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Jesse Visser: minimalist design poet

His starting point: a surface, the thing with which first contact is made. ‘My designs are stripped of frills and have clear contours. Everything I make is about hope. In hope there is emptiness and that gives space.’

Text: Nathalie Schalke | Photography: own image

Aura of mystery

Completed studies at the Utrecht School of Product Design and the Piet Zwart Institute, won international design awards and works exhibited in Milan, New York, London and Lausanne, among others. His unbridled curiosity combined with technical know-how and pure craftsmanship make Jesse a versatile and interesting designer. ‘In my experience, there are no limits, I take the liberty and stay close to my vision and intuition. Therein lies my strength.’ Designs range from artistic, elite objects for the happy few to reproducible design for labels and retail chains. This unpredictable range from high-end to ‘attainable for everyone’ surrounds him with an aura of mystery: Jesse is unframeable, yet all his designs have one common denominator: minimalist with a touch of poetry.


Aluminium, stainless steel and wood or stone are materials Jesse likes to work with. ‘By dealing with familiar materials in a different way, these offer me a surprising and fresh perspective. I enjoy visiting production companies because seeing how something is made makes me question myself. Above all, the (everyday) world around me is a source of inspiration. What about that angle? How is something folded? For me, it’s all about a gesture: the concept of how something grabs, embraces or connects. I can quickly marvel and dream away in a brainstretch to an origin. Then it also immediately hits me: this is an artwork, a functional design or an idea for a brand.’ His desire to innovate production techniques and love of detail come together in striking statement pieces that are as austere as they are poetic. ‘For me, a work is poetic if I leave something to the imagination. As a designer, you shouldn’t want to fill in everything and leave room for one’s own interpretation and thoughts. Design is more about perception than functionality: about how the other person sees and experiences.’

Favourite works

Innovative ways of materialisation characterise Jesse’s creations and illusion is something he likes to play with. ‘I strip a product of noise and bring it back to its essence. For me, the tension is in the play of vistas and surfaces. As with Cabinet Harold, for example, which forms different patterns from different perspectives all the time. I often investigate whether something is carried, lifted, held or hung and I make those details very important and magnify them.’ His designs reflect contemporary society while offering refuge, hope. ‘In a spiritual way: faith or trust provides stability and can act as a beacon. I translated this feeling into my light sculpture ‘Beacon of light’, reflecting a search for balance between wandering and holding on.’ Through materials, Jesse tells his stories. Prose through design, as with the Triptych Classic XL named Cogitatio Inanis. ‘This illuminated, mirrored triptych made of polished stainless steel or copper tells the story of the here and now. Hyperrealism with underlying philosophy: ‘thought is empty’.’ Objects like these activate not only the eye, but also the body. The physical act of opening the shutters changes the intensity and experience. Similarly with the Sunset Sunrise, a light object that mimics the movement of sunlight during sunrise and sunset. ‘Moving the panels creates a play of light, shadow and reflection that transforms the whole space.’

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Triptych Classic XL
Sunset Sunrise


Jesse values collaboration and for designer label Satelliet Originals, he designed the contemporary chair Arcadia: embodiment of transparency and lightness. ‘Satelliet is sharp in product development and I can fully rely on its technical support and elaboration. In my early days, I did not make concessions but now – through experience and insight – I believe that a concession does not have to make something less and can add value. Hospitality is about experience and so is my design, in which we always find each other. I choose to make a statement and I like the fact that entrepreneurs have the guts to incorporate surprising elements in their interiors. I love it when a design purely responds to your feelings: that things are meticulous, but not stuffy. In a concept, I like to see all the senses stimulated: hearing, seeing, smelling, tasting and feeling. If you can touch all those aspects from a concept vision – not fragmentarily but as a whole – then you create a crazy, rock-solid experience for your guests.’

Being meaningful

Jesse also teaches at the Utrecht School of the Arts. As a self-proclaimed ‘design geek, he loves to engage in discussions on art and design with the students – predominantly Gen-Z. ‘That I can be a bridge, coach and help them – through critical questioning – to clarify their own vision and become distinctive, that is what I find meaningful. It strikes me that inclusion and sustainability are simply in their nature, as are social themes and social design. In these times, you must be vigilant not to be in too much of a hurry, that goes for both me and the students. I want to impart to them that they are allowed to take their time. In turn, I learn from them that every brain is different and I see beautiful, fresh developments. Their vision, philosophy and enthusiasm are inspiring.’

Harold Cabinet
Arcadia chair