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Youthful designs

During the summer, designers and kids came together at De Vrijstaat to work on an original project focused on product design. The outcome was anything but childish.

By Cassandra Pizzey / 22-11-2012

De Vrijstaat is an art location in the Leidsche Rijn area where children between the ages of six and sixteen can come and take part in various artforms, including product design. Together with Rikkert Paauw of Stortplaats van Dromen and the FOUNDation project, the Vrijstaat hosted a summer camp where a whole host of great designs were created.

We spoke to Rikkert Paauw about the collaboration.

Could you tell us something about the summer camp?

“Each year De Vrijstaat organises an art camp for kids and invite artists to come and give workshops. I was invited back after working on the renovation of De Vrijstaat (designed by 2012Architecten) to host a number of workshops based on the FOUNDation project and themed ‘city nomads’.

Growing up in an modern housing estate close to the city can be a little boring so it’s great that kids can have real adventures here.”

What made this project so special for you?

“I have been making things from scrap materials since I little; everything from tree houses to social spaces and living quarters. The only difference now is that I’ve made it into my profession. So working with youngsters and making something really beautiful was really rewarding. At one point one of the girls even told me she really appreciated being treated like a grown up.”

What happened during the workshops?

“It was great that we had a whole week to create something real instead of just a one-hour workshop. And to be honest, they were all pretty good with tools. Instead of sticking to a fixed plan, the outlines of the project were formed organically. I realized they had a good eye for detail and enjoyed creating things so we focused on making a furniture series that would fit perfectly at De Vrijstaat. I’m amazed at how consistent the collection turned out.”

Where did you source you materials?

“We asked around local building sites and went door to door asking locals for any materials. It was a lot of fun walking around those building sites with a bunch of kids. Eventually we found everything from wooden boards, to concrete iron and styrofoam."

Was it a challenge to work with young people?

“Not really as everything went really smoothly and by day four everyone seemed to knw what they were doing. Sometimes they would get so caught up in the work they forgot to listen but when new exciting ideas were created it was really rewarding. Some of my least favourite suggestions turned out to be the best pieces of work, in effect we created a real discussion about art!”

What do you hope to achieve through this project?

“I think everyone should take the time to take a critical look at the quality of materials, whether they be new or recycled. I would love it if kids went out exploring their neighbourhood and adding beautiful things to it, have a real adventure.”

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