Written by Maurizio Montalti
On march 4th we had the possibility to conduct an interview with two well-known dutch designers: Kiki van Eijk and Joost van Bleiswijk.
The interview started with an investigation for a better understanding of their perception of “time”, a subject strongly present and recognizable in most of their works. What emerged is a vision of time as something not very strict, but something that still exists and that’s reflected, for instance, in the time consuming pieces that are a result of the accurate polishing process in Joost’s work. At the same time he was highlighting how the past is still the present , and this can be found in the archetypes , where the concept of time does not exist anymore.
For Kiki, instead, time equals quality, time is life itself and it’s about enjoying things around you, referring to very personal things . Afterwards, Joost pointed out how his interest in architectural forms and construction methods, born from the experience in working and the curiosity of discovering elements, became a strong inspiration for his work. Initially he started highlighting the relevance of the translation of the round shaped feminine profiles into strong masculine representations, based on edges and squares, but when we tried to understand better this difference between masculine and feminine design he said that there’s not this big gap; it’s just something emotional and subtle.
Kiki, differently, was adressed with a question about the value of memory in her works, something she said is not really there; she described her designs as something much more related with quality and real craftmanship, objects not only functional but that also contain, in the way they are looking, an emotional feeling, like she found out in some books about old tools.
She said her inspiration comes out by itself, she’s never looking for it...it just happens...all of a sudden you open a drawer and there is something, asking her to create something with it; it’s an intuitive process, that she tries to lead to the creation of something very pure, helped by the unconscious active experience in materials and technology.
Then we came to talk about the influence and the relevance of Dutch Design in the past and in the “now” and they talked proudly about how Dutch Design had improved the world of design in general, even if nowadays it doesn’t really matter anymore; indeed sometimes it’s also becoming “bad” being dutch, as it is often associated with a marketing tool.
Talking about the educational system in The Netherlands, they were appreciating it a lot , and in particular they were underlining how the “Design Academy”, where they also studied previously offers a very good combination of a vague, “arty” approach and of the structured goal of education: in a way it’s an environment in which you’re always “forced” to go in depth, research, find what fascinates yourself...and explore yourself, find out the best for you as a person; that’s the main distinguishing carachteristic from any other institution, they said, the overall mentality...;and the fact that the academy is specialized in design...and just that.
When we came to talk about the design industry and the topic of “limited editions “, connected with the actual economic crisis , they pointed out how this phenomenon is not always “honest”.
They said that “limited editions” are there for a reason: they respond to the request for an expensive product in terms of time and materials. They said it wouldn’t be fair for the collectors to make endlessly pieces when they cost a lot...
At the same time some people are using these phenomenon as a tool to make more money, so that it becomes a trend, just by changing colors or materials of previous popular designs and increasing the price. They forecasted that these people and companies are gonna disappear, faced with this crisis, but the “Limited Editions” reality will still be there in its autenticity: things made by hand, attention to the detail and expansive materials and processes. They consider limited editions as an investment as they did it for quite years; and because of this there’s a value; because there’s a range of evolution over the years; it’s a keep-on-growing process.
Afterwards we talked a bit about Milan, adressing them with a question about their prevision on this year’s “Salone del Mobile” edition; they see the possibility of having something a bit less extravagant; they also decided not to have a solo show this year; they will only present projects they made for labels. And what they predict is that probably many designers will do like that.
Kiki was saying that this is because a solo show has to be at least at the same level of the previous one and to do so it needs time to develop a collection and also, because maybe there are more appropriate platforms for showing these kind of “limited edition” collections, like, for instance, “Design Miami/Basel”. Besides Joost said that it’s not necessary anymore for them to show their works in the popular Salone’s windows as they already know the press agents and the gallerists and they are not anymore in need of promotion and publicity. But never say never; it’s always a big fun to make a good show for a collection.
We ended the interview with a light question about the connection between food and design, something relevant for Kiki, that is also art director of “De Witte Tafel”, a resturant placed in the basement of the same building, in which the Design Academy is placed: for her working with food and design is just an interest, an opportunity that came out after her graduation and that she decided to develop, adressing it in the exactly same way she designs...creating connections, transparent visual feelings and fresh atmospheres. They both were very kind and warm. It’s been a pleasure.