Salone 2008: Interview with Maarten Baas

I’m not easily star strucked, but today I felt my knees went shaky when we met with the Dutch designer Maarten Baas. His showroom is an old garage, dirty and rustic, and his furniture fits perfect with the Italian backyard charm. As he was chilling in a chair in the sun with a beer, we asked him some questions:
Since we are a design website, we were interested in knowing what websites and blogs designers read and get inspiration form. Maarten actually tells us that he doesn’t really use Internet for other than e-mailing and checking the news. "I don’t really know what a blog is or how I can comment on stuff", he says, and being the two internet-geeks that we are, we had to laugh a little!

Maarten is one of those talented people that was lucky enough to get his work on the market even before he finished Design Academy Eindhoven. His advice for others is therefore to be yourself, instead of beeing something your not. “ For me it wasn’t a choice, I just did things my own way and then things just started to happen. Don’t try to be a professional when you’re not. Sometimes it is riskfull to put yourself out there, and it still is.” An example on that is Maartens clay collection, which he actually considers to be the favourite of his own designs. “It was really what I wanted to do, but it was a fragile show. I didn’t know how people would respond to it. I had just had a big succes with the collection before, and I knew people had high expectations. I just had to trust in my own intuition”.

Maarten has a very unique design style. His furniture looks like sketches that has been given tree dimensional forms right off the paper. This sketch-style is rare to see among mass produced objects, that often miss a certain personal touch. Maarten has managed to contain this in a unique way, which sets him off from the rest of the furniture market. “I miss the personal touch in others design, it’s to impersonal.”
He tells us that he tries to switch off the rational part of his brain while he sketches, so that he can have an other type of freedom to design. “In the end off course, I need to switch the rational part back on again to realize the project. But when you start to sketch, just trust your spontanity.”

This year Maarten is not only having his own exhibition in the garage in via voghera, but he is also out with a limited edition for Established and sons. The whole thing started out just as a spontaneous idea, he said, and ended up in something serious and expensive. We ask him if he would have changed the way of designing if he had known from the start how much money that would go into producing it, and he tells us that he maybe would have been more careful and less extreme if he were depending on the money aspect.

Maarten says that he feels like he is taking responsibility for the beauty of his products based on the materials he uses, but that for him personally the environmental aspect dosen’t have a big influence. “ Sustainability dosen’t relate to my work, and it would be hypocritical of me to relate to it. Even though you make chair of 100% recyclable materials you still have to change the packaging, transportation and so on. If you are in one with the environmental idea, you wouldn’t be a designer!”

We have already been talking to Maarten for a while and people are starting to line up in the backyard. Salone del Mobile is the only fair that he actually takes personally initiative to do, and as we leave the garage we are trying not to jump up and down of excitement of having meet with one of the designers these days we look up to the most!

(Maarten was interviewed by Julia and Natalie)

Written by Julia
Photos by Natalie

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