This article is an interview with Mieke Meijer for the official launch of the first NewspaperWood collection in Milan, April 2011.
How it all started
"In the spring of 2003 I started my third module in the direction 'Atelier' at the Design Academy Eindhoven. This direction (which by the way no longer exists) differed from all the others: the lessons took place in the middle of the workshop. Students who chose this direction were 'makers'. Experimenting with materials formed the basis for every assignment".
"The assignment with the theme 'wood' made me think. Wood in its smallest form is the basis for paper. Once in the form of paper, however, it does not come back from the paper recycling cycle: it remains paper. I thought it would be nice to be able to make wood out of paper again".
"I had a pile of newspapers and I started with the oldest newspaper. With a roller I smeared the newspaper with glue and rolled it up as tight as possible. Every day I spent two hours gluing and rolling up newspapers and so a paper 'tribe' came into being".
"The workshop managers at the academy were less happy with me: 'If I could saw through the trunk on the band saw? I think it cost the school a sawing ribbon, but the result was above expectation: the material seemed strong and it was also very beautiful! The few days left for the assessment I spent experimenting with the new material. It turned out to be surprisingly similar to wood: it warped, you could sand it, make connections in it etc. I got my module and... the project ended up in the closet."
"It was only in 2007 that I came into contact with Arjan and Anieke from design label Vij5. While browsing through my portfolio they came across the KrantHout project. They knew about the existence of the material, but not that it was mine. They wanted to start working with it right away!
"In 2008 we presented the material again to the public during the Dutch Design Week in Eindhoven. The reactions were overwhelming and in 2009 KrantHout was even nominated for the 'Doen-materiaalprijs'".
"In the meantime, we continued to develop the material steadily behind the scenes. Making KrantHout producible wasn't just about overnight. We had to move from a manual process to a less labour-intensive and cost-efficient product. Step by step we made progress, but with every solution we often encountered a new problem. That was sometimes very frustrating and I think it's very clever of Arjan and Anieke that they persisted. I think that's also their strength: picking up projects that are 'dusting' in the closet and making them a success at all costs. If it had been up to me I would have given up a long time ago..."Mieke Meijer
"At some point the step to Design could be made! We already had our own ideas, but we thought it would be fun to let other designers work with the material in order to investigate and show the possibilities with NewspaperWood on a broad scale. No sooner said than done: Vij5 sent out an invitation with many responses as a result."
"Eventually, a selected group of designers was put together from this. We met regularly to brainstorm, exchange ideas and discuss Design . The first prototypes will be presented in Milan."
Due to the growing success of NewspaperWood , Vij5 and Studio Mieke Meijer are now joining forces in a new separate company called NewspaperWood bv. This company is dedicated to the production and development of the NewspaperWood material in order to research new semi-finished products, products and innovative applications.
For more information, please visit our website : www.newspaperwood.com
Studio Mieke Meijer manoeuvres between the fields of architecture and design and avoids the traditional limitations of both.
Studio Mieke Meijer was founded by Mieke Meijer and Roy Letterlé. The studio designs, develops and produces special objects for the public and private domain. Meijer (Wezep, 1982) graduated from the Design Academy Eindhoven. Letterlé (Kerkrade, 1978) graduated as a structural engineer from PTH Eindhoven. Meijer and Letterlé give lectures and workshops at various educational and cultural institutions. They currently teach at Design Academy Eindhoven and HKU University for the Arts Utrecht. Furthermore, they are co-founders of NewspaperWood BV.