Celebrated collaborations and solo works by the Dutch designer Kiki van Eijk are currently on show in the retrospective exhibition ‘Imaginings’ at Textielmuseum, Tilburg (until 12 September 2021). Hear Kiki van Eijk speak in the Collaboration in Design online panel discussion alongside four other creative collaborators at COVER Connect, starting at 5pm GMT on 13 January and available on-demand following the broadcast. Register here to watch all seven Talks at COVER Connect.
In 2001, at just twenty-two years old, Dutch designer Kiki van Eijk shot to international acclaim with her handmade felted wool rug, Kiki Carpet—her graduation project from Design Academy Eindhoven. The embroidery-inspired piece garnered so much attention that Van Eijk did not create a similar work for years after, for fear of being labelled ‘the girl with the rugs’. Over the last twenty years, Van Eijk’s design practice has grown from textiles to lighting, furniture, ceramics, glassware and even solar panels and ice-cream cakes. But throughout her career rugs and textiles have remained an important part of her oeuvre. Below, she explains how in 2020 she developed her new collection of wall hangings, Domestic Collages. Tune into the Collaboration in Design Talk at COVER Connect to see them in the studio.
‘This year has been unprecedented for all of us but often challenges give opportunities to look at reality with a different angle and find inspiration in the challenge. Designing is often a collective practice and the sudden lockdown that the world experienced, cutting the supply chains, left a lot of projects impossible to be completed.
The necessity of a more independent practice became at the same time a source of inspiration while I started to pay attention to my own resources. The process was a solitary and intimate discovery of materials that I have underlooked for a long time. We sometimes forget to look closely at what we already have instead of what we don’t.
Over the last 20 years of my career I always kept leftovers: textiles, fabric, prototypes, remnants of finished and unfinished projects. I was of course aware of my archive, but what I underestimated was the emotional value of all those artifacts. The desire of using what I found became a very personal and intimate process of discovery and rediscovery. Every little piece holds a memory: a project, people, ideas, things that worked or didn’t, concepts and possibilities. And those memory cues can become prized possessions. A whole storage cabinet full of the most beautiful materials: jacquard woven linen, felt, leathers, mohair, yarns, cottons, velvets and more became a hidden treasure of inspiration. I decided to start hand stitching the new wall hangings picking up from this rich archive. The compositions developed from cardboard pastiche, and then I add layers of textures, colours, patterns and shapes. Domestic Collages is a series of carefully hand-stitched wall hangings, handmade by me with an extreme attention to detail.’