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Piet Hein Eek's organic designs wow London

“I think my ideas work best in big, western capitalistic, industrialized environments,” Piet Hein Eek says. “Such places represent the opposite of what I do so it’s like looking in a mirror. It fills an emotional gap."

By Gabrielle Kennedy / 25-09-2008

Piet Hein Eek held his third exhibition in the Rabih Hage Gallery and his first pop up shop during the London Design Festival to huge acclaim. The Dutch designer continues to be admired for his exquisite handling of organic materials.

The exhibition showed scaled and detailed sketches of classic pieces such as the Scrapwood Cupboard and the aluminum Philips Cupboard as well as displaying standing objects like an early drawer chest covered in vintage wallpaper.

The point was an exploration of the engineering behind the objects. “I wanted to illustrate the dual aspects of Piet’s work that make him such a unique designer,” says Hage who first invited the Dutch designer to exhibit in his gallery four years ago. “The production pieces show the range of his brilliant creative aesthetic while the drawings show how real manufacturing skills and a deep understanding of the engineering process underlie the apparent simplicity of his work.”

Ninety five per cent of Eek’s pieces are made in his studio by his team. For him, it’s more than just handing over the technical aspects to engineers or expert craftsmen. “It’s not that I wouldn’t,” Eek says, “but I have my own way of doing things and it is almost impossible to find people who work like I do.”

The exhibition offered insights that enabled a fuller appreciation of the work available at the nearby pop shop, which stays open until October 31. It’s Eek’s biggest showcase to date. The Scrapwood Cupboard, first launched sixteen years ago and the Sheet Cupboard, which made its debut at the Milan Salone del Mobile in 2007 are available. His newest concept involving the reworking of leftover scraps into patchwork pieces can also be seen in the shape of stacked stools. Eek is also using this technique to create larger objects..

Both designer and gallerist are thrilled with how Eek’s work has been received in London. “I think my ideas work best in big, western capitalistic, industrialized environments,” Eek says. “Such places represent the opposite of what I do so it’s like looking in a mirror. It fills an emotional gap.

“When you go to a typical shopping mall you see hundreds of products but you have no clue where they were made or why they were made or who designed them. Those products are made with the least amount of attention to detail possible. And in many ways we do the same thing. We aim for as little detail as possible but the difference is our product’s point is all about that detail. What you are buying is that attention to detail, which is the value-added component.”

Rabih Hage pop-up shop runs until 31st October, 1-5 Exhibition Road, London.

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