NIEK PULLES: THE ARTIST BEHIND
COMME des GARÇONS' "FOAMBOY MONSTERS"
By Ryma Chikhoune
Images courtesy of Niek Pulles
Meet Niek Pulles: "Blurring boundaries between product design and fashion, while investigating the interacts between body and material is the core of my work," says the Dutch artist. A prime example lies in his creation "Foamboy Monsters", unique figures made of acoustic foam, currently showcased at Comme des Garçons locations around the world: Tokyo, Kyoto, Paris, Dover Street Market in London, and the Chelsea shop in New York.
Where are you from?
The Netherlands, born in Arnhem.
Where do you currently live?
Can you share your artist statement with us, your past/future/present – anything you want?
I graduated in 2009 at Design Academy Eindhoven (Man and Identity). Childhood inspiration, archetypes, primitive forms with a hands on technique describes my creative signature. If you would have to give it a name, I would prefer researcher and visual designer always with an unorthodox approach towards new processes. Despite the focussed forms and technique, there is always the need for speed aiming to keep ideas and concepts open, translucent, and flexible to adapting new conditions with surrealistic atmospheres and optical illusions often as effect.
Tell us about "Foamboy Monsters", and how they came to be displayed at Comme des Garçons:
Foamboy started as a very hands-on experiment. I used the leftovers of my project "Architectural Acoustics" and started gluing it on a manikin. The way that the material moved on the body was very graphical, and it reminded me of the Triadic Ballet of Oskar Schlemmer but also the work of [M.C.] Escher. The light and movement made a very cool optical effect. The black Foamboy monster was born, using an unorthodox way of creating shapes and silhouettes, evolving to a better and more complex body. I really like the vision of Comme des Garçons on the monsters, I feel it's very much related:
"The monsters I thought about are those that don't fit in – those who think differently from the majority, the people of exception, outsiders. I wish that society would place more importance and value on these kinds of monsters." – Rei Kawakubo, Japanese fashion designer and Comme des Garçons founder
Describe your most recent project and how it was made:
Future Tribes, 2014, Mask design & Trend forecast, published in FRAME magazine #99: It’s something from my childhood, I always saw faces and masks when I looked at the grilles of cars — all kinds of characters were hidden in the staring headlights and the shape of the bonnet. The masks are based on the idea of a futuristic tribe. I recognized a similarity between the customs of different ethnic groups and those of urban gangs, particularly in their car culture. It’s all about showing off, about manliness and bling. The clay masks are intensely alluring. Their primitive forms clearly demonstrate my hands-on technique, but a coat of high-gloss automotive lacquer pimps up the frightening features.
Describe your next project and the current process:
I am working on different projects. I'm producing a video, which will come out soon, and currently working on a fashion exhibition called „SEDUCTIVE PRECURSORS”. This will showcase the best graduates of different fashion schools in Europe. Together with my studio partner Harm Rensink, I am doing the curation and design of this exhibition that will take place in October at Dutch Design Week.
Tell us one thing or person that has inspired you lately and why:
When I went to Tokyo, I had a personal meeting with Rei Kawakubo. That felt really special, and I was honored to have met her. She is someone who influenced my vision. That also counts for Alexander McQueen. He was such a beautiful mind.
Show us your studio and tell us what about it contributes to your success as an artist:
I have had different studios. Currently, I am moving around in Amsterdam. During my study I lived and worked in an old paper factory (anti squad). After that in an old Philips lighting factory. Really handy if you want to create big objects. After that, I moved to an empty church, and I had my studio there for two years — very beautiful, very high, and a lot of light. Works great for the mind. In Amsterdam, I had a studio for six months in an old harbor. It’s great to work in these big old buildings. At the moment, I have my studio in Amsterdam-West, again in an old school building, very fresh and spacious.