You get an "Endless Chair" and a new business venture.
Dirk van der Kooij says he's constantly working on new technologies to create his designs, and he hit the jackpot with the Endless Chair.
"We find the way to achieve a new design is as interesting as the new design itself," van der Kooij said. "We work at the intersection of design, craft and production."
A student at the Design Academy in Eindhoven, the Netherlands from 2005 to 2010, van der Kooij found inspiration in the form of an old 3D printer.
"The main disadvantage of these printers is that it is virtually impossible to do large objects," van der Kooij said.
As a furniture designer, that presented him with a problem. He didn't want to print out his pieces in smaller sections, so he looked to an old technique for a solution.
"The principle has been around for thirty years," he said. "But older machines were less precise. It's about making the form as efficiently as possible and without wasting material. If you don't accept low resolution – a structure trying to hide that – but rather increase it, it becomes a beautiful thing."
After graduating from design school, van der Kooij went out into the world to seek his fortune, and in 2010, even as the Endless Chair was still on display at the Design Academy exhibition, it started to generate a buzz. It really took off once aficionados spotted it at the annual Salone del Mobile in Milan, Italy.
After some tweaking, van der Kooij found that he could manage to get his robot arm to make round forms, and a much more uniform output of his recycled plastic wire. Formed from melted pieces of recycled refrigerators, the flow of liquid plastic extruded at the tip of the robotic arm creates a multilayered, seamless look. It's the robotic arm which precisely places a continuous stream of recycled plastic, much of it recovered from old refrigerators, which give the chairs their "soul."
"I like the feeling it gives me using recycled materials. It makes me sleep better," van der Kooij says. "And you can't believe the number of old fridges that get thrown away, it's bizarre. A normal 3D printer takes seven days to make a chair. This is much easier and faster, and it's a ridiculously simple idea."
Those pieces, a desk, chair and other items, attracted the attention of the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, the Vitra Design Museum in Germany and the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, who went on to purchase various examples of his work.
As a result of the attention and his work to fine tune the output of his robotic 3D printer, van der Kooij found himself with a real business on his hands, a business which now employs four people: Studio Dirk Vander Kooij.
While it was his Endless Collection which proved to be his breakthrough product line, Studio Dirk Vander Kooij now makes what he calls the "Elephant Skin Series" and the "All-Material Table Lamp" as well.