As we walk to the front door of the Waarmakers studio in Amsterdam, crisp sparkles of sunlight glisten from the canal.
The light, minimalist working space breathes an air of concentration and silence that is inspiring. You can easily imagine beautiful ideas blossoming from the heads of the team enveloped in it. When people do look up from their work they’re all smiles. We get a quick tour of the building and afterwards get offered an enlightening talk about led-lighting and salvaged wood. These makers bring across utopic sentiments with a healthy dose of practicality. Waarmakers makes us curious to see what the future holds.
What's in a name
Not more than a decade ago Waarmakers originated from the minds and hands of two engineers eager to see their visions materialised. Maarten Heijltjes and Simon Akkaya met in the industrial design section of TU Delft, a renowned Dutch Technical University. The Dutch name shows a twofold desire of these two designers and the reason for setting up their own shop. waarmakers derives from a Dutch verb meaning ‘keeping your word’ in the more hands-on sense that you ‘practice what you preach’. Their first efforts then, lie not solely in thinking up conscientious and sustainable concepts and solutions. They decided early on to leave the drawing table in time to get their hands dirty, to actually make and touch the products they envision.
As for the preaching, a second meaning in their name shows the obvious diversity of Waarmakers portfolio bears a common horizon. Simon and Maarten don’t stop at creating the perfect product, but focus in on design producing a positive social impact. ‘Designs materialize an ideology and trigger specific human behavior’, they say. This idealistic outlook fuelled the creation of an e-scooter made almost entirely from, yes indeed, plants. It also resulted in a slide allowing children to exit their school building in an exciting way while at the same time encouraging social cohesion between parents picking their kids up from school. Whether it concerns office lighting or an alternative garbage bag for scavenger hunting, they are united in an effort to bring people and processes closer together instead of fragmenting them.
9 x 4
Ninebyfour grew from a personal quest. Waarmakers needed proper, but aesthetic working lights to suit the new working quarters. Upon discovering energy efficient Philips LED light tubes Simon and Maarten started mauling over the hardly inspiring office neon tube light fixtures every workplace uses. Next, stretching the advantages of the LED variant to its fullest potential they found a way to salvage wood usually discarded by collaborating with Amsterdam-based Stadshout. The light doesn’t flicker or emit heat allowing for the use of cork and wooden material as fixtures. When you enter the unique coordinates stamped into the cork stop keeping the tube light in place in Google Maps, you get to see the tree your lamp was made out of. It’s an elegant lamp demanding just enough attention without becoming a distraction.
The stem of Ninebyfour is sprouting a new lamp. To really understand how Waarmakers go about their business, take look at Ninebyfour’s twin brother Thirtysix. The cardboard package that usually comes with Philips tube lights suddenly goes from garbage to gain and becomes the solution to a more affordable version of Ninebyfour. In the blink of an eye, something that would otherwise end up in garbage disposals is turned into an ultra lightweight application that both transports and supports the LED light hanging from the ceiling. If that’s not the future looking you right in the face…We’re looking forward to the next chapter in the Waarmakers designing travels.
Text: Suzanne Knip-Mooij
Photography: Debbie Trouerbach