Where I Work: Kiki & Joost

Kiki van Eijk and Joost van Bleiswijk are the Dutch designers behind Kiki & Joost, an Eindhoven-based studio where the duo creates work together, as well as individually. They moved into their industrial space about a year ago, a move not surprising as they’re well-versed in studio moves from their 17 plus years partnered up. Their varied processes and aesthetics are seen throughout their work, which can be viewed on display in their space, showing just how well their diverse designs work together. In this month’s Where I Work, the pair sits down to share a look inside their eclectic studio as well as a glimpse into how they work.

What is your typical work style?

We have a big workshop where we go every day, we try to give ourselves a schedule and go back home to friends and family. But ideas don’t have a schedule and design is our life, so sometimes it’s difficult to separate them and draw a line.

What’s your studio/work environment like?

The workshop is messy, maybe a little too messy, but it’s honest and raw and very “us”. Our workshop is alive, noisy, dirty and grunge: tools, machinery, sexy calendars and a lot of colors. We also have an office and a showroom in our workshop where you will find different vibes and a more calming and organized environment.

How is your space organized/arranged?

We have a huge open workshop space with all the machines (600m2) + an office with an open space layout and a showroom (250m2). The space also accommodates some smaller rooms where we focus on experimenting with ceramics, models and 3D printing. They look like little laboratories. Altogether it’s about 1000m2 of hands-on creativity.

How long have you been in this space? Where did you work before that?

We were previously working in another former Philips building and we moved here one year ago. We have changed 7 different spaces in the last 17 years. We need a space that looks like us, and feels like us and where we can collaborate with friend designers and artists.

If you could change something about your workspace, what would it be?

More space? It sounds a little greedy but It’s it necessary not just for our machines but also to leave projects half-finished in our space. Sometimes you just need to give a piece some time to breath. Thoughts need to breath.

Is there an office pet?

We have two children and that is enough.

Do you require music in the background? If so, who are some favorites?

A good old school Dutch radio station. We all have different tastes in music, from Punk to Metal to Funk and R&B so we decided for a democratic random approach.

How do you record ideas?

Kiki: white notebook with a black ink
Joost: black notebook with a white pen
Joost uses tons of Tipp-ex, he’s addicted. He draws, uses Tipp-ex to clean up, draws again with felt-tips, crayons, more Tipp-ex. Kiki needs wax crayons, watercolors, all sorts of colored pencils. Her lines are soft and precise.

Do you have an inspiration board? What’s on it right now? 

We use our space as an inspiration board: we have drawings, pictures, sketches, models, all scattered around our workshop on the walls, tables. We can have up to 20 projects at the time so it’s impossible to put it all on one board. You know what, sometimes we find sketches from years ago with ideas that we still love and use them as inspiration.

What kind of art/design/objects might you have scattered about the space?

It’s always a mix of things and styles with us: old brocade, found objects, made objects, industrial and art pieces. It’s the same for our home but we are much more curated at home.

Are there tools and/or machinery in your space?

Plenty! Circular saw, welding machines, drills, you better ask what we don’t have.
We like to keep the machinery low tech, so no laser cutters or CNC machines. Those machines are tricky, so we like to stick to the basics of all materials and processes: sawing, cutting, bending, lathe, sanding, spraying, etc. The only “high-tech” machine is our 3D printer that we use for models and tests – that is more than enough.

What tool(s) do you most enjoy using in the design process?

Kiki likes to use watercolor, textiles, glue, paper and cardboard for sketches. For models we can use anything suitable to the concept. At the moment Joost likes to work with metal, rough materials. The joy of soldering thin pieces of metal wire.

Let’s talk about how you’re wired. Tell us about your tech arsenal/devices.

As you know we have a fully equipped workshop and of course tech is part of our daily lives as designers and as human beings, but at the core, we are very low craft. Working with wood, drawing by hand, walking in the wildness.

Is there a favorite project/piece you’ve worked on? 

This is still a difficult question. Can you choose who’s your favorite child?
We think we have designed over 400 pieces. But our interests in the process change all the time. Joost used to work very precisely, with laser cut steel that fitted to the 1-10 mm and now he cuts pieces of steel by hand with a torch and a gesture much more instinctively …you see what I mean?

Do you feel like you’ve “made it”? What has made you feel like you’ve become successful? At what moment/circumstances? Or what will it take to get there?

As a designer or creative you can never make it, you are never done. To be honest, interest slightly changes with time – for example now we are interested in interiors: private clients, as for companies, restaurants, the challenge to capture our ideas and identity in a larger scale and that is a new challenge.

Tell us about a current project you’re working on. What was the inspiration behind it?

You’ll see soon. The process is a big part of the inspiration.
On one side, Joost is working in a very rough and gestural way, tearing pieces of paper that are combined in collages as rugs, welding pieces of metal to form lamps and cabinets, cutting sheets of steel to combine them into new forms. On the other side, Kiki is working in a more intentional and detailed way. It’s a conceptual approach that gets finalized through watercolors, drawings and soft materials.



What’s on your desk right now?

Kiki has textiles and yarns, books, crayon and paper.
Joost just cleaned up his desk – this is a miracle and it won’t last.

Do you have anything in your home that you’ve designed/created?

So many pieces: Joost’s punk table, NSNG high dresser and sideboard. A very big heavy metal dining table with Spartan chairs of Joost’s. Kiki’s soft teapot, rugs, wall-hangings, matrice lamp for Saint Louis.
We also have a lot of objects from colleague-designer-friends like Maarten Baas, Daphna Laurens, Scholten&Baijings, Wieki Somers, and many more. You should come and visit – we’ll give you a tour.

Joost’s Protopunk collection is available in the U.S. at kinder MODERN.

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.