Head in the sand

08-09-2020 in: Current, Uncategorized

DDW 2020 – 17 October to 31 December

It used to surprise me that some people in my direct vicinity were unable to deal with difficult situations. They passively stood back and allowed bad things to happen to them, continued with their daily routine and waited patiently for better days to come. I just didn’t get it. After a while, the problem often disappeared like snow in the sun. So, you could say it is an effective strategy.

I have the tendency to actively tackle problems head-on, and often want to change the world around me. I must admit that I am starting to realise that, whether I jump high or low, the people around me continue to perform at roughly the same level and I really don’t change the world around me very much. I also continue doing what I have always done and what makes me happy: creating. And it just so happens that, when the world seems to be falling apart, we are right in the middle of a major project. Our way of burying our heads in the sand is to work even harder than ever and to continue investing in what we normally do. This has nothing whatsoever to do with intuition but is pure coincidence! Although, the other way around, you have to be very forward-thinking if you only want to invest if there is not a cloud in the sky!

Hotel

Right now, we are working to complete our hotel with thirteen rooms on the top floor. We are working really hard to be able to open in October during DDW. And, as ever, it looks like we’re not going to make it, but because that is always the case, we have faith that we will actually make it.

We are developing a large number of products especially for the hotel, so it will also play an important role in our DDW presentation. A sink, bed, desk, carpet, rug, door handle, flush button and hall lamp will all see the light of day. We are working with various parties to achieve this.

The colours and paint used in the hotel and in the showroom are mixed and supplied by LACQ. Together with LACQ, as part of an interior paint line, we are also going to make a Piet Hein Eek colour sampler and presentation. We have listed almost thirty-years’ worth of colour use and made a selection. Studio RenS has already beautifully and ingeniously inventoried the colours. We will have an ‘un-Eek-like’ professional colour presentation.

Art direction: Studio RENS, photography: Ronald Smits

As well as the collaboration with LACQ, we are also working together with a large number of different companies and we are supported by many of our business contacts to make the hotel a reality. More about this later.

In store for participants

Due to corona DDW went totally virtual. Together with several Eindhoven-based design studio’s we launched Design Open, a physical design festival. Here it will be better than ever, because we have our heads firmly buried in the sand!

As the hotel is located on the top floor, the Wonderkamer has moved downstairs to the former gallery space. The front section is being fitted out as lobby, bar, reception area and meeting room for the hotel.

With the Design Open approaching, we have only completed the lobby. With the space behind it reserved for DDW presentations, we do not have to compete it yet. A good thing, because we would otherwise have definitely missed the deadline! So, just like previous years, we have space available for presentations from external participants. They will present their work on the same floor as always, but now in the space behind the lobby and, as always, in the event space. It will be more beautiful than ever!

As in previous years, the event space is also available for presentations and, to top it all off, the same is true of the temporary gallery in the showroom. Alongside this, various presentations will be realised in the showroom where our newest products and collaborations will also be on display.

LEFF Amsterdam

For LEFF we came up with the watch that we should perhaps have started with! But the success of the previous models has given the energy and inspiration to keep thinking about improvements. This design is the biggest step to date, in addition to the automatic watch, that should finally be taken into production. We still have a digital and a plastic watch on the shelf, so things will not be quiet on the watch front!

Ten years’ work recorded by Thomas Mayer

This year we are also celebrating our ten-year anniversary in the building. It has been an enormously exciting decade with lots of ups and downs. The one constant in my life is that we are always working.

The people around me are actually also a constant element of my life, and Thomas Mayer is now one of them. Over the last ten years, Thomas has systematically followed and recorded my work. His account, drawn from an enormous quantity of photos, has been selected not (only) based on beauty, but also the underlying story and is presented in the form of a kind of ‘decade newspaper’ on a long wall.

There are still fairytales in the world!

Leo Coolen of Sprookjes N.V. has left his mark on all our presentations ever since we opened our doors in Eindhoven ten years ago. He has presented the most wonderful objects. I don’t know anyone else with as much stuff. I also don’t know anyone who can do a deal like Leo (he is in my top two), but there are many more extremes to mention about Leo. One is the story about how he purchased a collection of lamps from the son of a lamp store owner who had passed away, who actually did not want to sell, but stood no chance against Leo. Leo then acquired an infinitely large collection of lamps. So many that he did not even know what they all were. Max, my son, it is a story of sons!, knows all about it because he inventoried the lamp collection over the past two years. For this anniversary edition of DDW, that is not going ahead, we will present a series of lamps, old and new! The installation of old lamps is just the tip of the iceberg.

‘The standard handle’

The Philips cabinet is made from old doors that I found over 25 years ago on the Philips dump. I had enough windows for five cabinets. The first series was sold out in no time and we decided to make new windows ourselves. We initially made the hinges by hand, very clumsily. So, if you have a Philips cabinet with clumsy hinges, it is a very early one. Then I remembered that Mart Stockmans, owner of the company LABO, did fully digital milling work. From that moment on, the Philips cabinets were fitted with exact copies of the original hinges. If we need milling work done, we go to LABO. Times are becoming increasingly digital so there are more and more possibilities and it is becoming more affordable. What used to cost a lot, now rolls almost automatically out of the factory.

I could not find a door handle I liked enough for the hotel. Once again, in the world of door handles, there is a story to be told of clumsy and labour-intensive first models; the doors in Mavaleix, for example, have self-made steel door handles, really nice but also clumsy. A hotel with clumsy door handles was not an option. So, I called Mart to ask whether he could make the handle I had drawn, and to explain that there was one problem. Namely that it needed a square hole for the pin. For the latter he had a special kind of milling machine, so it was possible! The drawing was sent to Mart and the first handles were fitted. The hotel handle is made of solid copper but can also be made in stainless steel, brass or powder-coated steel. When you see it, you might think that the handle has existed for centuries, but it really is a new design. ‘The standard handle’ is now in the collection, in the material or colour of your choice and made to measure is no problem at all!

