Piet Hein Eek is the super-daddy of supercycling.
With his distinctly Hein Eek aesthetic of recycling, obvious at first glance in his furniture and objects, he has taken the concepts of handmade and re-use to another level.
You will recognise the Piet Hein Eek look in pieces of recycled timber furniture, whose original paint is still partly evident, in chairs, tables, bookshelves, consoles, wallpaper... the list goes on.
For us, his unwaivering commitment to reuse and mammoth productivity is what makes him a supercycler. The work retains its folkish handmade quality because it is still hand made - but it is created on a scale usually associated with big name brands.
We've been following the trajectory of Piet Hein Eek for a while now. When we first discovered his work it was in the pages of the beautiful book (or boek) pictured here published by Bis - it takes us through his early work and gives an insight into the already prolific nature of his practice.
Since the publication of the book in 2006, however, the Piet Hein Eek empire has continued to grow, always in a way that seems to be in keeping with his work. In Milan 2010 we picked up a pamphlet (below) that tells us about the plans for the site of this new empire - an ambitious project to inhabit some disused industrial buildings on the outskirts of Eindhoven.
Now, with this empire inhabited, we see that it has become a cultural centre. A place for design and manufacture and also for exhibitions, guest speakers, music, food and meeting... we want to go to there!
balkenbank enorm by Piet Hein Eek
It's hard to know which of the myriad of objects to include in this post - an image google of P. Hein E's work looks something like this:
That's just the first page - here's the following 4...
Too much!! In a good way!
Here's some things Piet Hein Eek had to say to us when we spoke to him...
supercyclers: Piet Hein Eek, what inspires you?
Piet Hein Eek: In general I'm inspired by materials, technique and craftsmanship. But almost always my ideas start with the material.
supercyclers: Tell us the story of how you came to make your first piece of furniture
Piet Hein Eek: It was a scale model which I made from small pieces of wood, Lucifer's I think, when I was about 12 years old. The model had real doors and hinges and was only 2cm high (I still have this model)
supercyclers: Was it your intention to have a sustainable design practice - or was it purely because of your love for second hand materials?
Piet Hein Eek: Its mainly because I respect and like materials. I use both second hand materials as new and leftovers. We even have a 99.2% cupboard which is made of exactly 1 sheet of metal, so no left over in this case.
banken bij elkaar by Piet Hein Eek
supercyclers: Do you let the form of the material tell you what you are going to do with your designs - or do you have a preconceived idea?
Piet Hein Eek: Most designs come to me at once in a total concept. And as I become more experienced and have more opportunities, the source of inspiration for those ideas grows bigger and bigger.
supercyclers: How would you describe your design philosophy?
Piet Hein Eek: Essentially I love materials and try to make products which will last and are not influenced by fashion. I have a natural aversion to mass consumerism and spoiling.
balkensalonblok by Piet Hein Eek
supercyclers: Your practice has expanded substantially - you are an inspiration to many designers/craftspeople - How big is the Piet Hein Eek empire now?
Piet Hein Eek: The size isn't of any importance. If you're a writer in a little hut in the fields you can be happy and create wonderul literature. We have accidentally chosen to do everything ourselves and we need a lot of employees and space to realise my ideas, but in the end it all comes down to creating a stimulating environment in which to create. The size of this environment isn't of any importance.
We've been working now for more than 15 years and all the time we are adapting to new situations. But in the end we haven't changed our mentality. Both Nob (my business partner) and I really like processes and we're not specifically interested in a 100% success story. If we fail - in the process we have achieved and learnt a lot and also had a lot of fun