What happens when you take 10 designers based in London and you leave them for one week inside an empty furniture factory in the Dutch countryside? – Dutch furniture manufacturer Arco recently organized a workshop with the designers of the London Okay Studio. This was a logical continuation of the Arco 12 project, which took place in 2005 to celebrate the company’s 100 year anniversary.
At the time, 12 young Dutch designers were asked to respond to the company’s collection with a design of their own. A number of the results were later included in the Arco furniture range, including the famous Slim Table, designed by Bertjan Pot.
It was an extremely successful project, which made a significant contribution to Arco’s development. This is why the company actively keeps in touch with new generations of designers.
After his degree at the Royal College of Art in London, Arco’s new creative director Jorre van Ast (born in 1980) was part of Okay Studio himself for a number of years. “Okay Studio is a collective that shares a studio in an old piano factory in North East London. It’s a creative hotbed, where a number of collaborative presentations were brought to life. Even though the designers work independently, as a group they really bring out the best in each other. They are all former fellow students, and setting up this workshop with them was a logical step for me. Of course, I’m in an exceptional position, since I am a member of the group and also work for Arco,” says Jorre.
Ten Okay Studio designers were challenged to create something out of wood that is completely different from the products in the existing collection – so not tables, cupboards or chairs – taking Arco’s production facilities into account. The group got together in Winterswijk for two long weekends to develop ideas and then execute them in Arco’s furniture factory.
Jorre: “These days were fun, and, above all, productive. Our craftsmen and women were also very enthusiastic about helping us out. Everyone had to work very hard, but the atmosphere was excellent and we ended up with fourteen new designs.”