imm cologne 2019
True to mood
Anna Moldenhauer: Dick Spierenburg, Creative Director of imm cologne, is quoted in a press release as saying: “I fear TrulyTruly are going to turn 'Das Haus' upside down.” Should we be a little bit concerned about what you are planning?
Joel Booy: Perhaps he meant that more metaphorically because we originally come from Brisbane, meaning from “down under”. (laughs). We’re not your typical industrial designers, our approach to a project tends to take more of an artistic starting point.
Kate Booy: We didn’t study architecture, but instead graphic and product design, and tend to focus a lot on materiality. In other words, we concentrate more on small details, look at how objects change the experience of architecture, the visual impact. Which is why it was so exciting to devise the overall composition.
What approach have you taken for “Das Haus”?
Joel Booy: There were no restrictions on developing ideas. From our perspective we set out to create essential rooms that served to simulate the residential home. That offer a meaning that differs from merely practical functions. There’ll thus be a room with walls consisting entirely of plants; they provide the structure. The result is a “reclusive space”, a separate room that provides a calmer atmosphere. In total, there will be four overlapping zones across the 180 square meter footprint: “Reclusive”, “Serene”, “Active” and “Reclining”.
Why did you decide not to allocate clear uses to the respective rooms?
Kate Booy: The way people live today is defined by fluid transitions. Our activities are no longer necessarily assigned to a particular room. Our response to this was to place “mood” at the center of our design for “Das Haus”. There is no dining room, but there are places where you can sit down very comfortably to eat. Be it in seclusion or in a more active zone that is open and where you can also work, entirely up to your preferred rhythm in life.
So it’s a multifunctional house without limits that stimulates community. That somehow reminds me of the flat shares of the 1970s. A room’s function followed needs.
Joel Booy: Exactly, living is organic. From the outside you can’t really look into our house – but on the inside there are only fluid transitions, people can easily interact. By means of the materials and objects we create the scope for blending the functions of the different rooms. What we focused on was that the efficiency of a room must not eat into the deceleration that we seek in our home. For example, our kitchen, the center of things, consists of individual elements and leaves much space for communication, movement and individuality. We want to leave the option open for the inhabitant to take their time and use the rooms per se rather than just using their purported functions.
Rooms without limits that are both unusual and inviting – how do you want to strike the right balance?
Joel Booy: That is one of the questions we ask ourselves. Our solution is abstraction. We try to combine familiarity with a new experience. The objects leave scope for associations and interpretations. In this way, we have been able to come up, for example, with furniture that is close to what we know and yet the composition is unusual.
Kate Booy: We mentioned the matter of materiality a moment ago and this is where it’s decisive. Material, texture and color appeal to the senses. We explore what effect arises if feelings are communicated and what properties are engendered if these elements are combined in new ways. We want to create a stimulus that makes visitors inquisitive and want to take a closer look at the objects, to touch them and to let the room work its magic. We are interested in the combination, the experiment. And the contrasts and oppositions: For example, in the kitchen combining the glazed lava stone tiles with polished stainless steel.
Are you designing all the objects specifically for “Das Haus”, or are you intending to present existing pieces?
Joel Booy: We’ll be doing both. We’re just working on a sofa and a bed specially for “Das Haus”. That said, we’ll also be including some of our favorite products that already exist in the projects, such as the “Fuse Cabinet #2”, a cupboard made of marble and cedarwood that has the feel of a totem about it. Then there will be pieces by other designers that we wish to showcase.
Do you plan to use sounds and fragrances in “Das Haus” to underscore the mood in the rooms?
Joel Booy: We are trying to be as un-dramatic as possible, which means where we use them it will only be very subtly.
You have already devised exhibition concepts for museums and manufacturers and developed products, for example for TextielMuseum in Tilburg, Holland, or the Nationaal Glas Museum in Leerdam, likewise in the Netherlands, and for Ikea, Dexter and Tacchini Italia – what was different went it came to collaborating with the Cologne trade fair company Messe Köln?
Kate Booy: The project is very personal. There was no direct job commissioned, other than that of realizing our vision of “Das Haus” coupled of course with the expectation that we would create something spectacular. Our experience in realizing installations and projects has stood us in very good stead here. For us, “Das Haus” is the culmination of everything we have realized to date.
Joel Booy: We took a comprehensive angle on the project. You have to compose the overall image of the room, and yet again all the individual products. The trade fair gave us pretty much a free hand. Most of the pressure we created ourselves – if you look at what your predecessors achieved, such as Sebastian Herkner or Nipa Doshi nd Jonathan Levien, then you most certainly can’t be blasé when approaching the project.
I read somewhere that you see your work as the interface between industry and art. So is it true to say your projects are a mixture of function and experiment?
Joel Booy: Yes. I think our product should be surprising and exciting visually or at least in tactile terms. And strike a balance between function and experience.
You both studied Graphic Design at the Queensland College of Art, Griffith University; how does that background influence your current work?
Kate Booy: Our work in graphic design constantly prompts us to ask what we wish to convey with precisely this material or with this combination, what message we seek to communicate? This is not about branding, but about communication and about lending a fascination a haptic form. In other words, our background in graphics has a deep significance for our work.
Joel Booy: The process of graphic design is very strongly aligned to a composition used to convey the message. We concern ourselves a lot with the effect of color, material and form on people’s moods. Our knowledge of communications design thus also influences our products. Moreover, working by hand with the materials, the haptic qualities, that is very important to us. We have rented a workshop specially in order to be able to build as many of the objects as possible ourselves.
You originally come from Brisbane, Australia. So why did you choose Rotterdam as the home for your design studio?
Joel Booy: For two reasons: First, there’s the Design Academy in Eindhoven, where I wanted to study in 2010 after graduating in Australia. I wanted to take a course that had a strong practical focus but conceptual roots, and the Design Academy offered just that. Second, the strong sense of community within the cultural sector in the Netherlands. Thanks to that network, when we founded our studio in 2014 we got a whole lot of support for our creative work.
Kate Booy: Australia is a very young country compared to the Netherlands. The design industry there is growing, but the community is not yet very pronounced. Which is why the Netherlands and Europe in general offer us a greater number and range of opportunities to work as designers than back home.
For your design studio you chose the name “TrulyTruly”. Now truly is a word that stands for honesty and authenticity, and the wish to not waver from one’s path. How hard was it to maintain that key idea since the studio’s foundation four years ago?
Kate Booy: Thusfar we haven’t had any problem. Fortunately, it’s still about companies coming to us and we’ve been able to realize a broad range of different projects. Unlike in graphic design, where there are less opportunities to be freely creative, as you are communicating in someone else’s name.
Joel Booy: It’s the way we always hoped it would be. We never wanted our work to just be a job. “Das Haus” is the realization of our ideas, visions, a manifesto as it were. A manifesto also for ourselves: that we do not simply go with some uniform flow, but always search for our own path.