Born in Amersfoort, the Netherlands, in 1942, Gijs Bakker trained as a jewelry and industrial designer. In 1962, he earned his Bachelor’s degree at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam, and spent the following year studying design at Konstfack in Stockholm. In 1967, Bakker established his own studio, Gijs Bakker Design (GBD), in his hometown. His design work explores the connection between craft and design, and includes furniture, jewelry, home accessories, interiors, public spaces, exhibitions, and appliances for clients such as HEMA, Polaroid, Royal VKB, and Artifort.
Bakker taught Metal and Plastics Design at the ArtEZ Institute of the Arts in Arnhem between 1971 and 1978, and Design at Delft University of Technology from 1985 to 1987. He was head of the Man and Living Department at Design Academy Eindhoven between 1987 and 2003, and acting head of the school’s Master’s programs between 2003 and 2012.
In 1993, Bakker cofounded the Dutch company Droog Design with design critic and historian Renny Ramakers. Droog (which translates to “dry” in English) is known for minimalist contemporary works marked by a dry humor and wit that strike an emotional chord with users. Bakker was the curator and art director of all Droog Design products until 2009.
In 1996, he cofounded Chi ha paura…? (Italian for “Who is afraid of?”) with Italian gallerist Marijke Vallanzasca. The studio aims to make contemporary jewelry more accessible and relevant. In 2013, they re-established themselves as chp…? In 2009, Bakker became creative director of Taiwan’s HAN Gallery, formerly known as Yii, which operates under the mandate to create a stronger, sustainable connection between local Taiwanese craft traditions and contemporary design in Taiwan.
Bakker lectures frequently, and his designs are included in private and public collections across the globe.