Studio Job was formed in Antwerp back in 1998 by Job Smeets; Nynke Tynagel joined the firm in 2000. The duo met when they were students at the Design Academy of Eindhoven. From the early years, their projects were characterised by the variety of materials used and the unique combination of unpredictable and provocative work that was full of symbolism. Over the course of the last 15 years, the design studio has worked on numerous limited-edition artesian projects and has collaborated successfully with highly established firms from many different industries (fashion, car, jewelry, etc.). Their work is collected in both the private and public sectors. Moreover, they have had solo exhibitions in New York, Tokyo, Los Angeles, Paris, London, Milan and elsewhere, and their work can be found in more than 40 museums around the world. Seeing their work, it is clear that Studio Job has redefined the decorative arts for the contemporary age in a distinct and very personal way. They have managed to set a parallel universe to our own - one we happily join (and enjoy!).
Studio Job was formed in 1998. What made you decide to go your own way at the age of 28?
I was tired of spending my days smoking weed... and had developed this dream while doing so... I found this long-lost path between the functional product and the expressive sculpture.
Studio Job has been working together for the past 15 years. It started as a one-man show, and soon turned into a duo. The studio currently employs more than 20 people. How would you describe your evolution and your present state?
We are a well-organized, disciplined and healthy art company. We’re trying to stay as compact and manageable as possible. In relation to our output we are tiny… I attribute that to efficiency and a very concentrated and talented team.
Your collections have worked with many different scales, materials and themes (e.g., Craft 2001, Post Craft 2002, Silverware 2007, Robber Baron 2007, Farm 2008, Wonderlamp 2010). What provides your inspiration?
I know it sounds like a cliché, but anything is a possible inspiration. From my aunt’s dog to the work of Johan Melchior Dingeling. Or from the first stamp of King Willem III to the Datsun of Dirty Nick.
You use a great variety of materials in your work, such as bronze, wood, stained and blown glass, textiles, paper...even self-invented materials! Which is your favorite, and which has been the most challenging?
Definitely casting bronze, since it’s so extremely basic and fundamental. Starting to use new production techniques is always a challenge. Often you cannot find craftsmen who have the skills or will, so mostly you have to create your own know-how from scratch.
Swarovski: The Globe (2008) and Moooi: Paper Chandelier (2006) - they feature silver nickel-plated polyester, crystals, Indian rosewood, electrical and mechanical components vs just paper. How easily do you shift between these two sets of materials?
You shift easily when you’re not afraid… for us, a material or technique is never an issue... it’s always a challenge.
Provocative, ironic, unpredictable, surreal, symbolic, theatrical. These are some words that come to mind when contemplating your work. Is this the hidden intention behind each project?
Yes, there are many stories to be told in this weird world of contradictions and manipulations.
We believe that ”ornaments“ are very important to you. Would you say that you have formed your own ornamental path?
We call it a library. A library of building stones...
Three of your works - Pantheon (2002-2003), Iconic Facades (2007-2009) and Glamour Factory (2010) - are totally different projects and scales, yet they use the same technique. What made you use this specific graphic patterning for each of those projects?
It’s not per se related to the project. We constantly develop new themes in our work that inspire the projects we’re doing at the time. It’s a very natural process…The theme is there first, and the rest follows - whether it’s fashion, sculpture, architecture, graphic design or furniture.
You move back and forth from 2D to 3D in a uniquely fun and unpredictable way. How important is that to your ornamental vocabulary?
Super important… it is who and how we are. Nynke is educated as a graphic designer, while I am educated as a 3D designer... we are in a constant interaction between dimensions!
Graphic design, sculpture, handmade and digital prints are all featured in your work. Has that been a conscious trajectory since the beginning?
In a way, yes. From the beginning, making (digital) drawings was relevant as well as making 3D objects... In a way, there is no difference between 2D and 3D except for the materialization….which, as I explained, in the end is not important. In the end it’s all about the content!
Studio Job has collaborated successfully with leading companies from many different fields (Land Rover, Swarovski, Moooi, L’Oreal, Royal Tichelaar Makkum, Bisazza, Viktor&Rolf and others). What element makes your work so diverse?
The most important work comes from our own ateliers... the rest is very nice and lovely, but we adore and admire ”the sculpture“ above all!
Your work is exhibited and can be viewed in 40 museums around the world, including MoMA New York, V&A London or the Groningen Museum in the Netherlands. How does it feel to see your work in a museum? Was that part of your initial vision?
Yes, we have always found the museum and/or gallery more important than the shop. We never had the urge to be sold in every town or city. The strange thing is that an artist is acclaimed when he’s unique, while a designer’s success seems to depend on the amount of pieces sold...
All in all, your work reminds one of a shaped fairytale. How much further do you think you can dig into the sublime and the fantastic?
Endlessly! Often we feel we just started digging! There is so much to be found. Everything and everyone carries a story and an image and an object...
Text: Eleftherios Ampatzis, ΑΑ architect
Photos: R. Kot, J.-B. Mondino, C. Anee, D. Brandsma, P. Stigter, L. Blonk