Dutch designer Ineke Hans breaks the mould with happy colours, playful shapes and designs which make you want to earmark every one of them and include it in your dream home.
‘Happy’ is the word that comes to mind when you look at the work of Dutch designer Ineke Hans. Cheerful, primary colours and chubby shapes are a strong part of her fun design aesthetic. This playfulness comes through in her range of products – from furniture to lighting. Several of her designs are now iconic pieces and feature in museum collections worldwide.
Born in 1966 in the Netherlands, Ineke studied product design at the Academy of Arts Arnhem and graduated with an MA in Furniture Design from the Royal College of Art in London in 1995 before setting up her studio in The Netherlands in 1998.
Influenced by pictograms and archetypes, Ineke’s designs have had that vibrant and playful quality right from the beginning. In 1997, her Under Cover chairs were designed “to sneak into a living room.” The chairs were upholstered with pattern, bucking the trend of plain upholstery at that time. From the same collection, the ‘Up Down chair’ and the ‘Two-legged chair’ are especially unusual and quirky.
The Black Beauties range of children’s furniture (2000-2001) had thirteen products ranging from crash cars to skipping ropes. All items were made of black recycled plastic making them ideal for indoor-outdoor or rough use. Over the years the collection has grown and now includes furniture, activity and cars.
The choice of black for a children’s line of furniture was to show that “children do not only react to colours, but very often they respond to shapes, opportunities and ways of playing with things.” The furniture shows great sensitivity to the needs of children with dining chairs adapted to children learning how to sit to five years of age. The ‘Office’ tables and chairs and the Share Chairs are especially cute.
Experimenting with materials and technique led to the Black Magic Laser Chair (2002). The Laser Chair is crafted out of black MDF and then laser-cut with perforations as decorations “like the holes in folded paper that children cut out.” This nod to traditional shapes and craft played on the theme “new materials and techniques – familiar looks” is something that crops up again and again in Ineke’s body of work.
Ineke’s tryst with beautiful colour continued with Capellini’s Fracture Furniture with an especially beautiful range in pink and red (2007). The range was created to make “super-light and super-strong furniture from materials not common to the furniture industry.” The structure of the Fracture range is made of polystyrene with a covering in synthetic resin and the outside coverings in polyester, resembling bandages.
In 2012, Ineke designed the Swing Wing Collection of chairs and desks, which were simply made by “connecting complicated angles of laser cut and folded rectangular tubes.” The wooden back of the chair has a “low-tech” swing element that follows the curve of your back and makes the seating comfortable. The Swing Tables are especially useful with a little box at the end that creates extra space for books or plants. The box closes making it an excellent hiding space for desktop clutter or cables.
The infusion of colour continues with the SCP Welland range of furniture (table, benches and stools). All Welland furniture is made of solid ash and stained in gorgeous red or natural ash.
I was intrigued by Ineke’s commissioned work for Fogo Island in Canada. The opening of the Fogo Inn revitalised the local community. Inspired by the Windsor Chairs and wood-spinning on the island, Ineke designed the Fogo chairs which come in the shape of an easy chair, rocking chair, long bench and a “get-your-feet-up chaise”. The colour of the furniture reflects the hues found on the island – icy blues and greens and pale pink and yellow.
Ineke also designed beautiful red outdoor furniture that can withstand harsh weather and a series of public benches that blend in seamlessly with the existing landscape.
Apart from furniture, Ineke has also designed tabletop products such as vases, decanters, candle-stands and utilitarian items such as cutlery sets and nutcrackers. The dramatic Black Gold Coffee Set was created out of five basic modular shapes in black porcelain.
The Garlic Crusher (2005, RoyalVKB) won several awards including a Red Dot award for its easy-to-clean design. More recently, the beautiful Fresh Berry Bowl adds a dash of practical elegance to any kitchen with its sensible design. The bowls have perforations at their base with a lid on top and a saucer at the bottom. These are perfect for storing fresh fruit and dry fruit. Just wash the fruit and let the water drain out into the plate underneath. No more fuss.
It is this no-fuss and incredibly useful sense of design that puts Ineke Hans at the the top, in the list of product designers, who design functional products.
Text By Chryselle D’Silva Dias
Photographs Courtesy The Designer