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Where order is born is born wellbeing.


Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Alvar Aalto, one of Finland’s most famous people who reshaped architecture and furniture of public buildings on the basis of functionality and organic relationship between man, nature and buildings, is now called the “Father of Modernism” in Scandinavian countries.

 

He was born Hugo Alvar Henrik Aalto, on February 3, 1898, in Kuortane, Finland (at that time Finland was part of Russian Empire). He was the first of three children. His father, J. H. Aalto, was a government surveyor. His mother, Selma Hackestedt, was of Swedish ancestry, she died in 1903.

Hence, Hugo Alvar Henrik Aalto was educated a lot by his grandfathers. His grandfathers were both very close to nature, one of them was a forest guard. Alvar Aalto has a child use to play a lot in the forest. It was obviously through him that the outdoor world, particularly the forest became so important in Aalto work. The forest with his towering tree trunks and his various rock shapes is a world a constant changing forms which inspired Aalto a lot. Aalto probably found in nature the basic geometrics patterns for his architecture and furnitures.  The forest thought him also that nature is a sensitive ecological system in which men must find his place.

Aalto’s relationship is pretty clear according to the paintings he did as a child. He hesitated few years either to become a painter or an architect. According to his saying, he decided at the age of nine that he wanted to become an architect.

Aalto has been educated in the idea of National Romanticism, the Finnish version of Art Nouveau. Aalto rejected it, such as pretty much his whole generation. However he took one important feature from his predecessors : the idea that his creation should perfectly fit into nature.

Around 1920 a softer version of the strict modernist aesthetic emerged in Scandinavia, characterized by the use of (curved) wood in combination with shapes, colours, and decorations inspired by nature. The resulting furniture arose from the ambition that design should offer both beauty and functionality, and be affordable to everyone.

Aalto rejected a lot of furnitures of his time, he wanted to find a material that makes chairs pleasant to sit in. A lot of Aalto’s furnitures were also inspired by the shapes of nature. He often solved practical problems with abstract experimentation of forms with wood. Aalto experimented with bending a bunch of wood to create chairs.

Through experimentation with wood Aalto discovers specific properties which could be useful of men. For instance, in the interior of the Viipuri Library Aalto created rooms inspired by nature which specific functions. Such architectural solutions as a sunken reading-well, free-flowing ceilings and cylindrical skylights, first tested in Viipuri, would regularly appear in Aalto’s works. Aalto differed from the first generation of modernist architects (such as Walter Gropius and Le Corbusier) in his predilection for natural materials: in this design, « wood was first introduced into an otherwise modernist setting of concrete, white stucco, glass, and steel ».

Aalto’s work with wood, was obviously influenced by early Scandinavian architects; however, his experiments and departure from the norm brought attention to his ability to make wood do things not previously done. He was one of the first architect/designer to be able to find a way to bent wood in order to create theses beautiful organic shapes. Aalto studied architecture at Helsinki University of Technology, however during a large part of his career Aalto created a lot of furniture. Like Le Corbusier, Aalto considered that furnitures and architecture should be a collective and cohesive ensemble that creates order. His experimental method has been influenced by his meetings with various members of the Bauhaus design school.

After traveling through Europe, he was exposed to International Style and soon adopted the natural materials and organic forms of this approach into his aesthetic.

Putting a book on a bookcase


Tuesday, February 20, 2018

I decide to fracture the Steidlijk’s linear path of the new Base collection, on a personal/performative dérive, I notice an object, ‘Bookshelf – 1960 – Unknown’ it hangs politely and awkwardly in a small amount of white space in-between a series of wallpaper like paintings by the situationist artist Constant and a collection of Post-War Dutch Design by Jan Van Der Togt. From the bottom up, 3 different coloured rectangular shelves are spaced evenly and fitted onto a thin steel frame, the frame extends an extra 2-3 inches as it curves tightly around 2 nails that are protruding from the wall.The colours, pale reds and yellow and a light grey, a great post-modern colour strategy, they look like faded colours of a Mondriaan.

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The object was created by the Tomado Company. Tomado is a design company that was very popular in the Netherlands. It has now recently had a resurgence in popularity leading to a very sleek and minimal book being printed called “TOMADO – Van der Togt’s Mass articles Dordrecht 1923-1982” I was very eager to read this until I realised that it was only printed in dutch. The online space were I tried to find sources were also very barren, almost all of the pages where only hosted on Dutch domains that have to get translated via google once you loaded the web page. I didn’t want to struggle with some poorly translated foreign articles so I decided the only way I could get into true contact with this design was through…

1)The Museum – An easily accessible yet unreal space.

2) People – People have experienced real space, people are harder to access. People don’t have large doors where you can enter and exit.

I had heard from Dutch tutors and Dutch friends’ mothers about small experiences with Tomado and offcuts from its history, from what I patched together, Tomado created must have furniture in post-war dutch life because of how cheap it was to produce and purchase. With the popular flat pack system being championed by IKEA at the time, Tomado began to follow suit and made there furniture nomadic; it was easily transportable outside the house AND due to the design only requiring two nails, it became easy to transport in the inside spaces of the architecture. The Netherlands was also greatly improving it’s social housing meaning that instead of families living together in one room, the members of the family dispersed into the different rooms of the house. Children for the first time ever had their own rooms, and with that their first design objects, their first Tomado.

I wanted to see the object in a different space, I used the city for this. Armed only with a creased A4 photograph of the mystical bookshelf and the phrase “Ik spreekt Engels?” I started looking for Furniture stores. I spotted my first piece(s) of tomado furniture accidentally in the window of a coffee shop.

 

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The whole inside wall was littered with the same tomado shelf, around 15 of them, they were hung in a way so that it emphasised the logo “DIGNITA” in thick two-line wall lettering. On the shelves there were bottles of prosecco and cacti that were way out of the reach of any human to grab. This reminded me a lot of how the Stedelijk had exhibited the furniture, it was devoid from any human interaction. I asked where they got the Tomado from and they gave me directions to Overtoom. Here I met a nice Dutch woman who said she does have Tomado objects in sometimes, but it usually goes within “seconds”. I asked her if she used to have any of the furniture when she was growing up and she replied “fuck no” and then said “I hated it, but if you didn’t have it you always knew someone who did”

I now find my self lost in a strange space, it’s a gallery. There are a of shitty materials lying on the floor and hung on the wall, curled up straws, large pieces of cardboard and a lot of plastic jelly. I become aware that everything moves in some way, either attached to pistons or to small motors. I go back to what I thought was just some cardboard and I see a small toy camel being spun 360 degrees by a motor. After staring it for around 1 minute I realise I am a camel. Like the camel has a dessert, I have a city, I have to go to different sources to pick up information which leads me to the next source. Through these sources I am given GPS coordinates that I must travel with. I am self sustainable as I access my pocket satellite which I can replenish at different Café’s, I pretend to be a customer and instead siphon their wifi, After I am quenched and have loaded the web page, I travel the city again.

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Eventually I found an antique fair,  after showing my piece of paper and saying the magic word beginning with “T”. I was soon led to meet a man called Willem Poos,

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(Willem Poos)

Willem talks to me about how he likes to go to England to buy Tomado furniture and sell it in the Netherlands. He clearly has a passion for this stuff. He also had the bookcase when he was growing up and he said he remembered very clearly that he had a book called “Wim is Weg” translated as “Wim (short for Willem) has gone” I then had the idea of returning to the Stedelijk (the only place I knew the object was) and activate its function as a bookshelf.

I found that the only place selling it was in ‘De Bijenkorf’  an Expensive Dutch mall. The building looked different to how it did when I googled it, it was now encompassed in a outer layer of scaffolding, it wasn’t stable in the real world nor was it stable in my memory. I found the book inside and left for the Stedelijk.

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I returned to the fabled bookshelf and upon seeing it I realised this design was placed here because it wanted to be appreciated as a design, yet I found this hard to do as it had no function in the gallery context. It existed as how you would see a photograph of furniture in a catalogue, something that could fit into an empty hole (literally, as in a hole in your apartment) in your life. What I wanted to do was reinsert a personal experience ‘thing’ to make the bookshelf into a design object again. And then I put a book on a bookshelf it stuck out a funny angle with around 2 inches hanging off the edge.

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it didn’t really fit.

 

 

Design and Pattern


Tuesday, February 20, 2018

To continue with the research on connection between ‘design’ and ‘pattern’, I come to ask first, “What is pattern?”

Then, look up the dictionary definition of the word-
Pattern is a particular way in which something is done, is organized, or happens; is any regularly repeated arrangement, especially a design made from repeated lines, shapes, or colors on a surface;

The word ‘pattern’ can be regarded as the particular way something is generated or as the regular arrangement that include continuous rules inside. What I can find from those selected meaning of the word is that; whatever we call as pattern has to have regular and repetitive factors, which makes it predictable, organized, and look stable.

So what does pattern mean to art and design?

