Piet Hein Eek is a world renowned Dutch designer, who made his name when he graduated from the Academy for Industrial Design Eindhoven in 1990 with a cupboard made from scraps of wood he found in a lumber yard.
He set up his own practice three years later creating furniture that, in his words, was designed from ‘available possibilities’, with pieces using waste from other processes and, sometimes, waste from that waste. Products are created around the materials the practice has in stock – whether that be a vast number of huge wooden beams or metal pipes – and the machines it possesses.
Craft is vitally important to everything he’s produced. And production is at the heart of his enormous studio in Eindhoven that also includes a shop, restaurant, an art gallery, and, in the very near future, a hotel.
During his career, the designer has also branched out into architecture, starting by creating extraordinary garden outhouses and expanding into pieces of urban planning, as well as collaborating with brands such as LEFF and IKEA.
I caught him just as he was preparing to exhibit at the Salone in Milan, arguably the world’s most important design festival.
In this episode we talk about: being a bit of a rebel; the studio’s new boutique hotel; his fascination with ruins and how that feeds into his practice; the story behind his iconic Scrap Wood series; his love of Eindhoven; why making is vital to his studio; splitting up with his long term business partner, Nob Ruijrok; embracing failure; and collaborating with the behemoth that is IKEA. It's fascinating stuff.
My thanks go to the American Hardwood Export Council (or AHEC) for sponsoring this episode. To find out more about its new project at London’s Design Museum, Discovered, go to: https://discovered.global