Designer Dialogues: Martens & Visser

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, BLANK SPACE MAGAZINE edited the interviews into interesting short stories. In this article, we talk to designers Jetske Visser and Michiel Martens from Martens & Visser.
 Hi guys, can you tell us about your practice?

Jetske: We develop kinetic installations, interiors and objects. Within the framework we create for ourselves, the material and the restrictions become our guidelines for designing a piece. We seek the moment in which the material gives us a new perspective, suggesting an unseen character that we use to create a sense of marvel.
Michiel: I think marvel and wonder are definitely two significant aspects carving a line in our work. One might not see it at first sight because our practice is quite different in itself every time. What remains constant though is that we initiate projects ourselves. Projects that are in between design and art.

Michiel Martens
Manon Vosters
Where do you get your inspiration from?

Michiel: We just came back from China where we stumbled across many inspirational places, like the meat sections at the market. There we saw some really nice fans to keep the flies away. You know, they are actually made by the butcher himself. If you just mentally take away the context, get rid of the meat and the smell, then you can start fantasising about what you can do with them… You, Jetske are looking at me like “what the hell is he saying”? 

Jetske: Oh no, I thought you were about to tell about that moment when we were walking down that street and we saw a really big banner. The street was so crowded and people were bumping into this banner that as a consequence was waving in such a beautiful way.

Michiel: It was moving like it was made out of water. That is really the thing; inspiration can be everywhere, but especially in very unexpected situations.

Jetske Visser
Manon Vosters
Why did you move to Sectie-C, and what was that period like for you?

Michiel: We stumbled across Sectie-C quite a few years ago. At that time only Collaboration-O was here on the terrain. I came immediately after. Jetske only joined me at a later stage. First I was sharing a space of approximately 200m2 with Guus van Leeuwen, Akko Goldenbeld and Wouter Strietman. That was a nice phase for me but the space was just too small. As you can imagine, everybody had a lot of stuff! The place got full very quickly. My own section was about 3x4 meters. I remember I designed a cabinet, and then when I built the second one I couldn’t fit them both into my space.  Our creations had taken over our studios. At that moment the space in hall G became available, Jetske had a beautiful studio at NRE at the time, but we were working together a lot so we decided to share costs and merged as one studio, in this space we’re sitting in now.
Jetske: Before that I remember we were constantly cycling back and forth between our two studios. Somehow we would easily forget something in the studio and realise only while cycling to the other one. It was horrible.
Michiel: It was also fun but it became a logistical nightmare. Even just forgetting a screwdriver at the other studio was a loss of time.
Jetske: My studio at the NRE terrain was definitely the nicest place I had been working in. However, a lot of artists with whom I shared the space were never there, the majority of my time there I was alone. When we decided to come here I was very happy. This space is never empty and the people here around you have such a good vibe. You know, I’d rather have a less refined studio but with people around all the time.

Martens & Visser
Manon Vosters
When did you realise that it was time to move on and look for a space that would give you more structure? 

Jetske: In a way, what happens at the beginning is that you’re still figuring things out and trying to understand what you want to do. You’re researching what works and what provides you with the money you need to continue. At first you go for all the materials, all the sizes and all choices seem possible. At a certain point you get more focused, which helps you to choose what you really want to do and what you don’t. Then you inevitably have to decide what has to change in order to make that happen.

Does Sectie-C play any role in the development of your work?

Michiel: It does. We work in collaborations thanks to Sectie-C. Within Hall G for instance, Adriaan de Man is working with us a lot.
Jetske: If you look at a big project like the Holons for example, we wouldn’t be able to do it all alone. We need to work together to make it happen and that’s what you see happening more and more within our joint venture.
Michiel: Sometimes when the projects become really big you act like a contractor. You subcontract parts to other Sectie-C-ers based on your knowledge of everybody’s capabilities. You know the qualities of your neighbours and how they work. They are all professionals with a drive for quality.
Jetske: I really value that things can happen really fast here. In a day or a week you can get things made because it works more efficiently than a big company. Here people aren’t afraid of doing things they never did before. People here dare and do things from an entrepreneurial designer perspective.

The full interview with Jetske Visser and Michiel Martens from Martens & Visser can be found in the first edition of BLANK SPACE MAGAZINE. You can follow BLANK SPACE MAGAZINE here.

Interview: Corrandino Garofalo & Joan Vellve Rafecas / Photography: Manon Vosters / Tekst editor: Mats Horbach / Translator: Double Dutch