September 23, 2020

Jeroen Oude Sogtoen, the Amsterdam-based founder of Zenology walks us through his favorite Ambiance Triggers, the things that set the mood and inspire his home.

With an extensive background in fashion and design, it is no wonder that Jeroen Oude Sogtoen knows a thing or two about the nicer things in life.

Lifestyle brand Zenology was Jeroen’s answer to a lack of sustainable yet caring quality products in the luxury hotel market. Originated in the travel industry and with their products used globally by luxury hotels and airlines, Zenology has become a recognizable force in retail as well. Aiming to be as green as possible, Zenology is continuously pushing the envelope on being an increasingly sustainable company in the luxury goods market.

The standard for excellence, design and quality is set very high by Zenology’s product offering. So, what are the things that inspire its owner and creative director to trigger the ambiance at home? Click through and explore with us.

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01. fragrance

The nose is often overlooked as one of our most important senses. Strange, because fragrance has the power to trigger the senses and create olfactory memories. It can instantly transport our brain to an experience or memory. That is why an ambiance fragrance is the delicate, sensorial structure of any space and allows you to instantly elevate and embrace its function. My personal favorites are Zenology’s Ambiance Fragrances in Pōmum Grānātum, Bakhoor Liquidus and Ebenus. Check-in ‘interiors that inspire us’ journal post for inspiration.

Dimoremilano cover by Dimore Studio -Photo by Courtesy of Dimoremilano View detail

02. books

With every form of visual or data available to us with the click of the mouse, I love a physical book I can hold. It’s a beautiful way of creating a moment of deliberate stillness and inspiration. I am partial to coffee table books and their carefully curated content, be it fashion, art or photography. But I’m equally inspired by literature from around the world. Books are an incredible way to trigger the ambiance and personalize it, even use them as styling objects. In Amsterdam, I love MENDO, a true candy store for book lovers that inspires my personal library at home. Their website is equally stunning, and I love to browse through the collection frequently. One of the books on my coffee table is “Edward Steichen: In High Fashion, the Conde Nast Years, 1923-1937”, sitting perfectly together with “Tyler Mitchell: I Can Make You Feel Good” and “Virgil Abloh: Figures of Speech”.


03. photography

To me, photography is always a wonderful conversation starter as it enriches any environment. It triggers the eye to travel, noticing details, triggering the senses. It can be provocative or simply aesthetically pleasing, but you will always form an opinion on what you see and how it is perceived. At the same time, there is something incredibly satisfying and oddly nostalgic about photography – with our phones we all have a camera device at hand nowadays. I believe it has propelled the art of photography into new directions and to new heights, to remain distinctive and keep pushing the artform. I enjoyed a private viewing at The Ravestijn Gallery, an absolute favorite of mine. The collection is diverse, explores boundaries and shows work from artists from all over the world.

the private viewing room

Your private access to The Ravestijn Gallery is here.
Discover the (inter)national contemporary photography carefully selected by our creative director Jeroen Oude Sogtoen.

04. art

My background in fashion has been an enormous stimulus in defining and shaping my taste in art. Frans Molenaar, the renowned Dutch fashion designer who approached fashion as ‘the art of omission’, has been one of the most influential people in my life in that respect, broadening my vision and opening my eyes to quality and precision. To this day, one of my most treasured art pieces is a black & white painting of Francois Morellet from the Frans Molenaar legacy. He was a French Conceptual sculptor and light artist known for his intricate geometric forms and patterns. Another artist that inspires me is Bob Bonies and how he fuses painting, music and couture of Frans Molenaar. Somehow, I always return to retro, minimalist, abstract and graphic pieces, be it sculptures, paintings or modern art. Consciously or unconsciously, these are also the elements that inspire the product design at Zenology.

