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A Designer’s Many Alter Egos: Kiki&Joost Studio

How many roles can a designers have? What would be your Alter Ego? These are some of the questions asked by designers Kiki&Joost at DDW 2018

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An abstract sculptor, a composer, a poet, a social activist, a father, a treasure hunter, a gardener, a painter, a mad professor, a baker and a socialist. These are the many personalities and professions that Kiki Van Eijk and Joost van Bleiswijk inhibit under the umbrella of their work as designers. Playfully playing with their many roles Kiki&Joost Studio presents the exhibition Alter Ego in their studio during Dutch Design Week.

By pairing each piece of work with an “alter ego” the exhibition hints at a deeper story behind the final objects. The versatility of works on display speaks of the many approaches that the two designers take. From tea towels and aprons to abstract sculptures, lighting or architectural interventions, the exhibition also delves into the variety of motives and methods for producing work whether commissioned, for a social project, for a company or to satisfy a personal curiosity. In this way, the exhibition successfully highlights the many facets that shape the sphere of design and designers today.

The projects Space Poetry and Shadows of Gold reveal Kiki Van Eijk as a hidden poet. The former is a series of architectural sketches that take the form of sculptures with geometric arches and rectangular prisms intersecting to suggest a function but not define one. The sculptural objects are made from a concrete-like material that is actually corn-based. The sculptures are presented as thoughts, like jottings on a paper that mark the beginning of a poem, with the designer intending to develop them further.

Meanwhile, the series of marble tableware, Shadows of Gold present a more finalized product. The series was the result of Doppia Firma (Double Signature) which is a dialogue between designers and master artisans. Working with the historic gold leaf laboratory in Venice called Berta Battiloro, van Eijk observed the sunlight coming through the window had a similar patina to the gold leaf and combined these into a series of tableware.

The work by Joost van Bleiswijk also straddles the gaps between experimentation and production. Fascinated by the ability to join components without the assistance of screws or glue his slotting pieces are presented as the work of a “Mad Scientist”. The No Screw No Glue collection in its many manifestations is a testament to careful consideration of forms that can also function as a self-supporting structure.

The antithesis of this precision based approached is van Bleiswijk’s Curved and Tape, an experimental series of aluminum sculptures that use intuition and expressive gestures to find their form.

His clock, entitled TIJD designed for Social Label – a company that pairs people who are excluded from the labor market because of physical or mental disabilities with a designer and a manufacturer to teach them skills – is framed by the designer’s alter ego of a “social activist”.

Regardless of which version of themselves Kiki Van Eijk and Joost van Bleiswijk slip into, the spirit of curiosity, a sense of playfulness and a love of materials is always evident.

To see more of the pairs’ alter egos and the projects that accompany them, visit Kiki&Joost’s studio at Plan B during Dutch Design Week until October 28.

Alter Ego
Shadows of Gold by Kiki Van Eijk
Alter Ego
Sketch of Curved and Tape by Joost van Bleiswijk
Alter Ego
Curved and Tape series by Joost van Bleiswijk
Alter Ego
Freeform by Kiki Van Eijk
Alter Ego
TIJD clock for Social Label by Joost van Bleiswijk
Alter Ego
Sketch of Space Poetry by Kiki Van Eijk
Alter Ego
Space Poetry by Kiki Van Eijk
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