New Dutch Design
The latest class of Dutch designers is creating poetic yet practical furniture, lighting, and goods that go way beyond wry humor. Veering away from the wit-first conceptual design that has defined the Netherlands for the last two decades—typified by übercollective Droog—young designers are once again making more objects for daily use. We searched the country and found fresh ideas in ateliers from Amsterdam to Duivendrecht to Eindhoven.
Design Academy Eindhoven graduates Joost van Bleiswijk and Kiki van Eijk—known as Joost & Kiki—have gained a following for their conceptual art–based furniture, but recent pieces signal a change. Their Scratch dining table, benches, and ladder resemble Delft Blue Pottery, a likely nod to van Bleiswijk’s hometown. The lacquered wood is meticulously scratched by hand to create a vibrant texture and finished with a clear varnish.
Amsterdam-based Mara Skujeniece is a product designer whose work often narrates an underlying story: Porcelain candleholders have felt coasters that mimic the containers’ shadows; ceramic vases for a textile factory were cast in plaster molds of spindles wrapped with yarn; and a series of barn drawings she made during a visit to her native Latvia inspired a line of blankets for the TextielMuseum in Tilburg. “I liked the process of making two-dimensional renderings of 3-D structures and then reconverting them into high-relief fabrics,” she says of the abstract raised patterns in the linen, wool, and cotton fabrics.
Frank Tjepkema founded his industrial design firm, Tjep., in Amsterdam in 2001 and has since produced objects in scales from minute to massive. On the tinier end of the spectrum, he has designed conceptual but wearable jewelry for Dutch design leaders Gijs Bakker and Marijke Vallanzasca. On the larger side, he's completed commercial interiors ranging from restaurants to airport kiosks.
Daphna Isaacs Burggraaf and Laurens Manders label their collaborative oeuvre Daphna Laurens because they work so closely “It’s like finishing each other’s sentences,” says Manders. “We could not work without each other.” Each of their pieces is first conceived by cutting paper to make amoebic collages, an abstract beginning that affects each piece's end use. Isaacs says, “We want people to fantasize about our objects and even give them uses we never intended.” For example, their three-legged Cirkel Coffee Table 01 (left) has a warped aluminum top and a conical wood-clad vessel that acts as a third “leg.” Up next for the pair is a diffusion line through Capellini, who will produce less expensive versions of Daphna Laurens' oak and porcelain Tafelstukken lamps.
Dirk Vander Kooij's furniture is inspired by a form created with a 30-year-old 3-D printer. "Older machines were less precise, which means thicker lines but also very little waste of material,” he says. Exaggerated lines have since become his decorative signature and make his digitally crafted pieces "look like handmade rope furniture." Up next: interlocking triangulated pieces that form offbeat lamps, bowls, and flat-pack shelves.
Lotty Lindeman and Wouter Scheublin's wood and ceramics workshop is located within designer Piet Hein Eek’s building, a former Philips factory in Eindhoven that was remodeled in 2010 into a furniture factory, restaurant, and several storefront ateliers. Lindeman’s and Scheublin’s work displays a kinetic quality. “We like to be artfully expressive, but the goal is to make products that function in everyday life,” Lindeman says. “It’s not only about the object but also about how it creates moods and lets your imagination play.”