Down to Earth fantasy
Ineke Hans is an exceptional Dutch designer whose name and personality have been brightly accentuated in the scene of modern design. Her furniture and other products are really vivid, dynamic and full of colour. They burst with optimism and are undoubtedly designed for a better living. However, the creations are also an excellent reflection of a practical approach to design. Nevertheless of the creative aspects, she doesn’t think an artist can allow himself be immersed in the world of naivety and nonchalance. She describes herself as a down to earth person, who is deeply interested in dealing with social problems.
Essence of design
I really hate it when people have the idea that design is about quirky forms, perplexing colors or high prices. Design is actually all about problem solving, trying out new materials or techniques, moving forward and being innovative. In my opinion, it makes no sense to make a product that I could have already done 20 years ago. There is already too much stuff produced nowadays, so why bother? It only gets worth doing when you work in a field of innovations and see how an object can be made completely different and in a more sustainable way.
Fashion and furniture
Fashion has been captured by very strict rules for a really long time. Every half of the year there is pressure to present new colors, new shapes. At the moment fashion designers are looking for new ways to make clothes, they indulge in the search of materials and technologies. In Holland there are lots of creators who object to the idea of bringing out new stuff every half a year simply because it‘s madness. Fashion world seems to be seriously rethinking what fashion is about, whereas furniture design has gravitated much towards the world of fashion during the last 20 years. New products are presented seasonally, so it‘s also fast business – take the case of international furniture fairs, for example.
Studies in the Royal College of Art
London is a very big city and to start living there was quite a big thing for me. Even though Holland and the UK are not so far away from each other, everything is absolutely different. It made me aware of certain things; for example, I started asking myself, how important is what I think? Being somewhere else than home is good for hearing other opinions and thoughts about your works.
While designing, you have to look at actually quite simple, but fundamental things. For instance, 50 years ago all the families were having their dinner together. Nowadays not all the members of the family are at home at the same time, which means they aren’t sitting at the same table, or eating by the table in general. We eat differently, including the objects that we eat with. Back in the old days, people would marry and buy cutlery for the rest of their lives. Hardly anyone does that kind of thing anymore. This is a tradition dying out, so the design of the cutlery also has to differ. Another example would be the case of the offices – as all the information is stored in the computers, there’s no need for the cupboards or shelves. A designer has to be aware of these changes and pick up certain ideas to be able to create for the current situation.
If someone is acting strangely or funny, I think it’s a bit weird to conclude that he or she must be an artist. Such stereotypes are our worst enemies. A designer has to be pretty organised otherwise he won’t manage to keep the business going. There’s no time to be in the clouds in such a tough profession.
The young generation these days is not so interested in having many things; they are more fascinated by the idea of traveling. My grandparents’ or parents’ generation was very much focused on having their own house, but nowadays people wish to have several small places in big cities all over the world so that they could constantly change places. It also has to do with the tendency of consuming less. I believe this situation is going to stay for a while and it will have an impact on design as well. These are the things that I like to discuss with students. I haven’t been teaching for a couple of years, but recently I’ve picked up the idea to experiment a bit and get in touch with young minds. As I’m experienced, I believe I can teach them something, but the main reason why I decided to do this is because I also wanted to learn something. Projecting future scenarios with students and seeing what they have on their minds is a unique experience. It’s good for keeping my brain fresh.
There’s one project we did a few years ago on an island in Canada. One woman from this island decided to build an inn and she asked different designers to work with people from there to make furniture. As a result, I collaborated with old fishermen and old women who were knitting or crocheting. That was a very nice experience. You know, it made so much sense! The island was turning grey as the young generation emigrated and there were only old people left. They had hardly anything to do and felt as if everything they loved was going to disappear. That woman insisted on making projects on an island and it suddenly attracted the visitors again. The hotel of the inn was also a place where people could go and play bingo, see a movie or even get married. This was a very social project and it made me rethink the position of a designer. I believe it’s necessary to deal with social aspects and think of ways how to tackle big problems.
Once I made a series of rocking chairs. On one of these chairs two people could sit with back to each other and on another one they could sit face to face so it became much friendlier. I do think that there are objects that can make you smile or make you happy. A designer has an ability to play with this stuff and experience how it works on people’s minds.
Refrigerators on wheels
I always go on holiday with old Volkswagen van, like a hippie (laughs). I’m very interested in camper vans and I’d love to design one. I think that such vans nowadays look like refrigerators on wheels and have nothing to do with holiday. I mean, I don’t understand why people decide to go on vacation and want to have all the conveniences (such as showers, TVs, cookers) with them. If you want to get away from usual place and escape the world, you should have the guts to abandon these things for a while. That’s what I think holiday is about.
Flex and hemp
Recently, together with a team we made a project in the North of Holland, in Province Drenthe. The concept of the project was to make furniture from materials found in the province. We produced seats from flex and hemp, which are natural fibers found in the fields when you cut grass or grains. The materials were very interesting because of their sustainability.