It could be one of the basis that construct the way we see the image as well as deliver it. To explain this, let’s see a few principles of design. The formative elements such as dot, line, surface, shape, matiere can be said to be materials that is used to create image or object. Here, the ways we arranged those material- principles of design- are involving. Some of them are unity, repetition, harmony, rhythm, symmetry, balance, proportion and so on. Each of them, at some point, is related to allowing materials look similar and coherent. We intentionally or intuitively use those principles for organizing clear image to deliver our message efficiently. At the same time, our eyes receive those similarity, without even noticing it, and store it as groups on our head. Therefore, we can realize that discovering the coherent image and patterning it is the basic method that we perceive visual information.

Pattern on 3-dimension

My research have had more focused on pattern in 3D design object than any other kinds of art pattern. It is not only because that the starting point was the knotted chair by Marcel Wanders, but also dealing the pattern in terms of its relation with object’s shape and texture are worth to watch. With the development of technology, more than any other times before, designer can now easily explore the new materials and create their very own way to use it.

Marcel Wander’s various way of using pattern are illustrated well with Knotted chair, Crochet chair, Flower chair, Cybrog chair and Cinderella broke A Leg bed.

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Black-Beds

Earlier, Alessandro Mendini used his fabric pattern on the baroque style chair, Magis Proust. By seeing the pattern as ornament, he was marked as the one of those leading the postmodernism. In this case, ‘pattern’ became the mean to deliver the designer’s concept.

Cappellini-Proust-Geometrica-Armchair

Then, Zaha Hadid presented her colorful patterned furniture, Tide, at 2011 Milan Design Week. This work obviously shows the great promise of using pattern in design. The symmetric shelving module that one can create different compositions through rotations on itself allows individuals to build and rebuild the module to fit the space around them.

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Last but not least, I would like to refer that 3D pattern is also opening the door from craft to industrial design. 2D pattern design can be easily processed and completed on the screen while 3D pattern still needs to be experimented by hands at the first stage, especially if it is for the furniture or architecture that should ensure the stability. For example, the Knotted chair of Marcel Wanders is actually known as a result of handwork knot. Creator, as a human, they also make mistakes, sometimes do fail but later approach the point where they can create the most safety and aesthetic cells. This process is happening with hands. So I can see that link between handwork and industrial design is generated if the design happens under the conditions that need to be experimented and proved before it is systematized to be a mass production.

So far I looked through the definition of pattern and the how important it is on the art and design field, especially with the context of design objects. Also I found that how differently each designer handle the concept of pattern. Some of them would use it as their identity, other see it as a way to express their design philosophy, and another can develop it to interact with users.
At the last post, I made a connection between ‘cell’ and ‘pattern’. Finishing this essay with that, just as the cell breath, nourish and endure the living body, pattern also function as indispensable part of whole (design object). It can be always developing and has endless possibilities, because there are still numerous ways to make a new rules and compositions out of it.

Symbol of a Utopian Dream


Monday, February 19, 2018

Marcel Breuer

Wassily Chair (Model B3)

1927 – 1928

 

Medium:

Chrome-plated tubular steel and canvas

 

Dimensions

28 1/4 x 30 3/4 x 28″ (71.8 x 78.1 x 71.1 cm)

 

I still remember when I was a child the furniture of my uncle was always in the way. I couldn’t play with my toys because of the strange shimmering steel frame that was blocking my way. As I grew bigger and bigger I found out that the frame was part of a chair, but not a very comfortable one. I climbed the chair, but my legs got stuck between the spaces of the frame. The only thing that went on in my mind was, why the hell would you buy a chair that’s not comfortable at all? Later I found out that the annoying thing that was blocking my playground was a part of the chair that I now recognize as the “Wassily Chair” made by Marcel Breuer in 1927. A chair that symbolizes modern design.

The story goes that Breuer often rode a red bicycle and that this inspired him and led him make the most important innovation in furniture design: the use of tubular steel. Strong and lightweight. Perfect for mass-production. A model that is based on the traditional overstuffed club chair: but all that remains is mere the outline. In this way, an elegant composition of gleaming steel arises. The seat, back and arms seem to float in the air. An interesting tension between heavy and light is created.

Breuer himself spoke of the chair as “My most extreme work… the least artistic, the most logical, the least ‘cosy’ and the most mechanical.” And he was probably right.

The chair is part of the style of Bauhaus. Which is part of the Modernism movement. Modernism is a term widely used, but rarely defined. We live in an era that still identifies itself in terms of Modernism. The buildings we inhabit, the chairs we sit on, the graphic design that surrounds us have mostly been created by the aesthetics and the ideology of Modernist design. The term refers to something that is characteristically modern, of its time. “The New”, “forward-looking”. It this essay we will focus on Modernism in the designing world. It this case it may be defined as: “Modernism is not a style, but loose collections of ideas.” It covered a range of styles, spread along different countries. But all those sites have in common that they were espousal for the new and mostly rejected history and tradition. A utopian desire to create a better world, to reinvent the world from scratch. Belief in the power and potential of the machine and industrial technology. Where there is a rejection of decoration and ornament. And a belief in the unity of all the arts. Most of the principles were frequently combined with social and political beliefs, which held that design and art could and should transform the society (Wilk, 2006). And by this raise the standards of living for all people (Poursani, 2018).

It’s a global architecture and design movement emerged in the 1920 as a response to accelerated industrialization and social changes. By using new materials and advanced technology. It emphasized function, simplicity, rationality and created new forms of expression with a new aesthetic. Building and design can be recognized by use of clear lines, geometric shaped, cubic forms, windows, flat roofs and functional flexible spaces (Poursani, 2018).

The Bauhaus movement, started as a design school in 1919 by Walter Cropius, Mies and Marcel Breuer, Wassily Kandinsky and Paul Klee. They combined technology, crafts with industrial production to revitalize design for everyday life (Poursani, 2018). They thought that ’new machine age’ demanded a new way of living and a new architecture with new materials as reinforced concrete, steel, and glass (Poursani, 2018). Their design principles, such as simplicity, rationality, functionality and universality, would change the world (Poursani, 2018). Their mission was to create a functional design with the principles of fine arts. Faith in new technology convenience and the promise of a better life. New materials brought new possibilities, break with the conventional forms, and use traditional and modern materials that show the possibilities of the modern industry. Functionalism is priority. Production for everybody a fact.

When I was able to climb the chair, I got stuck between the frame made out of steel. The space between the black leather and the frame was something where I got lost into, and my body didn’t know how to find rest in this chair. The leather seat turned into a slide, and the chair became for me more an attraction then an object with the function of sitting. A labyrinth of body, steel and leather, or maybe an hybrid creature seen from far away. Seeing this chair in the Stedelijk, brings questions to the mind. For example, by placing the chair in the museum, its uniqueness is accentuated. But do cheap reproductions destroy this feeling of uniqueness again? Does the space where the chair is placed have influence on how we look at it? The function of the chair is faded, by placing it really high and not as how it should be. Could you speak of design for “everybody”, when the price of a “real” Wassily chair is “almost” unaffordable. Does the contrast between functionality and comfort, make the chair a utopian idea?

By designing an object, such as a chair, the tension between the user and the object is important. There seems to be a confusion between things that are designed and who is going to use it. There is a risk that design can be over-determined and this creates not enough space for the user to act and improvise on the object. Knowledge about people, capabilities and needs and desires is required. It seems that there is a misunderstanding in the way that the intention seems to design the user experience, but this doesn’t make the user the subject of design. By the design of the Bauhaus form became subordinate to the function. Design became not only a matter of forming objects, but increasingly a matter of how ways of use and even ways of living can be designed and in this way, it turned into designing with a social agenda. This clearly state an ambition of social transformation. But by now we know that while the social aspects of the modernist project may have been ambitious, they did not necessarily succeed. Misfits between the intended and actual use, and the user’s understanding is something that exist, but this doesn’t need to mean that they are not necessary to have. Misfits can bring new knowledge on what can be improved. Also by designing you’re in a sort of way predicting how the object will be “used”. But this doesn’t mean that it will work out in this way. Communication between the user and the designed object is based on understanding and interpretation, misunderstanding can also be seen as a point of this. It’s in important to understand that people are active parts of the system and not only a “user” because they are turned into an object. By designing it’s not possible to making people fit into systems, societies and strategies. People are fluent and flexible, such as their taste, needs and desires. And besides that, people are moving creatures, changeable, and different. Creating something that fits all of them is a beautiful utopian idea (Redstrom, 2005).

Back to the chair again, a couple years ago I found out that the chair from my uncle had disappeared from the room. The space of where the chair ones was located is filled with some new interior stuff. Something soft, more colourful and bigger. When I asked my uncle where the chair went he said that he had put it with the trash. Not even tried to sell it, because according to him nobody would have been interested. Maybe this was something that should have happened. How my connection with the chair started as an annoying object turned into a fascination for the weird structure. But how the chair in the house of my uncle turned from something functional to something that was not interesting anymore.

