hand and industrial mass production on the other. I find it a challenge to seek my own direction there. It’s all a compromise: partly traditional, partly industrial; partly limited edition, partly mass production. And, above all, I want to keep surprising myself by discovering and (re-) using lovely materials.’ By Monique van Empel
Recycling Being green and sustainable as a designer is hugely en vogue at the moment. But with Jo Meesters there’s no hype: ‘I’ve always done that. I’m interested in any materials that age gracefully, like glass and wood. For me, working sparingly with energy and materials goes without saying. It’s just the way I am. It’s why I used old sheets for my final exams too; for lack of the money to have something new made, but above all because those materials were available and still perfectly usable. Recycling what’s still good has always been my thing. I was like that even as a young boy on the Philippines, where I was born. I made vases out of old tin cans and from the biscuit tins we used to place on hot coals to cook with.’ Male versus female Jo Meesters moved to the Netherlands at the age of eleven. At the time he adopted his mother’s second surname and changed 116 |
his first name from Jomunrek to Jo. ‘There’s a sort of twist in that. Here, Jo is both a men’s and a women’s name. And there are both male and female elements in my work too. I have a preference for textiles, but I find other materials fascinating to work with as well. Diversity is a high priority for me, because I don’t want to be placed in a particular corner. It’s all in the mix!’ ‘What I do find important, though, is quality; in terms of design, material and finishing too. I love objects that are aesthetically beautiful. Apart from that, things simply have to be practical. You have to be able to put water in a vase. Functional, everyday things like paperclips, scissors or clothes pegs are really dear to me. All of them have been designed at some stage, but most people don’t think twice about them. I’d love to design something like that one day; something everyone is familiar with and uses: aesthetic and technically perfected.’
Experience However decorative and artistic Jo’s work may be, his greatest pride and joy is the “most technical” thing he ever had produced: Green Oasis, a metal summer house in the shape of a mechanical digger. ‘I do in fact have a second love: architecture and public space. That summer house is something special for me; you can sit in it and really experience the object. On the one hand it’s a cold metal object, but in precisely that combination with plants I managed to create a warm look full of atmosphere. Otherwise, the technical stuff is not really my thing. I like doing the models and sketching on paper, but I leave the rest to others.’ In his studio, Jo works with various work placement students and hires freelancers in for special techniques. ‘I hope people enjoy the things I do. One role model for me is Hella Jongerius. She also looks for that field of tension between the personal and traditional on the one | 117
Published on Dec 29, 2011
Published on Dec 29, 2011
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