Beek, Bas van

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Country of birth: 
The Netherlands
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Bas van Beek is born in the Netherlands in 1974. Van Beek started studying interior-architecture in 1993, studied interior design in 1997, but never finished these studies. Simultaneously he studied interior architecture at the Willem de Kooning Academy from which he graduated in 1998. His final thesis, about a 3D scan of his own faeces as a critic on computer generated architecture. During his studies he did two brief internships in architecture offices. After his graduation Van Beek started his career as an independent design practitioner. He just started his career when the design-art hype was at it’s all time high. But Van Beek had developped a critical view that made him decide to question the practice of succesful designers and the essence of product design instead of aiming for the same stardom status. In many interviews as well as on his own website van Beek is emphasizing his preference for anti-xenophobic, anti-elitist, highly democratic product design.

It is this approach towards design that led Bas van Beek to create his first collection “Rip-Off’s” which he followed up with “Prequels”. His aim is to create cheap copies of well-known expensive design products. However by making these copies just slightly different from their progenitor and producing them at high volumes, these iconic design products became available for the masses. He did not only criticize the exclusivity, anti-mass-production and limited productions of the star designers, he also raised awareness for the act of copying in design. According to Bas Van Beek, Dutch designers are doing nothing original, which made him question where inspiration ends and the copying and appropriating begins. It was this critical message that made the Boijmans van Beuningen museum showing his collections.

Bas van Beek is head of the Rietveld Academy Designlab department, teacher and practicing product designer at Archiploitation (text: draft dated 2011, from:

Pictures: Bas van Beek, portrait (source website artist); tea set Missing Link (source picture Bas van Beek); signature designer.

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Bas van Beek anti design-art attitude does not mean he is against aesthetics in design. Bas van Beek says: “Besides developing a nice concept, it‘s also good if this is reflected in consistent high aesthetics.”, when he is asked whether or not he follows Rietveld’s design philosophy when it comes to teaching at the Rietveld Academy (source: interview for dutchdesigndouble flyer at Dutch Design Week 2010). Louise Schouwenburg labels Bas van Beek in the article she wrote in 2005 for Metropolis M “A designer who is flirting with art, who is not criticizing originality but aspiring it himself”. On the contrary Van Beek is nowhere near art. He is a designer pur sang, interested in nothing but designing critical design. In his attempt he uses all channels/media within the realm of product design that are at his disposal: teaching, (re)defining an academic program (reaching out to be a leader in the field of educational reform in the Netherlands and abroad), writing, lecturing and last but not least his ability to make this point in his work as an independent design practitioner. More recently for the Museum of the year Object (Glasmuseum Leerdam), Van Beek delved into the rich history of Leerdam glass. He created “Cup and Paste”, a cup and saucer based on the Berlage sketches of a cup and a series of bowls that Van Beek uncovered at the Netherlands Architecture Institute. Surprising enough “Cup and Paste” was produced by a factory in China as a limited edition series of 200. Is Van Beek slowly developing a little bourgeois mentality of his own? Is he falling for the seduction of commerce after all?

  • Duits, Thimo te, 'Bas van Beek, COPY-CAD', in: Vormen uit Vuur 243, juni 2020/2.