Like disappearing into the time of the Bible.  It was completely enchanting and intoxicating and I could not get enough of it. So I decided to write a book about it – Morocco Modern – and I lived there for about six months while I travelled and photographed and learned …. I felt like Lawrence of Arabia. 
OJ | Given all the influences you have had in your life so far, how do you style your own environment?
HY | Good question. Appropriate plays a big role. 
If I’m in Bali I prefer to live in a tent. 
It brings the verdant beauty of the island closer in.
I’m also a bit of a nomad so I have a Motorhome that has been rebuilt as a moving beach shack. It’s white and simple but if you look closely then you will see that the long hessian back rest cushions are actually old Parisian “baguette bags” from 1901. 
So bits and pieces collected from my travels are always integrated in some way. My favourite is to mix modern and antique …but antique as in “ found in the flea markets.”

The interior of Herbert’s motorhome.

Photography | Herbert Ypma

Interview compiled by Tiffany Jade 


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