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Interview: Maarten Heijltjes | Waarmakers

Product designers Simon and Maarten of Amsterdam Waarmakers design studio

Product designers Simon and Maarten of Amsterdam-based Waarmakers design studio

If you’ve been following this blog a while now you may remember I did a story on Dutch product design studio, Waarmakers, and their fantastic Goedzak rubbish bag for unwanted but still useable items. Designed to encourage sustainable living and reduce the amount of waste going to landfill, the Goedzak can be summed up simply with this old gem of a quote: ‘One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.’ 

Now, designers Simon and Maarten, are focusing their design nous on the trees in their city of Amsterdam – specifically the ones that are sick and dying and are ultimately cut down.  Usually the local government has the trees chopped into firewood. Certainly if you’re wanting to warm yourself up for a European winter this is one way of disposing with an old tree. But Simon and Maarten wanted to put such a beautiful material into a more sustainable use and one in which the tree could be suitably shown off.

The result: The Ninebyfour LED Tubelight. Not only is it beautifully made and eco-friendly but it remembers the tree from which it was made. Each lamp is stamped with the coordinates of the tree it came from so you can Google search its original location. How great is that?!

Here Maarten tells me more about the concept and the design …

Ninebyfour LED Tubelight by Waarmakers

Ninebyfour LED Tubelight by Waarmakers

Which idea came first in the design concept stage – the trees or the light? In other words, were you looking to find a way to reuse the discarded trees or did you want to design a light? Explain.

The idea of using wood for a Tubelight fixture was our starting point. LED lights produce little to no heat, which makes it possible to use different materials. Added to that, there is no need for a starter or ballast, which are bulky elements that are necessary in regular Tubelights. In spite of these advantages LED tube lights are only used as energy efficient replacements for regular tube lights.

With this lamp, we wanted to design the first LED tube-dedicated lamp, making use of all advantages, and showcasing them. The idea of using discarded Amsterdam trees really came up alongside the design process, while trying to design the most sustainable fixture. It also shaped this process as we wanted to give this wood the stage it deserved. This came together in a rather understated, minimalist shape that showcases the beautiful material as well as making use of the advantages of LED light.

Ninebyfour Tubelight

Ninebyfour Tubelight is made from sick and dying, and therefore, unwanted Amsterdam trees

Would you like to branch out into table floor lamps using the same timber?

We have a couple of new designs up our sleeves. It has proven to be impossible to work on one concept, without having a flow of new ideas. While designing you gain more insight and knowledge on a subject, which leads to different associations and ideas. The hard part is putting them on paper and them putting aside and focusing on the project at hand.

We are now ready to start working on the next idea. It’s not a table floor lamp, but the one after that just might be.

Ninebyfour Tubelight by Waarmakers

Ninebyfour Tubelight can be mounted on a wall or ceiling or hung like a pendant

Do you think you’ll ever run out of Amsterdam trees and if so, will you look elsewhere in the Netherlands (or even further afield) to source the timber?

There’s still a lot of material here, so I doubt that we’ll ever run out. But for the most sustainable implementation we’d love to work with other (typical) local timber in different cities, minimising transport and creating unique pieces for each different location.

Describe your dream project/commission?

Working on it :).

Ninebyfour Tubelight by Waarmakers

Each light is traceable; each tree will not be forgotten

What do you love best about living in Amsterdam (aside from the trees!)?

The (small) scale of it. The fact that it’s small enough that you can pretty much get anywhere on a bike. The Dutch love their bikes. And, I have to say, on a good day the beauty of the city can still surprise me.

Have you ever had a who’d have thought moment? Explain.

Pretty much every day, going to work in my own studio, working  on my own projects. I mean, it’s still very much hard work and long hours, but I’m doing what I love and working with friends – my sole colleague is one of my closest friends!

 Ninebyfour Tubelight

Details of the Ninebyfour Tubelight

It sounds like they’ve perfect job! Thanks Maarten and to see more on the Ninebyfour click here or go to Waarmakers to read about their other work.

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