bedMATE of the month #19: Karel Martens

Every month we visit a creative and inspiring person. She or he is the 'bedMATE of the month'.

The bedMATE is the most iconic item in our collection. The extra long cushion serves as a headboard, but also as a cuddle buddy, a friend who provides support.

This month, all-round creative Nicole Huisman visited graphic designer and typographer Karel Martens. Karel is, among other things, the spiritual father of "colors on the beach". The art project on which the new colorful towel collection from SUITE702 is based.

This time we take a look at studio Martens and Martens and asked Karel about his sources of inspiration, what his environment does to him and how he looks back on the collaboration with SUITE702.

Where do you get your inspiration from? Particularly from Colors on the beach.

“One thing flows from the other and so everything is actually related. At the beach houses in Le Havre it was a result of an application for a festival in Chaumont that requested marking for the various places where activities took place. A wallpaper system with a series of 10 different A-four pages printed in 20 different colors and different combinations.

How did the Colors on the beach project come about?

“An assignment from Le Havre for the celebration of the city's 500th anniversary. A landscape on the beach with different color stripes on the beach houses. Organized according to an algorithm from the city's founding document from 1517, transformed into a system with different color combinations for the beach houses.

Are you a one-person person or do you prefer to work in a team?

“I like to work alone, but I also find collaboration interesting. This is achieved within assignments, but I also like to work with students and Martens and Martens is of course a collaboration.

What is it like working with your children?

“An enrichment, new projects are created because we each have our own quality and interests, such as working with textiles. The towels are a fantastic example of this.

Colors on the beach now lives on in a new guise in the towel collection with SUITE702, is this also the case or has it happened in other projects?

“This is indeed a clear example, but ultimately everything you do lives on in the next.

What other brands do you work with?

“Recently with DUM office, for which we developed knits in collaboration with By Borre, with Liberty we worked on designs for a fabric collection, and for Hermes we designed a series of scarves and bags. With Individuals we have developed the WT table that will be presented soon and we are doing a special project with Karimoku also in knits.

You recently won the honorable Piet Zwart prize, can you tell us more about that?

“That came as a surprise and I am very honored! I am receiving this prize for my oeuvre, but especially because, according to the jury report, I am inspiring for new generations, partly because I am still working and new challenges are my driving force.

We see all kinds of (graphic) studies of shape and color in your office, what do you use these for? How does that work?

“Some of these are manual prints in which I print found shapes with a bookbinding press, often on existing documents that have already served another purpose, that is autonomous work. I also work with the computer, where the possibilities provide different types of solutions. One comes from the other.

What did you think of the collaboration with SUITE702?

“Fantastic, they treated my work with great respect. For good cooperation it is important that you feel and respect each other and that was clearly the case here. Furthermore, the quality of the towels is amazing! It is special that new solutions are created from an existing design.

How do you prefer to spend your free time?

“ Haha, in my studio!

When do you get your best ideas?

"That can be at any time of the day, but often in bed. Life is a universe in which everything is connected.

You live and work in the beautiful Silodam building in Amsterdam. To what extent does that influence you and your work?

“ Lots, light and vastness. Living and working by the water is inspiring. The variety of different boats with the same slow progress is very soothing and liberating for the mind.