I had the opportunity to interview Maarten Baas at the last Milan Design Week, during the the press previews on Monday. I met him at the Moooi exhibit in Tortona, which every year is one of the most scenic of the design week. But I thought that the right time for publishing this interview with one of the most brilliant Dutch designers at present was now, just after the Dutch Design Week.
Maarten is a graduated from the Design Academy Eindhoven (year 2002) and his career started quite soon thanks to his Smoke furniture series, which was an instant success and led to a long lasting partnership with Dutch design brand Moooi and to a countless number of independent projects. He is now considered as one of the most influential Dutch designers of the last decades. Last year, the installation “May I Have Your Attention, Please?” designed in collaboration with Lensvelt was awarded as Best Concept by the Milano Design Award 2017.
Maarten Baas approach with design is quite unique: he consistently puts his creativity before all, thinking more about realizing his ideas than about creating a commercial product, with works between art and design. I think he is the perfect sample to represent the approach of Dutch designers, which is always more about experimenting than about creating pretty things, and I really appreciate his rebellious yet playful mood.
Enjoy an extract of my little chat with Maarten.
Do 100% what you believe in and give it all you’ve got without compromises. Do exactly that. Then see if there are people who also like it.
– Maarten Baas Interview –
E | What inspired you for the Something Like this Sofa project for Moooi?
M | Normally I think sofas are so straight and boring and all the spontaneity has been sucked out of it. The first idea of the sofa is always the nicest actually – you make a quick sketch and based on that you start producing, but the reality is always that then the spontaneity is gone.
So I wanted to make something in which the first idea is still there, so that even the final product looks as if it’s straight from the sketching paper.
E | What about Italian Design and Dutch Design? Which is the difference between them?
M | I think Italian Design is about shape, material, and the look/aesthetics of a piece. Dutch is more about the concept and story behind it.
I think a Dutch designer- if the story is very good- wouldn’t mind if it was an ugly product in the end. I think an Italian designer first wants the piece to be beautiful, then it doesn’t matter if the story is not there. So, Italians are thinking more about the look. That’s the difference.
E | What do you think about trends in design?
M | I don’t think about trends.*Laughter* I’m not aware of trends, I’m totally not into that.
E | What were you doing in your 20’s or do you have something to say to young designers or to recommend? What advice would you give to young designers?
M | Well, one thing that helped me was like – Do 100% what you believe in and give it all you’ve got without compromises. Do exactly that. Then see if there are people who also like it. But that’s all you can do, the purer you’re showing what you are, the more satisfied you will be when it goes well.