During a recent visit to Eindhoven in the Netherlands for Dutch Design Week, we discovered a special talent, a talent that we instantly felt connected with. It turns out we weren't the only people to feel this way.
Based in Tilburg, the Netherlands, Ward Wijnant is a young and relatively unknown designer with a bright future and uplighting back story. At the tender age of 6 years old it was discovered that Ward suffered with severe forms of dyslexia, dysorthographia and dyscalculia. His dream of becoming an architect like his father were quashed due to his disability in reading, writing and maths.
After high-school, Ward attended the Hout & Meubileringscollege in Rotterdam where he excelled at wood processing and carpentry. During his studies Ward undertook an internship with Den Herder Production House (DHPH), the manufacturer of Maarten Baas' 'Clay' furniture series. "I was looking for an internship at a company which produces modern furniture with untraditional materials," explains Wijnant.
After graduating from the the Hout & Meubileringscollege in 2010 he immediately started studying at the school he admired for years; the prestigious Design Academy Eindhoven. During his time at the DAE, Ward discovered the design process, something he felt was missing from solely manufacturing furniture. He was encouraged to explore materials at a deeper lever and the importance of creating strong concepts.
Ward graduated from the Design Academy in 2015 with a series of reflective lamps titled ‘Space’. The lamps, encased in a curved reflective material, when turned off enlarge the reflected area, creating an illusion of extra space while also dispersing the existing daylight. When the lamp is switched on, the silver surface becomes translucent and the reflected world within disappears.
‘Space’ has garnered the young designer a great deal attention with collectors including Job Smeets of Studio Job, Piet Hein Eek and our very own Jane Richards. The series also caught the eye of Dutch design label Moooi, who are interested in adopting the lamps for a future collection. (Updated April 17th 2020) The Moooi x Ward Wijnant Space Table Lamp is available online here.
What drives you to design and produce products in an already saturated market?
I love to play with materials and discover new possibilities with them. In the end, this may develop into a project. I am aware of the saturated market but am motivated enough to give it a try. My whole life I was confronted with my weaknesses and now I want to use and show my strengths. I want to focus on my talents and not my inability.
Can you name some of your design heroes and biggest influences?
Large constructions and architecture inspire me. As a kid I saw a movie about a perpetuum mobile (a device that keeps moving) for a hundred times. I loved the movements, the playfulness and the transformations of the materials. I love the work of artists Anish Kapoor and Richard Serra. In Dutch Design I’m fond of the work of Studio Job and Maarten Baas.
Your 'Space' series has proved to be incredibly popular, notable collectors include Job Smeets of Studio Job and Piet Hein Eek, and more recently Moooi have decided to produce this for a future collection. This is a very unique situation and can take many designers a life time to be recognised by such highly esteemed brands and designers. How does this make you feel?
I could never imagine that, I’m very happy! It is nice to have recognition for your work. I’m glad to hear the positive responses of people and other well-known designers.
Can you explain how you created the design for Space Lamp and what inspired you?
The Space lamps were part are my graduation project for DAE. It was a tough journey until the product was developed. I was inspired by the shimmery funfair balloons and reflections within them. That’s why I started to experiment with inflating materials and the creation of natural tension and release of tension. I examined all possibilities, but nothing worked out. A few weeks before the deadline I decided to work with a totally different material and unfortunately I needed to get rid of the inflation. Creating tension was still possible, and the beginning of Space was there. It has been further developed within every new edition and I’m very happy with it now. I hope I can still do something with inflating in the future.
Can you tell us more about the twisted chair and the process? Is this a piece you would like to keep in house due to the handmade process?
The project 'Twisted' is about twisted steel. It includes armchairs & dining chairs, a table and a candleholder, but there will be more products in the future. Steel is a very hard material, but I tried to challenge this. This process is actually 'man versus industrial steel'. The twisting and bending of the bars is all produced by hand, accompanied with heating the steel. The product is constructed by twisting every piece into each other.
Twisted connects the material with the material itself. It begins with twisting three bars, which become one. With these new bars the twisting goes on. In the chair legs there are nine bars (or twelve for the chair with armrests) coming together! The seat, backrest and eventually armrests are welded on it. I would love to keep Twisted in house, but it is a lot of very heavy work. Besides, I can’t do it on my own. Now I am lucky to work with my volunteering family and friends...
2017 looks like promising in the world of Ward Wijnant, can you reveal any details on future releases?
I’m working on some new pieces within the 'Twisted' series, including a larger table, cabinet and lamp. I’m always busy with other materials and concepts. As for future releases, I can give you this sneak preview about some ideas: glass, glitter & glamour and architecture-like constructions.