Extremis was founded when the Gargantua was launched. But where did you get the idea for the design? What need did you perceive?
Back then, our children were still small, and my wife and I enjoyed organising parties now and then. We particularly loved having barbecues outside in the summer and inviting friends and family over. Because the number of guests often varied, we wanted a certain amount of flexibility so that we didn’t have to start dragging tables and chairs around. There was also the fact that it is better for children to sit in special, taller chairs so that they can talk to us. So, I designed the Gargantua, whose benches can be taken out and hooked back in at a different height – both higher and closer to the table – which was ideal for the children. If more people turn up, you fix the benches at table height and put chairs from indoors around them. At the same time, we wanted high-quality furniture that wouldn’t need any special care. The resulting table brought together all these different functional decisions. That is how Gargantua was born, followed a little later by the Extremis brand. It was our search for perfect outdoor furniture that took us into the outdoor furnishing business. It wasn’t so much because I was interested in it, but more because there was nothing on the market back then except for a few plastic chairs and teak furniture.
Is that how the design process goes for all Extremis products?
I suppose it is, because we always start with the realisation that something is lacking or that there is a demand that is not being met, or not met in the right way. Design happens as a consequence of the decisions we make. We don’t design furniture on the basis of a specific aesthetic signature, which some designers do have. Our whole process works the other way round. We start out with a problem and look for solutions, and only then do we choose our materials – to serve the needs of the design. We don’t say: let’s design a chair. No, instead we will start thinking about how we can bring people together. And if the result is beautiful, that will be more of a coincidence than anything else. Of course, beauty is also one of the functions I give to a piece of furniture. So, if we have come up with a solution that is painful to look at, we go back to the drawing board. Because ultimately, of course, the point is to surround ourselves with beautiful things, items that are justified by their beauty. Just seeing them should make you happy. But the combination of all the product details forms the logbook of the journey our design has made in its development phase.