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Friday, November 13, 2015


I enter the space and I know my mission.
I know that Today is my lucky day.
I’m heading up for something that interests and feels good to me, only one item is required.
It is an especially pleasing and reassuring occasion because I know what this place could do to me.
I love and hate this place.
As an example I know that I don’t know much, and this, adding a bit of curiosity, could keep me here for a couple of days.
Entering here I am well aware that words can trick, seduce, redeem or amaze people.
I remember that words are doors, that books are sleeping souls and that this open graveyard was once compared to a labyrinth, which indeed it is a sneaky way to describe a prison.
But today I’m blind from any content and this is my luck.
Thousands words laying down like disarmed soldiers, sleeping giants.
I’m blind and that’s the reason why I am wandering between bookshelves touching each spine, trying to use a different sense.

In this way I find the book, or the book shows itself to me.
Only by touching I read its title.
I open it  and I  feel the ink on its pages, the different kinds of paper used. It seems an attempt to remember something lost,it presents pictures in various format, it looks like dialogue between material. I still don’t know what this lost message is, after there is a text that I have not read yet. Anyway I am going to explore it now, trying to retrace it.

retracing.3   retracing.2   retracing.1

Rein Jelle Terpstra, Retracing
Publisher Post Editions
Design, Studio Joost Grootens

Rietveld library catalog no : ter 1


I Started Digging Through the Small Pile of Newly Bought Books

Thursday, November 12, 2015


When you get the freedom to choose one book, only based on the design and the layout—in a catalouge which contains 750 different books, without any images of them, it’s quite difficult to know where to begin. I quickly decided to leave the booklist at the table behind and I started to walk through the library instead.

The first thing that caught my eyes were the student publications. I often find myself more attracted to works by students and I really like the fearlessness use of design, material and color. But this time I decided to leave those behind and I began to walk through the different sections of the liberary instead. I scanned through fashion, typography, architecture and photography without any success. I started feeling very uninspired and quite stressed out over the assignment, just walking by all the books, feeling nothing.

Then, in my confused condition, I walked by the front desk where all the latest bought books and publications were lying. I started digging through the small pile and in all of a sudden, there it was, the book Open form – Space, Interaction and the Tradition of Oscar Hansen. At first sight I thought it was kind of ugly, but when I held it in my hands and saw the inside, I changed my mind.

The designers behind the book is an anonymous Berlin-based studio named HIT, which I hardly find any information about at all. But I fell for the really simple designed cover, in a kind of orange-yellow tone. The inside is printed on green paper and the layout is quite mixed-up, in a good way.


Gerrit Rietveld Academie Library catalogue number: 705.8 wie 1

please come to the show

Thursday, November 12, 2015


‘Please come to the show’; what a calling, yes of course I will.

If the show is in that book, yes of course I will open it.


It’s about archive of exhibition-related ephemera, all the printed productions that go along with exhibiting. I see it as a tribute to the museum’s memory.


I’m nostalgic for that thing that I almost never experience : receive an invitation card by post or from someone . It looks much more personal that the new trend of mail invitation or facebook yes/maybe/no I’m coming.  My letter box stays frighteningly empty of that surge of creativity that could arouse my curiosity


As the book is a collection of communication medium it’s full of type, there is a lot to see, to read in the images but every thing is breathing on the white background. And there is no text to guide the images, which are free to express by themselves.


Every page is different; sometimes one image occupies a full page , then there are five images on the same. They are talking to each other, getting into some friction.


In between some green interlude with food for the mind, text becomes more theoretical thoughts about the exhibition, focusing on particular examples and anecdotes about the theme.


Sara de Bondt, the graphic designer is playing with details and subtlety. It’s a really clear way of displaying information, giving the curiosity of examination, one by one.


Marion Molle’s graduation book

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Saying if you like a book or not, is easy. I am not talking about the content of a book, but the object itself. When you hold it in your hands, you can feel it. Do you want to open it? Do you want to browse through it? Do you like the texture? Do you feel comfortable? Or do you simply like to hold it? Most of the time you don’t need to ask yourself these questions.

When I was in the library, only one book really appealed to me in this way.

Imagine a big book, not thick; fine, approximatively the size of A3. You can’t open it directly. You need to remove its white cardboard sleeve, printed with small drawings. Now touch the pages. They are a made of a strong, mat and smooth paper. The binding is glued, and almost invisible. All your attention is directed to the black and white drawings. Moreover, you can see some gap between the pages. I like those imperfections, and its mysterious aspect. No text, no title. Only a story about hands, bees, mountains and animated trees going through 34 pages, full-bleed risograph printed. By the way, should we consider the front and back covers as a page of this book? I have no idea. I should just ask it to the author. Author or artist? After a long moment I found a discrete hand-written name in the left bottom of the back cover : Marion Molle. Maria told me she graduated from the VAV department last year. I should send her an email, and will tell you more.



