We make carpets’ ‘fold and crease’ with issey miyake


Inside the Issey Miyake boutique in Milan, Bob Waardenburg, one third of the art collective We Make Carpets, is showing designboom what they’ve been making for Milan Design Week 2024. It’s a series of surface installations with hundreds of colored skewers and pins stuck into the foam base. Visitors can swing by the boutique and see the foam rug installations first-hand between April 16th and 29th, 2024.


Before then, Bob Waardenburg holds up the one with skewers with his two hands and sways it, the barbecue sticks creating soft noises as they bristle. Some of the skewers’ tips are colored, individually hand-dyed by the design team. They look like fresh batches of long matches or acupressure mats with tall wooden nails.


Bob Waardenburg turns around and shows designboom the second piece, where hundreds of gold pins penetrate a charcoal-colored sponge. It has the same concept as the skewers, but on a smaller scale. ‘The whole project is based on fold and crease, designs that you can either squeeze, cramp, or bend. There’s going to be three more of these colored-skewer pieces in the same size, so the final product will contain around 50,000 skewers. I don’t know how much there is in here now, but these will be about this quantity soon,’ Bob Waardenburg tells designboom.

issey miyake we make carpets milan design week 2024
We Make Carpets (left to right: Bob Waardenburg, Marcia Nolte, Stijn van der Vleuten) | images courtesy of Issey Miyake



Skewers and pin foam rugs for milan design week 2024


Marcia Nolte, Stijn van der Vleuten, and Bob Waardenburg of We Make Carpets came up with their Fold and Crease collection for Milan Design Week 2024 after the trio visited Issey Miyake’s showrooms in Tokyo back in 2016. They were already familiar with the fashion designer’s clothing, but seeing and feeling them in person was a foreign, welcoming, and eye-opening experience for them, from the triangular forms of the BAO BAO bags to the pleated fabrics of the Pleats Please and the geometric shapes that jut out in the A-POC ABLE series. ‘We were discussing the whole time that our collection should not compete with Issey Miyake’s but complement each other. We cannot reproduce these collections, or anything that looks like them, but we can take inspiration from them,’ Bob Waardenburg shares with designboom.


That’s exactly what We Make Carpets did. Their playful Skewer and Pin Carpets inside Issey Miyake’s boutique in Milan are reminiscent of the meticulous material research of the fashion brand’s A-POC ABLE, Pleats Please, and BAO BAO collections. ‘We prefer to use the material as it is, so not gluing or nailing it. But since we are in the shop and it will probably be put on the floor, any material on the floor would not be possible, given that the shop would be busy and people would be walking around it,’ he adds. Hence, the foam, the base of the skewers and pins, the foundation that holds them all upright and makes them wave and sway, the spongy and flexible material that recalls the fabric properties of some of Issey Miyake’s collections.

issey miyake we make carpets milan design week 2024
hundreds of colored skewers are stuck into the foam base



Something’s missing when designboom visited Issey Miyake’s boutique in Milan ahead of Milan Design Week 2024. Bob Waardenburg says there’s a wooden carrier that will be arriving soon. Its only function is to carry the skewer carpet, to have the piece draped over it so it will look like a still waterfall of sticks. Just like the manual craftsmanship of the skewers and pins, an ethos Issey Miyake’s production process shares, the wooden carrier is not to be glued or screwed. ‘We’re working with a woodsman for the carrier. We were inspired by the steaming techniques of Issey Miyake in their A-POC ABLE series, where the textile shrinks when it comes into contact with the steam. We wanted the pieces of wood to work like that – they are like puzzle pieces put together with no glue or screws,’ he explains.


We Make Carpets is swinging between slow and steady wins the race and time is of essence when it comes to manually sticking around 50,000 skewers into the foam and hand-dying some of them weeks before Milan Design Week 2024. They’re looking for ways to color them in bigger quantities because otherwise it’s going to be this 50,000 times. But Bob Waardenburg thinks it can be therapeutic since it’s becoming a routine now, which involves dipping half of the skewer individually into a bright paint inside Issey Miyake’s store. ‘We are also looking into ways to dip more at once, but we have to see if it works because it’s very manual and technical. When you dip it, it has to dry, but if they’re next to each other (meaning we dip many sticks at once), the drops will crawl upward, so it will become messy,’ Bob Waardenburg explains.

