A new Eindhoven studio sparks new creativity for Kiki & Joost at Salone del Mobile
As even the most prolific designer will tell you, sometimes, all it takes is a slight adjustment to a routine to unblock the creative juices. If their roster of projects for this year’s Salone del Mobile is anything to go by, the decision by Dutch designers Kiki van Eijk and Joost van Bleiswijk – the singular talents behind Wallpaper* favourite Kiki & Joost – to move to a new studio space in Eindhoven has paid handsome dividends.
‘We loved our old studio in Strijp-S,’ van Eijk says, ‘but being static is never a positive state. Moving forces you to remain dynamic, work in different ways and to find new inspirations.’
The decision to move, late last year, into a large, six-storey industrial warehouse in west Eindhoven was a logical one. Until the 1980s, the area was the stronghold of Philips, but the electronics giant’s relocation of its core business to Asia left vast empty swathes of factories and warehouses. Set in an old Philips lab from the late 1950s, Kiki & Joost’s new studio is comparatively sprawling, but lower ceilings impose a more intimate context for a raw and minimalist aesthetic of chipwood and smashed through doorways, and what the pair call ‘instinctual and quick gestures’.
The results have been quick to come. ‘Some of our new collections,’ says Van Bleiswijk, ‘are a product of a move evocative and intimate creativity given by the new space.’
Suitably juiced, the duo head to Milan with a covetable bag of commissions and projects, some designed individually, and some under the Kiki & Joost banner – an MO that has served them well in the 20 years they’ve known each other, and 17 as a couple. ‘We are very involved in each other’s work. At the same time, we keep our own very different aesthetics, using each other as an editor in our creative process.’
For Dutch furniture specialists Linteloo, they have designed both its trade booth and a series of lamps, including the ‘Mushroom’ lamp which debuts in Salone del Mobile. For Nodus, van Eijk has channelled her love for watercolours, and the mystical swirls and vibrancy of Venice’s Carnivale to create the ‘Carnival’ rug; whilst for Doppia Firma (Double Signature, A Dialogue between Design and Artisanal Excellence), she’s harvested the play of light streaming through a Venetian window to create a collection of bowl, vase, candleholder and book, each flecked with gold leaf. ‘Sunlight was the right inspiration,’ she says, ‘but it took time, research and concentration to find the right way to translate that inspiration into a shape. The last thing you want to do is to take an object and cover it in gold.’
Van Bleiswijk, meanwhile, is contributing a suite of objets and furniture constructed with hand-cut Meccano parts (developed from their 2016 Physical collection) to a show curated by Rosanna Orlandi, alongside his ‘Tinkering Lamps’, a series whose form, he says, ‘are made in an inherently spontaneous and expressive method of cutting, bending, shaping and welding. Although static, they give the impression of movement.’