THIS CONTENT IS ALSO AVAILABLE IN INSPIRE ISSUE 47 FROM 2014
The Dutch design duo Scholten & Baijings are known throughout the international design world for their functional products and exquisite use of colours, whether for bed linen, furniture, glass or porcelain. Stefan Scholten and Carole Baijings met in 1998.
- “We fell in love and founded our design company the next year,” says Stefan.
Dutch design has been dominated by conceptual thinking since the 1990s. You’re an exception.
- “We tried working conceptually early on, but it didn’t suit us. We feel that a design must be functional and work in everyday life.”
You put a strong emphasis on colour.
- “With most designers, colour is the very last thing they think of in the design process. For us, colour is there from the beginning, and we put enormous effort into getting every shade absolutely right.”
The colours are often very subtle, as in the porcelain collection for 1616/Arita.
- “1616/Arita is one of Japan’s oldest porcelain manufacturers. Our task was to create a collection that appealed to the contemporary market while connecting to the company’s tradition and fantastic palette. We turned the use of the company’s existing palette upside down – made it lighter or darker by applying thinner or thicker layers of glazes. We also made use of the unique grey-white clay that is sourced locally for the porcelain.”
Your use of colour is often surprising.
- “We often ask ourselves how we can make a product more transparent, create an illusion of lightness. Asymmetrical layering is one way, as we did with the bed linen and towels collection for Hay. It took a long time to get the colour tones spot on, but we also discovered that the layers were very difficult to reproduce. This was a great advantage, as illegal copying is a big problem in the design world.”
What inspires you in your work?
- “We love going to museums, and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London is our favourite. What we have seen can suddenly emerge in a new project. We were asked to design a new toilet seat for Pressalit. Our seat has a subtle dot pattern that seems to light up the bathroom. The colours were based on colours we had seen in illuminated manuscripts from the Middle Ages. Going to museums is certainly time well spent.”
The owners of Japanese porcelain company 1616/Arita contacted Scholten & Baijings for a new collection to “revive their fortunes”, says Stefan. “They even showed us photographs of their grandchildren, explaining that they wanted to leave them a healthy business! Luckily the collection was a great success. We based it on company’s existing palette but made it lighter or darker.”