Friday Five with Maarten Baas

Maarten Baas is a German-born Dutch artist and designer that graduated from the Eindhoven Design Academy in 2002 and has since gone on to be dubbed one of the most influential Dutch designers of modern times. His graduation project, entitled Smoke, references the charred pieces of furniture he produced which caught the attention of Marcel Wanders’ Moooi, who quickly scoped them up and presented them at Salone del Mobile in 2003. Despite his early success, he continued to produce work that stayed true to his ideals and signature aesthetic, including designs for brands, such as Louis Vuitton, Dior, Swarovski, Gramercy Park Hotel, and more. His work, which can be found in many permanent collections, like MoMa, Victoria & Albert Museum, Les Arts Decoratifs, San Francisco MoMA, Die Neue Sammlung, Stedelijk Museum and Rijksmuseum, effortlessly flows between art and design, while flirting with a touch of rebellion and even more playfulness. Read below to see his Friday Five picks, where’s he’s chosen a children’s book, a unique flower, and quote that makes you think.

1. “I like it, what is it?” – Quote by Anthony Burrill
I like the fact that it turns around the tendency of defining something first before liking it. The fact you accept that you don’t know what it is, but you like it anyway makes it very open minded.

Photo source unknown

2. Strelitzia
It’s a crazy flower, unlike other harmonious, symmetric sweet flowers. It’s a kind of punk thing, which has everything in it – a hard shell, with a soft beauty in the inside. The beautiful colors are asymmetric, and, if you grow them, there is a hidden flower inside that you have to coax out.

Photo still courtesy of Andrej Lovrić

3. Skate Parks
The decor is a highlight of architecture, with halfpipes, ramps, and other obstacles, which are being used to jump, slide and turn. The actors are boys, girls, men and women of all ages. The story seems like a utopia, yet it happens for real, right in front of you. It’s a story about a society, where everybody is equal, where people experience something beautiful together, where they challenge themselves and go further, step by step. With genuine respect, people can watch somebody who does amazing tricks, and at the same time, patiently, someone is being helped to take a ramp for the first time. People are constantly falling, but they just stand up and continue their practice, driven by an intrinsic motivation to develop. Like this, a never-ending movement is created, in which all individuals together develop as a group. After half an hour watching this park, you’re inspired to move on. Life is a skate park, just choose your way.

4. Museum of Art Brut, Lausanne
I’m very much inspired by Art Brut, as it shows art in the purest form. From a genuine force to create, people make what they need to make. It’s not a choice, it’s necessity.

5. The Very Hungry Caterpillar
This book has been inspiring from my youth. The book, as an object, is very nice, with the holes in the pages and the incredible illustrations. The story itself is all about a little caterpillar following its most basic intuition (eating), which is rewarded at the end by becoming a beautiful butterfly. The title in Dutch is “the caterpillar who had never enough”, which is much more negative in my mind. For me, my creative process is driven by intuition, which I believe makes my work unique. With this in mind, I prefer the English translation, which frames the story in a much more positive light.

Caroline Williamson is Editor-in-Chief of Design Milk. She has a BFA in photography from SCAD and can usually be found searching for vintage wares, doing New York Times crossword puzzles in pen, or reworking playlists on Spotify.