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Best Interior Designers, Europe

Co Govers, founder of ZEST architecture: Exclusive interview

Co Govers, founder of ZEST architecture | Exclusive interview

Co Govers is a Dutch architect and Interior Designer, who founded ZEST architecture. She holds a Masters in Architecture from TU Delft with a specialization in sustainability. Her great talent and something ZEST has always focused on, is the ability to combine sustainability with elegance, and this is why projects by ZEST architecture always stand out. Their designs are characterized by the use of natural materials, which they apply in a minimalist and often innovative way. ZEST architecture believes materials that age beautifully lead to inherent durability, so they pay special attention to the “wabi-sabi” of materials, a Japanese expression that refers to the beauty a natural material acquires over time. Their attention to detail in the design and the execution of our projects is one of the keys to their success.

zest architecture creueta house exterior

Co Govers, founder of ZEST architecture | Exclusive interview



Best Interior Designers: How did you get involved in the interior design Industry?

Co Govers: Before studying to be an architect, I bought an apartment in Amsterdam which needed a complete overhaul. I did not have the money to involve an architect or interior designer, so I designed it myself. And I also didn’t have enough money to pay a builder, so I executed it as well, initially alone with a few friends, and later helped also by my future husband. The best part was the master bedroom I created, with an ensuite bathroom for which I did all the plumbing and tiling myself. I had to learn everything from scratch. Then, when I went to architecture school, it became natural for me to include the interiors with all the designs, and that has never changed since; ZEST architecture is an architecture studio, but we work to very high standards, and we do not separate the interiors from the rest of the building. 

zest architecture kitchen


Best Interior Designers: How would you describe your work style? Do you have any kind of signatures that help to identify your projects?

Co Govers: I would say my signature style is the way in which I have always aimed to create sustainable solutions that are elegant and timeless. I am not into fashion, as an architect, I don’t want to create interiors that need to be changed after a few years. And my style has always been minimalist but at the same time warm and welcoming, with lots of natural materials.

zest architecture Duplex_Gracia_36191©Lluis Casals

Best Interior Designers: Being in love with our work is always the key to achieving better results. Are you in love with this job? What do you love most about being an interior designer?

Co Govers: I am definitely in love with my work, the first day I walked into architecture school (the Technical University in Delft) I felt I was finally home. What I love about interior designs specifically is that it allows me to work with color. Colour is very important to me and is something that gets more easily introduced in an interior than in an exterior.

Best Interior Designers: What is your philosophy on design and life?

Co Govers: Good design must not be hurried, but must mature. The limitations that we need to work within when developing a design, are what make it fun because they force us to be even more creative. Similarly, in life, I like enjoying everything that comes my way, even if it’s a difficulty. I see those as challenges that life throws me so I can learn more. 



Best Interior Designers: Inspiration is something that pushes everyone to create unique things. What makes you see the world in a different way?

Co Govers: I am inspired by the Japanese term, wabi-sabi. It refers to the fact that beauty lies in imperfection and in the way certain materials age. For example, a hand-made pottery bowl in Japan is so loved, because it won’t be perfect in the way a factory-made bowl will be. And precisely that imperfection makes the hand-made bowl more valuable. Similarly, natural materials age and that gives them a patina, which is more beautiful than a very hard factory-made material that will be the same throughout its life. This approach is reflected in my design, for example in the wall finish for our project Villa CP where we used grey clay finish, which looks uneven and clouded, almost like a silk wallpaper.

zest architecture wabisabi villa


Best Interior Designers: If you had to pick one project around the world that you wish was made by you, which one would it be?

Co Govers: Niemeyer’s Cathedral of Brasilia. It is breathtaking and I love the way he designed it so that you can stand on one end, whisper something, and someone at the other end can hear it.  



Best Interior Designers: How important is a perfect chemistry between you and your clients to achieve the best results?

Co Govers: It doesn’t have to be perfect. But some good chemistry is definitely necessary. But mostly I pick our clients that way; if I feel we wouldn’t get along at all, I don’t take the project on.


Best Interior Designers: Choosing the best pieces to compose a project can be the secret to getting the best overall result. Although it seems easy, this is a delicate task and needs full attention on time to execute. Do you have some tips for those who do not know well how to start a challenge like this?

Co Govers: I feel the most important decision is the overall concept. Decide on the concept and after that, every decision just needs to relate to that, and it will work. And keep the palette small; with a small palette, it is easier to create a design that is consistent yet surprising because the limited number of materials can be employed in many different ways. But it will still feel like unity.

zest architecture villa bathroom

Best Interior Designers: Do you think working with teams in interior design is better or worse than working alone? Why?

Co Govers: I believe the best projects are created working in a team because it brings out the best in everyone. Each team member will have to convince the others that a particular idea is a right solution. And then this idea will be nourished by the ideas of other team members until, in the end, it’s not clear where it all started, but in the end, it enriches the project.




Best Interior Designers: Is there anything exciting that you are working on at the moment that you can tell us about?

Co Govers: One of the most exciting projects we are working on is a house in an olive grove in an area called Matarraña, about 3 hours from Barcelona, where we have used all the earth excavated for the foundations and the pool to make a rammed earth wall that runs through the entire house. It has become an element of great beauty and was very exciting to make. 


zest architecture

Best Interior Designers: What has been your greatest accomplishment as a designer? What goals do you have for the future?

Co Govers: Perhaps our greatest accomplishment has been to create sustainable architecture that is first and foremost beautiful and elegant. We are currently working with a big developer on creating neighborhoods with passive houses that look great and will be much more sustainable than the normal developments built in the traditional manner. Our goal is to overhaul the Spanish construction market and create housing that is high quality and ready for the future. 


Best Interior Designers:  Do you have a favorite project or a favorite story about one of your projects?

Co Govers: My favorite project would have to be Villa CP. Originally I built this as my own house, but after about 5 years my kids had grown and we did not use it much anymore, so now it has become a luxury holiday villa for rent. I love the way the guests fall in love with the place, without fail. It is in an amazing location, a pristine forest, but it is also a truly special project where I think we excelled in the design, and it led to us being invited to exhibit at the Venice Biennale in 2014. Sustainability was of the utmost importance, but also creating a modern minimalist design in an old envelope (the building was a ruin which we changed and restored). The result is a beautiful “conversation” between old and new, using only stone, wood, corten steel, and concrete.

zest architecture villa cp

zest architecture entrance

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