Designer Dialogues: Kim Haagen

The creatives of Sectie-C, an Eindhoven based design hub, initiated BLANK SPACE MAGAZINE, a magazine that portrays different creative makers in their workplaces while interviewed by colleagues. What fascinates, inspires and drives them to do what they do? Especially for ddw.nl, BLANK SPACE MAGAZINE edited the interviews into interesting short stories. In this article, we talk to designer Kim Haagen.

Kim, where the hell are we? It looks like you work in a garden shed.

This is Collaboration O. Ten creative entrepreneurs work here. In this space everyone has built his own office on his own lot. In the joint workshops we share the machines. Our collective started ten years ago when we were still students and we couldn’t buy machines on our own. But with ten people you can easily purchase an Altendorf format saw. Or a welding machine.

One of your most noticeable designs is a clock project. But it doesn’t resemble a clock at all.
 
Do you mean 'On Time Not on Time'? I always have a penchant for mechanics and old timepieces. For all moving, mechanical works actually. It’s nice if something is not static. I am not a skilled watchmaker. I just puzzled. The idea was that you can read the time, but not very dominantly. And at random moments the clock makes a sound. I was inspired by the Da Vinci Cam Hammer system. This project was an assignment from Hotel Not Hotel. I saw it as an opportunity, but I completely misjudged the development time, as usual with a learning process.

Kim Haagen
Maarten Coolen

You share your learning process on Instagram account. At the same time, your account is a bit mysterious.
 
I think I don’t want to come out so prominently as a maker. Not yet. I understand that ultimately it can’t be any other way, but I’m still very much looking for how I want to present myself to the outside world. For example, I have the feeling that I can only come out with my clocks when I have three. Because otherwise I have something like, here I am, with one clock...

But if you don’t promote yourself, it’s not in the best interest of your business.
 
Fortunately, I am getting better at it. My projects are often about tempo. And that is because I have quite a different pace. That was very confusing for me for a long time. Some people knew exactly where they wanted to go during their studies. I was under the impression that I should also have that clear direction. I tried. In the meantime, I have accepted the pace of my own development. And in some things, I'm just slow. I got my driver's license at the age of thirty-six.

Before On Time Not On Time you made a wind clock. That doesn’t look like a clock either.
 
The wind clock is based on my graduation work. This clock tells a story about time and how we experience time and how the clock dominates our lives. It is powered by the wind and is calibrated to the average wind speed of a certain place. And at that average wind speed, time goes as fast as our clock time. But time goes as fast as the wind. So when the wind stops, the clock stops and when it’s blowing very hard, time goes very fast.

You think the clock keeps us in its grip?
 
Indeed, I think we took it too far. We believe as a principle that we have to use every moment. We must all the time. Yes, that’s it actually.

How would you describe yourself as a designer?
 
My inspiration derives from the developments in the world of science and social psychology. I read a lot of philosophy. My work often deals with certain mechanisms, such as systems in society. I find it interesting how different components are part of a system and what relationships arise between them. How that can repel or attract each other.

Close-up of Kim Haagen's work
Maarten Coolen

How can you make projects that sell from that?
 
For Achmea I made a table, or actually a kind of game, based on the five main emotions that a person can experience. Containing the gradations of these emotions. And that comes from research done by Paul Ekman. Together with the employees of Achmea, I tried to find out in workshops what the value is of an insurance policy for a consumer. What are the behaviours of customers and what emotions are involved. That is extremely difficult to determine for such an organization, because normally Achmea only has customer contact if there is damage. It really worked, that table.

How does your family look at what you do? Are they proud of you?
 
Yes. I'm not from an enterprising family or something. I think my father doesn’t understand it at all, but he is proud. My mother is also a bit more creative herself. She is very proud. Especially because I have travelled a certain path and they have followed it.

How far are you on that path?
 
This year I found my place in the design world. Because I’m a somewhat schizophrenic designer, it was difficult. You know, it’s so easily said: I love materials, experimenting, and then beautiful things come out. And then you can have all kinds of ideas about what design is. But now I can say for the first time that I see a line in my work. That I know where I want to go. And that I am also confident about that.

The full interview with Kim Haagen can be found in the first edition of BLANK SPACE MAGAZINE. You can follow BLANK SPACE MAGAZINE here.
 
Interview: Martijn van der Ven / Photography: Maarten Coolen / Tekst editor: Martijn van der Ven / Translator: Tanya Long