Eindhoven designer Piet Hein Eek: "I always want to make my own stuff"
Dezeen and MINI World Tour: next in our series of movies from Eindhoven, Dutch designer Piet Hein Eek discusses his fascination with waste materials and explains how he set up his huge studio complex in the city to manufacture his own products. Update: this interview is featured in Dezeen Book of Interviews, which is on sale now for £12.
Piet Hein Eek's studio, which we visited during Dutch Design Week earlier this year, is housed in a large former factory on the outskirts of Eindhoven.
"It wasn't meant to be this big," says Hein Eek. "But when we bought the building this was the only one where the workplace could be in the heart of the company, which was important for us."
"If a client walks in they can see how [a product] is designed, but they can also see how the products are made."
Over the years, Hien Eek has expanded his operations to fill the space, which now includes a shop, restaurant and gallery.
"Everything we wanted to do a little bit, we started doing really big," Hein Eek explains. "The lunch room became a restaurant, the art above the sofa became a gallery and the little things along the counter became a shop."
Hein Eek says that he always wanted to produce his own products, which is why he chose to stay in Eindhoven after graduating from Design Academy Eindhoven in 1990, an unusual choice at the time.
"The whole theme has always been that I want to make my own stuff," he says. "When I got my degree, Eindhoven was already the perfect place to produce."
"I was one of the few that stayed in Eindhoven. Now young designers stay here for the same reasons I stayed here 20 years ago."
A similarly unusual choice at the time was to produce furniture using scrap wood and metal, a process Hein Eek became famous for before up-cycling became fashionable.
"When I started [making furniture out of scrap material] it was not done," he says. "It was totally new, at a time where products were all perfect, to introduce quite a rough product."
Hein Eek says he is still fascinated with using waste materials. His new collection, Waste Waste 40x40, is a series of furniture made from 40mm squares of wood offcuts. "It is made from the left overs from the left overs," he claims.
He has also started to use waste plastic to create a series of busts.
"This is rubbish from the Tenerife beach," he says of one of the sculptures. "I always collect a lot of things on holiday and all the children help."
"So this is the last step in our material fetishisation - maybe that is the right word."
We drove around Eindhoven in our MINI Cooper S Paceman. The music in the movie is a track called Family Music by Eindhoven-based hip hop producer Y'Skid.
You can listen to more music by Y'Skid on Dezeen Music Project and watch more of our Dezeen and MINI World Tour movies here.