Modernist had a Utopian desire to create a better world. This they frequently combined with left-leaning political and social beliefs that design and art had the power to transform society (Lodder, 2006). The word utopia is taken from the Greek and literally means both nowhere and a good place. An impractical scheme for social improvement, an imaginary and indefinitely remote place, an ideal place or state. Something that is described as perfect, but from what you know is not possible, it’s more like a beautiful dream (Collins, s.d). Nowhere and a good place is an interesting point, because in my eyes there are contradictions from each other. A good place can exist, but maybe it’s then subjective. For example, the house of my parents is a good place to me. But nowhere only seems to exist in words. It means to no place, the state of nonexistence. So actually, it’s not there, but a good place can be, can exist. The chair makes clear that the faith in new technology is a usable for creating new objects, and in this way the step to a better life is maybe made. But the chair makes also clear that the “right” object doesn’t exist. By making the chair, an idea, an ideal, a dream, (a good place), is created as an existing object. But because the chair doesn’t completely function as a chair for all the people, because of taste, price, function and discomfort, and new materials and development of technology. It makes clear that the perfect “chair” doesn’t exist (It’s nowhere). Time is a huge disturb transmitter. Technology and innovations are changeable. Besides that, humans and their needs and desires are not predictable, stable and universal, and this makes it impossible to create an object that suits all and is timeless. The chair is the symbol of modern design. Progress is the realization of Utopias, and by creating this chair at that time a little step towards a utopian dream was made. And a progress starts with a strong idea, that then is made in practice. So maybe the outwork and how it is used doesn’t need to be perfect, and we only need an Utopian dream to move forward in making new things.

A dream that started as a functional designed chair for everyone, made of new materials. Unity of all the arts, and principles combines with social and political beliefs and raise the standard of living for all people. A step to a utopian dream. Realized and made, fitted for a living room, but where slowly the function and the appreciation faded. Just as the visions that inspired the creative figures were dreams based on the technological potential and the social experiences of that time. Maybe the chair cannot be seen as a symbol of modern design, but as a symbol of the progress to realization of Utopian dreams.

From death to life


Monday, February 19, 2018

I found « Clay furniture » by Maarten Baas really interesting as a design object.

Clay furniture by Maarten Baas

First of all, I noticed the colors. Afterwards, the shapes. My first impression of the piece was that it was more similar to a three dimensional drawing than to an object in space. It has very clear lines and really simple shapes. I like this work because, more than just being a practical, usable furniture, its unusualnature made it seem more like a work of art. Maarten Baas tried to build objects that remind a part of the human body, I saw that when a man sits on a chair he becomes one with this chair. He was inspired by the human body to give a unique shape to his furniture. In this way they become like molds of the human body.

Clay furniture by Maarten Baas

By using clay as his material of choice to create his furniture, it seemed to me that the artist was expressing fragility. The shapes that the clay creates (not straight or parallel lines), adds to this idea of being fragile. Again, I think this refers back to the human body and its own fragility (bones can brake).

The shape of the furniture is very fluid. I got the impression that the legs were almost moving. It isn’t a very solid shape, not fixed to the floor. It’s a very fluid shape.

The chairs have a very different form than that of the classic ones (which we would expect from a chair), although his purpose was not to recreate the classic chair.

The colors used aimed to give life to these objects. Maarten Baas changed the nature of a stool and a chair. It’s not even just a chair or a table, but something we are going to live with.

This design work takes place on « Jump in to the futur » ’s exhibition which gives us an idea of what was and is the 90’s and 2000’s design and how it grew up during the years. I gave my attention to the neons ’s work which, for me, made a guiding principle during the whole exhibition, the works of Cerith Wyn Evans, Bruce Nauman and so on. When arrived in front of the Clay furniture of Baas I directly thought about these neons which linked the art works between each other, with these clear lines, easy to break like the glass of neon; they all looked like uncertain props. I also saw a real freedom of color during these 90’s and 2000’s designs which pursued in Baas’ work.

I finally found smart to put the « Clay Furniture » close to the paintings of Maria Lassing and in front of a big installation where we have to look above the wall to see what’s happening, because « Clay furniture » also looks like ladders.

 

Quite ironically, Baas has tried to bring life by torturing.

Going from decomposing a ready made to creating an artwork in its whole, metamorphosis remains the link to his works.

He firstly buys ready made furniture, which he destroys to create his own. From life, he uses death to give birth. Cutting, mutilating, burning, he ends with the suffocation of the object by applying varnish, letting the object remainwhat it has become.

Smoke by Maarten Baas

Uncertain, colorful shapes, simple and childish, Baas tenderises us with his Clay furnitures. The proximity with the human body surely does give us a sympathetic effect.

Torned feet, broken back, Bass plays with this uneven symmetry to destabilise us. Will they dare to?

Although seemingly nurturing with this simplistic and joyful harmony, I wonder if these works really are as sympathetic as they may let you believe. With these harsh, cold materials, what would our bum think when sitting on a chair made of clay? Wouldn’t the fragility of our bones be going through hard times?

Fragility of the human body, fragility of clay. Have we ever wondered if a chair would be fighting our weight? Alike human legs, the chair’s feet seem uncertain. Homemade, these furnitures take a more artistic dimension than that of a classic one. With these fine drawn lines, as I said above, the air runs through and gives to this chair, this table or this cupboard a lightness that reminds that of a three dimensional poetry. The softness of the paint recovered of varnish gives more comfort to the mind than to the body; however aren’t they both as important?

These furnitures become a real nice company. A touching fragility, friendly presence, comforting colors, amusing shapes, childish naivety.

Baas works in harmony with space, and finds a way to link his works.

Starting with very gloomy, dusty works, darkness reigns over his graduation work.

Baas has produced a real contrast between his two works « Smoke » and « Clay Furniture ».

A real meltdown of materials, processing and concepts, Baas presents us two projects which have similar use but are visually opposite.

Smoke by Maarten BaasClay furniture by Maarten Baas

Cupstory


Monday, February 19, 2018

He thought of the cup as an object that was ment to serve him. The cup was filled with tea. He held it, led it towards his mouth and drank from it. The content flew only in one direction which was his interior. He sucked the liquid inside, it was a monoton movement: the cup feeding and him consuming.

„The cup is the drone of the ceramics world, perhaps the hardest working of vessels and the least appreciated.“ (Garth Clark, „The Book of Cups, Abbeville Publishing Group, New York, 1990, p. 17)

He drank everything of it until it was empty. But it still contained the warmth of the hot drink, when he inserted his finger he could feel it: humid and warm. For a short moment they contained the same warmth, the cup and him: he contained the warm tea and the cup the rest of warmth of the tea. Then the cup got cold while the heat inside of him continued. Once the cup was empty he stopped drinking from it.

„Close space! Close the kangaroo’s pouch! It’s warm in there.“ (Le Temps de la poésie, G.L.M. July 1948, p.32)

Then he shouted into the cup and held it close to his ear: he heard a distant echo. The echo vibrated a few times and was gone. He held it close to his breast and felt that it was vibrating synchronously to his heartbeat. He filled it with tea.

„Objects speak to us“ (La Coquille. Conversation entre Issa Samb et Antje Majewski. Dakar 2010)

He looked at it and it was roundly opened as if calling him. He lifted it towards his mouth and his lips connected to the cup. They softly touched it and his tongue reached the wet content. Then the kiss became wild.

“Many a slip twixt cup and lip“ (Garth Clark, „The Book of Cups“, Abbeville Publishing Group, New York, 1990, p. 21)

After finishing he cleaned the cup. The cup was very deep, deep enough to make it hard for him to reach the ground. He cleaned and dried it with care and attention, outside and inside. That made the cup shine and renewed its promissing interior.

„A house that shines from the care it receives appears to have been rebuilt from the inside.“ (Gaston Bachelard, „The Poetics of Space“, Beacon Press, Boston, 1994, p.68)

Again he was very thursty, he had an enormous urge to drink. He wanted to drink without stopping, to drink until he would burst: his goal was to explode. He drank and drank and exploded and turned into a fountain feeding the soil and the plants with his warmth.

„The grace of a curve is an invitation to remain. We cannot break away from it without hoping to return.“ (Gaston Bachelard, „The Poetics of Space“, Beacon Press, Boston, 1994, p. 146)

Afterwoods him and the cup were cold and empty. Helplessly he looked around and decided then to continue drinking from it. First slowly then quickly and what came out of that cup was sweet. He felt a strange feeling that was increasing and expanding inside of him. With every sip there was more room for more feeling inside of his body. It was multiplicating and circulating and it tickled him in an unknown place. Then he could not take it any longer and bursted into tears.

