A self-taught designer with a love of machines, Raimond Puts lives on a houseboat in Amsterdam and likes nothing better than creating maximum results from minimum means. The Raimond light was one of the highlights at this year's furniture fair in Milan. Designed for Moooi, Raimond Puts’s self-named light demonstrated the magic that can be achieved by combining geometry with the latest technology. Finely woven with LED lights, the two-layered stainless-steel light was a drawcard at the fair. But 70-year-oldPuts isn’t a new kid who has just emerged from design school.
“I’m self-taught. I’ve always loved working with machines, either fixing or designing new ones. As a rule, I always try to include something extra, even if it is something quite utilitarian,” says Puts, who was already on his way to a design career as a child. “I always loved playing with my Mechano set,” adds Puts. Thirty years ago, about the time he moved to his houseboat in Amsterdam, he started building models from cheap materials such as strip-iron mosquito nets and paper.
Puts was attracted to the challenges of making geometric shapes and models, searching for solutions to practical problems with an angel-like patience and determination. It’s this rigorous approach to design that has led many in the design arena to mistake him for a mathematician. “I’m sorry, but I’m not a mathematical professor. I don’t know how this came to the media’s attention. I know a lot about mathematics, but I taught myself,” he says.
Puts's design career didn’t really start until he was 65. Before then, he was mainly fixing machines and tools for the fabrication of transistors. But then LEDs and the shine they produced on rust-free strips began taking over his workbench. Combining beauty with functionality, the Raimond light creates maximum results from minimal means. “I’m not only interested in exterior results,” says Puts, “as with nature, it’s about finding connections with everything else in the world.”
“My thoughts are in measurements. Before I start to make anything I need to produce precise drawings,” says Puts, who works diametrically opposed to his wife, who is a painter. “For her, the drawings are the end, and for me, the start,” he adds.
For Puts, the word 'icon' can only be used in the context of time. “Time is the factor. I can’t say from this point in time whether my light will be iconic in 50 year's time. It has a chance, like many other things that are currently being produced.”
Looking back, Puts considers the Citroën 2CV as iconic. Designed in 1948 and launched the following year, the Citroën 2CV was a runaway success after World War II. Four million Citroën 2CVs were produced until 1990, when the design was phased out. “It’s a little car, not too fast, inexpensive and low maintenance. And it’s stable on the road, particularly for its size,” says Puts, who owned one for many years.
The Citroën 2CV is not only low maintenance, it’s recognised for high-quality engineering, including soft and low travel suspension. And like the best in design, conceals a host of extras. “The rear bench seat can be removed and used on picnics. Taking out the seat also turns the car into a station wagon. It holds a lot more luggage than you’d expect,” says Puts. “And you can easily fit four people,” he adds. Spoken like a true mathematician!