Jurgen Bey: Collaboration opens new design possibilities

Dutch product designer Jurgen Bey tells us about the importance of collaboration and preserving traditional crafts.

“For us it’s not just about the object but rather about the whole landscape we are part of,” says product designer Jurgen Bey of Dutch design duo Studio Makkink & Bey. A keen interest in developing products that preserve traditional crafts led them to collaborate with craftsmen in India to develop the Cheese Maker – a stack of products with which cheese can be made.

We want to be able to develop products that can be used in classrooms so that children are confronted with traditional crafts from a young age, says Bey.

The project started when Bey and Rianne Makkink visited India. Observing how local craftsmen work, the studio was inspired to set up a craft council that brought different craftsmen together in the creation of one entity. 

“We decided to collaborate with a small local organisation in Jaipur, Rajasthan, instead of working with an existing international well-known fair trade organisation in setting up the craft counsel,” says Bey.  The main focus of the organisation for the last three decades has been education and building sustainable livelihood opportunities. The Cheese Maker project has echoed the organisation’s focus while further improving craftsman skills and increasing knowledge about local crafts. 

The Cheese Maker consists of a juicer, a milk jug, a spoon, a colander, a pan, a cutting board, a bowl, cheesecloth and a press. Each product is handmade from different materials including wood, ceramics, metal, copper, cotton and marble.

“The nice thing about working with different crafts is seeing the many ways of working that’s out there,” explains Bey. “It’s enriching and it opens new possibilities for our own designs.”