Gessato Chats with Designer Piet Hein Eek

View all 8 Photos

Gessato recently got the chance to converse with designer Piet Hein Eek, the man behind LEFF Amsterdam’s Tube Speaker (on the blog here), among many other artful designs. Based in the Netherlands, Eek works in product and furniture design, architecture, interiors, and even food. His world is diverse, creative, and full of thought. Learn more about his inspirations in the five-question interview below.

GBLOG: You’ve made your name in the furniture design world by repurposing and recycling old wood (among other media) into new pieces. Can you explain the source of this apparent fascination with previously used materials?

EEK: Of course this question has been asked frequently in the past. I used to give an answer explaining how I walked on a lumberyard as a poor student and saw the beautiful cheap scrap wood. The wood could be processed in the wood atelier at school. So the answer for that moment [was] beautiful, cheap, and the machines and my own labour where available. Nowadays, I answer much more according to my specific qualities. If you’re not focused on materials and available technique and labour, one would never recognize the quality of it. So it starts with my general focus on material, technique and craft. It’s like the chicken and the egg: there’s no egg without a chicken, but the other way around is possible and gives the right order.

GBLOG: In what ways do you feel the conceptual and aesthetic qualities of recycled wood differ from regular stock, and how do you approach that in your designs?

The specific quality and lack of quality determines the designs. (Like in all my designs, the material and the process of making a product is leading.) Scrap wood is beautiful and always different because it has a history. I will not mention now the influence of the lack of quality of the material which determined the designs a lot but will focus on the quality. The fact that the material is always different makes it possible to make serial produced unique products. One can make a series with random materials but also pre-select the material to determine exactly the colors and textures one wishes.

GBLOG: Describe your creative process; do you find that your choice of material precedes the design of form and function? To what extent do you feel that materials bears an equal (or greater) importance to the overall design?

Like I described, for me, the material, technique, and craft are leading. [Contrary] to many other designers I try to do what’s most obvious, what’s normal. Always using and taking advantage of what’s available. So each design is inspired by material, machines, and labor which are available. This sounds quite [logical,] but most designers are mainly aiming to make new  futuristic designs and the practical part comes later. This extreme pragmatic approach of making extremely normal and rational products using what’s available provides a lot of fresh new ideas because it’s not the common way. We have to it like this because it’s very difficult to design produce and distribute a product. The price is extremely important, so we’ve to be pragmatic.

GBLOG: What inspired you to create furniture when your careful and meticulous attention to each piece is so similar to that of a fine artist? Do you think distinction between artist and designer is necessary?

The answer to this question is not a general truth but very [much] according to my own world. For my exams, I had to write a sort of thesis. One of the sentences I wrote was that one should feel like a fish in the water. Two decade later, I realized that [was] the only goal I ever had in life: creating my own environment in which the people I work with and myself are happy and there for flourishing. By accident, this also provided a situation that we’re producing with a dedication much more intense than most production environments. In our world, there’s no distinction between artist and designer because of the holistic approach. Creating is the main issue.

GBLOG: All business aside—what’s cooking at the Restaurant of Piet Hein Eek?

Our chef, Martien Pruijmboom, who started to work last summer and worked previously for two-star restaurants makes beautiful real food, and we’re very happy to talk full of enthusiasm about food like our furniture.

 

Lizzie Wright

Lizzie

​Lizzie Wright is an aspiring artist and designer with a passion for the written word. While she works on her BFA in Industrial Design at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), she spends her (rare) spare time riding around Providence on her trusty Cannondale and drinking lots of coffee. She is especially fascinated by the dichotomy between aesthetic form and function, which has an immense influence on her work. As a lover of the natural world, Lizzie plans to focus on Nature, Culture, and Sustainability Studies to pursue a more efficient future for design. Read more by visiting her website

Featured Products Explore new arrivals at the Gessato Shop

Take me there

  • The Yays – Crane Apartment

    Sleeping in an industrial crane while visiting Amsterdam. Dutch company Yays is a new travel…

  • Babylonstoren

    An unforgettable hotel experience. In recent years, more and more tourists have started focusing on…

  • Michelberger Hotel, Berlin

    A hotel that feels like home. Berlin is filled with cool things to discover, but…

  • Panorama Glass Lodge

    Admiring the Northern Lights while lounging in bed. Built in a remote area in western…

More for you

                array(5) {
  ["post__not_in"]=>
  array(1) {
    [0]=>
    int(142117)
  }
  ["tag__not_in"]=>
  array(2) {
    [0]=>
    int(16203)
    [1]=>
    int(9208)
  }
  ["posts_per_page"]=>
  int(12)
  ["caller_get_posts"]=>
  int(1)
  ["cat"]=>
  int(677)
}
            
  • The Balzo Collection

    An exploration of balance and movement. Florence-based Studio Lievito takes its name after the Italian…

  • Jack o’Lantern By Lucie Koldova

    Sophisticated lighting inspired by a playful concept. Drawing inspiration from traditional jack-o’-lanterns, Prague-based designer Lucie…

  • The Wehlers Sustainable Furniture

    Beautiful modern furniture with an eco-friendly build. Determined to create products for the conscious customers…

  • The Orbit Series By ANDlight

    Minimal Modern lighting inspired by the solar system. Vancouver-based design studio and lighting manufacturer ANDlight…

  • The Chikuno Air Purifier

    A beautifully designed activated charcoal air purifier. Used for hundreds of years by Japanese craftsmen…

  • The Macrocosmos Series

    Sculptural vases inspired by sci-fi and experimental design. Freedom of expression and unbridled creativity stand…

  • The TNK Flex Task Seating

    An award-winning desk chair. Created by Alegre Design for Actiu, the TNK Flex executive ergonomic…

  • The Ocean Travertine Collection

    A balance between elegance and solidity. An exploration of form and material, the Ocean Travertine…

  • The ARV Chair

    A stunning dining chair inspired by Danish tradition. The beautifully designed ARV Chair has a…

  • Filamento Light By Mayice Studio

    Lighting that doubles as decorative object. Pushing the boundaries of lighting design, the new Filamento…

Close Cart