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Milan 2013: Dick van Hoff for Thomas Eyck

Cool and credible the Thomas Eyck collection can always be counted on to fuse just the right dose of intellectual, aesthetic and social-issues.  Dick van Hoff's new work on wood and leather continues this tradition.

By Gabrielle Kennedy /asdf 11-04-2013

It is no coincidence that the designers Thomas Eyck works with for his collections are all established names that have responded relatively well to a changing design environment.  Small-scale studios that emphasize a very pure approach to materials with a focus on objects designed to last. 

Currently in Milan Eyck is presenting Dick van Hoff’s new work with wood and leather.  The project grew out of a series of very natural conversations between Eyck and Van Hoff.  “Initially it was not about doing something for him,” Van Hoff says.  “We were just discussing my interest in leather and it turns out it was a material he too was interested in having in his collection.”

Van Hoff has no specific experience with leather but just loves working with classic materials.  “I like rigid, solid materials, “ he says,  “Wood, leather, ceramics … my focus is always the materials.  I am not interested in experimenting or doing crazy things, but rather I tend to always go back to the material’s original usage.”

For this Van Hoff spends a lot of time researching – the techniques, systems and crafts, related to the material.  “I love to cut, stitch, and treat what I am working with,” he says.  “It creates such respect for the material and I always create my own prototypes by hand.”

It is this very purist approach to design that makes Van Hoff so angry about contemporary disposable lifestyles. “I make things that last,” he says.  “My objects wear their usage and age.  The soul of the material starts to show as do the habits of the user.  I do not make things to be thrown out or replaced the following season because a new colour comes into fashion.”

Van Hoff talks a lot about his dual goals - decelerate and accelerate.  By this he means designing objects that offer a brief repose, a small time out from the fast-paced lives we live.  “My chairs are not designed for a user to sit in for five hours,” he says, “but more like 15 or 30 minutes to take a breather.  The point is to take a short moment away from whatever it is we do that stresses us.  It clears the mind and makes us more effective.  It is about slowing down and ultimately working better.”

In this current collection for Thomas Eyck, Van Hoff is also showing other objects fashioned from wood and leather like a container to hold wood for an indoor fireplace, a leather day-bench and some old-school leather satchels.

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