Dutch designer Maarten Baas was born in Arnsberg, Germany, in 1978 but moved to The Netherlands in 1979, where he grew up. Upon graduating from high school in 1995 he began his studies at the prestigious Design Academy Eindhoven. Baas designed the candleholder Knuckle, which was taken into production by Pols' Potten, while he was still studying. In 2000 he studied for several months at the Politecnico di Milano, in Milan.In June 2002 he graduated from the Design Academy Eindhoven with two concepts. One of them being the now famous and widely recognised Smoke series, for which Baas charred furniture and treated the torched skeletons with a coating, that turned them into useable pieces of furniture again. As an iconic collection of modern design, Smoke has been taken into several permanent collections of museums including the Victoria & Albert Museum, Groninger Museum and Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.In 2005 Baas began collaborating with Bas den Herder, who is now responsible for the production and development of almost all of Baas's designs. The founding of studio Baas & Den Herder made it possible to further work out Maarten's unique, handmade pieces and to produce them on a larger scale. This new collaboration also allows Baas to take on even more ambitious projects for hotels, restaurants, galleries, museums and private commissioners from all over the world.Since then, Baas has started working with other labels including Moooi, Skitsch and Established & Sons. Private commissioners include Adam Lindemann, Brad Pitt, Fabio Novembre, Ian Schrager, Li Edelkoort, Michael Ovitz and John McEnroe. Collaborations include companies such as Morgane Hotel Group and Dom Ruinart, galleries such as Galleria Rossana Orlandi (Milan), Cibone (Tokyo) and Moss (NY), and many museums.At the end of 2009, Baas was the youngest designer ever to be recognised as Designer of the Year during Design Miami.Baas lives and works on a farm in the countryside near Hertogenbosch.
Q : When did you realize you wanted to be a designer?A : When I was 14/15 years old, I went with my father to a friend of ours, who was studying architecture. For an assignment of his university he just designed a chair. I saw that and said to my father that furniture design could be something for me as well. It just felt right, and my father agreed to that.Q : How would you define your design style?A : I wouldn’t lock myself in a definition.
Q : What would you do if you were not a designer/artist?A : I think it would be something else creatively. If I would have the right talents I would like to be a musician, an actor, a film maker or a photographer. If it wouldn’t be in the artistic discipline, it would probably be something like a cook or so. Not because I can cook (I can’t), but just because I think it would be a nice and grateful job to do. I actually sometimes try to design like how a cook makes a meal.
Q : Where do you draw your ideas/inspiration from?A : From anything. Inspiration is not something like a take-away shop. It’s always anywhere and gets to you from all directions.Q : Who do you consult about works?A : My girlfriend is the main judge. And also Bas den Herder (my companion in the studio).
Q : Which of your projects do you consider a success?A : Clay furniture is in most ways a success. Personally and in a design way it was a key-collection for what I wanted to do as a designer.
Q : Which of your projects do you consider a failure?A : There are a few of them, and obviously you don’t know the products which became a real failure. There are a couple of projects which went wrong and which are still pretty much published. I’m not ashamed to tell about them, but not in a written interview.
Q : What is the first design work you can recall?A : As a child my mother let me create a lot as well, but that was more “graphic design”… The first produced piece was the Knuckle candle holder, when I was still a student. But the first designs for myself were made when I was 15/ 16 years old. I was always making my own furniture, modifying my bicycle, my guitar and changing my room.Q : To what extent do you believe that design should be functional?A : That depends on the project, on the designer, on the brief, on the requirements, on the dreams and on anything else. I approach design as a very wide platform on which a lot can happen. If that doesn’t stroke with the definition of “design”, than I prefer to change the definition or find another word, rather than changing my work in order to fit the definition.Q : Name a colleague you admire.A : PesceQ : What have you learnt about design yourself?A : The closer you will be by yourself, the more it attracts the people and circumstances which belong by yourself as well.
Q : With which personality from the past would you like to have coffee?A : There’s not somebody you would know, not a “famous” person with who I’d like to have a coffee, because those people are good to inspire big groups, but I wouldn’t be that interested in a personal meeting. So I would mention someone “small”, like an old friend or a family member.
Q : Which materials interest/fascinate you most?A : Nothing in particular. The material is not my starting point, but just a means to an end. The material should make what I need, but shouldn’t dictate the end result. That’s why I work in many materials.
Q : What advice would you give a designer at the start of his career / What advice would you have liked to receive at the start of your career?A : Make what you think is necessary to make, and do it as good as you can. Don’t be afraid to fail because a failure that came from your heart is better than a success that came from fear.
Q : What are your future projects?A : We’ll see...