On the Plantage Middenlaan, between the Hortus Botanicus and Artis, lies Desmet Studio’s. The Art Deco façade stands on a spot where, until the end of the nineteenth century, there was still a classicistic garden fence. Behind the fence was a garden with a depth of six meters, adjacent to the then Schouwburg Frascati.
The Plantage was originally a recreational area consisting of parks, inns, pleasure gardens, societies and theaters. On the site of Desmet stood in 1879 Schouwburg Frascati, commissioned by Gustave Prot and designed by A.L. van Gendt (known from the Concertgebouw). Prot was stage designer in what used to be Frascati in the Nes, which, when the building in the Nes got another function, started his own Frascati. In order to provide more space, Prot had the garden covered after twenty years. Architect Eduard Cuypers, known from the office building of the Algemeen Handelsblad on the Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal, designed the then new façade.
Rika Hopper Theater
In the twenties of the nineteenth century, the Prot theater fell into disrepair and was bought by Jacques van Hoven. He named the theater after his wife and well-known actress Rika Hopper. Under the direction of architect J.F. Staal, known from the 12-storey building on the Victorieplein, the theater has again been thoroughly renovated and adapted to the demands of time. Thus the wooden benches disappeared in exchange for vieux-rose chairs and a special installation was installed for the hearing impaired. The current Art Deco façade was then installed, then covered with green tiles.
When in 1938 Jacques van Hoven was declared bankrupt, the theater continued as the Beatrix theater and later the Hortus theater. In 1946 it was purchased by Theo M.J. Desmet, the brother of the Dutch film pioneer Jean Desmet. The building became a cinema with the name ‘Desmet’. In the eighties, a major renovation followed on the initiative of Theo Desmet Junior. The Art Deco façade was plastered and the interior was transformed into an authentic looking Art Deco showroom with matching wall ornaments, lamps, door handles, café tables and carpet.
On May 3, 2000, cinema Desmet finally closed its doors to the public. The acclaimed Art Deco interior consisted of chipboard and was in need of renewal. Desmet Studio’s then moved into the building and transformed it into a modern media company.