F5: Kiki van Eijk Talks About Her Favorite Chair, Sketching Tools + More

01.14.22 | By
F5: Kiki van Eijk Talks About Her Favorite Chair, Sketching Tools + More

Kiki van Eijk grew up in the Netherlands where she spent her youth immersed in nature, daydreaming, and drawing. Her interest in product design began at the Design Academy of Eindhoven. Today, Kiki is one of the most accomplished names in Dutch design, working both solo as well as with partner Joost van Bleiswijk as Kiki & Joost.

The wide range of work she creates includes installations, furniture, lighting, textiles, ceramics, and glassware. Kiki’s independent sculptural work has been in museums, galleries, and fairs worldwide – including Basel, London, Paris, Milan, New York, Tokyo, and Rome. Inspired by everyday details and the forms of nature, her world is whimsical and colorful, yet refined by attention to the detail and skillful craftsmanship. Regardless of the scale of Kiki’s work, her handmade touch remains at the heart of her practice and reinforces a forward thinking approach to design.

In recent years, Kiki has collaborated with companies and institutions like Coachella, Studio Edelkoort Paris, TextielMuseum | TextielLab, Zuiderzee Museum, Noord Brabants Museum, Design Academy Eindhoven, Venice Projects, Rijksmuseum, Centraal Museum Utrecht, and private collectors.

Today, Kiki van Eijk joins us for Friday Five!

light-skinned woman standing in studio with her work

Kiki van Eijk

rocking chair and large floor lamp

1. Hans J. Wegner Rocking Chair

I bought this chair eight years ago when we had just moved into our renovated farmhouse. My oldest son, Puk, was then 3 months old, so I have spent many hours cuddling him and rocking him here. The same happened with my second child, Ko. This chair is much more than just a piece of beautiful design – it holds precious memories. Now, eight years later, we still sit together here reading books and catching up. I often sit here on my own with a nice cup of herbal tea, watching the birds flying in my garden. I think rocking chairs have almost healing qualities; I read that they release endorphins in the brain, which improves mood. It’s truly a beautiful design, sensual and domestic. But for me, this chair is much more than that.

liquid glass being poured

2. Saint-Louis Factory

The factory of Saint-Louis is such a magic place. If you have never visited, I truly recommend the experience. We are aware of Saint-Louis’ high level of craftsmanship and the quality of their products, but visiting the factory is an unforgettable experience. It’s like you are transported to another world: the surrounding forest that opens to the beautiful village, Saint-Louis-lès-Bitche, the company archives, the museum, the workshop. This was the place that gave me the inspiration to design the Matrice collection. For a designer like me, that values craft and heritage, visiting a factory where centuries of craft heritage are collected under one roof is a dream.

overhead photo of artistically plated food

3. ZARZO Restaurant

At home my husband Joost is the chef! We always eat fresh and healthy, and we are lucky enough to have a big vegetable garden outside the kitchen. This is a luxury, I know. I am a strong advocate for healthy food, not because it’s a trend but because my body is very sensitive to food, and if I don’t eat well, I feel it. From time to time I like to treat myself and go out to a nice restaurant. I know many fantastic places in the world, but ZARZO in Eindhoven is my favorite. The food is super delicious with healthy ingredients, and the atmosphere is warm and informal. It’s run by top chef and wine connoisseur Adrian Zarzo, who is the creative brain behind it. He taps into his Dutch and Spanish blood which has a marvelous and surprising effect to the food he serves – it’s no wonder why he got his first Michelin star. They also have delicious home-made cocktails. Don’t forget and have one for me!

sketchpad page

4. My Forever Sketch Tools

Caran D’ache pencils and Van Gogh Watercolour. Those are my sketch tools, and they come with me everywhere. I really need them to put my ideas on paper. It’s my first instinct to reach out for a pencil when I design but, honestly, also when I think. I love drawing with pencils combined with watercolor to see the colors moving on the paper. Creating shades of colors feels like adding emotions. I have used them since childhood, so I stick to my favorite brands. I want to thank them for for the support they gave me during all these years. They helped me to unleash my imagination.

field of flowers and corner of buiding

5. Museum Voorlinden Garden by Piet Oudolf

Museum Voorlinden is a gem. The garden is designed by Dutch master landscape designer Piet Oudolf. He is of course royalty in the world of landscape design, and I believe an incredible translator for a certain Dutch feeling and mood. He is almost a painter, creating soft and moody blurred landscapes that are evocative and nourishing. The museum has a fantastic contemporary art collection and the museum gardens are wonderful in all seasons. If you have never been, trust me, a visit is worthwhile.


Work by Kiki van Eijk:

glass vase of flowers

Matrice for Saint Louis. A collection of vases and lamps inspired by the cast iron moulds used to blow crystal. Those moulds stored in the factory look almost as Queens in the Saint-Louis factory.

colorful abstract sculpture

Ceramic Totems. The relationship between hands and clay is the basis of the ceramic art form. The totems are expression of dedication to that form of art. Altars of imagination.

dark blue and glass work on cloudy background

Fabriques des rêves for Maison Dada. La fabrique des rêves (The Factory of Dreams) is a collection that exemplifies the richness of Kiki’s colorful visual universe. Mixing in unusual combinations recognizable elements of Kiki’s iconic vocabulary, she creates a visual feast of shapes, colors and materials. The collection – a clock and two vases – are conceived and designed for everyday use, but they came with a bonus: to enhance imagination.

colorful abstract wall sculpture

Ceramic wallstories. These unique ceramic mirrors are inspired by Kiki’s collages and her artistry, with the medium of ceramic. For the multidisciplinary designer, the objects always exist beyond their own mere functionality, they are timeless and moreover, have the capability to make you smile. Each piece is unique.

table on white background

Ceramic Storeys. Collage Storeys mix together the creative language of craft, design and architecture to outline sculptural objects of practical uses. The collections of high tables & bar tables are handmade pieces made with coated steel, marble, and hand glazed stone.

abstract art

Memories of Panorama. ‘Memories of a Panorama’ is produced by TextielMuseum/TextielLab Tilburg. The 4 Panorama are based on memories of Dutch landscapes with a tree, woven from gold thread, centered in the image. It exhibits the different qualities of nature in perspective and the evocative side of memories.

Kelly Beall is senior editor at Design Milk. The Pittsburgh-based graphic designer and writer has had a deep love of art and design for as long as she can remember, and enjoys sharing her finds with others. When undistracted by great art and design, she can be found making a mess in the kitchen, consuming as much information as possible, or on the couch with her three pets. Find her @designcrush on social.