Owner Spotlight: Wynand Rutten

Since I was young I have loved Design, Every kind of Design – Automobile Design, Architecture, and Interior Design and Garden and Landscape Design. Not so much Fashion design though. Don’t know why.

As a young boy, I was CRAZY about cars and wanted to design them. I still love cars, but I find that now they all look alike. (Is that a Toyota or a Buick? No, it’s a Volkswagen! No wait, it’s a Hyundai!)

As I grew older, I became fascinated with Interior design and Architecture; how space could be manipulated and transformed to suit various needs to become beautiful and functional environments.

I knew that a career in design was what I wanted so from High School I went straight to design school, both here and in Europe. I particularly enjoy the challenge of problem-solving; arranging spaces to suit the requirements imposed by the Design Criteria of a particular project and the limitations imposed by the physical building.

After completing my studies, I started my career working for Design Firms doing Corporate Design, designing offices of all types and sizes. After so many years, I decided it was time to strike out on my own and fulfill my vision of building a unique brand. I launched my own design studio in 1998 continuing on with Corporate office design. My clients started asking me to do design work on their homes and I found it to be a new challenge. A completely different approach was required when taking on residential design work. I was hooked. I started concentrating on designing residences and haven’t looked back. I have spent the last twenty-two years helping a broad range of clients create unique homes and with every project, I gain more experience and am able to set the standards higher than before.


When I started in the Design Industry, there was no internet. Faxes were just becoming commonplace! Now the fax is practically obsolete and with the internet, I can easily do research and am able to successfully work with clients as far away as Vancouver and California.

The internet also allows people (clients) to thorough research on their own, gather information and come to me with a better idea of what they are looking for in a design, and as they’ve already done their homework. It creates a better and more informed dialogue between the client and designer.

Caveat emptor! The internet can never replace actually touching and seeing in real life. What may look great on a computer screen may actually be very inferior. Quality and craftsmanship are things that one must touch and feel, and this cannot be done online. Unless I know the supplier and what they typically produce, I do not purchase items on the internet. I rely on craftspeople with who I have worked with for a long time to make custom furnishings and special finishes.

I design furnishings for my clients or them specifically, and I can so control the quality as the furnishings or special finishes are being produced. This allows me to produce Bespoke articles for my clients that are extraordinary and last a lifetime.

My Pet Peeve

These” Reality” TV shows focused on Interior Design and renovations.

Unfortunately, the majority of these shows are not realistic. Budgets and the time it takes from the beginning of a project to completion are rarely if ever discussed. It all happens in a half hour! What is never talked about is how sponsors and donations subsidize these renovations. The impression the audience gets is that a substantial renovation can be achieved in no time and at little cost.

Because of these shows, I have had clients come to me with huge expectations, having grossly underestimated the cost and time involved in realizing their renovation dreams. I then have burst their bubble and set them straight. It has cost me some projects, but I would be doing a client a disservice if I was not upfront with them at the beginning.

As a professional Interior Designer, I love the part of my job where I get to be creative. Whether it’s an “over the top.”

Powder Room or a serene master suite, I enjoy exploring possibilities, seeing how different options fit the design criteria, massaging the design until I am satisfied, and discussing it with my clients for their feedback and input. Some of my clients have definite ideas on what they want and their desires must be reflected in the final design. By discussing the design with the client as the project progresses, I am able to steer the client away from a bad choice, or we may come up with a new and innovative solution to a sticky problem. I also sometimes need to reign a client in if they become over-enthusiastic or want things they cannot afford. I also enjoy pushing the Design envelope given the right circumstances.

Being creative and professional is equally essential in this profession.

It’s very rewarding working with clients who are 100% on board with the project. I work very hard for my clients and I need them to trust that I am doing the best for them. I listen to their needs and wants and give them honest feedback – even if I know they won’t like what I have to say!

I pay attention to detail and I acknowledge the latest trends in design, but don’t follow them blindly. The interiors I create stand the test of time; they still look fresh and up to date after ten years. My ability to create these kinds of interiors has also helped me to retain clients. They come back to me when their life situations change, whether they have moved, are growing families, up-scaling, or downsizing. It’s a pleasure than to help them into the next phase in their lives. I’ve also worked with different generations of the same family. Working with clients you new as young children and who are now planning their own homes is lots of fun.

Having a client tell me that they couldn’t have done it without me is very satisfying.

A client, with whom I have worked for over 30 years recently wrote me a letter of appreciation. They wrote how much they appreciated everything I had done for them and how I had opened their eyes to the benefits of working with a designer.

Their kind words brought me a unique sense of satisfaction and it encourages me to keep pushing my self to be more creative and attentive to my client’s needs.

Design is a way of life!

I’ve had this discussion with other designers and we always laugh at how no matter where we are or what we’re doing we check out our surroundings and critique them – in our own minds – “how can I improve on this?” Or, “What were they thinking?”

It seems to be an occupational hazard. We rarely accept a space at face value, we need to know why…

I don’t judge, you never know what the designer was dealing with as the project developed.

Gardening. I love it. (its also related to design -one must plan a garden, assemble plants and arrange them in a pleasing manner). When I’m up to my elbows in dirt I feel the cares of the world drifting away from me.

When I’m in the garden, I sometimes just stop, sit, and watch the insects, examine the structure of a particular leaf. Look at the birds bathing in the pond. I let my eyes wander over the garden and just let it all soak in.

Then I snap back to reality and see all of the adjustments I need to make – because a plant isn’t doing well in a particular location or a combination of plants I thought would be great, isn’t.

There is always change happening in a garden. A hail storm may have flattened some plants or they outgrew their spot, or the Deer have eaten a particularly special shrub right down to the ground, or simply because I decided to re-vamp a particular section of the garden. The pleasure of a garden is that Its never done.

When I’m not designing or gardening, I love to read. I read Design publications (Naturally), and have a library of gardening books. I love it when I get the latest gardening magazine in the mail! I love a good who done it or an epic novel. A library card is a good thing to have.

People don’t have cats, cats have people! I have been the caregiver to a number of rescue cats. My current companion is a furry ball of love who was very badly mistreated and needed a good home.

I’ve enjoyed sharing some of the things that matter to me and how they influence the way I do business.

I invite you to get in touch. Please visit my website at www.wynandruttendesign.com