A NEW DUTCH MASTER: Artists are never any one type, as indicated by Kiki van Eijk’s workload.
Her designs will be featured in various capacities at Salone del Mobile, starting with wall hangings in the Google-presented “Softwear” at Rossana Orlandi’s gallery. The installation bows to the public Tuesday.
For Nodus, she has designed a carpet inspired by a Venetian Carnivale that she painted with watercolors. Another project she has been involved with that will be shown in Milan during Salone del Mobile is called “Shadows of Gold” for Doppia Firma. Working with a gold leaf laboratory in Venice, van Eijk aimed to relay the same kind of energy as sunlight streaming through a window, so she made a replica of the window that is in the laboratory, which shows experiments as to how the light shines through and how an object catches the varying light. The surrounding area will be in shadows while the marble objects that will catch the light will be covered in gold leaf.
Van Eijk has also been hard at work designing the booth for the Dutch furniture brand Linteloo, which will include blown-up versions of her watercolors that will be printed on curtains and transferred onto the space.
She continues her work for Hermès, designing many store windows worldwide. In her 8,600-square-foot workshop, van Eijk has machinery for metal works, wood works, textiles and other techniques. “For Hermès, it’s always very important to tell a story. This year the theme of the year is ‘play’ so all of the windows will be very playful. For each project that I do for them, I experiment with materials, techniques and how to make things.”
In the coming weeks, her “Play in Sun, Sea and Garden” will be installed in airport Hermès stores at Paris Roissy Airport, Nice, Amsterdam, Copenhagen and London’s Heathrow Airport. “Imagine gigantic sandcastles and other sand sculptures made of Play-Doh, tree huts, dams to build with boats made of Hermès sandals, wallets and other objects,” she said.
Through her Hermès affiliation, van Eijk said she is already at work on holiday windows for its five stores in Spain’s major cities. In addition, her own pursuits include furniture and glass design, as well as a public space project in Holland. “There are actually quite a lot of projects happening at the same time right now,” she said. “The range is quite wide.”
She is among a few Dutch designers creating products for the Dutch company Return to Sender, which helps young women and girls in (“often male-dominated”) developing countries. The company was started by the actress and musician Katja Schuurman. Van Eijk’s fair trade items will be produced by impoverished women in Bangladesh, with the money they earn earmarked for their own education and for their children’s. Van Eijk is designing textiles, rugs, dish towels and wall hangings that will be unveiled in September. “All of my designs, samples, production and the materials that I choose are inspired by their local culture. There is a very strong link to their culture to celebrate the women there and their craft.”
For the “Green Corridor” project, she is among the artists and designers offering alternative concepts for artwork in public spaces to link the cities along the bike and pedestrian path that stretches from Eindhoven Center to Oirschot. To make the road more geared for walking, biking and recreation, there is a proposal to close some of it to cars. “The idea is that people will wander around more and look differently at nature alongside the road. What’s interesting is that in Eindhoven we have all these industrial buildings like the former Philips building. But when you leave there is more nature. This will be an interesting challenge to mix the nature and the industrial side, and to integrate the artwork with nature,” she said.
Noting how part of the road stretches along Van Gogh National Park, the designer and her designer husband Joost van Bleiswijk live in a renovated farmhouse close to the water mill near Nuenen that the Impressionist painted. She said of van Gogh, “It’s still a very exciting idea that he walked around where I still very often walk to get a fresh breath of air and go jogging. It is where I also take a lot of inspiration from nature for various projects,” she said.