„Moreover the cup does not have any immediate sense of drama – it is small and comprised of at most two elements, a vessel and usually a handle. But that does not mean the drama is absent, rather that we need to examine the cup a little more closely and consciously to discover its sense of domestic theater“ (Garth Clark, „The Book of Cups“, Abbeville Publishing Group, New York, 1990, p. 19)

His tears kept on falling inside the cup. It took more or less three seconds for the first teardrop to reach the ground, the noise sounded far. When the cup was full with tears he was still crying. He looked inside and saw his face inbetween reflections of light.

„My cup runneth over“ („The Bible“, Psalm 23:5 ESV)

As soon as he felt strong enough to move he took the cup and threw it against the wall.

„A kind of cosmic anguish precedes the storm. Then the wind starts to howl at the top of its lungs. Soon the entire menagerie of the hurricane lifts its voice.“ (Gaston Bachelard, „The Poetics of Space“, Beacon Press, Boston, 1994, p. 44)

 

„The Victorian moustache cup: This vessel had an internal shelf that held the drinker's moustache above the liquid so that he could enjoy his beverage without getting a soggy upper lip.“ (Garth Clark, „The Book of Cups“, p. 62)

The “Victorian Moustache Cup”: This model has an internal shelf that holds the drinker’s moustache above the liquid so the moustache doesn’t get soggy.

 

 

 

the wearable future


Monday, February 19, 2018

Looking at Gijs Bakker’s neckpiece in the stedelijk BASE exhibition directed me to an intriguing subject: futurism. Working together with Emmy van Leersum Gijs Bakker was aiming to make jewellery less frumpish. By making big statement pieces they made jewellery less of a status symbol and more of an accessory to fashion. This was a totally new approach. Jewellery and fashion had not been connected in such a manner before. They were also very futuristic in choice of materialB. They chose materials like aluminium again breaking with the crafty connotation jewellery had, and with the jewellery as a status symbol since the material was cheap and easily produced, making it available to the masses.Them revolutionizing jewellery made me wonder what a new form of futurism could be, in what ways we could reinvent jewellery nowadays. A huge amount of sub questions arose that I believe should all be looked into when trying to reinvent jewellery. Here I name a few.Could contemporary jewellery serve a social function? How could we reinvent the material (I believe this was vital in the futurism of Gijs Bakker’s jewellery)? How could we bring it to the masses? In this tiny research I only slightly touch the surface of these complicated matters.

 
The-Gijs-and-Emmy-Spectacle-exhibition-at-the-Stedelijk-Museum_dezeen_3

the neckpiece by Gijs Bakker

 

Material future

When it comes to innovating material a lot of exciting things are happening. We are living in a time of rapid development of technology. New findings could be integrated into contemporary jewellery design. Renewing the world and meaning of jewellery altogether. Structurally changing the current function of jewellery or enriching it by adding an interactive aspect. In contemporary jewellery many materials are being used. Such as fabrics, when we look at fabric a lot of exploration of means of energy storage is taking place. To get an interactive piece an energy storage is vital. Researchers are doing a lot of research in finding ways to make fabrics store energy without losing wearability. Think for instance of yarn batteries, sources of energy being 1D-yarns that are woven to construct the fabric. Imagine the possibilities! The technical aspect is quite intricate but if you are interested there are multiple articles available online. Overall there are still many problems with washability and there are safety issues but it seems to me like an inspiring look into the future.

 

untitled

in example b you can see the so-called 1D-yarn

 

Social participation

Can we start to discuss questions in modern day society through the medium of contemporary jewellery? I found some interesting insights in an essay written by Rebecka Huusko-Källman.Jewellery can be seen as very mobile as it is made to be carried by our bodies, therefore it can be considered a great medium for conveying a message in all kinds of environments. As you leave your house the jewellery does too. 'Moving around in social contexts, jewellery operates between the personal and public space, it has a unique ability to interact with the viewer.' (den Besten, 2012)However Liesbeth den Besten also states that contemporary jewellery -making statements or titillating to the point of discussion- often only moves around in small circles. The mass does not have the access and/or does not seem as interested in these kinds of contemporary wearable objects. Another issue is the fact that the contemporary jewellery being displayed in galleries can make it seem like merely a commodity and thus not a subject of reflection or discussion. Whereas on the other hand displaying the pieces in museums can separate the viewer from them, through its significant context it’s isolated. Lastly, the masses often fail toread the meaning of the works, the ‘language’ through material and form seems remote and inaccessible to people who have not been initiated into this specific field.

 

veiligheidsspeld

provocative safetypin 

 

Economics

To get messages across or start a conversation one might consider the commercial side of it all. The jewellery industry is growing rapidly (according to A multifaceted future: The jewelry industry in 2020 written by Linda Dauriz, Nathalie Remy and Thomas Tochtermann) it is expected to grow 5 to 6 percent a year. They state that the trends that formed the apparel industry the last thirty years are starting to show in the jewellery industry. These trends being: internationalization and consolidation, the growth of branded products, a reconfigured channel landscape, ‘hybrid’ consumption, and fast fashion. Read more about it here: https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/retail/our-insights/a-multifaceted-future-the-jewelry-industry-in-2020
From these findings we could conclude a couple of ways of getting into the public eye.First of all branding is on the rise so really strengthening a brand or producing via a brand can make reaching the public easier.Secondly using the online platform is important. The article says: 'According to a recent McKinsey survey, two-thirds of luxury shoppers say they engage in online research prior to an in-store purchase; one- to two-thirds say they frequently turn to social media for information and advice.' Thirdly there is a supposed ‘hybrid’ consumption which means consumers either buy more quality orientated ‘fine’ jewellery or the cheaper ‘fashion’ jewellery. The article recommends the following: ‘Fine jewellers might consider introducing new product lines at affordable prices to entice younger or less affluent consumers, giving them an entry point into the brand. Fine-jewellery players could decide to play exclusively in the high end and communicate that message strongly through its advertising, in-store experience, and customer service.'

Het zijn net mensen


Monday, February 19, 2018

Ze lijken niet op sieraden. Ik had het ook niet geweten als ik het niet wist.
Een blaadje met foto’s die vrouwenlichamen afbeelden. Ze dragen een soort ringen, vormen, objecten, onder hun strakke kleding.
Links naast de afbeeldingen liggen metalen voorwerpen. Ze lijken op gebruiksvoorwerpen. Ze zijn van glimmend metaal. Aluminium. Ze zijn breed, robuust. Ze zijn grof, niet sierlijk. Niet sieradelijk. Ze noemen het een hoofdsieraad, een armsieraad. Dan kijken we terug, naar onze vrouwen. Met hun ringen aan. En ik vind het intrigerend hoe zij daar staan. En wat ze aanhebben. En waarom je dit ooit zou dragen. Maar de boodschap is duidelijk. Sieraden te dragen onder de kleding. Waarom heb ik daar nooit aan gedacht. Het is zo simpel en daarmee mooi en klaar. ‘’Klaar’’, vind ik precies het goede woord. En ‘’gladgestreken’’ of ‘’rond’’, want dat is het voor mij. Zo voelt het voor mij als ik ernaar kijk. Ik zou het willen aanraken. De onbuigbare ringen. Zelfstandig zijn ze, onder het rekbare textiel. Ze beïnvloeden het textiel, de kleding, van binnenuit. In plaats van een toevoeging, een accessoir, veranderen ze het kledingstuk. Ze worden deel van het kledingstuk. Niets erbij, gewoon anders. Een verandering van binnenuit. Vanuit de kern, het hart.
Vijf kleine fotootjes achter glas. Je ziet niet meteen wat het is. Het valt niet op. Wat jammer is. Maar ook wel toepasselijk. Want als je het eenmaal ziet. En als je eenmaal weet waar je naar kijkt. Is het indrukwekkend. Art & Bulletin 25, 1970, staat er op het kaartje. Ik had het niet geweten als ik het niet wist.

Screen Shot 2018-02-19 at 18.26.10 Art & Project bulletin 1970

 

Je zou de sieraden onder de kleding door Art & Project Bulletin als een niet-permanente vorm van bodymodificatie kunnen zien.
Als voorbeeld, een korset. Een korset wordt ook gedragen onder de kleding met als doel de natuurlijke vormen van het lichaam te vervormen. De meeste vrouwen die een korset dragen doen dit natuurlijk om hun taille slanker te laten lijken.
Net als in body modificatie heb je met een korset opeens controle over hetgeen waar je normaal gesproken geen controle over zou hebben.
Controle hebben over je lichaam is een bekend en terugkerend thema in de hedendaagse maatschappij. Op instagram kom je vaak bewerkte foto’s tegen. Meisjes die voor de buitenwereld mooier en slanker willen doen voorkomen dan ze er daadwerkelijk uitzien. In de modebladen zijn ook alle foto’s bewerkt. De onzuiverheden van het model worden weggewerkt. De opdrachtgever, modeontwerper, of instagram-influencer kan voortaan per keer kiezen hoe hij zichzelf presenteert aan de wereld.
Controle hebben over je eigen lichaam is dan ook een belangrijk thema binnen de body modificatie. Sommigen worden in hun modificaties beïnvloed door een niet-westerse of een inheemse cultuur. Zij verlangen naar een meer pure vorm van het zijn. De ‘’moderne primitieven’’ romantiseren inheemse identiteit en cultuur als authentiek en spiritueel. Zij zien traditionele vormen van bodyart als een uitweg voor de hedendaagse maatschappij en de technologische ontwikkeling om het redden van het lichaam en het zelf. Anderen laten zich juist inspireren door de toekomst. De technologie. Hun houding naar het lichaam is postmodern en cyberpunk. Zij mixen tribal en high-tech toepassingen om een hybride stijl te creëren. Ze zien het lichaam als een grenzeloze exploratie en technologische ontwikkeling. Cyberpunt body modificeerders proberen hun lichaam zo te bewerken als hoe ze zich voorheen alleen konden inbeelden in science-fiction. Ze snijden de vraag aan wie medische technologie beheert en controleert, of richten zich meer op seksen georiënteerde politiek, gender ongelijkheid en culturele identiteit. Feministen binnen de bodymodificatiecultuur zien hun lichaam doorgaans als kunst en gebruiken het om te rebelleren tegen mannelijke dominantie en het voor terugwinnen van de macht over hun eigen lichaam.

