The journey that led to the creation of SPX Agency, and later on Spatial Experience, was not always an easy path, but one full of twists, turns & a number of key learning points that brought the company to where it is today.
We sat down with our CEO & Founder Bart Sasim, to trace back the origins of SPX Agency and how we got to where we are today.
It was the year 2012…
Bart had just completed his Masters degree in Interior Architecture and Retail Design from the Piet Zwart Institute, Willem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam.
At the time, Europe was in the middle of a real estate crisis and finding a permanent job as an interior architect was not just tough – it was proving to be extremely challenging for a fresh graduate.
It was during this strenuous period that a mentor introduced him to the Student Housing Research foundation, The Class of 2020 (now The Class Foundation), a small team in need of branding and graphic design services.
This would mark the key turning point in his professional journey.
Having acquired work experience from several architecture and design firms throughout his studies, Bart had been trained to develop concepts from an architectural standpoint – adopting the ability to revitalise spaces and envision their potential beyond their basic functionalities.
Harbouring this innate interest in understanding the perspective of human interaction within constructed spaces, community & experience building gave him a different perspective on the utilisation of spaces to optimise experiences.
Bart welcomed the opportunity to bring this experience-design methodology to the team in our next project together – building up Student Housing Brand (The Student Hotel).
When Bart was introduced to the project it was clear to him, he was going to be part of something BIG.
In October 2012, he joined the TSH project as an external colleague, supporting the team in the full spectrum of marketing-related activities to help roll-out the brand.
From a very early stage in their partnership, he became an extension to their internal marketing team, truly living the brand from the inside out and witnessing the development & formation of (a truly experience-driven) brand first hand.
The Purpose Built Student Accommodation (PBSA) industry was evolving all around them.
The demands for student housing were being stimulated by an immense influx of students and student accommodations were moving from a public, standardised offer to a privatised model with an experience-driven focus.
The Student Hotel played a significant role in the shift that took place in the Netherlands with the introduction of its new hybrid model of long-term student housing meets short-term guest accommodation to the market.
Through the execution of online and offline marketing activities, the team was able to build The Student Hotel into a connected community that met the needs and expectations of the target audience of millennial students, professionals and short stay guests.
For 2 years Bart worked closely with Marketing, Development, Operations and HQ teams at TSH to oversee the successful launch of Rotterdam, Amsterdam West, The Hague and Amsterdam City locations as well as facilitate Marketing tasks for Liege (Belgium). Check the project for The Student Hotel here.
It soon became apparent that a great number of other parties involved in micro-living developments were in dire need of similar services and support to take their brand to the next level.
They were overwhelmed with this new demand for experience-driven real estate as well as the emerging shared economy models (f.e. AirBnB or full- serviced apartments).
No longer amused by simple practicalities or 20th – century style of living – It was evident that the new generation of students and young professionals wanted to experience the brand and craved something new and different.
That is when the big leap happened.
Inspired by the new energy that they brought into the market at The Student Hotel, Bart ventured out on his own to help other student housing players grow and push the bounds even more.
With the mission to help brands connect to the hearts of their customers through super positive experiences, SPX Agency was brought to life.
Along with it came a team of interdisciplinary, ambitious and experienced professionals who we’re proudly working alongside today.
Fast forward 4 years, SPX Agency has worked to help shape brands ranging from Staytoo Apartments (developed by MPC Capital) to OurCampus & OurDomain (operated/managed by Greystar) & BONARD (formerly known as StudentMarketing).
Going forward, we eagerly await new challenges and opportunities to continue on our mission to create future-proof real estate brands.
Learn more about our projects on our work page here.
If you found this article interesting, #StayTuned for new articles coming on Insights page. We combine our diverse expertise to cover a range of topics, from real estate to experiential design, branding, sustainability and more.