Our most artistic Satelliet Originals designer Diederik Schneemann – born in Hasselt, Belgium in 1979 – did not aspire to be a designer or an artist. Much more to the contrary. Being solely raised by his mother – a spirited art teacher – he developed a bit of aversion against the vague concept of artistry.
‘Growing up, her creative, artistic students babysitted me. Also my mother took me to every possible exhibition and museum,’ Diederik explains. ‘Though being immersed in art I felt like this was not my scene. What I do wanted to become, I did not know. A gap year should make me find out. My mother only agreed to that idea if I first took a preparatory course for the art academy. To my surprise I discovered that I really liked it, that I was good at applied arts. My grades were great, something that had never happened to me before. My mother knew, long before I myself realized.’
Simple things in everyday life
After completing the AKI Academy for Art & Design in Enschede, Diederik started his own company in Rotterdam: Studio Schneemann. As a designer – in the broadest sense of the word -he creates works that balance between art and design. He engages in a variety of disciplines: conceptual art and design, photography and art installations. His oeuvre distinguishes itself by re-using items, altering their looks and use in such a way a new concept and second life is created. In evoking a new, unexpected reality, he allows himself to be surprised and inspired by the simple things in everyday life. ‘My Mother always said: ‘The art of living is to make something out of nothing’, and I take this wisdom to heart. In my designs and in my daily life.’
Over decades now, Diederik has been creating distinct, evocative pieces of design. Droog Design – the controversial nineties design collective with artistic designers like Richard Hutten, Marcel Wanders, Gijs Bakker, Jurgen Bey and Tejo Remy – influences and inspires him still. What in these designers is it that attracts and challenges Diederik? ‘At the same time I was studying they were changing the world of art and design as we knew it. These idiosyncratic designers had a very different way of approaching aesthetics. Design could have an artistic element. Why does it have to be beautiful? Functional? None of that is a must, not necessarily. With their different views they put Dutch art and design on the world map. Personally I also need something different to create with. Preferably something that already exists, that doesn’t need much shaping anymore.’
Diederik’s creations thus often originate from existing items and travel the globe. His design studio is represented by Gallery Rossana Orlandi in Milan and Sardinia, Mint Shop Gallery London, Museum MOYA Oosterhout, Axel perron gallery Knokke and MPV Gallery Oisterwijk. After controversial works as A Flip Flop Story, his 3D Mash Up chair and lamp – ‘I wanted to provoke discussion on the question: how do we deal with each other’s images? How far does copyright extend?’- and the photography series Rubdish – ‘where we play with alienation and blur the contrast between super toxic and edible.’- his general public breakthrough came with the Cherished collection.
Diederik treats personal collections as valuable material to work with and acknowledges all the time, love, dedication and effort that went into gathering these items. ‘Collections are nostalgia, a representation of an era and evoke sentiment and memories. From personal collections, I created the Essence Chandelier: a combination of light source and 350 differently shaped and coloured perfume bottles. Old, hand-painted Peyo/ Schleich Smurfs have been transformed into Ming Dynasty vase, postcards with 3d effect now form an eclectic, seventies-kitsch folding screen and thousands of matchboxes show off as King Clock and Lord Cupboard.’
Tube: a Satelliet Originals design
For Satelliet Originals collection, Diederik designed model Tube: a slim and compact chair with a strong graphic character. The ingenuity of the construction is reflected in the connection between the backrest and the frame, which also provides a beautiful aesthetic detail. ‘The basis simply consists of small tubes’, Diederik clarifies the choices he made. ‘An artistic designer is always looking for something new. To me, logic, fluency is important. Tube has slender front legs that could go outwards when not properly affirmed. Reverse shaping the frame – from the back to the front – keeps the legs together. The choice was purely functional but in bonus created an interesting interplay of lines that I played with and continued throughout the design.’
Earlier in his career Diederik’s backbone *he’s laughing* was sometimes flexible but nowadays he stays true to himself. ‘I no longer say yes to everything that comes my way. As I get older I stick more and more to my own course and I realize this is a kind of luxury. If businesses come with a programme of requirements and next want to change something about my original design in such a way that it feels no longer mine, I don’t go along and distance myself from the project. Because to me, design must be about artistic value.’