Begin jaren 90 omarmde modificeerders in het westen vergeten rituelen van inheemse volkeren en dit was terug te zien in hun bodyart. Ze begonnen met insnijding, een gebruik overgenomen uit Afrika. De huid werd ingesneden met een scherp mes om littekenweefsel te creëren. Ook brandden ze de huid met een stempel of speciaal verhit metaal om littekens te vormen. Mensen gingen experimenteren met onderhuidse implantaten, maakten 3D kunstwerken met littekenweefsel, rekten hun oorlellen uit, droegen grotere en meerdere gezichts-piercings. Bodyart werd ook steeds meer beïnvloed door opkomende SM en Fetisj-subculturen met erotica en seksuele vrijheid als uitgangspunt. Bodyart werd beschouwd als een tribaal ritueel, een statement of een erotisch optreden. Later, als een voorbeeld van technologische ontwikkeling. Cyberpunks gebruikten technologische ontwikkeling letterlijk, en als inspiratie voor bodymodificatie.

Het perfecte voorbeeld van een hedendaagse bodymodificeerder is kleurenblind geboren Neil Harbisson. Een Cathalaans-Britse kunstenaar en cyborg. Deze man legt precies de brug tussen bodymodifcatie, accessoires en technologie. Hij heeft namelijk een antenne in zijn hoofd geplanteerd om naast artistieke doeleinden, ook door de overheid officieel erkend te worden als cyborg. De antenne zorgt ervoor dat hij zichtbare en onzichtbare kleuren via trillingen binnen zijn hoofd voelt, of hoort. Ook ontvangt hij kleur van ruimte, beelden, films, muziek of telefoongesprekken direct in zijn hoofd via internetverbinding. Harbisson identificeert zichzelf als cyborg, hij voelt zich technologie, een trans-ras. Hij is geen mens meer. Door zijn kunt ontdekt hij identiteit, menselijke perceptie, de verhouding tussen beeld en geluid en het gebruik van artistieke expressie via nieuwe sensorische impulsen.

Screen Shot 2018-02-19 at 18.26.40 Neil Harbisson met zijn implantaat

Hiermee is de cirkel rond. De sieraden van Art & Project bulletin kan je als een voorspelling zien voor de cyborgs van tegenwoordig. Met wat er om ons heen gebeurd, veranderd alles langzaam in technologie. Zelfs wij.
De telefoon geldt al als een verlengde van de arm. Dat terwijl de armen gelden als een verlengde van het hart.

 

TEDTALK  NEIL HARBINSSON

A commentary on the Lower Level Gallery display design for the STEDELIJK BASE


Monday, February 19, 2018

On December 14, 2017, the Stedelijk Museum opened its doors to inaugurate the curatorial repurposing and display of their permanent collection. Under the influence of the research and architectural design of  OMA/AMO ’s Rem Koolhas and Federico Martinelli, STEDELIJK BASE presents on the Lower Level Gallery, a display and curatorial experiment.

I attended the festivities and found myself overwhelmed by the masses gathered, and the maze of thin steel panel-structures overloaded with works. The crowd of Art enthusiasts traveled the space restlessly and it became a dense environment where all senses where assaulted. Every corner of the space was utilized and the works where closely displayed, interacting and clashing with each other both in context or physically, showing in this first installment of the exhibition pieces from the 1800′s to 1980′s in a great hall tracing endless possible routes by means of the a set of slim self standing steel panels from which most of the artworks where hung or held.

Its kind of hard to talk or read about this exhibition if you haven’t seen, so if you are reading and haven’t, and can’t see the animation below, click on the black box.

I have visited the exhibition repeatedly in the past month to gather the reactions of spectators on day-to-day basis, to get a broader sense of how this specific architectural endeavor on artwork display has been perceived by eavesdropping conversations and even asking around. I’ve heard all kinds of inclinations towards the unexpected environment:

A young student anxiously disapproving a Barnett Newman cornered by a pile of chairs collaged into a wall that, in her opinion, deflated the experience of such a powerful painting into a piece of an absurd scalene puzzle where great art works where being interrupted.

A couple eagerly wandering about the labyrinthine pathways, surprised by the fact that every direction their eyes turned to, there was either a piece provocatively displayed or in conversation with another, that otherwise could have never been intertwined.

I myself have been in a constant state of flux on how I feel about it, as in the many visits I have payed to the show I could relate in separate occasions to one or  both of the previously mentioned comments, both retrieved from my time in  the BASE’s lower level,  dismissing the first floor more or less entirely, due to its conventional curation and display that is densely misted over the experience and for some, controversy of the former. In fact, in the last few visits I didn’t even pass by the first floor and proceeded to focus on the lower level.

Looking for more insight on the stimuli behind the final decision to discharge an overload of works in this context, I consulted the statements made by its authors.

Martinelli expressed in a publication in the OMA’s web project description,  that the realization of the way in which and due to the multimedia means of communication function from a users perspective, people have have become willing and able to focus and process on many things at the same time. As a way to homologate these tendencies, the disposition and amount of works in the gallery, are in fact, a reflection and invitation to today’s spectators to assimilate artistic perspectives through a familiar form of  experience.

That being said, I still am not sure if I appreciate the attempt of adapting the collection’s display. If, in deed, it seems to have managed a dialogue between works and compiled an engaging environment, this does not necessarily mean that it has a positive repercussion on the value some pieces can have by themselves.

Personally, even though I felt this devaluation of certain works have been a consecuence of this overcharged curation, I have to mention that it has been brought to my attention that due to the proliferation of virtual comunitation platforms and the scrolling syndrome have generated  a clash in the cultural expirience that this curatorial practise has exposed in its design.

There is, undoubtedly, a ongoing shift of the way we see the world,  facing  screens and and bombarded and lured by information, and it seems Koolhas and Martinelli may have  reflected upon this through their intervention in the display design.

200.000€ in one room or 4.000€ under my butt


Monday, February 19, 2018

To continue my research I decided to learn more about other neighbourships clay furniture was involved into.

There exists a set (clay classic, plain clay, and clay specials) of clay furniture and different elements of it have been exhibited in different museums of the world.

maarten baas paris

In Musée des Arts Décoratifs four rooms were stuffed with different objects designed by the artist. Clay furniture was also there. All these objects put together create an interior and can hardly be perceived separately. They create an atmosphere of a storage room or a flea market. Put so close together so that each object can hardly breathe they lose their individuality and become parts of one slightly absurd impression.

clay furniture 's hertogenbosch

Another stop of the clay furniture’s adventure was Stedelijk Museum ‘ s-Hertogenbosch. It was exhibited with other kinds of furniture designed by Marteen Baas placed on a thick white pedestal. Such placement made it look like a warehouse or furniture salon.

Comparing the three exhibitions (Stedelijk Base, Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Stedelijk Museum ‘ s-Hertogenbosch) I started paying more attention to the space as one of the important factors of impression we get of these objects.

To explore how else the clay furniture of Marten Baas interacts with different spaces and objects we went on a journey to Groninger Museum in Groningen where this furniture really became a part of the space. There you can find a restaurant designed by the artist and filled with his clay furniture. As soon as you enter the museum you can see rows of black tables surrounded by green clay chairs with black pillows.

    

cafe

clay cafe

If you look up you can see red clay lamps lighting the space. If you look at the wall behind you there is an oval mirror with a red clay frame. For people with little children there’s also a red childrens chair standing in the corner.

Being a part of a functioning restaurant the designer furniture faces the most challenging neighbourship – people. Putting art objects into public use creates certain difficulties. You have to follow two opposite tasks at the same time: to protect a piece of art but still make it usable in everyday life.

