Tord Boontje: Biography

Photography by Angela Moore

Photography by Angela Moore

Tord Boontje is a Dutch designer whose education at the Eindhoven Design Academy and the Royal College of Art London set the foundation for Studio Tord Boontje.
Established in 1996, the studio’s early projects involved creating studio produced low-cost or free products such as Transglass, Rough-and-Ready furniture and the Wednesday Collection. While his work was starting to be shown in exhibitions, institutions such as the British Council and the Design Museum recognised and supported his talent.

By 2002 the unique Garland light for Habitat was a widely recognised and distributed product and the articulate and beautiful Blossom chandelier for Swarovski was making waves; but it was an installation created in the Moroso showroom during the 2004 Milan Salone that sent the international media into a frenzy. Titled ‘Happy Ever After’, this was an installation full of texture, colour and imagery. This sensorial experience made the statement that design can be married with emotion. It established that the Studio’s work draws from a belief that modernism does not mean minimalism, that contemporary does not forsake tradition, and that technology does not abandon people and senses.

A high profile project with Target in 2005 saw Boontje on USA television in his own advert surrounded by animated animals and nature. In 2007 Rizzoli dedicated a book to describing the first 10 years of Studio Tord Boontje. The start of 2015 saw Sotheby’s London stage ORIGINALS, a selling exhibition of works by Boontje and sculptor Emma Woffenden. Spread across 3 gallery spaces, the exhibition showcased his most celebrated pieces including the monumental Fig Leaf wardrobe and unique chairs from the Happy Ever After installation.

Tord Boontje has worked with a range of international companies such as Shiseido, Yamaha, Hewlett Packard, Bisazza, Target, Philips, Kvadrat, Alexander McQueen, Perrier-Jouët, Nanimarquina, Artecnica, Authentics, Meta, Formani and has continued his work with Swarovski, Moroso, and Habitat. The range of products includes lighting, graphics, textiles, ceramics and furniture.

The work can be found in major collections such as the Victoria and Albert Museum, Design Museum and Tate Modern in London and MoMA and Cooper Hewitt in New York.

This extremely creative and prolific studio responds to and leads trends. An interest in social issues grew into working with artisans in developing countries and led to projects in Guatemala, Senegal, Rio de Janeiro and Columbia.

The studio has grown, evolved and travelled. They spent 5 years in rural France before Boontje decided to return to London in 2009 and engage with education, taking up the challenging appointment as Professor and Head of Design Products at the Royal College of Art, a position he held for 4 years.

An experiment to place the studio, workshop and his first retail outlet on one premises led to a move to Shoreditch in East London in 2012. From here the studio launches and makes new experimental collections of products. This independent and creative method of working also serves and inspires the still continuing long-term relationships with clients and initiates new ones.

 

Milestones

1991           Graduated Eindhoven Design Academy
1994           Graduated Royal College of Art
1996           Established Studio Tord Boontje in Peckham, South London
2002           Designed the Garland for Habitat
2004           Happy Ever After installation at Moroso’s Milan showroom
2005           Moved to Bourg-Argental, France
2007           Monograph published by Rizzoli New York
2009           Returned to London to take up position at the Royal College of Art
2012           Moves studio to Shoreditch, East London and opens his first retail space
2013           Steps down as Head of Design Products
2015           ORIGINALS selling exhibition at Sotheby’s London with Emma Woffenden

 

Work in Public Collections

MoMA, New York
Cooper Hewitt, New York
Victoria and Albert Museum, London
British Council, London
Crafts Council, London
Manchester City Gallery
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam
Groninger Museum, Groningen
Indianapolis Museum of Art
Philadelphia Museum of Art
Helsinki Design Museum

 

Awards

2013           Red Dot Design Award
2011           Wallpaper* Design Awards
2008           Elle Décor Design Award
2007           Red Dot Design Award
2006           IF Product Design Award
2005           Dutch Designer of the Year
2005           Innovation Prize for Textile Collection, Cologne Fair
2004           Best Product, New York Gift Fair
2003           Designer of the Year, Elle Decoration
2003           Short-listed, Designer of the Year, Design Museum London