Could you briefly describe who you are, where you are from and why you became designers? How did Rotganzen come to be?
We are Robin Stam, Erik Schilp and Joeri Horstink. Robin and Joeri were born and grew up in Spijkenisse, the town where they got to know each other. They now live and work in Rotterdam. Erik was born in Sydney. He lives in Amsterdam and New York. Robin and Joeri graduated from the Willem de Kooning Academy. Robin as a graphic designer and Joeri as an interior architect. Soon after graduating, they started Rotganzen to make autonomous work, free from clients’ wishes. Erik had years of experience working in the cultural sector and joined a few years ago. Robin and Erik’s friendship predated this by a few years, and they had often worked together on other projects. The three of us appeared to have just the right mix of skills and temperaments to get things done.
The ‘rotgans’ (brent goose) has a very characteristic call: RROT-RROT. What typifies you as a collective and where do you find inspiration?
We base our work on everyday and recognisable shapes and objects. We play with these things, give them a surprising twist, they are always a humorous take on reality. Upbeat and funny, with a serious undertone, not cynical or pedantic. All three of us have our feet firmly planted on the ground. We really just want to make beautiful things with a twist.
Rotganzen is a collective comprising three designers each with their own expertise. Does this ever clash and how do your skills intertwine?
We never really clash. We more or less share the same vision. When we are together discussing ideas, it feels like a sort of game of table tennis with the ball whizzing back and forth until we get down to the essence of the thing. It is precisely the fact that each of us has his own expertise and experience that our collaboration is so good and effective.
What is the most exceptional or remarkable work that you have made or designed?
All our work is special to us, otherwise we would never have made it. We want to do what we like doing in Rotganzen, doing things that make us happy. This ensures that we always feel connected with what we are doing. We are currently delighted with Bouncy, our latest product.
You are known as a Pop Art design studio. How do you make Pop Art today?
The Pop Art element in Rotganzen is encompassed in the use of everyday and recognisable things. Just as Pop Art was counter movement against the serious and conceptual character of some art, we attempt to hold up a mirror to the world: beautiful things do not have to be difficult, and they can even be funny.
Together with Gufram you developed the ‘After Party’ series. How did the idea for this concept come about?
Gufram approached us about designing a range of furniture in combination with our Quelle Fête disco balls. Our idea was to make a series of cupboards and low tables. We designed very simple cupboards and tables, without frills, so that they would act as pedestals and plinths from which the disco balls would droop.
Last year you were in the TQ in Strijp-T with ELLE Decoration. Can we expect to see you again this year at DDW and if so, what are you going to exhibit?
The trendwatcher Monique van der Reijden has once again invited us to show work with ELLE Decoration. They are showing Bouncy this time. We are also very involved in the production of new work for Design Miami and a number of major projects in Asia.
If you were able to choose anyone in the world to work with (a designer, politician, artist, scientist or someone else), who would that be and why?
Rem Koolhaas has always been at the top of our list. We have been involved in a huge object for in a new OMA hotel, so we can cross that one off the list. So next, Maurizio Cattelan. We would be more than pleased to help him with a new toilet.
What would you like to achieve with your work?
We want to enjoy ourselves designing and making our work and collaborate on the development of exceptional projects. We are involved in increasingly large installations and we love it. The bigger, the better.
What advice would you like to give to up-and-coming young talented designers?
Keep at it, keep at it, keep at it. Remain open to intrinsic feedback, but do not pay too much attention to what others are doing around you. Just do your own thing. And make sure you enjoy yourself.
Do you have any news you would like to share with the DDW community?
Most of the news is already in this interview, but this year is our 10th anniversary. We will be celebrating that very soon with a party and later this year with the launch of a beautiful anniversary lamp.
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