And here are some of my observations:
1) Black tips on chair’s legs

caps

After a closer look, I noticed that unlike the chairs in the museums the chairs at the restaurant have these black caps preventing the actual material of the chair from touching the floor. Even though it doesn’t catch your attention, at first sight, it slightly changes the general look of the chair.

2) Pillows instead of clay seats

cafe1

Instead of clay seats of the classic clay chairs, the chairs at the restaurant have black leather pillows filled with some soft material. This modification probably aims to make it more comfortable to sit or to match the green coloured chairs with the black tables but it still changes the object.

3)Regular tables

cafe2

One more thing that really influenced the overall picture was the fact that clay furniture (such as chairs and lamps) was placed in the restaurant with regular tables and benches. Maybe it was done to emphasize the clay chairs, lamps and mirrors in the space. However, in my humble opinion, this leaves the impression of the undone design, like it is halfway from being a restaurant designed by Maarten Baas and not a restaurant where apart from regular restaurant furniture there are also twenty 4.000€ chairs in one room. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any information about what the artist thinks about the restaurant and what were his goals and intentions. But I think that if the set of the furniture would have been complete and all the tables and benches would have been made of clay it would have given a whole different impression of the space and the objects themselves.

This experience brought me to the question how people’s perception of art changes when it’s in the museum and when it’s placed in a public space?

This is kind of a magic trick how we already think from the start about the possible price and value of the object when we see it in a museum or a gallery and how this value lowers when we look at objects in public spaces and in daily public use. The same magic trick works with different kinds of art. For example, when great musicians come down into the subway to perform as regular street artists people simply pass by. At the same time, these people are ready to pay hundred euros to get a ticket to see the same musicians playing in music halls.

After all, I came to realize that the space where the art piece or design object is put and what it is put next to is one of the most important factors which influence the impression you get from the object. And even if we don’t pay attention to it still bad or random choice can lead to a bad experience. But the most interesting it gets when the objects are put in the public space. Thanks to my journey I got to actually become a part of this neighbourship. After all, not everyone gets to put their butt on 4.000€.

A plastic world


Sunday, February 18, 2018

When you look around in the modern world, the plastic materials by which it is formed are inevitable to the eye.
From everyday objects like the interior of households and infrastructural facilities to the sex industry and medical surgery, synthetics have become a big part of humans and the human/animal world.
But how did this came to be and what will the future be of this plastic world with its benefits and downsides.

 

 

alexander f                                              farkesine

 

Before plastic became fully synthetic in the way we know it nowadays cellulose found in plants was the base material for the discovery of modern plastic,
with the in eighteen-sixty-two by Alexander Parkes invented material he named “Parkesine”.
Parkesine was a transparent, moldable material which maintained shape after cooling down, therefore it was used to make things like combs, stamps, and buttons.
The American brothers Hyatt picked-up this idea and created in eighteen-sixty-nine a variation of this parkesine called celluloid used as a replacement for ivory, specifically ivory billiard balls.
Celluloid became a great success and eventually made it possible for the film industry to be born.

These two inventions can be seen as the ancestors of the modern plastic society, nevertheless, it only came to be because of the first fully synthetic plastic, meaning no molecules which can be found in nature are used.
This first fully synthetic plastic was called Bakelite, invented in 1907 in the USA by Leon Baekeland in the search for a synthetic insulator.
Bakelite appeared to be a perfectly suited material for this purpose as it was heath resistent and could be manufactured in mass-production.
This last fact and the fact that it was fully synthetic opened the doors to a world of mass-produced synthetics, the plastic world we live in.
Soon new materials followed this creation with the invention of polystyrene in 1929 (used for electronics like refrigerators, microwaves and tv, medical equipment and packaging), polyester in 1930 (used for clothing), polyvinylchloride (PVC) (used for pipes, electrical insulation and clothing) and nylon in 1935 (mostly used for clothing and parachutes).

 

 

Nylon-was-taken-off-the-civilian-market-in-1942-and-went-into-war-to-make-parachutes-255791                                  platsic fabriek

 

During the 30′s of the 20th century these synthetic product were seen as extremely glamorous and beautiful but still, all these materials dit not completely infiltrate society during that time.
While used for a lot of military equipment during the second world war, synthetic products really became part of everyday life after the end of the war when the manufacturers of plastic products had to find a way to stay in the business and therefore aim at people and everyday life.
Because of the low price, moldability and the way it could be mass-produced, it is not more than logical that plastic became such a big leading part in the capitalist consumer society.

 

 

brazil1

 

Like these plastics humans are moldable as well, changing along with their inventions.
During the same period as the development of synthetics grew, doctors were forced to find a way to repair the extreme damage done to soldiers during the first world war.
Never before had there been so many heavily wounded soldiers whom all needed treatment for their facial wounds, burns and lost limbs and with the development of anesthetics surgeons could develop new techniques without the patients experience pain during this operation.
Yet the use of plastic surgery for the beauty industry really kicked off in the 1950′s when the first breast implants were used to enlarge the female breasts.
In the 70′s liposuction was developed and not long after that botox was tested on humans for the first time.
With this the birth of the plastic human became a fact, largely stimulated and promoted by the cosmetic glamour industry.

Due to this rise of plasticity, synthetics slowly take over the world.
The waste created by the plastic consumer society has already created big islands in the ocean intervening with the animal and human world, fish eating tiny plastic particles, humans eating fish.
Humans becoming deformed from natural appearance due to cosmetic surgery, and in the strive for human perfection this could only be de beginning of a more extreme, new plastic human being disbanded from nature.

 

 

platsic waste

floris

 

To me the in 1968 made Floris chair by Günter Beltzig, which was the starting point for this research, is the perfect example of what may come.
The chair, made out of fiber reinforced plastic gives, due to its alienated human shape, the impression that it is not made for humans.
But is it not possible that it is the plastic ‘perfect’ human of the future who will fit perfectly in this furniture, alienated from himself in his plastic world.

 

brazil 2

Fundamental Neglect


Saturday, February 17, 2018

When you visit the exhibition “Stedelijk Base” in the Stedelijk Museum, in the basement of the museum you will find the following industrial design-related object: “VALENTINE S” by Ettore Sottsass and Perry King. What you see is a red typewriter from 1969. The typewriter is combined with a plastic bag, so that it can be transported. The design object is presented in a glass display case surrounded by artwork from the Pop Art period.
I wondered whether the context in which the object is presented does justice to the object, or whether the museum presented clichés.
But this question is not the question that occupied me the most. The following question has been keeping me busy for a while, which is why I use this blog to deepen my knowledge of the question: “How should a design object be presented?”, In order not to get lost in all possible solutions, I keep myself the above mentioned object; “VALENTINE S”.

As I type this, I do not know if I will find an answer at all. Perhaps the goal is to make the viewer aware of what he / she sees, especially : question what you see, critically.
To find an answer to this question, I want to start with a work of art that hangs close to “VALENTINE S”, namely “AS I OPENED FIRE” by Roy Lichtenstein from 1964.

8513867_1

 

20180111_151318

Both objects come from the seventies, both objects have  a Pop-Art character, both objects are in the flashing Pop Art colours, but the objects are completely different in intention. Lichtenstein’s painting is categorized by the Stedelijk Museum as a “painting”, thus a work of art. The typewriter is categorized as “industrial design”, thus a design object. This difference between design and art is already a difference of intention, you can therefore wonder how convincing it is to delve further into this, but I want to delve into another difference in intention: the painting is presented in the exhibition as Lichtenstein  would have liked it to be presented, as he intended and as many paintings are presented, namely; hanging on the wall. A distance is created between the creation and the spectator. In contrast to the painting, the typewriter is presented in a glass display case, this display case is attached to the wall, here too distance is created, but this distance can be questioned critically, because in an interview Sottsass said the following about his typewriter: “this was a machine that was designed to keep the poets company on lonely weekends in the country. ”

From this I get that the typewriter is more than an inanimate object, it is an object that offers company, it becomes part of your life, the distance between object and consumer is blurred.  The typewriter is now alone and will only be presented without any context. Locked in a glass box, stripped and alienated from his function and objectified to an object to watch, the distance between object and consumer (=now the viewer) is tightened. This is what I call “fundamental neglect”.

Of course, when you stand in front of the machine as a spectator, you can imagine what it would be like to travel with this typewriter under your arm and write stories. But an unpleasant distance has been created between the object and you.

The difference with the artwork of Lichtenstein is that the distance is fundamental to the painting, whether you want it or not, that is because it is not massively produced as the typewriter, the painting is thus less intrigued into daily life.

I want to explain the concept of “fundamental neglect” further. The problem I mentioned above does not play between spectator and creation, but it is a mistake, a miscommunication between the intention of the maker and the “presentation-ideas” of the museum. A miscommunication that leads to questions for the (critical) spectator.

