Maarten Baas at Design Indaba 2011

Sunday, 27 February 2011

The recently reopened Mendini restaurant designed by Maarten Baas at the Groninger Museum featuring his clay lamps

One of the stand-out talks from the second day of Design Indaba was by Dutch designer Maarten Baas. Taking a last minute decision to change the format of his prepared presentation, Baas gave a  heartfelt and honest view of his work and his thoughts on the design industry. From revealing that, in his opinion, "his worst project" was his 2009 Shell cabinet (below), to his views on sustainability: "People use it as an excuse to create more needless design, I like to make well made products that people will keep for a long time - that's sustainable". Baas covered all areas of his work and even created his own FAQs at the end of the presentation.

The Shell cabinet that Bass launched at Design Miami 2009, where he was also named designer of the year

Bass also spoke out against what he referred to as a 'Superman aesthetic' - "Products that are perfect are overrated...showing the weak side of ourselves is mostly forbidden in the design world". He criticised the industry's need to define and categorize design; his most frequently asked question is "So are you a designer or an artist?" His response is that it doesn't matter. "In design you need dictators, not a democracy. If you don't like what you see, go and buy something else"

Using seasonal cycles as an allegory for his creativity, Maarten described his current state as winter and that he will not be presenting at the Milan Furniture Fair this year. He didn't attend the fair in 2010 either but still made his presence felt by creating an iphone app, which was heralded by the New York times as a highlight of the fair.