1. Where were you born and where are you from ?
Joost Dingemans : I was born in a small village in the south-east of the Netherlands. Before I could remember anything of my childhood I moved to Helmond, a town in the south of the Netherlands. Here I spent most of my youth, before migrating to Rotterdam to attend the art academy. There was not much to see or to do in Helmond so I often just hung out with my friends. Most of them didn’t really respect creativity so I felt quite stuck there which was – together with pursuing my creative aspirations – the main reason I moved to Rotterdam.
Marten van Middelkoop : Breda, The Netherlands
2. What is your first memory connected to the art world ?
J : The first time I genuinely got interested in the world of art and design was when I started watching the Lord of the Rings behind the scenes episodes and saw the scale of its production and skilled artists working together. At that moment I wanted to make beautiful things too, and even tried to get into WETA, the company that made all the props.
M : Maybe it’s not completely connected to the art world, but I remember a thought that has always stayed with me during my design practice.
I remember being very young and asking what plastic was, one of my parents explained to me that plastic was not natural since it was made of petroleum, upon which I asked what petroleum was made of, to which the answer was that it was made from plants and creatures from the dinosaur era. This was a huge eye opener for me at that age. I think growing up in a Christian society helped forming the notion that there was natural, and unnatural. And this thought broke that notion.
3. Have you always worked in the art/design field ?
J : As a child I had always been making random things, mainly with tape and paper. As I grew up I always took up available creative or handicraft courses in school. I didn’t know much about contemporary art until I started a study focussed on interior design and started to dig deeper into this topic. Next to that, the annual Dutch Design Week is facilitated by Eindhoven which is next to the town I grew up so I visited every year.
M : I have always enjoyed making things. I started studying furniture making, and after a year I switched to product design in Rotterdam. My life has revolved around art/design ever since.
4. What led you to the design creation ?
J : From young age it was clear that I wanted to do something with my hands but when I found out production design was not for me there was a big unanswered question in my head: What job exists that allows me to work with various materials, techniques, people and literature? That was one of the most important epiphany moments in my life.
M : Pretty much the joy of creating and being able to explore and realize vague feelings and thoughts.
5. How would you describe your creative process and it influences ?
J : I tend to let my mind run freely in the beginning, working very chaotically on different experiments and sketches until I slowly narrow down to a settling point. During that process I read a lot, watch a lot of videos regarding the topic and write about it. During the actual designing process I relive that mind state again but then with the addition of all the gathered knowledge.
M : The process always starts with a vision/feeling for me. I get influenced by production techniques or actualities.
6. Could you describe a typical day of your work ?
J : It’s hard to describe a typical day of work but I do generally have a fixed ‘regime’ that goes as follows : I wake up, check my to-do list for the day and make my way down to make breakfast and coffee. I then go to my office, read and reply emails and start working on the list. This includes things such as; make this experiment, call that person, eat lunch, make a bunch of sketches, get an order ready for shipping, chill out. It’s important for me to add these trivial things such as lunch and relaxation because otherwise I tend not to take a break out of enthusiasm for my work and projects. Often I am too busy to work my list off, so it tends to stack up resulting in late hours working.
M : Haha, hopefully we will have something as a typical day soon again.
Me and Joost are always all over the place, either working on our shipping container complex, designing new products, developing materials, working in the office, keeping the company rolling and communicating with clients, sourcing new materials throughout the Netherlands or visiting sites for projects. Our days are very varied. We are getting close to finishing construction for the office which will bring some peace I think but next to that I really like the variety.
7. Why did you choose the specific materials you work with ?
J : Originally my plan was to go into production design for movies, but I couldn’t live with the feeling that everything made for movies is temporary and is either stored for years or readily disposed off again so I decided to go into product design, which gave me a more sincere feeling. Whenever I want to make something I still feel as if it might be a waste of material in a largely saturated world, and that feeling opens up a window of opportunity every time to strive to develop a material or concept that helps solving these kinds of problems. The choice to work with plastics also came from a similar mindset and I found myself very comfortable working with it.
M : For the last few years we have been working a lot with recycled plastics. Mainly because we think it’s urgent. Next to that I just enjoy transforming materials a lot. Plastic lets us do that in many different ways. I just really like how we can transform rubbish into something precious, that looks like something you could delve on another planet.
8. What are the technical particularities of your creations ?
J : Plastic is such an engineered material for very specific production uses yet I mainly work with it in a hands-on manner. So when working with recycled plastics I don’t always know the exact melting flow, the shrinkage, the ideal temperature, the amount of contamination and that takes a lot of experiment and experience. It is also for instance sensitive to room temperature. In the summer I have to work differently than in the winter. Also when working more free hand I require thick gloves to block the heat and always wear a safety mask.
M : The most challenging thing about our way of working, is that we are not only doing product designs, we are developing material pretty much from scratch. That allows us to go crazy, but it also forces us to go through this evolution of technologies before we are able to actually adapt it in a product design.
