Dutch design is hot. Real trend savvy readers out there will likely go: “duh” now, but I thought I’d emphasize on it again. Dutch design is, after all, hot. Still is, and will be for a while to come yet if you ask my humble opinion. Another “duh” is likely on the way as I am going to share with you work created in 2002.
Maarten Baas is one of quite a few Dutch designers whose work involve human intervention or customizing existing pieces of furniture or materials rather than creating new ones on a production line based on a single design drawn up in someones studio. Baas uses found wooden objects, usually furniture with a distinct antique look and feel, to create his work. He adds his signature with a technique that involves singeing them with a blowtorch.
Baas first came up with the idea of burning furniture, a line soon aptly called ‘Smoke’, for his graduation show at the Design Academy in Eindhoven in 2002. He was interested to find out what certain types of damage would do to wooden objects. He tried soaking them, throwing them of buildings and scratching the wood with various objects before he found out that burning them in a certain way kept their shape intact, yet created a certain new surface and colour because of the charring of the wood.
Baas preserves the newly created fragile charcoal surface with epoxy layers. This also accounts for the almost lacqer-like sheen his work is known for. His work was adopted by Dutch manufacturer Moooi pretty much immediately after his first show. They put several of his chairs and a chandelier into production which became instant design classics. Most of his work is now produced in Indonesia where craftsmen first reproduce the original item and then burn them. Luckily Baas still creates one-off pieces by burning design classics or antiques for shows or in commission.