Jarle, Interview




















Interview: Claudine Garcia






Meet Jarle and his inventive, engaged and funny rebellion in DIY that inspires us on how to use objects with freedom.






Could you introduce yourself in a few lines? 
Can you give us some information about your background, education, training formation. How did you come to what you do today?

My name is Jarle Veldman. I live and work in Amsterdam, and I graduated from ArtEZ University of the Arts in 2016.

After graduation I mostly worked for different small design studios, and I recently started to focus more on my own work.

The palletsofa.©Jarle

What do you keep from this experience (network, methodology/structuration, investigation)

I learned to think critically about every aspect of society, I question everything and know nothing is as simple as it seems. I noticed a really big problem in current society is overconsumption. With my work I question the role we as designers play in this game of production, consumption and waste. I think the best thing we can do is to just stop producing altogether, use all the products we already have, and alter them to fulfill in our changing needs. This would be really interesting way of living with objects, as they constantly change in shape and function.

But, I am a product designer. I make stuff. I still make products, and they are luxurious, expensive and unnecessary. I noticed I should not take everything too serious, and I try to convey that idea in my work.

My work is really unpretentious and extremely pretentious at the same time, as it starts from a really simple idea, like using a pallet as a sofa, and the work is a direct translation of those ideas. There’s nothing more to it. But as a result you get these products pretending to be something that they’re not, as the shape is not altered. So the pallet is still just a pallet pretending to be a luxurious sofa.




Here’s an electrical box pretending to be a bush I found on the street.©Jarle



Are you a designer, an artist? Is it important to make a difference?

My work revolves around the function objects have or can fulfill, so in that sense you could say it is design. But I like to design as little as possible. I use the shapes the products already have, or copy existing shapes. So I always say I am not a designer.


Where do you find inspiration? What are the themes touched by your work?

I find inspiration in products that lost their function, so I like to walk through the neighborhood on trash day.

Here in Amsterdam they pick up bulky waste once a week, so every week people place their unwanted items on the curb in the evening, and they are picked up the next morning. I then go for a walk in the evening and see what people throw out. It also gives a good insight in the people living in that specific neighborhood.

The trash in the old south part of the city for instance is of really high quality, while in more low-income neighborhoods it is mostly super cheap broken plastic goods, already repaired with duct tape, and only thrown out when it’s really beyond repair. These cheap products were never meant to last a long time, yet people use them as long as possible.

While on the other side, a lot of super high quality products are discarded because there is a small scratch on the leather.

Here someone already took the leather from a discarded sofa, exposing the foam
underneath the leather.

What I also find interesting is the products that facilitate the whole supply chain of goods, like cardboard boxes, pallets and garbage bags.
Those products only exist because we keep buying and throwing things out, while holding no real value of their own. I mostly use these products in my own work and transform them so they become the product itself, instead of just facilitating the transport of other products.

This has also happened with pallets in the hardware store. Where it was once a nice way to reuse pallets to make garden furniture for free, they now sell pallets specifically for that.

And I love how they used a regular Euro pallet for the shipping of these ‘special’ pallets.



Can you highlight some of your influences and explain how it impacts your ideas? 
Are they evolving or changing with time?

I am interested in and influenced by the do it yourself culture found in the squatting and punk scene. Where people live outside of the consumption society, they make do with what they have or can find for free.

Most people think about DIY videos on the internet if I talk about DIY, but there is a whole culture not many people know about. You can get things from free shops, build everything you need from found materials, and eat food that has been thrown out by supermarkets.

DIY culture can be seen as an act of rebellion in a society revolving around consumption when you do everything yourself without buying anything.
But what’s also interesting is that this way of living is still largely dependent on the wastefulness of others. If there was no food being thrown out, no abandoned products and buildings to find, this way of life would be a lot harder.

So in a way, while being critical about wastefulness, you also have to embrace all the good things being thrown out.


A design classic by Rietveld inside a squat.©Jarle

I really like this way of looking at things. If I need something, I first think about how I can make it myself from materials I can find for free.

This usually results in really interesting, and often weird results unlike anything you can buy. I try to show this kind of inventive weirdness in my own work.

Like this doormat made from a cardboard box.


I translated that into a cardboard box made from a doormat.©Jarle

SHOP — Garbage Pillow €85,00

SHOP — Palletsofa Brique €1.850,00

How would you describe your work to someone who's not used to the art and design's world ? A complete newbie.

My work is a direct translation of other possible functions products can have. So if someone designed a product for a specific use, it does not directly mean that that’s the only function a product can have. You can claim ownership of the object and use it however you like.

You want to open a bottle using your phone? Sure, go for it.
You want to sit on a garbage bag? Why not! The world is yours.


What do you aim to say in general through your pieces? 

I hope I can let people view products in a different way than they did before. Instead of asking “what is this meant to do” I want people to ask “what can I do with it”

What are you expecting from viewers to note when they see your work? 

I mostly expect them to be a bit confused. They don’t really get what they’re looking at, and find it a bit funny for some reason. When I’m talking to viewers I also like to ask a lot of questions. I want to know what they see, everyone can find their own meaning in my work, and can find a use for it. I’m not here to tell them what to do.





This person found the pedestal I found on the street more interesting than my work. And thats also nice to see, because he found the same beauty in a couple of discarded bricks as i did.

What relationship do you have with digital? 

As a product designer I’m focused on the tangible world. It’s hard to sit on a digital chair. That being said, I think representation of our work in the digital world is really important. The reach you have online is massive.

You can go to an art fair and show your work to a couple hundred people, when you post it on Instagram you can have a reach of a couple hundred thousand people.

But I still notice that the people you speak to in real life are more valuable contacts than the people online. Online they look at it for one second and keep swiping. You can’t even walk that fast past a stand at an art fair if you wanted.


A nice pile of garbage.©Jarle  


As you noticed :),  the world is going through a global pandemic, does it have an impact on you, your work or project(s)? 

Yes definitely. I started focusing on my own work just before the pandemic started and I was really gaining some traction after the first fair. But then everything shut down, and everything moved online. I missed quite some chances because of this.

Luckily I have a dog, so I am allowed to go outside in the evening (we have a curfew here) and he likes to smell trash, so we can still make evening walks looking at piles of garbage.
I am personnaly a lot interested by dystopian scenarios and well we are sort of facing one right now. I will be taking inspiration from it in my work.

But it is something I have been reluctant to do at the beginning as it was sensitive subject, I will when the time is right.

Any piece of advice for young people to enter the world and system of contemporary creations? 

With everything you do, ask yourself “Does it spark joy?”





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