From 1979, Baas grew up in Burgh-Haamstede and Hemmen located in the southwest and central region of the Netherlands. After graduating from high school, he began studying at the Design Academy Eindhoven in 1996. Baas is considered to be one of the most influential Dutch designers of the beginning of the 21st century. He is often described as an “author designer,” of which his works lie on the boundaries between art and design.
His work is known as rebellious, playful, intellectual, theatrical and artistic. He has gained an autonomous position in the design field, and his work varies from conceptual designs, limited editions, production design, installations, public space, architecture, interior design, theater design and performances.
His works are in major museum collections, such as the MoMa, Victoria & Albert Museum, Les Arts Decoratifs, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Die Neue Sammlung, Stedelijk Museum and Rijksmuseum. And in private collections of Brad Pitt, Kanye West, Ian Schrager and Adam Lindemann. He worked for exclusive brands, such as Louis Vuitton, Swarovski, Dior, Gramercy Park Hotel, Dom Ruinart and Berluti.
In June 2002, Baas graduated from the Design Academy with a series of burned furniture called “Smoke.” The Smoke series was adopted in the collection of Dutch label Moooi, founded by Marcel Wanders. Thanks to successful presentations in Milan, London and Paris, Smoke is known worldwide. Smoke furniture has been purchased by museums and collectors such as Lidewij Edelkoort and Philippe Starck.
In May 2004, a highly discussed solo-exhibition opened with New York gallerist, Murray Moss. “Where There’s Smoke” showed 25 pieces of furniture, all burned and finished with transparent epoxy. Among the other pieces, there were charcoaled versions of classical designs such as Gaudi, Eames, Rietveld, Sottsass and the Campana Brothers.
After the big success of Smoke, Baas presented his Clay Furniture collection in 2006. In contrast with the mainly rigid and rational style of most designs by that time, Clay furniture showed a playful and vulnerable collection of brightly colored pieces of furniture. The series is made of synthetic clay with a metal carcass interior. Clay was widely considered a worthy successor of Smoke. In 2012, both Smoke and Clay were considered “design classics of the future” by the New York Times.
Every year at the Salone del Mobile in Milan, Baas has made successful solo presentations of his new works, independent from brands or galleries. In 2009, he launched “Real Time”: a series of 12-hour films, in which actors indicate minute by minute. The Real Time series also showed Baas’s theatrical approach to design. Real Time lead to the prestigious title “Designer of the Year” by Design Miami.
In 2013, Maarten Baas produced the Grandmother and the Grandfather clocks in collaboration with Carpenters Workshop Gallery. Both pieces were shown at Design Miami 2013. “Expanding on the idea of a grandfather clock, he created his and hers versions with live characters inside the faces of these beautiful towers. Filming two actors in real time with digital equipment, Bass filmed them carefully writing the numbers by hand with a black marker denoting all 24 hours in the day and wiping away the drawings as the minutes pass by underneath a hazy etched glass face”. From 2005, Baas has collaborated with Bas den Herder as his production partner. Most of his designs are handmade in the “DHPH” studio in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, the Netherlands.