ONE WEEK ABOUT Designers from Eindhoven
Fabrique Ceramique: Ceramics workshop for companies, designers, artists and students
Advice and guidance on ceramic projects, from idea to prototype, experimenting, making a mold only or production in small series. Everything is possible at Fabrique Ceramique in Eindhoven, a unique workshop for companies, designers, artists and students.
“When you say ceramics, many people think of a vase first. But so much more can be done with this material,” says Marlies Crooijmans. “In recent years, it has grown considerably in popularity. You can notice that at the Design Academy Eindhoven and SintLucas in Boxtel, but also at the Universities of Technology in Eindhoven and Delft.”
European Ceramic Work Center
After graduating from the Utrecht School of the Arts (HKU) Marlies first starts as an independent designer, but soon she finds a job as a supervisor at the European Ceramic Work Center (EKWC) in Den Bosch. At this internationally acclaimed workshop, now in a former leather factory in Oisterwijk under the name Sundaymorning @ ekwc, designers and artists from various countries become familiar with ceramics techniques. Among them many well-known Dutch designers such as Gijs Bakker, Hella Jongerius and Marcel Wanders, who certainly also boost the interest in ceramics.
In the eleven years that Marlies works at the EKWC, she learns the tricks of the trade. From making models and molds to baking and glazing. When she loses her job due to budget cuts, she decides to set up her own workshop, as a self-employed person and without a subsidy. “A small-scale but professional alternative to the much larger and higher-threshold (read: more expensive) Sundaymorning @ ekwc. In the meantime I had moved back to Eindhoven, and saw the enormously positive developments in the field of design. It was clear to me that I had to set up the workshop here.” After some searching, she eventually found a suitable spot on the so-called NRE site, where there used to be a gas factory and later the municipal utilities (gas, water and electricity) had their home.
Rental of working space
Fabrique Ceramique has been in full operation since 2015. With a workshop, tools, gypsum turntable, a large and a small oven and a glaze spray booth. Marlies: “I started out as an ‘open workshop’, but students have a limited budget. So I mainly focus on assignments for companies and self-employed people such as designers and artists.” She makes molds, provides and supervises (re)productions, gives advice and organizes workshops and courses. Students from the ceramics department of SintLucas do internship here, and she rents out the top floor as working space, currently to a handful of young designers and students from the United States, Germany, South Korea and Russia. Marlies: “It is the live of the party. And I can occasionally advise them or give them a helping hand, but I also learn from them myself.“
Nails, hair and blood
With pleasure she sees the growing interest of young people in ceramics. “Especially because they like to experiment. With shapes, with processes and materials and with sustainability.” The workshop at the Design Academy has restrictions, because there is no good extraction, which Fabrique Ceramique does have. With a smile she tells how some time ago some students did tests to see if they could extract certain dyes from human body remains – hair, nails, blood, urine and excrements. “The subjects even got a diet with red beets and red berries. The results, however, were disappointing. Organic materials almost completely are burned by the human body. Only small amounts of iron and minerals remained.“
Marlies occasionally makes her own designs, which she mainly sells through the webshop. A few lamps, amuse dinnerware, ball vases and a memorial object to keep a part of the ashes of a deceased person. “I would like to start working on it more often, but setting up and developing the company takes most of my time. In fact, I am still a start-up.”
In cooperation with: Eindhoven365
Text: Walter van Hulst
Portrait photos: Rob Stork