Design Miami/ Director and Co-founder Ambra Medda has announced Dutch designer Maarten Baas as the 2009 Designer of the Year. The award is given each year to a designer who, in the eyes of the Design Miami/ team, has made a significant contribution to the progression of design across their entire body of work.
Given this criterion, few would argue that Maarten Baas isn’t a worthy recipient. Despite his age (just 31) he has consistently amused, surprised and reinvented the tradition of design with each project he creates. From Smoke, the series of charred iconic pieces of furniture in 2002, through Clay, the cartoon-like, hand moulded range of clay furniture he launched in 2006, to Sculpt - the enlarged series of furniture he launched in 2008, based on quick rough sketches – Baas has created some of the last decade’s most recognised, talked about designs.
Pushing boundaries and exploring, imaginatively and practically, materials, forms and different production methods, his tireless ability to surprise is what sets him apart. “I don’t really want to give things a name, explanation or description,” he says of his singular approach, “categories are not relevant as far as I’m concerned. I make what I want to make.”
The award means Baas will have a retrospective at this year’s Design Miami/ in December, as well as receive a commission for new work, to be shown alongside his existing portfolio. This new collection 'Cabinet' will consist of a series of steel cabinets, made from irregular shapes of welded steel – “like abstract monsters, behaving like cabinets” Medda reveals.
In keeping with his animated style, Baas is also creating an installation for his retrospective that brings his works to life in a way he sees fit, like a walkthrough ‘Cabinet of Curiosities’. Playing on the Dutch tradition, where travellers would exhibit their finds with Museum-like care, Baas will combine objects from his own global excursions – found things, product samples and other designers’ work.
“Baas has kept the design community gripped,” says Medda of her announcement, “like a good movie where you can’t take your eyes of the screen, each project is like one excellent scene after another.”