In an annex of one of Amsterdam’s most famous museums resides a restaurant that is also among the finest in the country. Sitting meters away from works of the Dutch masters, you can take an unassuming seat and be presented with dishes that more closely resemble art than food. Opened in 2014 with Joris Bijdendijk at the helm as Executive Chef, RIJKS® has become an institution in its own right. It was only in existence for two years when it was bestowed with a much-coveted Michelin star – a benchmark for excellence it has continued ever since. After years at the top of the fine dining scene and just shy of celebrating its tenth anniversary, the upscale eatery is reinvigorating their concept. An endeavor we were only too happy to be involved in.
In late November, the familiar doors on Museumplein opened once again. Bijdendijk and his team have spent the last three months overhauling the restaurant with the same considered manner with which they approach food. The meticulous update encompassed every element of the experience from a full renovation of the interior and a menu of reimagined dishes to the design of the text describing the food you will consume. Some things have, of course, stayed the same. Namely, the underlying ethos that earned RIJKS® their original Michelin star: a commitment to turning the most humble of produce into elevated creations and delivering them with excellent service.
The restaurant chose to collaborate with a select few Amsterdam tastemakers for the project. Interior designer Paul Linse was entrusted with crafting the warm and open interior, along with a new private dining space. World famous graphic designer Irma Boom again signed on for the restaurant’s new typographic house style. And as experts of the hyper-flexible made-to-measure wardrobe, we were asked to create the male front of house’ workwear. Together we developed a workwear capsule worthy of the award-winning restaurant, the modest Dutch roots that inspire the food and the artists whose work sits in the museum becoming our own inspiration. We spoke to Creative Director Joachim to discover where this kinship between the two Amsterdam-based brands began and where the collaboration process took them.
Take us back to the start. How did this collaboration come about?
We have, of course, always known of RIJKS®. They are an institution here in Amsterdam. We actually got to know the team last year, when the restaurant was the host of our annual festive dinner and Joris our guest of honor. But the relationship was taken to another level with this project. We learned about the reinvigoration project and were really happy to collaborate. Their values align so closely with those of Atelier Munro: service, uniqueness, authenticity. These are fundamental to both brands. Culturally, aesthetically, philosophically, we are quite aligned.
Tell us more about the process. Where did you begin?
The collaboration with the new RIJKS® has been a very enjoyable process. We started the same way we would with any other curation, by getting to know the character that should be reflected in the clothing. We worked closely with Joris to truly understand the new RIJKS®. Together we explored what “the new workwear” is and what they needed from a practical standpoint too. Then we looked at how to create it in a way that felt right for both our identities.
What did you learn in that exploration?
To visit the restaurant, it’s clear that there is an understated sort of excellence to everything they do and we wanted to reflect that in their clothing. The staff have a wealth of knowledge but it’s not showy or performative. The food is pure and humble ingredients that the chefs elevate through their craft into something really beautiful. If you ever had one of Joris’s dishes before, you will probably understand that sensibility. Like say his finely layered millefeuille of beetroot, earthy but subtly sweet and served with a Tomasu beurre blanc. Such simple ingredients yet they are taken somewhere truly delicious with creativity and craft. We wanted to do the same from our side in whatever we created for them.
How did you go about bringing those ideas into the clothing?
We ended up going down the rabbit hole of this idea of how something humble can still be of the highest quality. We landed on cotton, quite a simple fiber with a lot of nice practical benefits like breathability. The fabric selected in the end is a contemporary blend, which elevates the cotton with a very slight inclusion of technical fibers to make it more comfortable to wear and less likely to crease, to ensure a really put together look even after a day of hard work. We went with dark blue for the color. Paul Linse has done such a beautiful job with the interior. The new RIJKS® has this warm atmosphere inside created through a lot of natural materials like wood and stone. The staff will move inside that space, and whatever they wear will either work in harmony with it or detract from it. We chose a deep color to contrast but still complement that warmth. That shade of blue is in my opinion one of the most timeless and sophisticated, like the rest of the restaurant’s aesthetic.
And the design itself?
This is where we came to that question of: ‘What is the new workwear’? For us, I think the answer was simple and unanimous: the utility suit. Like the cotton, the silhouette is from these humble origins. It is workwear at its heart and in its history. Our design is loosely based on the jacket favored by laborers and artists back in the 1800s, which also gives a nice nod to the Rijksmuseum. Whatever the staff were going to wear needed to be practical, comfortable, easy for them to wear. That relaxed tailoring approach is so refined and felt in line with that vision and those needs. The finished design was a lightweight utility jacket with a buttoned front and matching 5-pockets. Underneath we put a light knit t-shirt, which is just as excellent. It’s seamless and knitted from fine cotton and cashmere. The combination gives this relaxed but still refined, impeccable look.
What have you taken away from the experience?
For me, this project has been a great reminder of the power of craft. To take humble things and lift them into something so much more is an underrated skill. It was amazing during the reopening to see the staff in the workwear, the workwear in the space. It all adds up. I have to say, the csollaboration feels cohesive in the most beautiful way. The restaurant operates at such a high level and it is great to be able to meet excellence with excellence. It is clear, even at a glance, that despite the practical design that the fabric and the finishing, down to the custom labels, is of the finest quality. It fits so well with the modern elegance of RIJKS® and I’m proud of what we have achieved together.
The new RIJKS® is now open for guests from Tuesday-Sunday by reservation only.