Studio Job: Rejecting Design for Art

By Ksenia Galouchko

When the recession forced many design companies to turn away from artistic creativity and focus on functionality, the Dutch-Belgian design duo, Job Smeets and Nynke Tynagel, known as Studio Job, revolted and declared themselves artists, not designers.

“We recently said to each other, ‘O.K., from now on we really stop making design because design now forces us to go into functionalism, and we don’t want to go there,’” said Smeets in a recent interview for the New York Times Magazine. “So from now on we will just make art or something.”

Indeed, Studio Job’s art and furniture couldn’t be more different from the usual playful and functional Dutch design. The duo dislikes and “refuses” the association with other Dutch designers, saying they prefer to be seen as European artists.

“I feel that creativity surpasses borders, and won’t stop at some political border,” said Smeets in the interview.

The duo’s designs, which range from two-meter high teapots to giant stained-glass windows to crystal-studded table lamps, are influenced by Jeff Koons, Biblical themes and European history.

“Studio Job’s work is drawn from an artistic tradition that infuses everyday objects with grand historical themes,” said Smeets.

In spite of the critics’ complaints that the company’s design objects are overpriced, confusing and dysfunctional, Smeets and Tynagel, who live together in their studio in Antwerp, have enjoyed international appreciation, resulting in last year’s major retrospective at the Moss gallery in New York and “The Gospel According to Job” show in Milan.

“Nynke and I have always been working on the threshold between art and design, but we started off as designers,” said Smeets. “And now, after 10 years of studying, we are a little bit more on the side of artists than that of designers.”

Studio Job’s book, “Book of Job”, will be launched at Cooper Union New York, 7 December 2010.

For more Studio Job’s designs and to meet Job and Nynke, go to www.studiojob.nl

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