Text by Annemiek van Grondel
Photo by Boudewijn Bollmann
Nic Roex (1981) and Jeske Kapitein (1982) are life and business partners. She handles commercial and PR affairs, he takes care of design concept and execution. Their best product is on its way – they are expecting a child in August.
They are keeping the gender of the baby a surprise. Reasonable, as most of the work of Studio Roex arouses curiosity and surprise. The first products were already like that, as the objects of Roex’s graduation collection from the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague in 2009 prove; the Car Bonnet Seat, in which elements of a bonnet were used, and the Spade Bench, garden furniture in which the seating consists of a scoop. These are objects that already have an existing form and that, by being placed in a new context or being slightly altered, acquire another visual language and meaning, and sometimes even offer themselves up as a new solution. Playing with existing forms, techniques and materials by placing them outside of the traditional context, is an important characteristic of the designs of Studio Roex. Down-to-earth designs with a playful spirit and an aesthetic appearance.
After an internship at Piet Hein Eek, Roex set up his studio in Amsterdam in 2010, and Kapitein joined as a partner three years later. Due to her commercial background, the studio gradually shifted its course from making artistic one-off pieces to conquering the consumer market. Bestsellers in the collection are Plumber’s Piece, a leather vase with a flexible rubber membrane, and Dutch Mash, a potato masher in the form of the Netherlands. ‘We want as many people to come into contact with our products as possible, so it was a logical step to choose this direction’, Kapitein says. ‘Since then, we’ve also been working more closely with labels and have taken on more commercial assignments, providing that they fit into our vision of design.’
Where possible, they work with local producers and sustainable materials. For the Plumber’s Piece, they chose to keep the production in the Netherlands, since so many Dutch production companies in the leather sector are disappearing. Roex: ‘This way, we have more control over production and material usage. Currently we are investigating how fibres of vegetable-tanned leather residue can be transformed into a new material in the form of a constructive solid intermediate product. Hopefully, one day we will be able to use the residual vegetable leather in sheet material for constructive applications.’
At Ventura Lambrate (Camper 2 – 3) Studio Roex is presenting an overview of the entire oeuvre, including the latest Streamlined light and chair (a stylish, organic tribute to plywood) and the Tubus table and bench (a surprising application of steel).
Find more information about the presentation of Studio Roex during the Milan Design Week 2016 here.