Cloud Boxes, by Studio Maarten Kolk & Guus Kusters

Cloud Boxes, by Studio Maarten Kolk & Guus Kusters

By: Studio Maarten Kolk & Guus Kusters (NL)
Context: PROOFFLab’s tandem #1
Year: 2013

Eindhoven based designers Maarten Kolk and Guus Kusters skillfully filter nature’s workings and materialize it into objects. Living with nature, the environment, history, time, colors and surroundings are indispensable sources of inspiration. Their work balances nature with culture and emphasizes the beauty of both worlds. Narrative connections, innovative use of materials and production processes lead them to make objects with a high level of aesthetic.

Maarten Kolk and Guus Kusters often take a natural phenomenon out of its context and integrate it with things we see, eat and touch everyday. This can be textures on animals, the motion of flying owls, fighting hares, which was the onset of their work ‘Avifauna’. Instead of mounting the skeletons of these animals with their own skin, they clothed them with materials from the human world that have corresponding traits. In the project ‘Watercourse’ they used unbleached, uncoated materials to make samples that were colored the blue-black ‘waste’ ink residue of a printer. In their latest project on acoustics for PROOFFLab, they mirror the softening properties of foggy clouds to make boxes that muffle, blur and package noisy things.

While researching into acoustics, Kolk and Kusters came to the conclusion that aural and visual tranquility is produced by very similar conditions and sets off the same sensation. In the words of Guus Kusters: ‘We quickly came to realize that silence is not the answer in this assignment for PROOFFLab. Removing sound doesn’t lead to just silence, but it changes your definition of noise. In a call center it’s probably easier to work undisturbed than in a room with one neighbor who’s constantly on the phone. In our view, it is the combination of sounds that predominate and the sharp tones causing unrest.’

Kolk and Kusters started to look for a way to reduce the sharpness of sounds in the immediate environment as well as to soften the noise of the visual surroundings. The designers recognized these properties in how foggy clouds don’t block or sharply divorce anything from its surroundings, rather, the fog adds to a certain calm. ‘We imagined what it would be like if you could place a cloud in your office, a very local fog bank, to package all chaos and roaring sounds around you.’ says Kusters.

By making rectangular cutouts of images of different weather types, they arrived at the idea of making boxes that mimic the softness, opaque look and the colors of clouds. This thought experiment was followed by testing materials and stretching them over a rectangular frame. Boxes in three different sizes were spanned by thin semi transparent latex. This material mutes sounds like a curtain does and it blurs in the way frosted glass puts everything in soft focus. The Cloud Boxes, as they came to be titled, come in three sizes for big, moderate, or small disorder. Large boxes might veil sections of a space or a bookcase, a lamp inside Cloud Box medium makes it a lampshade that spreads diffused light. With the small sized box you can hide things cluttering the desk. It has a handgrip and could be that one drawer which contains miscellaneous bits and pieces.

With no front or back, and no hinges but overlaps for openings, the boxes can be placed anywhere and the skin can be pulled aside like curtains to open on multiple sides. After withdrawing your hand, the skin shoots back into its flat shape and closes the box up automatically, to keep hidden what’s inside. Some of the latex is made into panels and some latex parts are stretched across multiple frame parts to form different compositions of overlapping skin. Inside, the frame hardly touches the latex, so the boxes keep their fuzzy shade.


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Cloud Box Large


Cloud Box Medium #1 


Cloud Box Medium #2 


Cloud Box Small #1 


Cloud Box Small #2 

Studio Maarten Kolk & Guus Kusters

Klokgebouw 131

5617 AB Eindhoven

The Netherlands

mk +31 641 811 326

gk +31 642 105 027