Question Convention – Joey Ruiter, Product Designer

Joey describes his approach to design a bit like that of a mad scientist—it's unconventional, disruptive, and futuristic. He seeks to strip away the way things have always been done and go back to ground zero. He's overturned convention in fields ranging from concept watercraft, office furniture, all varieties of transportation, household objects, and sculpture.

I want to make things people have never seen before.

In describing how he thinks about design, Joey uses the example of the modern automobile, citing how even something as simple as the width of today's cars and roads is based off of the original width of double horse-drawn carriages. He invites us to dismantle our notions of what a vehicle should look like, what its wheelbase should be, for the exploration of a new, re-imagined concept.

"I'm curious about the future because we're always based off of the past and what we've done [before]," explains Joey. "I'm almost going back in time and rethinking how things started [and how] that makes the future totally different today. I'm ignoring that baggage."

While innovative and future-facing, Joey doesn't lose touch with the real, tactile nature of his work. "I think some of the best tools in the shop are still actually moving the material by hand". He'll tell you that there may be a place for fancy rendering softwares and theories, but that those are not enough. They can't substitute for the real world, for personally knowing the materials and forms, and what they're capable of.

"I like the idea when I make something, people look twice at it. They have a little spark of, 'I wonder what that is?'" he says. "Hopefully the objects that I make are a little tools that help people also make their own thing later."

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