Work in progress
A look behind the scenes at the studios of today’s leading Dutch designers
PHOTOGRAPHY AND STYLING: INGA POWILLEIT AND TATJANA QUAX
Both Nynke Tynagel and Job Smeets are graduates of the Design Academy Eindhoven. Since 2000, the partners, in life and work, have become known for their creations that blur the lines between art and design.
Claudy Jongstra studied fashion design at the Utrecht School of the Arts, but she says her breakthrough moment as a designer came when she discovered the wonders of felt. She explains: “I became fascinated by its authenticity. It’s the oldest textile in the world and can keep you warm.” The materials used for Jongstra’s designs are all very local – she gets the wool for her felt from her own herd of 200 sheep – but her creations are truly global. In her studio in Friesland, she even colours her own materials with natural dyes, using plants such as madder (Rubia Tinctoria). The dye is extracted from its root, which also has medicinal properties, and provides a deep red colour. It’s been used in Holland since the 17th century.
PIET HEIN EEK
“From the beginning I knew that I wanted to design, produce and distribute everything myself,” explains Piet Hein Eek. Which is why, in 1993, after graduating from the Design Academy Eindhoven, he set up a company with partner Nob Ruijgrok. He adds: “I wanted to create a environment with nice people, machines and opportunities, in order to develop myself and new products.” Eek’s dream has come true, and he now thrives on the fact that every day he can do what he likes in the perfect environment of his Geldrop-based studio.
Since graduating from the Design Academy Eindhoven and settting up his own studio in 1991, Richard Hutten has been one of the true international stars of Dutch design. Hutten says he likes creating things people become attached to, which certainly happened with the Domoor children’s mug (prototypes shown below), as more than 100,000 have been sold worldwide so far.
Petra Blaisse’s career began at Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum, after studying in London and Groningen. In 1991, the interior designer and landscape architect opened her own studio, Inside Outside, which, just as the name suggests, specialises in both interior and exterior design. She’s one of the few people capable of working in both disciplines, and believes in using flexible and flowing solutions in all of her creations.
Much of Studio Job’s work is made for museums and galleries, but they also have an impressive list of client-commissioned projects. For the Dutch porcelain manufacturer Royal Tichelaar Makkum, Nynke Tynagel and Job Smeets created Biscuit, a set of 14 objects in unglazed, pressed porcelain. They also recently worked alongside Viktor & Rolf on the ‘scenography’ for the design duo’s Spring/Summer 2010 show. For Moss in New York, the team created the Robber Baron Cabinet, shown here. It uses polished, patinated and gilded cast bronze and is part of a limited-edition suite of five, cast-bronze furnishings.
Claudy Jongstra is known for her work with felt and her creations for designers such as John Galliano and Christian Lacroix. She says about her favourite fabric: “I found it amazing that felt had stayed the same over so many centuries, so I wanted to make it more modern, to update this fantastic material.” The result is an extraordinary range of textiles, which are as rugged as they are refined. Pictured here are two of her art pieces for the Gouvernement residence in Maastricht – the wall and the rug. Jongstra keeps the entire process, from raw materials to the end product, in her own hands, so she can maintain independence and work sustainably.
PIET HEIN EEK
Mention the words ‘scrap wood’ in the design world and the first name that springs to mind is Piet Hein Eek. His first successful object was his 1990 graduation piece, a scrap wood cabinet, which attracted a lot of attention at the time and has inspired a lot of copies since. Eek’s studio now consists of around 40 craftspeople, working with wood, metal and and other materials. He says the success of his work is due to the fact that he often uses materials and techniques in a unusual manner. However, Eek’s favourite material to work with is still oak, as shown here in his Tree Trunk Office Chair.
Her company name Inside Outside perfectly describes Petra Blaisse’s far-reaching design talents. Blaisse creates everything from garden landscapes, for private and public spaces, to curtains, tiles, carpets, wallpapers and exhibition spaces. Inside Outside works with a range of different architects and design houses, but most of its major works have been done in conjunction with Rem Koolhaas and his world-renowned Office for Metropolitan Architecture. For the Casa da Musica in Porto (pictured here), Blaisse and her team created two vast curtains, which define and complement the building.
Richard Hutten’s playful creations, which are inspired by his motto “no sign of design”, include everything from objects to furniture and spaces. His client list includes people such as Donna Karan, Karl Lagerfeld and Queen Beatrix of The Netherlands, and companies as diverse as Gispen and Christofle. For the latter, a French luxury brand, he created this Vase Pique Fleurs. Hutten says: “I chose the round forms to emphasise the quality of the silver.” When he first started out, he had a more conceptual approach to design, but over the years he believes his direction has changed and he now creates much more functional, everyday items.