Gijs Bakker

Gijs Bakker (1942), jewellery maker, designer, teacher. Bakker studied at the Institute for Applied Arts Education (IvKNO) in Amsterdam, he studied in Stockholm and worked for the Royal Van Kempen and Begeer from 1963 to 1965. He married Emmy van Leersum and together with her, influenced by minimal art and constructivism, he made jewellery in elementary forms out of stainless steel which have attracted attention since 1967. They were also interested in futuristic clothing and wearable objects. Bakker was designer for furniture manufacturer Castelijn from 1972 to 1978, where he, among other things, designed a modular sofa out of jeans fabric. Many of Bakker’s other cooperations were not successful as his experiments did not get past the prototype stage. With Industrial Designers Bussum, for example, he made a futile attempt to launch a new coffee machine. He was subsequently connected to design agency BRS Premsela Vonk from 1986 to 1989. In the 1980s, Bakker designed outdoor jewellery, street furniture for Almere, Oostburg and Arnhem, and several lamps. Together with Renny Ramakers, he became the driving force behind Droog Design in 1993.
Bakker taught at the Academy of Fine Arts in Arnhem from 1970 to 1987, where he broadened the department of jewellery design with product designs and emphasised the study of shapes and the use of visual means. In the furniture issue of Items (7) of 1983, Bakker said: ‘I advocate the artist-designer because one of the most important criteria in art is to always start over again, to keep on questioning everything.’ [p.6] And: ‘The final shape of the product needs to be the logical consequence of the concept, the ‘bearer of an idea’. […] In working from a concept, as a designer I also reserve the right to provide solutions to which the production process might need to be adapted.’ He shaped new generations of designers at this school and at the Eindhoven Academy of Industrial Design, where he taught from 1987 onwards.

The archive of Gijs Bakker is located at the Stedelijk Museum in ‘s Hertogenbosch.
Click here to view the online archive.


The Dutch version of this biography is taken from the book Visies op vormgeving, het Nederlandse ontwerpen in teksten deel 2: 1940-2000 (2008) by Frederike Huygen. The following sources have been used for this biography:
– Bakker, G. ‘Form follows concept’, Items 3 (1984) 11, pp. 2-3.
– Eijnde, J. van den. Symfonie voor solisten. Ontwerponderwijs aan de afdeling Vormgeving in metaal & kunststoffen van de Academie voor Beeldende Kunsten in Arnhem tijdens het docentschap van Gijs Bakker 1970-1978, Arnhem (Gemeentemuseum) 1994.
– Zijl, I. van. Gijs Bakker/Objects to use, Rotterdam 2000.