Carole Baijings

Carole Baijings was visited by a camera crew that shot a short film about the house she lives in with her partner Stefan Scholten for the website of the New York Times. This ‘House Tour’ has a prominent place on the NYT website and people familiar with the designer duo’s work will not fail to notice that their house is filled to the brim with Scholten & Baijings pieces. In the living room, the side tables they designed for Karimoku New Standard adorn a Hay carpet. Beyond that is sofa Gelderland. Lamp Moooi illuminates the bathroom. The bench they made for Moroso sits beside their wardrobe, and so on and so forth. The cute little toddler rummaging around among their creations is their son Rem. ‘Our best design,’ Carole laughs from behind a scrambled egg and salmon at the Amsterdam Conservatorium Hotel. Due to lack of time, she’s made this a breakfast interview.

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Elements carpet for Kvadrat (2019)
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Colour vase for HAY (2016)


The main reason they live among their own designs is that it’s the best way to test everything, she says. ‘Will the sofa stay beautiful if Rem jumps up and down on it and uses the material to make tents? Can the fabric withstand wear and tear? Will it actually survive dry-cleaning? How fragile is the Arita porcelain? Will the pieces chip if you knock them together? Is the bed linen still beautiful after a hundred washes?’ And? ‘The answer’s “yes”. Besides, after 17 years it’s nice to see that the designs we made for all those different brands, each with their own DNA, still fit together beautifully.’ Stefan creates all of the designs, she supervises their production. ‘I really love doing that. I love making sure the end result is everything we had in mind, down to the very last detail. That’s the reason we regularly visit factories to explain how the product has to turn out. Brands are often inclined to say, “Enough time spent. This has to be it.” But we always go for 200 per cent.’


She flew to America every six weeks in the past year, for example, to visit the Herman Miller factory famous for its Eames furniture. And the visits were necessary. We designed a sofa with a wooden frame for them. The concept is that of a woollen blanket draped over a wooden frame. Very minimalistic, but not easy to make, as they first thought. I told them right away that it looked a lot easier than it would be. The design includes several details that have to be executed meticulously, or it won’t be a minimalistic sofa.’ The end result, meanwhile, is not half bad. ‘I recently went over there with Stefan, because I wanted him to see it as well.’ She laughs. ‘Those people said to him: “She’s nicer at night than during the day. She’s extremely strict.” But to me, this isn’t about strictness. It’s about doing it right.’ This is also why they decided to postpone the product launch of their design for IKEA for a year. ‘They changed manufacturers, because the new one could handle bigger volumes. But it looked terrible. We won’t attach our name to something that isn’t any good. Planning-wise, this complicated things for a while, but they’ve come to see our point of view. They don’t work with us for nothing.

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Solid chair for Gelderland (2017)
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13EIGHTY chair for HAY (2013)
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She can be strict with her own people as well. ‘Do we really have to make another prototype, our designers will ask? Well, yes. We cannot afford to make something that doesn’t look good. That’s not what our clients have to come to expect of us and it’s taken us years to get to where we are today. Compare it to being a professional athlete. To practice, you have to continue to make prototypes until you get it right. And meet your clients in person whenever possible. With e-mails and middlemen, something always goes wrong. Which of course makes it quite a puzzle, with a child.’ Despite the work pressure, they each spend one day a week with Rem. ‘He got to use the actual drill Stefan uses yesterday. He was overjoyed, and only three. We recently gave him a saw, too, and he’s been walking around with it all day long, yelling: ‘I want to draw a chair too, daddy.’ On the days he’s not at home, he goes to a special nursery. ‘He thinks it’s super fun. He gets music lessons, does yoga, learns English and French words and is prepared for school. They eat a hot lunch. It also helps that we can take him in from 6:30 a.m. and pick him up as late as 8:30 p.m. If we miss a plane, he can even spend the night there.’ They never flew as much as they did last year. Usually separately. Stefan goes to Korea and Japan, Carole goes to America. It’s quite the juggling act to keep in touch, with all those time differences. ‘One time he came home at 5:30 a.m. and I left for Schiphol two hours later. That’s bizarre, obviously. At work, we’re mainly busy monitoring our designers. When we get home we want to spend time with Rem. To keep fit, we both go to the gym a couple of times a week and have an early night. At a certain point we felt that though we did see each other, we were never really together. Because you don’t want to talk shop all the time.’ So, what did you do about that? She laughs cheerfully. ‘We recently spent the weekend here in the Conservatorium Hotel. Went to the Spa. Left Rem with my mum. Lovely to feel: oh yeah, that’s how it is between us. Within a day and a half, we were back to being full of new ideas.’

This interview was published in WOTH issue No4 still available in our shop.