Luo Jingmei speaks with budding Amsterdam-based designer Pepe Heykoop at the International Furniture Fair Singapore in March.
Pepe Heykoop has taken unwanted scraps of leather and given them new life as lampshades, vases and stools. These are produced by underprivileged communities in Mumbai, India in collaboration with the Tiny Miracles Foundation. We like his enterprising use of material, and caught up with him for a quick chat!
When did you start becoming interested in recycling objects?
Pepe Heykoop (PH): I have this natural behaviour of going to flea markets and second hand shops. To be honest, it feels much better finding that one diamond in a pile of trash than ordering something in exactly your size and colour.
Do you find it an irony that despite using recycled materials, some of your furniture fetch high prices as ‘art furniture’? How do you decide how to price your pieces?
PH: I consider my brand to be seen in two ways: the production workshop [for retail pieces] is in Mumbai; the one-offs come from my studio in Amsterdam, which I consider my ‘playground’ – a place where we experiment [and] come up with new ideas [through] trial and error. These items inspire you rather than actually saving the planet since their numbers are low; low numbers are compensated by high pricing.
How did you first get to know about the Tiny Miracles Foundation?
PH: The foundation was started by my cousin Laurien Meuter She wanted to create jobs for the people in the community rather than sending them money. That’s how the idea for producing some of my pieces in Mumbai started.
What is the best thing about working with the Tiny Miracles Foundation?
PH: It’s meaningful. [There were many] social difficulties – their culture differs in many, many ways. In order to get to know them better, you have to start letting go of what you consider to be ‘normal’, because for them, it just isn’t.
Photos: Annemarijne Bax
Read our full report on the International Furniture Fair Singapore in Cubes issues 55 out now at Singapore newsstands