Text by Jeanne Tan
Photo by Ilco Kemmere
Basten Leijh is founder of Bleijh Industrial Design Studio in Amsterdam.
How would you describe yourself in one word?
Let me think about that one…
What’s your strongest quality?
Being able to look at the bigger picture and to see possibilities in many things.
And your weak point?
I don’t always have the time or patience for the smaller details. And I can’t say no! (Laughs)
Any secret talents you’d like to share with us?
Well, it’s a sad story. Most people only know me as a designer, but before that I used to be a sports fanatic, particularly windsurfing.
Were you always a designer?
I started design because of a back injury, which meant that I could no longer earn a living from sports. I was young and was planning to be a pro windsurfer! (Laughs)
Did your background in sports carry over into design?
My interest in mobility and creativity definitely has. Both are a big part of windsurfing.
(How) Does your personality translate into your work?
My functional way of thinking helps the client by not only creating a useful product but also considering smart, modular manufacturing possibilities.
So, one word to describe you is…
Enthusiastic! It’s both a strength and a weakness. I love to do everything, but it also means I sometimes do too much. However, I think my enthusiasm for what I do has helped to expand my network rapidly and this aids my way of associative design, which results in seeing opportunities for every industry.
If you could meet the newly graduated version of yourself now, what would you tell him?
I would teach him how to politely say no; sometimes this can save a lot of energy that you can put into other projects.
If you weren’t a designer, what would you be?
A wildlife photographer. I’d love to have a bird’s eye view from above, taking photos of what’s below.
Where can we find you when you’re not at work?
Playing with my son. Or relaxing with friends in a café. I’m definitely working on getting the work-life balance right.
And lastly, what makes you get out of bed?
Today it was my son! In general, I think it is curiosity. I’m curious to know what will happen or not happen – what’s the chance that something good will happen to me today? In a city like Amsterdam, where I live, chances are pretty good!
This interview was published in Connecting the Dots #9 for the Milan Design Week 2014.
For entire magazine click here.