This woman never sits still. Don’t miss out on her Wonderful works on show at the Salone this year! Besides a new carpet for Nodus, there’s a presentation of her special collaboration with Google. On show at Rossana Orlandi — Via Matteo Bandello 14/16.

Designer Kiki van Eijk (39), raised in the small town of Tegelen near Venlo in Limburg, has been successful from the moment she graduated cum laude from the Design Academy Eindhoven. She became known for her ‘soft’ series: clocks and candleholders, among other things, that look like they are made of fabric but on closer inspection turn out to be ceramics. She has a thousand things to do at the moment. For the Dutch Design Week 2017 she and her partner Joost van Bleiswijk organised an exhibition at their new workshop: Plan-B. The designs for the exhibition are in the midst of being developed. Besides this they’re cooperating on projects with various furniture brands and soon the Hermès store windows at the airports of Paris and Nice will be complete. They’re also busy designing the Christmas displays in the Hermès store windows at airports in London, Amsterdam and Zurich. For the display of a new Hermès shop in Oslo, Kiki designed an installation that transforms from a winged horse under water into a boat that sails through clouds of snow. She made the underwater plants out of beautifully coloured leftover leather from the Hermès ateliers.



Plan-B is a former Philips laboratory. ‘Laboratory’ is a word that fits the way they work, says Kiki. ‘I’m always trying out new techniques. That’s why we’re calling our exhibition ‘The Tinkering Labs’. A lot of things come about through tinkering, sketching or painting, or by testing things in miniature. The whole team does parts of it and tests, tries things out in the workshop, makes mock-ups, little booklets, researches material.’

Variation and her personal signature are both characteristic of her work. Kiki designs carpets, chairs, cupboards, wallpaper and ingenious technical installations – alone or with Joost – always in diverse techniques and varying materials. She embroiders tapestries and room dividers, blows glass and paints. But always with that fairy-tale handwriting that she herself calls ‘Alice in Wonderland’.

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Kiki for Hermès — Bijenkorf in Amsterdam
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Kiki for Hermès — Marbella
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Half a year ago, she and Van Bleiswijk had a second child. ‘Since the youngest was born, we’ve been getting a lot of new ideas,’ she says. ‘It’s funny: although at first you’re very tired and busy with the baby, it still causes a transition, as if its arrival stirs up something in your mind: you want to work on new ideas again. It was the same for Joost: he was home more often because he wanted to be there for the baby, these are very special months that you can never get back. But Joost really can’t sit still so he brought home a 3D printer, and every time the baby slept he tried to figure out how the printer works and what the possibilities are. This resulted in all kinds of little models, which now form the basis for new designs.’

Kiki’s own new work for the Dutch Design Week came into being in the same time period after the birth. ‘I spent a lot of time in the garden – I really like to work in the garden – and this inspired me to design a series of light objects. I translated the way plants grow towards the light and acquire a very special shape, and the way a flower sits on a stalk or bush, into simplified shapes. Some of the parts were printed by our 3D printer. I’ve never done anything with plastic before, but this is justified because the materials are biodegradable. I combine it with a luxury material like brass. What’s nice is that it all happened because Joost started puttering around the house. In this way, nature and 3D-printing go together seamlessly.’



Art directors from the interior and luxury industries regularly visit their workshop. All the little experiments and try-outs standing around there give them ideas, for example for a more applied design that could also be produced in larger quantities. Creative collaborations in which she feels comfortable are very important to Van Eijk. ‘Only when you really feel safe and there’s a genuine connection is it possible to take things to the next level. That’s what results in the most beautiful collaborations.’

Working together at home, one day a week, without the studio around them and without kids: that’s the secret to her continuous creativity. Kiki: ‘It’s the one day we allow ourselves to take a walk in the woods. That peace of mind: it’s the only time you can wonder about new things, or think up new solutions to problems you keep running into. Those moments of reflection are very important. Before we had children, we used to rent a little house in France at least once a year to look back and make plans. Now we do that one day a week. Otherwise you just drag along.’

‘We live in a nature reserve, so we go outside a lot – also with the children – into the woods, into the fields. Our house is an oasis, which is necessary, especially when you’re always thinking about a million things. Joost and I are very visual people, we’re always looking around, absorbing everything. We’ve been to all the corners of the world: India, Madagascar, Cameroon, Mexico, Japan, Belize, Guatemala, you name it. We were always exhausted the first week after arriving in a new place, just from taking everything in.’

The residence in the Philips laboratory is only temporary. Kiki and Joost are negotiating with the municipality of Eindhoven about buying a big lot in a former waste disposal area. ‘A hidden gem,’ according to Kiki. If it all works out, they’ll move into a building they’re having constructed there by the end of 2018. They want to set up a creative industrial area where fellow designers and other creatives can build their own pavilions.

‘Both beginners and established names, from different creative professions, but all high-quality.’

This dream plan will probably come true, now that it has been approved by the executive board of the municipality in reality. They’re now talking to investors who support the project. ‘We’ve always been quartermasters in Eindhoven. We were one of the first to move into Strijp-S, then Strijp-T, and now here. We thought: Why not start something really new, somewhere we can actually stay?’

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Kiki & Joost — Studio Plan B, Eindhoven
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Orange aluminium Clock by Kiki van Eijk

This interview was published in WOTH No7. This issue is still available in english via Bruil & van der Staaij. Or get a subscription here! 

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