Kiki van Eijk's charismatic approach to traditional crafts has caught the eye of many a curator and furniture brand since she graduated from Design Academy Eindhoven in 2000.
The Dutch designer has shown work at the V&A Museum and Spazio Rossana Orlandi, and has also collaborated with big brands like Moooi and Skitsch. This year, van Eijk seems to have taken over Milan. During the Salone, you can spot her work all over town.
When did you first visit Salone?
In April 2001, with Design Academy Eindhoven (opens in new tab), soon after I graduated. Li Edelkoort asked me to do a special press lunch, so I made a whole buffet inspired by the strange proportions of doll's houses, like my now famous giant Kiki carpet. Italian bakers made giant panini and muffins of 40cm high, and we served tea in mini cups. It was a big hit.
How has it changed since then?
Nowadays there are many more companies and individual designers presenting. It was much smaller back then.
What's the best thing about it in your opinion?
For furniture (related) products it's still the place to be; you meet the whole design world in one week. It's much easier to have meetings with clients from abroad than anywhere else. Also, the whole world press is there, so it always gives your work a boost.
And the worst?
Certain areas have become way too commercial, which makes the general quality go down. In Zona Tortona they sell hotdogs and beers but at the same time ask unbelievably high prices to rent a space!
What are you showing this year?
I'm showing 'Zuiderzee Settings', commissioned by the Zuiderzeemuseum (opens in new tab) (Via Massimiano 23 & Via Giovanni Ventura 6, Ventura Lambrate) - a collection inspired by the romantic side of the history of the Dutch Zuiderzee area. The seven installations, symbolising the beautiful crafts and daily habits of the area, consist of tulip wood furniture, textiles and hand-painted soft ceramics.
For an exhibition called 'Cut and Paste' (opens in new tab)(Via Varese 14) I have created a new collection of seven objects made in my workshop. They're a mix of forms, functions and materials (including brass, textiles and ceramics), commissioned by Gallery Secondome (opens in new tab).
'Table-Palette' - commissioned by Total Table Design (Via Giovanni Ventura 6, Ventura Lambrate) - features objects designed for the table, such as crystal glasses, ceramic bowls and table linen, manufactured by very good Dutch labels like Royal Leerdam Crystal and Royal Kempen en Begeer. Working on this project was like being a child in a candy store. Sketches and watercolour paintings formed the base of my designs.
I'm one of 45 designers showing work in '13.798 grams of design' - an exhibition curated by Maria Cristina Didero and Susanna Legrenzi, and produced by Lambretto Art Project (Via Cletto Arrighi 19, Ventura Lambrate). I am also presenting new products for Skitsch (opens in new tab) (Via Monte di Pietŕ 11) and have designed a mirror with Venice Projects for Wallpaper's Handmade exhibition (Brioni, Via del Gesu 2A), a very special piece made with Murano glass - the best in the world. It's hard to describe it in words. You should really come and see it.
How far in advance do you start planning each show?
Between one year and four months.
Is it possible to gauge people's reactions whilst you're at the fair?
Yes, people are quite honest and, especially with my products, they show quite direct emotion, which I like a lot. Even if somebody is not really fond of my work, I don't care. I like the fact that it evokes an emotion.
Do you have a chance to see much yourself during Salone?
Not so much. I try to plan a few hours everyday to see some stuff. But it's difficult because you hardly get away once you're in your own exhibition space or you have a lot of planned meetings with people.
Has there been one single moment that sticks in your mind as definitive of what Salone is all about?
Yes, the first year that I did a big show myself. Gallery owners that I'd never met before walked in and made an order list right away! This happens at Salone.
What happens once it's all over?
I need time to digest everything I've seen and heard. And then a lot of reactions come by email. At the same time, the normal work starts again, which I love, because a whole week of Salone is more then enough for a year!
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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