Nearly 30 years ago, Frank joined us as an intern and shortly after graduating, he became a full-time member of our team.
Frank was an exceptional retail designer and an inspiring person. He was highly skilled and soft-spoken, which made clients enjoy working with him. He was a remarkable individual, someone who was always true to himself without any hidden agenda – sincere and involved.
SVT was his greatest passion in life; he didn’t just go to work, he lived for it. And that is the greatest achievement a person can reach. He took pride in the clients we serve and have served, the history we created, from the creation of AH ToGo to the gradual 20-year development of Intratuin, and all the other brands we helped along the way.
Frank was also a mentor. Together, we taught for years at the Piet Zwart Institute of the Willem de Kooning Academie, where, among other things, we collaborated with Rodney Fitch to shape a Master’s programme in Retail Design. We also taught at the TU Delft Retail Design program, in addition to delivering numerous lectures and mentoring aspiring designers and interns. We could see the lives he touched in the countless reactions from former students and employees who took their first steps here, now praising him for his impact on their knowledge and careers.
Along with everyone who has been part of our studio for the past 30 years, however long, Frank and I guided SVT through ups and downs.
In addition to being my business partner and still always a little bit my intern, Frank was also a dear friend. The reciprocity in our relationship, being there for one another, complementing each other’s weaknesses and bolstering each other’s strengths was an important part of that, and shaped our lives.
53 years old, and far too young. New plans were on the agenda, a new phase approaching, but unfortunately, we will have to realize those plans without him, albeit with him in our thoughts. 53 is too young, but we can also be grateful for the 30 beautiful years we shared together.
What does he leave behind? A lot; for his husband, his family, his friends, students, clients, SVT colleagues, and SVT itself.
As described by Irvin Yalom, it’s about the ripples we leave behind. That we continue to live on in the people who have known us or heard about us. He says, “our greatest fear is not death but being forgotten, as if we never existed. Yet our ripples bring immutable changes to this world.” And the ripples Frank leaves behind will certainly endure until the last person who knew him has disappeared.
Michel van Tongeren