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Joost & Kiki: reCollections

by Brian Fichtner
on 23 April 2008

While the Italians were rightfully celebrating their design legacy at the Triennale with an exhibition called "What is Italian Design?," I find it worth noting that once again, Dutch design was proving to be the most radical, poetic, soul-searching work at the Salone del Mobile. On the last day of the fair, I doubled back to the Zona Tortona to see “reCollections,” an exhibition of recent work by Dutch duo Joost van Bleiswijk and Kiki van Eijk. The partners, who design autonomously but find their products intrinsically linked through craftsmanship, go by the name Joost & Kiki. Like Studio Job, this pair functions as a highly scripted design team. Well versed in the art of self-promotion, they even published a small hardbound book on their work for the exhibition.


Despite the very different stylistic qualities of their work, the exhibition resonated with harmony. (Click images for detail.) In fact, I think the pairing might be described much like the old adage about personal relationships, that opposites attract. Joost's designs were resolutely solid; characterized by a rigid, Art Deco-esque geometry that clearly revealed his architectural approach to objects.

Kiki's pieces, on the other hand, obviously take detail as a point of departure—a decorative pattern or an emblem—and the product takes shape around this. Obvious comparisons will be made between Kiki and Hella Jongerius, each has a similar approach to layering decorative elements, so we'll be interested to see how her work evolves over the years.

As for the products, Joost showed two collections that reflect a profound approach to the way things are constructed. His "No Screw, No Glue" pieces are fabricated from dozens, sometimes hundreds, of individually hand-polished steel sections that snap in place, layer by layer, to form the final object.

The "Compose" series of "trophies" is assembled using molten pewter as the only joining element for the stacked sections of wenge wood. Kiki's "Patchwork Cabinets" and "Domestic Jewels" seating elements both attempt to show how historical ornamentation and personal artifacts serve as cultural nodes in the shaping of our interiors.

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