December 1, 2008
Bertjan Pot talks about his job, what he’s embarrassed about, and his Sellotape collection—using his thumbs.
Job description: That depends on who I have to explain it to. Mostly I just say, “I make furniture” or “I design furniture” or “I think of furniture, and other people make it.” If it’s someone like my grandmother, I say, “I’m an artist.”
Current projects: We’re making a revolving chandelier, which does not look the way it sounds. I have a lot of half-finished, sometimes just barely started, self-initiated projects on one shelf, and then there are questions from manufacturers on the other side of the studio.
First step on a project: Wondering why people want it
Last step on a project: The best last step is having a drink at an opening or presentation somewhere, and then getting slightly tipsy with the person who gave you the assignment.
How do you break a creative block? Just work on something else. There’s enough work todo. Just staring at a white, blank piece of paper never helped anyone.
Why do you do what you do? Because it’s fun, I’m good at it, and I couldn’t imagine anything else that I’d be good at.
Education: Design Academy Eindhoven
Mentors: I’ve been looking back on teachers that I had, and—although at the time I, well, not really despised them—now I see how valuable they were. And there are two names, Joke van der Heijden and Ulf Moritz. I studied styling and textiles at the Design Academy, instead of the course the Droog people teach.
World-saving mission: I think the best thing you can give to the world is the thing you do best. And if that is making pretty tables, then let it be pretty tables. Maybe you can donate some money you made with pretty tables to a good cause.
First act as “design czar”: It’s a very Modernist idea that there is only one good way of designing. I don’t want to change anything, even though I think there are a lot of designers who work in the wrong way or make ugly stuff.
Dream team: There’s a whole list of manufacturers I’d love to work for, from Vitra and Moroso to Flos and all the classic names.
Office chair: Apart from my own—the Skinny, and the Carbon chair, which is not really an office chair—I have three chairs that I found in a metal dump that were intended for people with rheumatism, and so they are fully adjustable. Even your left buttock and right buttock can have a different support.
Office sound track: What does this question have to do with design? It’s getting close to favorite-color questions, which I refuse to answer. So music—anything good. There’s an iPod on shuffle. To calm down, there is Sam Amidon. He’s from New York.
Favorite tchotchke: I have a big collection of Sellotape, cable ties, and postcards.
Most useful tool: A knife is good, like a box cutter.
Bookmarks: Google. That’s about it.
Best place to think: The shower. It’s the best place to get good ideas.
Current read: I still haven’t finished The World According to Garp, but it’s been a while since I read the last page.
Something old: My boyfriend
Something new: My iPhone. I know it’s a big cliché, but it’s new to me, and it’s very good.
Favorite space: Bed
Guilty pleasure: I’m embarrassed about too much that I couldn’t tell you. And you wouldn’t print it anyway. It’d be censored. I think censored is a hint enough.
Overrated: Conceptual design
Command-Z (undo): I just had my car repaired for two hundred euros, which could have been prevented if I hadn’t driven through one puddle.
Dream job: The same one I’m doing now but maybe in a slightly better-structured studio—with everybody doing what he’s good at and me not doing bookkeeping.