Untitled, 2000 - Bob Bonies

05. music

There are moments of unwinding after a busy day, of euphoria and sometimes I look for nostalgia. Or the weather outside inspires a cozy or holiday mood. I have learned to flow with the current of whatever frame of mind I am in and either enhance or alter it with music. In that sense, music is very much like fragrance in that it has a strongly transformational power. I think music is often the best way of expressing our deepest feelings without using too many words. Sometimes it’s the lyrics of a song, sometimes the melody itself or a particular orchestration of a piece. When I feel like dancing at the Lake Como in Italian retro-glamour style, I opt for romantic and nostalgic tunes. Perhaps even a little jazz by Scott Hamilton or Dave Brubeck. Or need a little empowerment with Motown and Soul. That is why at Zenology we have created curated playlists to trigger the ambiance with the sounds that match your mood.

06. design classics

I love creating a setting and trigger the ambiance with an array of different designs. Quality furniture that has aged well with time, a little eclectic even with pieces from the ‘50s, unto the ‘70s and modern. I get a lot of my inspiration from Morentz Gallery, both a gallery and craft workshop specialized in twentieth century design.

Furniture needs to tell a story and have a soul, from family pieces like chairs that I have had newly upholstered and cabinets I find in online yard sales, to restored antiques. Throughout the house, there are a few iconic pieces and I have loved piecing it all together. Sometimes I just sit on my sofa, look around the living room and am overcome by a sense of joy, peace and appreciation.

The Transat chair – Eileen Gray’s E-1027 home

07. lightning

I am completely partial to natural light flooding a room to trigger an ambiance of joy and happiness. But in the evenings or during the dark winter months, it is all about carefully placed lights and scented candles to trigger the ambiance. I am incredibly sensitive to the use of light and how it can either create the perfect setting or completely tear apart an otherwise exquisite interior. Good lighting is all-forgiving and can make anyone look absolutely stunning. Scented candles instantly set the mood and I wanted to translate this to Zenology by creating a candle that combines the elements of design and style with the unique quality Camellia Sinensis fragrance. I am very excited that it will be introduced soon.

Tobia Scarpa 'Biagio' Table Lamp in Marble

08. plants

A carefully placed plant in a beautiful pot brings life to an interior and is one of the best natural ambiance triggers. It is a living ornament that requires attention and gives a very personal touch to the interior. Bringing the outdoors indoors can also be very meditative. Caring for my plants is something I find incredibly relaxing. When I’m in the process, it helps structure my thoughts and create new perspectives and ideas. Placing a plant is an art, the trick is to carefully curate the type of aesthetic you are looking for in a plant but not place it too perfectly in the interior. If not, even a natural element like a plant can become too static and rigid in an interior. I am a strong believer in nature and have translated this ethos to Zenology by continuously striving to be as green as possible. For every order that is placed online, we plant a tree through www.earthday.org. This is how Zenology has planted thousands of trees over the years.

The Sheats-Goldstein House by John Lautner

09. bed linen

The ultimate feeling of luxury is to tuck into a freshly and perfectly made bed of high quality, soft linen. That feeling of staying at a 5-star hotel, something I also aim for with every single product at Zenology by bringing hotel luxury home. I believe that when you want to really know a person, have a peak in their bedroom – it will tell you everything you need to know. This is where we spend time to rest and recharge ourselves, so I like to make sure I do it in a setting that is good for my body and mind. I love the bed linens from Frette, the materials are exquisite and so comforting.

Cotton Poplin Sheet - Frette

10. bathroom essentials

Looking after yourself is one of the best things in life to instantly lift the mood. Bathrooms tend to be considered mainly for its function, which is a pity because it is the place where we really care for ourselves physically. It is where you start and end your day and that is why I believe in placing some of my favorite ambiance triggers here. From my favorite grooming items to the Zenology essentials, that has me covered for hair, hands and body. The unique fragrance experience instantly lifts my mood and makes me feel a million dollar. This is how I start the day with a head-start and there are few things that can throw me off from here on!

ESSENTIAL SET Camellia Sinensis - Zenology