The answer to this problem is somehow mentioned back in the text. I described above that the typewriter requires more interaction between the viewer and the object (= the typewriter), but this interaction is disturbed by the glass box. The intention of Sottsass was that the object had to be integrated into daily life, so we have to get rid of the locking up of objects in showcases, this ensures that you understand the object better.
I do not have everything in showcases at home! Because of this,  I am not alienated from my own stuff!

The next step is more radical; we must have the opportunity to touch the object, really feel it and get lost in it. As a counter argument you can say that it is a bad idea because it can break. Nevertheless, I think that the “breaking” of design objects, in many cases, is part of the creator’s intention. Sottsass described that it must be integrated into daily life, and objects can be destroyed in daily life.

If the designer does not want his object to be destroyed, he must indeed put it in a display case, but that does change the intention and when the intention changes, the whole object changes, is it still a design-object used into daily life?

Show balls Stedelijk Museum, display the objects naked.

hey girl, feel the touch, run your hands over it (but don’t)


Friday, February 16, 2018

If you walk into the Base Stedelijk exhibition, set up in the basement of the Stedelijk Museum, you will find yourself immersed in a forest of metal walls. Artworks, design objects and furniture are placed next to each other and sorted by theme, rather after the usual concept of a timeline.

After a turn to the right and a subsequent turn to the left along the metal walls, the visitor (you) will find yourself in the Bauhaus area, where you will immediately lay your eyes on a white, light woolen landscape hanging vertically from the walls. The name of this artwork is the reliëfkleed, relief rug in English, and has been designed by the studio of the Dutch artist Kitty van der Mijll Dekker.

The first thing you will notice is the size of it; a sheer glance couldn’t cover the whole area of the relief rug. Reaching the top of the wall all the way down to the floor, the light beige, almost white color of the reliëfkleed blends wonderfully with the background wall. The rug is made out of differing techniques of weaving and knotting the wool, thus forming the intricate geometric patterns.

relief rug picture

    The second thing you will notice is related to the name of the relief rug: weaved and knotted, the rug forms an ocean of chunks, blobs and follows an intricate rhythm of geometric pattern.

The relief rug was gifted to the Stedelijk museum in 1936, accompanied by handwritten congratulations of Willem Sandberg, toured the world exhibitions as the Dutch Pavillon in Brussels and Paris, not without receiving several awards. After the success of the relief rug, her studio received invitations from the commissioner of the Queen to design and produce the carpets, wallpaper, bedding and the curtains for the royal provincial house in Maastricht.

screenshot kitty vdmijll

Even despite her success with her studio, Kitty van der Mijll Dekker and her works are seldom mentioned on the internet. Try googling “relief rug” without attaching her name, you can find hardly any photos. Why is it so? In order to understand why the women of Bauhaus were often under-mentioned and forgotten in history and publications, we will look into the history of Bauhaus:

    Walter Gropius founded the Bauhaus in 1919 with the idea of a modern, forward-thinking school in mind. For the first time, uniting real artistic practice and craftsmanship under one roof brings back the necessity for the “neue Baukunst” which translates into ‘a new way to construct’. For this purpose, the Hochschule für bildende Künste (focussing on artistic practice) and the Kunstgewerbeschule (focussing on craftsmanship) in Weimar were merged together.

    The formation of Bauhaus fell simultaneously with the beginn of the Weimarer Republic, in which women gained new rights, amongst being allowed to vote for the first time and also attending university. Women were more than welcome to attend school at Bauhaus, as stated by Walter Gropius in the beginning. However, more women than men applied for Bauhaus once after it was opened, which lead to a drastic change in Bauhaus’ and Walter Gropius’ statements.

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In this photo: Gertrudt Arndt, Otti Berger, Benita Koch-Ottesubscription

    The large number of women at the Bauhaus attracted many forms of criticisms, including the complaints of the teaching bodies of the workshops, who are not used to have women work physically in their workshops. Traditionally, females are not allowed to be “Gesellen”, which students or rather workers who have completed an apprenticeship in a workshop are called.

    Second, the image of women as artists at that time has been depicted as decorative and rather less professional, in which female works are rather suited for the household, are more crafty and seen less functional. Admitting a large number of women could lead to the chances of critics or society decreasing the serious status and idea behind Walter Gropius’ planned pioneer school.

Wanting to set up his Bauhaus as a success, Gropius feared that his school might be denounced as a failure or taken not seriously if admitting so many female students, thus narrowing the admission of female students and setting up an all female class, which merged with the weaving department after a while.

The weaving department, which also had few male students, was the space in which most female students were sent to after completing the vooropleiding. Although the weaving department supported the school financially the most, it was seen as ‘less relevant’ or serious by the other departments. Other reasons, such as the philosophy of Johannes Itten towards the gender role or the increasing influence of the national socialists in Germany led towards a more backwards-facing behavior of treating female students than intended.

Still, many female artists from the school of Bauhaus are under-represented or solely left out in literature or online.

The solution would be a step-by-step collection of female Bauhaus artists and their works to make it accessible online for a wider audience, for example on open platforms such as wikipedia.

Read the rest of this entry »

My clay date


Friday, February 16, 2018

Clay furniture is a set of eight pieces of furniture presented at the Stedelijk museum : chairs, a bookshelf and a table by dutch designer Maarten Baas. To the question “Do you consider yourself an artist or a designer”, Baas answers yes. This work seems to come from a place where those two disciplines meet which probably is why I was drawn to it.

The pieces are functional but it also have a pleasing aspect and unconventional colours, crafted in steel and clay – by hand, without using a mould.  I enjoy the fact that they are not shy about showing how they were made.

While I went to the museum I had the lecture given by Fiona Candling in the context of the Stadium Generale at Rietveld about how people touch art in museum in mind.

When I stood before this piece I couldn’t resist the urge to feel it. I looked around if anyone was watching and touched the baby highchair. It felt great. If felt like the object wanted and asked to be touched.

 

 

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Touching it confirmed and completed the visual aspect of the piece, the humanness of it that I sometimes miss in design object. It reminded me of the sensual experience of working with clay, somewhere between the realms of childhood and adulthood and between spontaneousness and control.

The different pieces were arranged on platforms, seemed to be floating and occupied a whole wall. Somehow, the objects themselves clashed with the the seriousness of their own arrangement.It’s always bizarre to look at furniture in the context of a museum where they’re dissociated from their primary function.

You look at the chair. The chair teases you. You wish you could sit on it. But you’re not allowed to sit on the chair.

It’s not a piece of furniture anymore, it’s the manifestation of your unmet desire to sit.

My friend Dasha coincidently also chose to work on the clay furniture. We looked for a place where we could touch it with no shame, as long as we wanted. On Valentine’s day, we are on our way to the MendiniRestaurant in Groningen. Decorated in 2014 by Marteen Baas, it contained some of his chairs, lamps & a mirror.

Before our lunch date, we visit the Groningen museum attached to the restaurant.

Outside, the textures, colours & shapes of the building clashed. The whole building seems to have been built by artists who didn’t consult each other before merging all the (unmatching) pieces together.

It was in fact designed and completed in 1994 by three different architects, Philippe Starck, Alessandro Mendini, Coop Himmelb(l)au. American artist Frank Stella was also approached for this project but he wanted his structure completely out of Teflon, which was too expensive and he was replaced.

Inside, after the multicoloured mosaic covered stairs is the entry to the main show. The bright couches and walls clash with the solemnity of the paintings from the romantic era exhibited.

 

 

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Dasha doesn’t like old paintings. I do. Romantic painters have a dramatic way of depicting the gravity of ultraviolent emotions that I strongly relate to.

I find my date bored, sitting on a bench and recognize Baas’s sketch-like, improvised signature look. The object is long and its legs merge with the visitor’s legs resembling a clay centipede. Remembering how the furniture pieces seemed out of context at the Stedelijk, I’m relieved to see the bench so confortable and fitting in this mismatching room where, in all its playfulness, it truly belongs.

 

 

A little later we come across another of the Pleyel Smoke piano, one of the artist’s earlier works which is part of his series Smoke Furniture. The instrument was charcoaled with a blow torch, preserved in a clear epoxy resin, which makes it usable again. In contrary to the clay pieces, this one doesn’t fell like it’s inviting you to touch it, it has already been touched- by fire.

Visually, it’s very cinematographic and a little alarming, bringing you somewhere uncanny between the ruins of a abandoned manor and a piano playing a gloomy melody by itself. (for more info read Maud Paul’s research on his smoke furniture )

 

 

It’s 4 o’clock, the untranslatable french heure du goûter or time to sit in a room containing 165k worth of chairs made out of clay. I don’t know how often visitors travel specifically in order to touch the furniture of the restaurant but for me, putting all this effort into that built up a lot of suspense and anticipation.

Maybe I expected too much, but I somehow wanted the whole room to be out of clay.

Clay floors, clay walls, clay-clad waiters, clay-like cakes, clay everything.

More than seeing the pieces in flesh and touching them, what was very pleasurable was to sit on them. I had previously only seen them displayed in galleries, elevated to the status of the out of reach art/ design object. Now, returning to their true fonction the chairs were what they were. They seemed more approachable, straightforward and practical – maybe we could even be friends.

