Text by Annemiek van Grondel
Photo by Boudewijn Bollmann
With his furniture design graduation project at the Academy of Art in The Hague, Rik ten Velden (1983) was catapulted into business. The Knotted Collection drew attention from the media and brought in a lot of orders. The idea for his Femme Chair, consisting of a single knotted rope around a steel frame, and Knotted Lamps popped up after visits to the Maritime Museum in Rotterdam. There he received a crash course in knotting techniques used on ships from two older craftsmen. His diligence and patience were rewarded, but it took a little more patience to satisfy potential buyers. ‘A seat for one chair takes about twenty hours to produce’, Ten Velden informs. ‘After knotting miles and miles of rope myself, I decided to look for an opportunity to outsource. A rope manufacturer advised me to go to India, which turned out to be an exciting adventure but a failed endeavour.’
A call to his uncle, who runs a boat trip company in Lisbon, proved to be more fruitful. He was introduced to some marine people, started to train them in the knotting technique and gathered together a production team. Now, he sells about 90 percent of his furniture abroad, especially to French costumers, presumably thanks to the appealing Femme Chair name. ‘I’ve already sold about 150 chairs, even some to a Louis Vuitton resort in the Maldives’, he mentions with justifiable pride.
He finds it particularly interesting to work with craft techniques. Ten Velden: ‘Most of these have proved their value in centuries past. A handmade product often brings with it solutions that are not possible with a machine.’
But designers always seek new experiences and challenges. So Ten Velden immersed himself in innovative textile techniques at the Dutch Textile Museum. With avid curiosity, he seized upon their knitting machine. After a great deal of patience – again – a beautiful lamp emerged: Urchin. It has at the same time an almost extra-terrestrial and a warm look, in short: atmospheric. Ten Velden: ‘Through the use of the material, you can determine the intensity of the light, which is decisive for the atmosphere in your home. But, of course, it must be attractive in switch-off mode as well.’
At Furnishers Market, a floor lamp, balancing on three high legs, a wall lamp and three hanging lamps will be presented, all with replaceable shades. In addition to this knitted collection, the knotted collection is on show, as well as Selectors Cabinet, a steel frame filled with modular wooden cabinets, meant for DJ’s. Ten Velden: ‘It is my tribute to music, one of my main inspirations.’
Find more information about the presentation of Rik ten Velden at Furnishers Market during the Milan Design Week 2016 here.