Meet Niek Pulles, founder of Eindhoven (but soon to be Amsterdam)-based studio Heyniek, who specialise in visual design. Don’t be fooled by the term visual design, though – it’s a deliberately all-encompassing label. Niek makes work that draws the viewer in and interacts with its surroundings, whether that be an installation about the romance of running for Nike, a series of wearable foam outfits for the Clash Project or a collection of strange clay masks for Dutch Invertuals in Dutch Design Week. To celebrate the New Year, he teamed up with We Make Carpets to film create a carpet made purely out of fireworks which were then set fire to, creating a veritable display of explosions.
Intrigued? We thought so. Read on to find out how Niek creates his diverse and original projects and what he gets up to in his spare time!
Where do you work?
I have my own company called Heyniek which I’ve had for three years now and my studio is an old church in the centre of Eindhoven. I used to share the studio with designer Bart Hess before he moved to London. Now I share the space with experience designer Harm Rensink, but unfortunately we’ve also broken up because I am in the process of moving to Amsterdam and Harm is going to travel in Japan.
How does your working day start?
Every day is different. It sometimes starts on the train, but usually the first 10 minutes I’m like a robot, starting up my computer and checking emails. I’m trying to break through that habit!
My working days are like a game hall, one busy flow of electricity. Sometimes I start with a material and just play with it to create a process. My last project was with clay; I started to make masks for the Dutch Invertuals, and later on it became a trend forecast on Future Tribes! There are also days where I am filming and directing music videos, or sitting behind my computer and spending long nights editing.
Occasionally my mind gets overcrowded with ideas, and then I have to take a minute to sit down and focus. Enthusiasm is great, but it can also be a killer.
How do you work and how has that changed?
Frivolity, intuition and “just do it” are a few of my key mottos – I like to work fast, but I don’t take everything too seriously. What has changed is that I’m becoming more structured and I’m trying to learn to have more patience.
One of the things I like the most is working with people. I do of course need some time alone, but most of the time I prefer to be around and work with other people, preferably with as many different people as possible. For example my assignments for Nike or TEDx, which were both big collaborations. You get stronger by working with other people.
Where would we find you when you’re not at work?
At a party, I love to dance and go crazy. Or with family.
Would you intern for yourself?
I can be very abrupt and disorganised, which can be quite confusing for an intern, but overall my work provides a lot of variety and is good fun. As an intern you have a lot of freedom to experiment with video and material. I’ve had three interns now and they’ve all enjoyed it, so I would dare to say yes!