Chain-Link Lace

Article excerpt

A trio of Dutchmen aims to create, and sell, the impossible.

It doesn't seem right that the three Dutch founders of the design firm Demakersvan ("The Makers of") should have the looks of Hollywood stars as well as the genius of the Eameses. Joep and Jeroen Verhoeven, 35-year-old identical twins, are blonds with Robert Redford cheekbones. Judith de Graauw is a 36-year-old gamine in the mold of Audrey Tautou. Beginning from their student days at the Design Academy in Eindhoven--mission control for world-changing Dutch design--the trio was doing great work, and selling it.

Joep (pronounced "Yoop") came up with the firm's most famous and successful product so far: a panel of hurricane fencing whose wire is knotted like lace, creating a product that's a cross between a barrier and a doily. "A chain-link fence, with a surprise added," is how Joep describes it. One architect who saw the prototype placed a big order, and the clueless new grads raced to set up a factory--in Bangalore, India--to fill it. (Joep ended up living in India for more than two years to get the venture off the ground. Even with Indian labor, he says their handmade fence is priced at about six times the cost of plainer fencing.)

Jeroen ("Yeroon") has had an almost equal success with his own student project, the Cinderella table, which morphed the profiles of two antique tables into one fiendishly complex modern form. …