01 January 2023
Studio Job is conquering the world in its own unique way
Freedom within Dutch Design
When Job Smeets founded his studio in 1998, smart, sleek, industrial Dutch design was the new standard. Products with a good story, of which many were quickly made. Smith did not agree. “My thought was that design should also be about unique pieces. Crafts were not allowed into the higher echelon of the design world at the time.” A shame thought Smeets.
As a starting designer, Smeets visited the furniture fair in Milan and saw the most beautiful prototypes. Then, when he went looking for those same pieces of furniture in the store, he never found them again. “Then you better start making unique pieces. That gives much more freedom and expression.”
For example, Smeets stood at the cradle of what he calls a ‘niche in the design culture’. “It represents expressive freedom,” he says. That freedom led from bronze sculptures to fashion shows and from digital graphic art to fully furnished apartments full of unique pieces. The studio has had collaborations with well-known names such as Viktor & Rolf and Range Rover and was also responsible for the cheerful beach collection of the Hema.
‘High-end kitsch’ is how Job Smeets once described his work in an interview with the New York Times. In retrospect, he thinks a little too modest. “It’s superb kitsch because it’s superbly made. But if it were really kitsch, it wouldn’t be in so many museums.”
“We have the ambition to expand our idea much further worldwide. And then completely in our own way.
What work makes him most proud? He thinks about that for a moment. “My studio is my best work.” About 30 people now work in the studio. Craftsmen, model makers, painters, artists and constructors. “I’m a kind of conductor. We always have twenty projects running at the same time. When there are a thousand ideas and a hundred thousand possibilities, you have to be a good curator to make the right image at the right time.”
Smeets is currently working on ‘American Job’, his latest work based on a road trip through the US in 2019. This will be presented in a grand manner in New York in November. “All the big names are there,” says Smeets. In the meantime, you will also come across his work in the Dutch street scene. He recently unveiled the Kunstkerk in Dordrecht. The entire facade, including curved stained glass, was designed by him. In his native village of Weert, the exhibition Forever Endeavor can be seen, with an overview of his work.
Is there still ambition at Smeets after such a career? “Yeah, we haven’t been everywhere yet. We’ve always taken small steps. We didn’t immediately end up at the MoMa in New York, that might take you forty years. It’s better to get recognition at a later age than already to peak very early. We have the ambition to expand our idea much further worldwide. And then completely in our own way.”