Lensvelt

I have known Hans Lensvelt since way back. A while later I designed the collection ‘made in the workshop’ that Hans then included in the collection. Not so long ago, I designed a ‘made in the workshopchair’ with armrests for a project by Bart Vos for the pavilion of National Park de hoge Veluwe. When demand arose, we thought of presenting the new offspring.

However, much longer ago, I made my first aluminium chair, stool and table. We sold a whole load to the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The collection is one of our classics. It has actually never been the sales success I had counted on, but nevertheless more designs have been added over the years. The last adjustment I made myself was to put ordinary aluminium legs underneath the top of a low, narrow little table so that Lieve, my oldest daughter, could have a desk underneath her window. On the stairs, with the feather-light table above my head, I realised that it was actually a fantastic product; dismountable, light, beautiful and with a long, rich history.

When I asked Hans what he thought of it, in 2020, in the middle of corona time, he was immediately enthusiastic. He even remembered that they had been in the MoMA for a long time and we decided to present not only the ‘made in the workshop’ collection, but also the ‘alu collection by Lensvelt’. Despite the applicable measures at the time, we thought it would be fun. Now it can be seen in our showroom, which is open as normal, and we will make it much more fun another time.

Auping

After presenting the ‘hotel bed’ last year during DDW, we contacted Auping to ask whether they were interested in being involved with the hotel. When they saw the bed, Rudi (he develops products for Auping) commented that it is actually an Auping bed, due to the way it is designed and that it is made of steel. Auping actually originated as a blacksmith’s. 

Our contact developed into a collaboration whereby the bed, made of plain steel, coloured hotel grey, became a true Auping bed. This bed is on show and for sale in the Auping store in Eindhoven.

The “original” can still be seen in our showroom, and different versions will be used in the hotel rooms. So, no worries about getting a good night’s sleep at our place!

30 years of posters by Studio BOOT

Studio BOOT is omnipresent at our place. Together, we came up with and implemented our brand identity (the little robot). It is more of a visual image and story than a fixed entity. This is exactly as we had initially envisaged it. But BOOT does more. One of their most eye-catching activities is designing and printing good old-fashioned posters. So old-fashioned that it has become hip again. There is now an exhibition on display in our stairwell, consisting of over thirty years’ worth of poster art, because when it comes to posters, their work is a step above the rest! 

Of course, as graphic designers, they also design books. For a while it seemed as if digitalisation would make books obsolete, but this belief has now also become old-fashioned. We present a book with 30 years of posters by BOOT. There has never been a bigger, better, more beautiful and especially more fun poster publication from one studio in book-form.

Heinen Delfts Blauw for Piet Hein Eek

When I was asked to design something for Heinen Delfts Blue, there were no problems to speak of. As a result of their father’s hobby that had got a little out of hand, they had started making traditional Delft Blue pottery in a time that most of the Delft Blue factories had long since closed their doors. There must be a law of stimulating backwardness or something. Delft Blue is made by hand in the Netherlands and part of the collection, particularly the ‘designed’ products, are made in Asia. Heinen primarily sells from her own shops to Asian tourists. So, things aren’t going too well right now. Manufacturing in Asia is no fun at the moment and there are no Asian tourists coming to Europe.

The first time we met, I saw a presentation that they had made especially for the designer’s collection, as they are making a special collection with designers. Research into traditional Dutch ceramics and textile was part of the presentation. The research project was not only almost a product in its own right, but also very inspiring.

I took the ‘Workumer pottery’ as starting point. This is that brown pottery, decorated with yellowish bumps of glaze. I liked the idea of making a kind of ‘simple-mealtime-tableware’ series. Tableware that seems to have come from a late medieval painting, but then ‘designed’.

The first models were already made when the corona hell broke loose. So, now we have made a set of prototypes in the Netherlands, but these are not easy to produce here for a reasonable price. I have set my hope on Portugal, but who knows where it will eventually come from and even if it will go into production. The prototypes are now on display in the shop. An advantage of producing in the Netherlands is that everything made entirely here can also be put on display.

When Jorrit (owner of Heinen) visited our ceramics workshop and saw the facet bowls and vases, he decided to paint them Delft Blue by hand, resulting in a new Delft Blue design! Both the bowls and the vases and the hand painting are extremely labour intensive, the opposite of what you would expect in a 100% Dutch product!

Dochters

How differently we imagined it: all together for the first time under one roof during the DDW. Hundreds of thousands of people would see the work on display. There was a certain amount of trepidation as Lieve, my eldest daughter, found it particularly difficult to display her work at her father’s place; you should be able to do it without your father’s help, right? And above all, the whole family was going through difficult times in the photo installation she made for her exams.

Photograph: Thomas Mayer

Roos and Geertje have now been working for over a year to get their jewellery brand ‘TWEEK’ off the ground and have added new collections and even gold. But corona threw a spanner in the works; no graduation presentation and the DDW, the only event that seemed to be going ahead, was also cancelled at the last minute, like a football competition that is rained off.

Bad weather or good, we are putting ourselves out there and displaying our work under one roof. We have just hung Lieve’s photo series of the family in difficult times in the black room and Roos and Geertje have set up their studio on the other side of the wall and will be working on their jewellery in the showroom over the coming months. It actually seems like a really good idea, to have people working in the workshop!

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