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Sparky ideas from a Dutch design duo

Bypassing the gallery system with an e-store of quirky artefacts

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Sparky ideas from a Dutch design duo

November 29 2011
Nicole Swengley

Limited editions and one-off designs are, by their very nature, generally restricted to galleries that champion their creators. Now two well-regarded Dutch designers, Niels van Eijk and Miriam van der Lubbe, are selling their designs online at their website, Usuals, to bypass the gallery system, thus making the products more accessible and minimising prices.

The Design Academy Eindhoven graduates, who are known for giving their designs an element of surprise, have added a clever twist to their direct-sell operation by introducing a new product at noon precisely on the first Monday of each month. Sketches and film clips relate the back story of the design’s creation and, eventually, van Eijk and van der Lubbe hope that website visitors will engage with them to help develop the collection.

Already there are fresh ideas here such as one-off bowls (€49-€350), in which a hollow in the rustic wooden slab acts as the “bowl”, and quirky Bloom My Buddy vases made from perforated polyethylene (€95 per pair). Tweety Tower is a high-rise, pine bird-box with five nesting holes (second picture, €59), while Deco Bulbs are decorative glass housings for light bulbs (€39-€95). Meanwhile, the gun-shaped, saddle leather Me & My Beretta handbag (first picture, €145) is both an eye-catching accessory and an ironic cultural comment.

Less challenging – but a perfect house-party present – is a set of six cotton napkins (third picture, €54), originally designed for the Dutch Textile Museum in Tilburg, which show historical figures in contemporary settings, while M Set limited-edition cups and saucers (€25), originally designed for the Muziekgebouw Eindhoven concert hall, are wittily decorated with historical and contemporary musical instruments.

With sparky ideas like these, it will be fun to see what this imaginative duo dream up next on their “private label” website.