9. What advices could you give to beginning artists who would like to create sculptural design works ?
J : I think there are three important guidelines that I like to follow. One is when you’re experimenting with a material don’t think of what it will become in the end. Focus solely on getting to know the material, exploring its boundaries and detecting what sparks your creativity. You’re always collaborating with the material, try to find the language you both understand. Next to that try to imagine how someone you look up to approached his or her design work. What essential choices did they have to make? How did they interact with the material and what were the biggest obstacles? Where did their inspiration come from and how did it progress? This way you learn how to influence and direct your own process. Lastly, if your results haven’t given you a sensation of adrenaline surging through your body you are not there yet.
M : Follow your gut, and make a lot.
10. If your works had to belong to a design movement, in which one would you define it ?
J : I hope that in the future my work will be seen as Avant Garde within (plastic) recycling.
M : I would say probably the Next Nature Movement.
11. What designers have influenced you ?
J : Ufan Lee, Michio Fukuoka, Studio Nendo, Agata Jaworska, Tjeerd Veenhoven
M : During my studies I was influenced a lot by storytelling designers like for example Studio Swine or Unknown-fields.
12. What contemporary designers do you appreciate ?
J : Peter Marigold, Jenny Nordberg, Steven Haulenbeek
M : I really like Max Lamb. He is just the perfect example of what would happen if you would give 21th century tools and machines to a stylish cave-man
13. What contemporary artists (in any kind of art) have you been inspired by ?
J : Studio SWINE, Kwangho Lee, Max Lamb, Thomas Vailly
M : I have been inspired by sculptural designers like Mathieu Lehanneur, Rick owens, Faye Toogood, Marcin Rusak, Bouroullecs, studio Nucleo. Artists like Theodus Wolf or Illustrator Moebius
14. If you had to summarize your creations in one word or sentence, what would it be ?
J : Not good enough
M : Competing with nature.
15. Is there anything you would like to add ?
J : I like turtles!
M : Nope!
Proust Questionnaire with very short answers (one or a few words) :
(The Proust Questionnaire is a set of questions answered by the French writer Marcel Proust. Other historical figures who have answered confession albums are Oscar Wilde, Karl Marx, Arthur Conan Doyle, Stéphane Mallarmé, Paul Cézanne…)
1. What is your idea of perfect happiness?
J : Stable diversity of emotions
M : Freedom
2. What is your greatest fear?
J : Losing my hands
M : Captivity
3. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
J : Procrastination
M : Obsessive thinking
4. What is the trait you most deplore in others?
J : False promises
M : Disrespect
5. Which living person do you most admire?
J : Sir David Attenborough
M : The guy from Alone in the Wilderness
6. What is your greatest extravagance?
J : Going to restaurants
M : Trips/Tools
7. What is your current state of mind?
J : Drowsy
M : Chill but wary
8. What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
J : Honor
M : Being busy
9. What is the quality you most like in a man?
J : Passion
M : Sincerity
10. What is the quality you most like in a woman?
J : Passion
M : curiosity/adventurousness
11. Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
J : ‘Chill’ and ‘man’
M : “Alrighty”
12. Which talent would you most like to have?
J : Drawing
M : Playing the trumpet
13. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
J : My insomnia
M : Obsessive thinking
14. What do you consider your greatest achievement?
J : Surviving meningitis
M : Taking care of my sick father.
15. If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?
J : Space waste
M : Tuk Tuk driver in India.
16. Where would you most like to live?
J : Near a forest with mild winters
M : A big city that is very close to untouched nature.
17. What is your most treasured possession?
J : My Raku bowl
M : Our workshop
18. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
J : Endless rut
M : The dying of my father.
19. What is your favorite occupation?
J : Fantasising
M : Making
20. What is your most marked characteristic?
J : Kindness
M : Problem solver
21. What do you most value in your friends?
J : Honesty and openness
M : Good talks, doing dumb things
22. Who are your favorite writers?
J : Yuval Noah Harari, Kenya Hara
M : With shame I say I don’t read so much.
23. Who is your hero of fiction?
J : Samwise Gamgee
M : Walter White
24. Which historical figure do you most identify with?
J : I honestly have never identified myself with a historical figure.
M : No idea
25. Who are your heroes in real life?
J : Sir David Attenborough, Lonnie Liston Smith, Leonardo DiCaprio
M : My mom, she’s tough
26. What are your favorite names?
J : Jackie, Noah
M : I like Era, or Billy for a girl.
27. What is it that you most dislike?
J : Headwind.
M : I hate boring office work.
28. What is your greatest regret?
J : Never to have gone deer spotting in the forest next to my home town.
M : Regret is a useless emotion
29. How would you like to die?
J : Sober and prepared.
M : Standing upright, with a bright mind.
30. What is your motto?
J : ‘What’s the worst thing that can happen?’
M : Casualties of war, for when something shitty happens that was unavoidable.