issey miyake we make carpets milan design week 2024
there are around 50,000 skewers to be stuck in the foam base for the installation



we make carpets and issey miyake at milan design week 2024


It’s good that Issey Miyake’s boutique in Milan has ample space that We Make Carpets can work on. It was one of the first things that the trio checked before taking on the commission for Milan Design Week 2024. ‘If a location is not interesting, – I don’t mean cities or countries, but the physical location where people want it – then we say no immediately. It’s not important if it’s a store, a gallery, a museum, or somebody’s house, as long as it’s an interesting location,’ Bob Waardenburg tells designboom. When the trio stepped inside Issey Miyake’s Milan boutique, they saw the wide breadth of each room, the tall ceilings, the color-coded placement of the collections, and the spaces between each piece of clothing. 


For their collection, they knew instantly they would share the space with the boutique. They wanted to bring the viewers’ eyes both to the collections and to what they would create, hence the choice of skewers, pins, and foams as their primary materials to work on. The use of everyday objects, which has always been the design foundation of We Make Carpets, and the playful irony of thousands of skewers and pins in a fashion boutique may be enough to draw curious looks. ‘I think we had a big collection of stuff, things we didn’t use or we had lying around, and we kept looking until we found the right material. In this case, we thought it had to be detailed; it has to have some kind of feeling for details and a big amount of things, ones we can do in big quantities,’ he adds.

issey miyake we make carpets milan design week 2024
Skewer Carpet 2



Working manually isn’t We Make Carpets’ first time, and their Fold and Crease collection for Issey Miyake isn’t an isolated case. It has always been their design approach, passed on from one project to another. They use limited, if any, technologies. Only when their clients want to see what they’re planning to create that they use 3D sketching. Aside from that and other digital tools for drawing, starting and finishing a project is all done by hand and manual labor. ‘We like mistakes and coincidences. I think it will take a long time before a machine can produce mistakes and coincidences. We have a pragmatic way of working in the sense that for us, even using SketchUp is already advanced technology,’ Bob Waardenburg shares.


Sometimes, the commissioner only gets a red square in space and We Mark Carpets say, ‘this is the material, this is the place where it will be. You have to trust us and our previous works.’ But sometimes, clients would ask the trio for more visual designs, so they could picture how the end product would look, and they often pull up a 3D sketch or two, or a short movie as a visual addendum or explanation. ‘We also try to keep them away from the project as long as possible because we think a big part of the work is in the imagination of the visitors. You could show a quick movie how everything is and will be made, but it’s nice to just have people wonder how it was made,’ he explains.

issey miyake we make carpets milan design week 2024
some of the skewers’ tips are colored, individually hand-dyed by the design team



Out of the Issey Miyake boutique in Milan, We Make Carpets recently finished two permanent works in public spaces. ‘This is something we would like to do more of in the future,’ Bob Waardenburg says. The trio also began constructing a pavilion in Abu Dhabi, consisting of six structures in three-dimensional patterns out of bamboo. ‘We call them pavilions, but they’re actually kind of meditation spaces,’ he adds. For Milan Design Week 2024, We Make Carpets imagines the visitors slowing down and taking the time to appreciate and scrutinize the skewers and pins foam installations along with Issey Miyake’s collections when they step inside the boutique.


Every hanging piece of clothing is an artwork, so the trio just put another one there, on a spongy and crafted scale. They see visitors spending a few hours inside the boutique, looking at the clothes, looking at their Fold and Crease installations, then looking at Issey Miyake’s apparel again. Big gaps separate each piece of clothing, encouraging visitors to see, touch, and observe the fabric techniques, material research, and manual craftsmanship that went into creating the clothes and accessories. ‘I think it can hurt to look longer at things in general, but this is how I say it as an artist. I try to look at things as long as possible, and I hope visitors will do too,’ Bob Waardenburg concludes.

issey miyake we make carpets milan design week 2024
pins stick in the foam base for the second artwork of We Make Carpets with Issey Miyake at Milan Design Week 2024

issey miyake we make carpets milan design week 2024
Pencil Carpet by We Make Carpets



project info:


name: Fold and Crease

design: We Make Carpets

fashion: Issey Miyake

event: Milan Design Week 2024