“I try to work with my hands as much as possible” – Bastiaan de Nennie
In 2015, Bastiaan de Nennie graduated from the Design Academy in Eindhoven. And then he just started creating. With his 3D printed artworks, that embrace both the physical and digital world, he and his Phygital Studio are not only making a name for themselves in the art world, but also in the office industry. At the start of the first lockdown, he furnished and decorated a complete floor of an office building of the Dutch national government.
Was crafting already something that was prominent in your youth?
“My father is an artist and my mother was a dancer – she works as a teacher now – so we were a ‘crafty’ family. And talking about family: my brother is in a band and he’s also a client of Kees.”
How would you describe your art?
“It’s in between art and design. I studied at the Design Academy. I apply the techniques I learned there in my work. Using sketches and 3D printing and scanning techniques, I turn contemporary tangible items into new fantasy objects, which aren’t necessarily functional. My studio is called Phygital Studio: a fusion of physical and digital.”
Many of your works of art do indeed look like absurdist utensils. Where do you get your inspiration from?
“Some people like to use Instagram or Pinterest, but I get more inspiration from the physical world and in turn try to digitize those ideas in some way. I collect all my 3D scans of items, objects and techniques in a database. These are my building blocks to sketch new ideas with.”
Being creative is one thing, but how do you combine it with entrepreneurship?
“I’ve never really worked for a boss, so I don’t know what it’s like to have a permanent employment contract. I just started. And I managed to file my VAT return by myself, but at a certain point I also had to submit my income tax return and that proved to be a problem. Until I got the advice to contact Kees de Boekhouder, and now things are working out. It provides overview and also encourages me to keep my administration up-to-date. Entrepreneurship itself comes pretty naturally. Usually one job leads to another, and I believe I’m subconsciously quite good at networking. Although starting a newsletter has already been on my to-do list for two years now.”
When did you know that this path was right for you?
“While I was graduating. I graduated with a chair and a 3D scan project, just for fun really. But apparently I had a style or signature that appealed to people. I wouldn’t say I was the first, but I was definitely one of the few people to create works of art using absurdist digital design. I also like to cook. So if all goes wrong, I can always start a restaurant. Or a sandwich store, that seems lovely as well. But for now, I’ll continue doing this.”
What does a working day look like for you, do you have any routines?
“I’m usually at the studio around eight or nine in the morning. And I go home at around five or six in the afternoon. If necessary, I just work until late. It sounds like an office job, because I spend a lot of time behind the computer. But I try to work with my hands as much as possible!”
What’s it been like to be a creative entrepreneur in the past 2 years?
“The first year was really good actually. I got an assignment from the Dutch national government to furnish the meeting floor of an office building: from curtains to sculptures to wall stickers. That project would run until April 2020, but eventually provided me with work until the end of 2020. And then things became very quiet for a while. But I’d recently bought a house at the time, so I focused on the house for a while.”
Nowadays, there are artists in ‘cryptoland’ who’ve started selling their digital work as NFT (non-fungible token), often for thousands of Euros. What’s your opinion about this?
“Well, actually I think I should be in that business as well. But I’m so busy with the 3D printing, scanning and construction that the whole NFT hype happened without me paying attention. And now I think: Shit, am I missing the boat? I would like to delve into it more, because I think it fits my work well.”
You’ve done some really nice projects. Which one are you most proud of?
“I once 3D printed a bookcase using a robot arm, that was great fun. But I’m most proud of the project for the Dutch national government.”