Fitting for the occasion, I ordered a romantic pastry. 

 

 

On the way back, on the top floor of a bus driving into the night, I kept thinking about all the chairs I’ve ever sat on without considering them. I never meant to break anyone’s hearts. I didn’t know.

Maybe I should call back and apologise.

 

Error or hyperlink?


Thursday, February 15, 2018

 

It is tricky to recognize when you are misplaced, it is even harder to respond to it right on the spot. You are supposed to serve your human, you are most and foremost functional and have sublime social purpose. Then your human drags you out of your context so inconsiderately that it leaves you nothing but to show your worn out bottom on the pedestal which supposed to elevate you. As I approach you, by climbing the stairs which is set up next to you, I have the chance to look at you horizontally. Although, a deep and artificial ravine appeared between us. The human expression provoked by your forced position urges me to interact with you but the circumstances leave me unsatisfied.

 

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 Chair by Mies van der Rohe (but it doesn’t matter)

 

The chair was the first object at the exhibition which talked to me through the atypical situation that chance created. The situation was somehow absurd and opened to interpretation. Just as if Pawel Freisler, a Polish avant garde artist would had created it to dislocate my train of thoughts.

Freisler “was negating reality and its status quo by encouraging people to create alternative imaginary order. In his work a given subject or place served as a catalyst for creating an extraordinary social situation.

His actions in public space are a form of probing reality, to reveal its absurd dimension. (…) In 1971 he undertook his first work with a table and a chair. What mattered was the table’s status as a “basic idea”. He was attempting to arouse interest, to break routine, without giving observers any hints as to the real meaning of his activities”.

I found myself in the position of a pleased voyeur, which tickled both my curiosity and fantasy. I was busy with taking photos then I looked around with a sheepish grin. As if I was afraid of being caught on the street while taking sneaky pictures under a stranger’s skirt.

 

 

 

 

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Pawe? Freisler – Activities: Table and Chair

 

 

Self-realisation as a spectator helps to stay alerted and turn reflective. Gabriel Lester found another way to break habitual patterns down. He introduced a project (SEEN) in an arts centre where “projections suggested a look inside. The projected scenes are environments where groups of people observe something that is out of sight, hidden behind the wall. This juxtaposition – created by watching a projected environment inhabited by people who, in turn, appear to be watching something out of view – provokes the sensation of the observer being observed, and consequently a higher awareness of one’s active and inverted role as a spectator -

as though watching an image that is quite literally looking back at you.”

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SEEN (2006)

 

 

 

Standing and staring underneath the pedestal, the unusual imagery in my head widened my perspective as I was abducted – even if unintentionally – of the traditional and passive spectator’s role that I usually undertake. I started to look at Stedelijk’s way of displaying more critically as their concept seemed to override the artworks so much that whole new stories were about to emerge. My story, and the museum’s story. But certainly not the chair’s.

The designers explained, they made the arrangement in order “to  reinforce cross-connections and shared narratives. The lay-out understands the collection as a network of relation rather than as a presentation of individual artworks. To capture these networks, very thin walls define an almost urban environment of free association and multiple relations.” 

How much freedom do I have while walking between the thin walls of their associations? How much space do the objects have while being stacked on each other, hidden behind a concept?

 Zofia Kulik and Przemyslav Kwiek were post war Polish artistic duo and uncompromising critics of their surroundings. They said once: “The world is half wonderful, half ugly. The humanistic and artistic theories are usually formed in the mood of the former half. This creates a false edifice of ideas and philosophies, especially a false concept of the artist, his mission and values, his false status.

 

 

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 Stedelijk Base Collection - Permanent Collection Designed by AMO / Rem Koolhaas 

 

 

 

Real exchange with the chair could not happen. I could not find anything beyond the meaning I gave it to it. The revealing moment that I experienced did not say much about the object itself. It was about the gap between me and it, and all the uncanny thoughts I filled the gap up with. The chair appeared to be in the weird melting pot of the museum’s peculiar way of showcasing, chance, and my tyrannical associations, which made me unable to explore its real properties. But still,

how handy institutional and personal errors can be?

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Are they errors to be fixed or useful hyperlinks?

The Seven Series Chair – much more than an icon


Thursday, February 15, 2018

What is a design icon, and how does a design become one? It is clear that the Seven Series Chair is a well known chair that you often see. It is also clear it has been a solid element in a so called good taste interior setting since it got designed in 1955. But what makes the Seven Series Chair so timeless and popular that it has stayed on the market ever since it got released?

As mentioned the Seven Series Chair got designed in 1955, three years later than its bigger brother, the Ant. Arne Jacobsen, the designer behind, was as many other designers in the 50’s experimenting with different materials to get the maximum out of its potential. Especially plywood had Jacobsen’s interest, and from that material he created a shaped bend shell resting on a fundament of thin steel legs. The shell chair was born.

 

Arne Jacobsen

The organic simple shape of the Seven Series Chair is unique. It is easily recognisable and suitable for lots of different settings which many brands during the time have made use of in various advertising campaigns. But everything has a start, and so did the Seven Series Chair.

It all started with a scandal caused by an affair, The Profumo Affair. A young, attractive woman called Christine Keeler, who was working as a topless waitress and model, had an affair with an English politician, John Profumo. But Keller didn’t only sleep with one, she had several lovers, and another of them was a Russian naval attache, Yevgeny Ivanov. When Keeler’s different affairs got revealed, Profumo was forced to stand down.

Because of the cold war, there were speculations about Keeler passing state secrets to the Soviet Union, which made the scandal even more remarkable.

But how does the scandal relate to the icon status of the Seven Series Chair? In the 60’s the famous photographer Lewis Morley shot a series of nudes of Christine Keeler. She was sitting the wrong way around on a Seven Series Chair. Ironically the chair used in the shooting showed not to be Arne Jacobsen’s famous chair but a simple copy. However, the shoot caused a boom in the sale of the original chair.

 

Christine Keeler

But simply because the chair got popular doesn’t mean that it right away became an icon. Becoming an icon demands a timeless, futuristic design that goes well in various settings, from old farmer houses to minimal modern glass buildings. An example of a design icon is Philippe Starck’s lemon squeezer, Juicy Salif. It is easily recognisable and futuristic in its shape. One can argue that the Seven Series Chair has what is needed to become an icon since it is also timeless, futuristic and classic at the same time. But the two designs don’t only share the same adjectives, they are also both exhibited in the permanent design exhibition of MOMA in New York.

 

Juicy Salif, Philippe Starck, Alessi

Another reason for the Seven Series Chair’s icon status is that the chair is associated with not only good taste but also wealth. Since the price of the chair starts around 400 euros it isn’t the cheapest chair at the market. The chair, is so to speak a symbol of good taste, wealth, and quality. It is an easy, safe choice that guarantee class and wealth.

Personally I find the Seven Series Chair interesting because of its beautiful, simple design and good quality. I believe that if you once by a good, timeless product you don’t have to replace it by time. But of course it gets replaced and ends up in another setting, in another home, once in while, and that, I think, is the most interesting. You don’t throw good design out, you sell it or give it away, and that means, that a chair as the Seven Series Chair can have a lot history.

Imagine a chair that started its life in an institution, then it continued its journey to a second hand shop, where a family bought it and had it for years. And then, when the son of the family moved out of home, he got it with him. Imagine how many different people who have sit on the chair. Imagine how many stories they have carried, and how many stories the chair now carries. That is true iconic design for me.

 

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It’s all about context


Thursday, February 15, 2018

 

Alrought being already more then few times now at the Stedeljk museum, it’s always pleasant be here,  environment, the architecture itself and the natural light that create a charming atmosphere all around.We moving towards the so called BASE 1 to see the new permanent installation of iconic works from the collection of the Stedelijk Museum. It occupies the entire new wing of the museum and features a selection of around 700 pieces grouped around historic movements, social themes, and influential artists.

After I’ve made aware about that what I am going to see is going to be like this for the next 10 years, I approched my visiting focusing my attention mostly on the division of the space and the solution founded to display the artworks.

 

 

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The space allow visitors to experience the collection through an open-ended route.The chronology can be followed on the perimeter, while freestanding walls in the middle create separate sectors highlighting groups of artworks that represent a specific theme or aspect of the collection.

I have this constantly feelings of jumping between a sort of labyrinth in which I can keep choosing different directions but as soon as I taken one, those vertical high walls create a dynamic and cozy environment, almost like little galleries inside a enormous place.

 

The layout display  the collection as a network of relations rather than a presentation of individual artworks. All the artworks do not loose their independence even tough, there are chairs and carpets hanging at the walls, and the displaying of some works are not as we are used to see.

 

I am  wondering about how they bring inside here this massive standing steel walls? And how they organised  works in different areas of the collection…

 

I’ll try figure all this out a little bit more

stay tuned…

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