LEFF amsterdam was founded in 2011 by brothers Arno and Dennis Ruijzenaars and designer Erwin Termaat. Since their inception LEFF have created some of the most stunningly simplistic time pieces, perhaps not seen since Arne Jacobsen designed the Bankers Clock in 1971. Working closely and carefully with selected designers, their goal is to create not only functional products, but for each one to tell it's own story. With their Tone, Felt and Brick series already being considered contemporary classics, the sky is the limit for this young design collective. Arno was kind enough to take some time out of his busy schedule to discuss the challenges of clock design, their recent collaboration with Piet Hein Eek and what we can expect from LEFF amsterdam in 2015.
First and foremost: Hello, and how are you?
Very good, thanks! Erwin and I just came back from Piet Hein Eek’s factory, where we have been working on our latest project, in collaboration with Piet Hein Eek.
What drove you to create LEFF amsterdam? Did you feel there was a gap in the market for a contemporary clock brand?
Absolutely, we think there is a huge gap. Quite some great classics have been designed in the past like the clocks by Arne Jacobsen, George Nelson and Max Bill, but the last few years this market has been dominated by more fashionable designs, clocks that people like to have for one or two seasons, designs that will not be remembered in 20 years. We’re trying to change that. We invest a lot of time and effort in the designs of our products. The designs are always either our own or by a designer we work together with, and we develop every clock ourselves. With every project our goal is to create a design classic.
Does the natural simplicity of a clock create challenges in ways that say a wallpaper design or piece of furniture doesn’t?
Definitely, we love clocks because they are functional and can be pieces of art at the same time. As nobody really needs a clock these days, it is a great challenge to develop clocks that people just like to have in their surrounding because of the design. As you mentioned it is not easy to come up with new ideas, because of their simplicity, clocks are already around us for many decades. Many different ideas, dials and designs have been made already, so only the best designers can still come up with really new and innovative ideas.
Have you considered developing a range of wrist watches?
We just came back from the factory where we worked on our latest project with Piet Hein Eek, that is all that i can tell you about this subject. Come and check us out on Via Tortona 31 in Milan during the Milan design week this april!
We seem to be in the era of collaboration with brands and designers working together on amore regular basis. How important is the collaborative process to LEFF amsterdam?
Incredibly important, we always need a lot of new ideas, different thoughts and diverse views on the concept of time. This can be from settled well known designers, but also from young upcoming designers with a new perspective of the world. This is the only way to be and stay innovative.
The new tube series sees you working with Piet Hein Eek, how did that come about and what did you learn from the experience?
Piet developed two collections of wallpaper designs together with Rick Vintage from NLXL, a good friend of ours. He told Rick that he had a design for a little clock but never had run in to anybody that was actually able to do something with it. Rick brought us together and we had an immediate click. Next to the fact that Piet is a really fun guy to work with (he can be as enthusiastic as a little kid about a design exactly like us!) we were also incredibly impressed by the design he made for the dial, he managed to create a dial that is so beautiful, but still so simple at the same time. Technically it could have been made 100 years ago. But nobody did, nobody came up with this design until now. This is exactly what makes Piet Hein Eek such a great designer.
What can we expect from the brand this year?
Actually there is a lot coming up, we’re working on our first standing clock together with Richard Hutten, and watch out for more products in the tube series collection during our Milan presentation. Next to that we are exploring possibilities to extend the audio range as we have loved working on the tube audio, our first audio related product.