When we caught up with Raw Color last fall amid the madness of Dutch Design Week, Christoph Brach and Daniera ter Haar — along with their son, Ando — had been living and working in their new house for exactly a year. Theirs, like other lofty, new-build homes in Eindhoven, artfully blends the parallels of modern-day life: the family eats and rests upstairs, and works downstairs, following a studio build in the basement last March.
The idea of living and working together seems of a piece with the duo’s polychromatic approach to design (which we’ve been tracking ever since we both were starting out). Blend, the name of their solo show at The Aram Gallery last September, not only brought together self-initiated work alongside pieces they’d designed for clients, but also paid reference to the mix of disciplines across which they work — with color, of course, being the unifying element. “We often reference a triangle, with the three points being graphics, photography, and materials,” says Brach. In developing new yarn colors for their recent collaboration with Spanish lighting brand Santa & Cole, for example, the triangle moved more to the materials side, while their identity for interior textile company Febrik moved the needle more towards graphics. The launch of their new Kilim rugs for Barcelona-based brand Nanimarquina at this month’s Milan Design Week, completed the recent trifecta.
There’s a cleanliness and simplicity to their aesthetic, an aspect they try to communicate and uphold in their visual work, and something that seamlessly translates into the fabric of their home. It’s no wonder, then, that Christoph cites Mondrian, the doyen of simplified, compositional play, as an inspiration. The late artist’s work is not only embodied in the studio’s approach to set design, graphics and photography, but is also reflected through chromatic experiments in their home, where blocks of color outline different areas of function. We caught up with the couple to find out more.
Top: A Slow Chair by the Bouroullec brothers, a favorite design piece, stands amongst items from fellow design friends: a limited-edition lamp by Daphna Laurens, resin-cast plants by Maarten Kolk and Guus Kusters, and a rug of their own design which (sadly) didn’t go into production.
When PieterJan Mattan moved to New York from Belgium in 2012, he arrived without a single piece of furniture. But the 28-year-old creative director, graphic designer, and digital nomad did have plenty of connections, and by the end of that year, a friend renting a loft in Tribeca had announced he was moving. Mattan jumped at the chance to relocate. “I loved this apartment immediately because it was so quintessentially New York,” Mattan says.
It’s not unusual for a designer to become synonymous with a single project. Think of Konstantin Grcic’s galactic-looking Chair_One, or Stefan Sagmeister’s AIGA poster carved into his flesh with an X-Acto knife. For Christoph Brach and Daniera ter Haar, it’s more like eponymous: A project called Raw Color gave their studio its name (though it's since become known as 100% SAP so as to avoid confusion) and it has consumed them by varying degrees since they graduated from the Design Academy Eindhoven in 2007.
Though Julia Mülling and Niklas Jessen of the German studio Schneid consider themselves makers of all things — from textiles to furniture to the amazing, stackable dishware set above — it’s lighting that fills the majority of their portfolio. Creating a lamp, they say, “feels very free, almost like making a piece of art — where you don’t have to follow the rules like when you design a chair.” So it’s no wonder that when we ask who their influences might be, they don’t first cite Ettore Sottsass or some other member of the Memphis Group who could have inspired their colorful, totemic Junit series, but rather light artists like James Turrell and Olafur Eliasson. “When you see their art, you realize how affected you can be by the use of light and color,” Mülling says. “That’s very inspirational to us.