Through the years, I have designed and produced dozens of chairs. When we first started, Nob and I did everything ourselves, from welding and sawing to cutting and pasting. Some of the chairs meant the start of an entire collection of furniture, while others were the outcome of a collection. Most of the chairs were unsuccessful. There are numerous reasons why a product does not become a success. Sometimes the item is too expensive, other times it does not have the right look (way ahead of its time) or it may simply be too heavy or too big. All of these reasons apply to all products, but even more so to chairs. The requirements are highest in terms of construction. Not only that, but a chair has to be comfortable to sit in, i.e. not too straight, too low or too cold, and the price is also subjected to increasing pressure. You often need four or more chairs for one dinner table, causing the costs to add up quickly. But more than with any other product, a chair also symbolises the battle to gain control of practical problems.
There is a story behind the origin of virtually every chair I design. The moment, the client and, first and foremost, the material, technique and handicraft are recurring factors. The stories are often more important to me than the design itself. I call them fairy tales – and fairy tales do not always end well, but are none the worse for that. One of the books about Jean Prouvé, for example, contained a chair that was actually a bit of a failure. The proportions lacked cohesion and the chair was worn out to boot. But, all the same, it’s my favourite chair because the journey towards perfection without achieving the goal is so telling. On many an occasion, I’ve seen highly talented individuals become stranded because they would only create something they were certain would result in a good end product. In that instance, the result becomes more meaningful than the process, while it is in fact a mastery of the process that safeguards the result. This is why a book will soon be available containing all of my chairs.
Watch the short introduction movie (in Dutch) here:
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