Dutch design entrepreneur Thomas Eyck died on 4 July 2023; the news was shared by his brand's managing partner, Wendy Gooren. ‘Surrounded by loved ones and leaving us with beautiful memories, an end has come to Thomas’ life. We will miss him so much,’ read Gooren’s message.
Eyck started his eponymous label in 2007 with a collection by Studio Job, and instantly became a Wallpaper* favourite. Through his well-considered design editions, he helped boost the career of some of the Netherlands’ design stars, from Aldo Bakker to Irma Boom, Stefan Scholten and Carole Baijings – the brand currently boasts over 200 pieces by 20 designers, and his team will carry on his legacy under Gooren’s direction.
His design philosophy was based on a slow approach to design: every year, he’d choose a few designers whose distinctive aesthetic would help grow the brand’s collection in an organic, diverse way.
His love of materials stemmed from his experience working at Royal Tichelaar Makkum for seven years. Of his time at the company, he said: ‘The clay for the ceramics was dug just a few hundred metres away from the factory. This virtually worthless raw material was processed, modelled and painted, to emerge as a valuable product. I was fascinated by the transformation: how with good design and the right craftspeople, you can make something very special out of nothing. With an item like that, I feel the energy and time that was invested in making it.’
Eyck’s curious interest in materials was reflected in his brand’s products, which were developed through several conversations with designers and craftspeople. Among the brand’s most renowned editions is the series of copper watering cans by Aldo Bakker: a refined object whose parts are achieved with a simple tube, contributing to a strong graphic effect and fulfilling all of the piece’s functions, from containing to holding to pouring. ‘I believe that the union of design and material and a careful process of product development – from the first idea until the “finishing touch” – are very important,’ Eyck said.
Remembering Thomas Eyck
Eyck’s regular collaborators remember him fondly. We asked a few of them to share a memory of their time working with him, and their friendship.
‘My best memory of Thomas is from the event I had in Tokyo, where I showed my enamelled, handmade plates made with Ando Shippo,’ says Hella Jongerius. ‘Suddenly, Thomas was standing in front of me, with tears on his cheeks; he told me that the aesthetics of the plate with the bird brought him to tears. That brought me to tears as well, and we hugged each other to celebrate beauty.’
‘Thomas and I got to know each other during the time when he was still working for Tichalaar; they were going to open a store and for that they bought glassware from me, the biggest order to date. We clicked immediately: we found out that our parents had known each other in a similar way,’ remembers Bakker. ‘I will miss Thomas' exuberant enthusiasm for beautiful things, the way he expressed himself was a moment of relief and joy. Thomas' love for design was accompanied by an infectious conviction that it would sell as well, which was a whole new experience for me.’
‘Li Edelkoort and I are saddened and heartbroken to hear about the passing of Thomas Eyck – the remarkable visionary who brought to light the design projects that others didn’t have the courage to produce,' Philip Fimmano, director at Trend Union/Studio Edelkoort, wrote on the studio's social channels.
'Thomas gave Scholten & Baijings a unique assignment in 2008,' Scholten told us. 'After Studio Job, we were the second in row to receive carte blanche to work with the craft of willow weaving. Thomas was a visionary with very good taste, and he also had a special eye for talent. The Woven Willow assignment has meant a lot to our career; the products are still for sale. Thomas was a huge bon vivant. He conducted his own farewell in a way I have never seen before. Everything went as he wanted it to. Personally, I will miss Thomas terribly. But the design world also lost an important personality.'
Wallpaper* contributing editor Nick Vinson has championed Eyck's brand from the start, featuring it on the pages of the magazine throughout the years. 'I first came across Thomas when he was reinvigorating Royal Tichelaar Makkum,' says Vinson. 'After he set up his own brand, my trips to Maison et Objet and Salone del Mobile always included a slow visit to Thomas: I always had to know what he was presenting and why; his storytelling about the product developments was intoxicating. I credit him for introducing me to Aldo Bakker, one of the most original and talented designers working today. I called Aldo today and started to cry.'
'Thomas was one of the first people who believed in the (then fairly new) Studio Job. Since 2000 we started working together on many projects in ceramics, tin, silver and gold,' says Studio Job founder, Job Smeets. 'He was the front runner in contemporary Dutch ceramics during the booming period of Royal Tichelaar Makkum pushing new exciting design and taking risks. Later he created this outstanding brand of design and objects. He was always so excited and very generous when he worked with artists. The collaboration with artists was his goal, and he would always go to great lengths to create never seen before objects of desire. The last months, since I heard he was ill, we intensified our contact. We promised each other to smoke a farewell cigarette together. Unfortunately that never happened. I will miss him!'
'I’m heartbroken to hear the news of our beloved Thomas,' says designer Carole Baijings. 'You were a visionary, a mentor, a companion and a constant source of inspiration. You’re the guardian angel I knew I could always turn to. Early on you took a chance with me and it’s something I can’t ever thank you enough for. The design world grieves together - testament to how beloved you were. Rest well Thomas ❤️'
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Rosa Bertoli was born in Udine, Italy, and now lives in London. Since 2014, she has been the Design Editor of Wallpaper*, where she oversees design content for the print and online editions, as well as special editorial projects. Through her role at Wallpaper*, she has written extensively about all areas of design. Rosa has been speaker and moderator for various design talks and conferences including London Craft Week, Maison & Objet, The Italian Cultural Institute (London), Clippings, Zaha Hadid Design, Kartell and Frieze Art Fair. Rosa has been on judging panels for the Chart Architecture Award, the Dutch Design Awards and the DesignGuild Marks. She has written for numerous English and Italian language publications, and worked as a content and communication consultant for fashion and design brands.
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