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Maarten Baas Takes Design Miami Cake

A 31-year-old Dutch designer wins Designer of the Year honors and a retrospective at Design Miami/ in December.

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Smoke, cardboard, clay, and veneer: not the usual stuff of Moss-era high design. Then again, Maarten Baas isn’t your average designer. Which may explain his most recent honor, lauded as Designer of the Year at this December’s Design Miami/.

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Wallpaper* reports that a new work called Cabinet, commissioned by co-founder Ambra Medda and pictured here, will be on display at the Design Miami/ showroom from December 1-5, 2009.

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Baas’s Clay series is constructed from a metal skeleton wrapped in hand-modeled synthetic clay in rainbow colors, forming spindly pipe cleaner legs that ride a fine line between jaunty and creepy. For another well-known collection, Smoke, Baas takes pieces of furniture – at first Baroque styled chairs from Duth label Moooi, later iconic design pieces from a.o Rietveld, Eames, and Gaudi – and chars them, then preserving each one in an epoxy shell.

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Another irreverent Baas design is the Sculpt series, quickly sketched pieces of furniture enlarged to a monumental size and finished in walnut veneer. Picture Max’s room in Where the Wild Things Are and you have some idea of the general aesthetic.

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British firm Established & Sons tapped Baas for a collaboration in 2008, resulting in anthropomorphic series of furniture pieces with as much personality as function. In an interview with Cool Hunting, Baas describes The Chankley Bore:

“Furniture always has kind of the same shape, I mean, a chair almost always has four legs. But if you look in nature, for instance, and if you look at an underwater documentary or something, the fish which are there, they have really bright colors, and then something sticks out of it, and there’s something blinking… And then there’s science fiction, or comics about outer space in which things happen that you cannot imagine. I started to think there’s much more to explore other than a chair must have four legs. And the title? I was searching for a title that covers this feeling the most. The Chankley Bore is a line from a poem which is a nonsense verse. It’s a fantasy and part of it is about some creatures being ‘in the terrible zone and the fields of the Chankley Bore.'”

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Baas has recently taken on some high-profile projects including the design of set furniture for Dutch television show Zomergasten, later nominated for the 2008 Dutch Design Award, and a collaboration with The Groninger Museum where he gave the Smoke treatment to pieces from the permanent collection. The chairs, tables, and armoires he modified were then re-purchased for a new display in the museum.

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Wallpaper* has the exclusive.

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