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Interview with Maarten Baas


Interview with Maarten Baas

by Brian Fichtner
on 24 April 2008

The most talked about exhibition during the Salone del Mobile was that by Maarten Baas. Set within the chaotic mess of a working auto garage in the Zona Tortona, the show covered works to date, along with a preview of new collections for Contrasts Gallery and Established & Sons Limited. The choice of space initially felt to me like a commentary on the hyper-produced nature of the fair itself—e.g. instead of the Interni flag standing proudly on the sidewalk, it dangled from the shop's neon sign overhead, like a pair of worn sneakers tossed over an electric line. I soon discovered, though, from both Maarten and Bas (his production partner) that the choice had little to do with making a statement, and was more a way of feeling at home while abroad. (See more images after the jump.)

Below are Maarten's responses to a few questions about the garage, and his two latest projects.

I imagine everyone's asked you this a dozen times already, but why did you want to use this space?
Everybody indeed asks me. Though I was not even prepared for that question. For me it was so logical, it's just exactly what I want to do, and want to communicate. Which is to communicate the energy and feeling I experience when I'm in a normal workshop…It's kind of a normal situation for me.

How was it working with Chinese producers for Contrasts?
It was nice to work with a factory like that, which makes traditional Chinese furniture… Normally I make all my pieces myself, because it's so personal what I do…I don't want to make any concessions. I just want to make exactly what I think is interesting. It requires some guts from a company. If they say we can give you a go, yeah, that's very hard to expect from a company. Established & Sons and Contrasts did just that, they said these are the techniques we have and do whatever you want.


Could you explain The Chankley Bore?
I just wanted to make this. I had it in mind, before Established reached me. If no one would have made it for me, I would have produced it myself. Established said you can do what you want. I said this is what I have in mind, and they said, well this is great. For me it was really the next step after Smoke, Clay, Sculpt…

Where did the inspiration for this collection come from?
From anything actually. Furniture always has kind of the same shape. I mean, a chair almost always has four legs. It always looks more or less the same. But if you look in nature, for instance, and if you look at an underwater documentary or something, for example, the fish which are there, they have really bright colors, and then something sticks out of it, and there's something blinking… And then there's science fiction, or comics about outer space in which things happen that you cannot imagine. Many things.

I started to think there's much more to explore other than a chair must have four legs. And the title? I was searching for a title that covers this feeling the most. The Chankley Bore is a line from a poem which is a nonsense verse. It's a fantasy and part of it is about some creatures being [the lines go] "in the terrible zone and the fields of the Chankley Bore…" And, well...

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