Crazy, Creative: The Eccentric World of Studio Job

Rene Van Der Hulst, Courtesy Studio Job

Wilting sculptures. Reimagined iconography. On the eve of a well-deserved retrospective, the wildly imaginative Studio Job continues to push buttons. 

If you happen across a crystal-studded, fez-wearing monkey, don’t look in panic for the nearest exit. You’re in the land of Studio Job. The Belgian-Dutch atelier, founded in 2000 by Job Smeets, 45, and Nynke Tynagel, 38, is known for its opulence and irreverence. Using Renaissance-era techniques and the kinds of materials that get looted from tombs, they make designs that mock both luxury and artistry. Their take on the Eiffel Tower, for example, has a limp spire dragged down by a bronze lamp head. Smeets describes much of their work as “a little bit sick or mad or strange or eccentric.” 

The team’s first solo museum show in the United States, “Studio Job: Mad House,” opens in March at New York’s Museum of Arts and Design. Particularly memorable is a cabinet with a detailed model of France’s Chartres Cathedral sticking out of its back. The cabinet will be included in the show along with new works like Pipe Table, featuring golden smoke plumes that form a tabletop. What makes the show unique, says cocurator Ronald Labaco, is that 15 years’ worth of creations will be arranged randomly, as if they occupied the home of an enthusiastic collector, with the designers acting out the roles for the audio guide. Smeets and Tynagel, who met in art school and later married, split up a little more than a year ago. But the show won’t be Studio Job’s last. To their fans’ relief, the two still work together. “When a couple separates and they have a child, they take care of the child,” Tynagel says. “They can’t say they don’t want the child anymore.” 

“Studio Job: Mad House” runs March 22 through August 21; Museum of Arts and Design, New York; 2 Columbus Circle; 212-299-7777; madmuseum.org.