As I’ve already written in a previous post, a while ago I visited a furniture exhibition in Cologne (imm Cologne 2019). The furniture company Aliticon was showing a few collections, including one of my own, as part of the international interior show. As a designer, I found it necessary to personally see how visitors reacted to my furniture and to get feedback face to face.
Above else, I was looking for inspiration, a difficult task. It’s been a while since I’ve been astounded by the quality and level of design presented at exhibitions such as iSaloni (Milan), imm (Cologne), Stockholm Furniture Fair, and similar events. Naturally, the level is high and everything is perfect, just as expected. You get used to the quality and stop being amazed. I began to wish for something new and unusual. I needed ideas! This time I got lucky, as when I was wandering from pavilion to pavilion, I stumbled on one of the brightest representatives of “Dutch design.” His name was Piet Hein Eek, and he evidently had ideas! I’m ashamed to admit that, personally, this was a great discovery. Despite his wide acclaim, I had never paid attention to him. My reaction to learning of Piet Hein Eek holds the key to what I experienced. Namely, I realized that my idea of design and what counts as “good” design is changing. These changes evoke a storm of emotions within me, a hurricane of ideas, the vast majority of which, unfortunately, remains on paper. Still, I implement at least some of the ideas, and I develop some as long-term plans, and some ideas turn into loose concepts I’m still working on…When I stumbled on Piet Hein Eek’s stand, I understood that I found someone who thinks in a similar way to me. This was my biggest moment of inspiration at the imm Cologne 2019 exhibition. In fact, this article is less about Pete Hein than it is about my inspiration.
I won’t try to label him to show off my artistic knowledge or put his style in any particular box. You can do this yourself by searching his name online. The fact that Piet Hein Eek is a graduate of Design Academy Eindhoven explains a lot. Nevertheless, I will share some photos of the PIET HEIN EEK stand at imm Cologne 2019.
The first thing I thought of when I saw Piet Hein’s stand was “in the style of ENZO MARI.”
Enzo Mari is one of the most recognized masters of modernism in Italian design. He was born in 1932 in Italian Novara. Later, he moved to Milan, where he resides to this day. His style and philosophy of design has been influenced not only by various movements professing manual labor and handcrafted production, rejecting machine industrial production, but also by his political views. At the beginning of his career, Enzo Mari shared communist ideals.
As a result, furniture pieces made of wood, distinguished by their simplicity and even primitiveness, became recognized and associated with Enzo Mari. When I try to describe something similar, I use the phrase “in the style of Enzo Mari.”
Anyway, when I first saw a few of Piet Hein’s wooden items, I associated them with Enzo Mari, but this comparison ended when I came in contact with the rest of his work and activities. Of course, I don’t confuse the works of Piet Hein Eek with the works of any other designers or artists anymore.
EINDHOVEN. PIET HEIN EEK manufacture.
The day after the exhibition was finished, I packed up and went to Eindhoven, where Piet Hein Eek’s factory is based, so I could see everything in person.
I’ll begin with the actual factory structure. The complex is comprised of a few buildings, which hold a design and architectural office, a production area, a gallery exhibiting third-party artists, Piet Hein Eek’s showroom, a store, office, and even a restaurant filled with his own furniture. It looks like a designer’s dream.
The arc of the main entrance to the factory/design studio and courtyard.
A strange constructivist structure, similar to a huge bus stop or train platform, with a mini-showroom in the shape of a glass cube installed under the roof; restaurant; Piet Hein Eek’s office.
The process of creation visible through the windows of the buildings. This part of the show is called “design.”
A few takes inside the PIET HEIN EEK building. In my opinion, the first photo, depicting the entrance from the building to the main hall, fully reflects the design philosophy of the Piet Hein brand and its character.
Fragment of the store, part of the showroom on the second floor and the view of the factory from the showroom.
The store on the first floor carries both items of its own production, and the results of PIET HEIN EEK’s collaboration with other manufacturers, brands and designers, for example the LEEF brand from Amsterdam. There are also other interesting items.
From the second-floor showroom, you can observe the production process. That is, you can wander around the showroom, look at furniture and works of art (without exaggeration), and immediately look at the production panorama, watch how it is all created. This is why I said that the very process of creation at Piet Hein Eek seems like part of his product, his show…
I greatly admire people who are able to create something new, or to take the old to a new level, changing its associations. Try to create something in the world of furniture so that when you formulate your approach, you name becomes tied to it.
At first glance, I thought that PIET HEIN EEK’s furniture is “in the style of Enzo Mari.” But when I got a closer look at Piet Hein’s works, I understood that all of them are already “in the style of Piet Hein.”
P.S.: As it turned out, I had encountered the name “Piet Hein Eek” earlier, but for some reason I never turned my attention to him. In 2015, at the ICFF exhibition in New York, I got to know some guys from the Amsterdam company LEFF. I was drawn to their stand by a collection of wristwatches that had been designed by Piet Hein Eek. But my interest stopped at the LEFF watches.