Reinier de Jong is a young furniture & interior designer from Rotterdam. His work holds a fine balance between space, material and typology. He told us about one of his last works, the Steel Chair, that he presented at Milan Design Week 2013.
The Steel chair is made of different types of wood (ramin, beech, ash), depending on the supply. Anyone can contribute to this chair. Donate your old wooden handles from brooms, rakes, shovels, flagpoles, banisters etc, as long as they are 29 or 30 mm in diameter. For each usable meter of old handles 1 euro will be donated to charity. Or you can donate your handles to have them turned into a chair for yourself. One chair contains approximately 10 meter of handles. A version with new, white painted ash wood is also available.
AL: What concept inspired Steel chair project?
RdJ: Steel means 'stick' or 'handle' in Dutch. I was inspired by the simple but elegant nature of wooden handles. They are very commonplace, you can see them everywhere and they have been made and used for centuries. They are so ordinary that people don't notice them and throw them away once they are too old. I wanted to show the beauty of this everyday product and especially how the use and climate affect the material. I think it is very poetic to see how the different colours and textures were unintentionally created by the use and by the climate to which the handles are exposed. I emphasize this material poetry by showing the new clean wood underneath the patinated surface. And this clean wood is where one gets in contact with the product: the seat and the back rest.
AL: What are the materials and the products used?
RdJ: The chair consists almost entirely of wood. For the patinated version we use whatever type of wood that is available: beech, ash, ramin etc. We also produce a new version with new ash wood. It is the same chair but the wood is painted white and again the natural color of the wood becomes visible where it has been cut. The white version of the chair is easier to produce in larger numbers because we are not limited by the supply of used handles.
AL: What about your future furniture projects?
RdJ: Currently I am working on another modular bookshelf. It will be simple but very exciting. Also very graphical. And quite affordable as well. I have recently also created a children's version of our renowned REK bookcase. I will have pictures soon. I am also working on a coffee table made of recycled material. It will be very elegant and also very affordable. I also have some short videos scheduled.
AL: What does ‘sustainable design’ mean for you? A priority, a responsability or a trend?
RdJ: Sustainability has may different aspects. I think it can be an inspiration for a design, like a starting point for a design process. The STEEL chair is a good example. Sustainable can also work in another way, simply by choosing materials and production technologies responsibly in a later stage of the design process. And sustainability not only means improving the quality of the environment but also the quality of the people who are involved in the production process. Unfortunately, this last issue is an underestimated aspect of 'sustainability'.