Burnt Furniture

Maarten Baas’ burnt collection, also known as the Smoke Series, consists of various furnishing sets which have been actually burned with fire and then coated in resin. The result is radical, astonishing, dark and perhaps uncanny, definitely unique.

The Smoke Series by Maarten Baas.
The Smoke Series by Maarten Baas.

Image source: https://mikeshouts.com/smoke-furniture-collection-by-maarten-baas/

The Smoke Project: Origins and Purpose

Marteen Baas’ came out of the Design Academy of Eindhoven in 2002 and the graduation project was “Smoke”. It was the end result of his research on beauty and perfection and was received as a brilliant success. The Smoke chair and chandelier from Baas’s graduation collection were so successful that they were soon produced by a Dutch label called Moooi in 2003. In 2004, Moss gallery in New York City commissioned Maarten for a solo show with burnt design classics titled “Where There’s Smoke” and nowadays, pieces are in collections of important museums, such as the Victoria & Albert Museum and the Groninger Museum.

Maarten Baas, the designer behind the Burnt Furniture.
Maarten Baas, the designer behind the Burnt Furniture.

Image source: http://www.designcurial.com/news/profile-maarten-baas-4659176/

The Reasons Behind Burnt Furniture

As a student Maarten Baas invented the original technology of burning wooden furniture to give it originality and novelty. That is exactly the reasoning behind the devising of the burnt furniture line Smoke.

Often in interviews, Baas stated that he’d been always fascinated with how people tend to preserve and leave untouched the new furnishings that they buy. What happens when he burns, shoots and changes the face of things is that those pieces suddenly acquire new personality and aesthetic.

The process of burning pieces of furniture for the Smoke line.
The process of burning pieces of furniture for the Smoke line.

Image source: https://iloboyou.com/maarten-baas-organic-design/

A Technique Based on Fire and Resin

After the pieces are charcoaled, they’re preserved in a clear epoxy resin, which makes them usable again and to maintain the shape and duration of the work. When needed, pieces are re-upholstered or otherwise fixed so that they get back their original function. By stripping away ornament, Baas diminishes the hands-off preciousness of design and brings the objects closer to their true purpose, as common tables and chairs.

Detail of the burnt furnishings that would compose the Smoke series.
Detail of the burnt furnishings that would compose the Smoke series.

Image source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wDQrKhIhQyQ

The Designs Given to Fire and Current Production

For his degree show, Baas burnt a series of second-hand, Baroque-style pieces that he bought via Internet auction sites, and a range of cheap IKEA chairs and tables.

For the New York City Exhibition, he took the statement behind Smoke to a greater extreme than the original Smoke series, by burning classics by Rietveld, Gaudì, Sottsass and others.

As to present day, some of his design pieces – like several chairs and a chandelier – are produced in Indonesia, where craftsmen first reproduce the original item and then burn them.

Three classics of design burnt by Maarten Baas for one of his exhibitions.
Three classics of design burnt by Maarten Baas for one of his exhibitions.

Image source: https://lofficielbaltics.com/lv/ieraksti/kultura/expo-maarten-baas-in-ghent

Data Sheet

  • Designer: Maarten Baas;
  • Year of design: 2002, 2004;
  • Materials: wood and clear epoxy resin.

Info sources: http://maartenbaas.com/smoke/vintage/
http://maartenbaas.com/smoke/wheretheressmoke/
https://www.moooi.com/designers/maarten-baas
https://www.dezeen.com/2007/08/05/smoke-by-maarten-baas/
https://www.forbes.com/sites/yjeanmundelsalle/2016/11/01/where-theres-smoke-theres-dutch-designer-maarten-baas-and-his-quirky-experimental-works/#4d983e5773fc