Graceland to Graceland

Thursday, November 12, 2015

P1040770          P1040772

Graduated from the Rietveld Academie just last year, François Girard-Meunier is a fairly new name in the Amsterdam art world. Nonetheless, his contribution for Mie Frederikke Fischer Christensen’s book “Graceland to Graceland” is more than noteworthy.

There’s just something childishly interesting about bright colors, which draws one’s eye to this book. The contrasting colors on the cover of the book however, are merely a glimpse of the crazy amount of visual stimuli used on the inside of the book. The texts are printed in two different fonts and in at least 7 different colors.

A plethora of images is also showcased. Seemingly randomly stacked on top of each other and in different levels of quality. The one thing they have in common though is their relation to, or, representation of; Elvis. This aesthetic is reminiscent of the ones found on fan-made websites, created to lift their idol to a higher level by posting as much images of him as possible. No matter the quality or the context, the only thing that matters is Elvis.

The book is also full of contrast, from the moment you take it in your hands it feels like a good book. The cover is a silkscreened canvas which looks and feels expensive, however when opening the book you see that the cover isn’t even attached to the rest of the book properly. the inside of the book also features two types of paper. One a bit more glossy that the other. This division also suggests a certain budget.

The fact that all of these choices are probably not made out of necessity but done deliberately is what makes this book so appealing to me.

Rietveld library catalog no : graduation publication 2015


Wij Bouwen Nieuwe Zinnen

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The front page of the book is plane white, with nothing but text – that’s not so special, you would think. But the designer of this book, Experimental Jetset, describes their methodology as ‘turning language into objects.’ And so it is possible that a plane white cover with nothing but the title and a few words could catch my eye.


Experimental Jetset is a small Amsterdam based design studio, founded by and still consisting of 3 designers: Marieke Stolk, Erwin Brinkers and Danny van den Dungen. They all studied at Rietveld academy and formed Experimental Jetset together in 1997, after their graduation.

Not only on the cover of Wij Bouwen Nieuwe Zinnen are words turned into objects – through the whole book, this theme comes back. Wij Bouwen Nieuwe Zinnen is an art catalogue, giving an overview of the exhibitions and their contributing artist that took place in W139 gallery between 1999 and 2002. Every exhibition that is described (in words and in pictures) starts with a blank page, like the cover of the book, with in the same block wise shaped sentences describing which exhibition it was, when it took place and which artist contributed to the exhibition. The space that doesn’t have to be used for this information, is filled with word-objects saying constantly one thing: We Build New Sentences. In the pages that follow, pictures and texts are showed, a bit like you would expect it to be in a catalogue, except the fact that the bottom of the pages is always reserved for the word-objects. Always you can find in the bottom of the page the name of the exhibition that is further described on the page, but the rest of the space in the bottom of every page contains more word-objects, which continue saying through the whole book: We Build New Sentences

The way Experimental Jetset uses words in a certain shape and the repetition of this shape, I had never seen before. I wonder if they use this technique in more works, or if there are other designers who use this technique.

Wij Bouwen Nieuwe Zinnen
Experimental Jetset
Rietveld Library 705.9

Queer Zines two volume set (design: Garrick Gott)

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Garrick Gott is a graphic design studio based in NewYork city. The work they do is mostly for galeries, individual artist, art books and museums. Queer Zines is published by Witte de with center for contemporary art Rotterdam.

Why I choose these two books was because of the colors (bright neon colors pink and blue colors) and the brown paper box which it is presented in. The bundled books are in A4 (which i don’t like, A4 is such a common size. Why should you use A4 if there are so many more interesting sizes.

Both books are with a matt finish and with matt thick paper pages. The whole inside is printed in a dark blue color. The book works with simple fonts and scans of the magazines which it is about. The cover has only this white print with two man kissing. And the text ‘queer zines two volume set’.

I like the fact that it is all super simple and that you can only see what is necessary. In that concept i think that Garrick Gott kept it all in one color. 185

The books are full of scans of the magazines and posters which contains a lot of queer pictures. Because this is the subject of these books. The balance between pictures and text is 50/50. And the text is mostly devided in two tabels. Around some tabels are blue lines.
There are some smaller, thicker pages inside the book. Which i like very much. They are placed completely random.

There is no text at the back of the books. queerzines



Institutional Attitudes – Instituting Art in a Flat World (Design: Metahaven)

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Metahaven is a design-, research- and art-oriented studio based in Amsterdam focusing its interest on “neopolitical” tendencies arising in the digital realm. Their understanding of design as a potential political instrument is heavily reflected in their use of economy- and government related iconography. I had been coming across different works by the studio quite a lot in recent memory but only from reading and looking at these I could never really make sense of who or what “Metahaven” actually stands for and what makes it so inevitable for a lot of people to deal with its position in the discussion of contemporary culture.


The publication ‘Institutional Attitudes…’ by Pascal Gielen stuck with me because of its almost traditional neutrality in terms of layout and typography paired with the somehow psychedelic use of color on the background layer. The seemingly random decision of framing the cover with separating bar-like elements to be found on the bottom right corner of the front page as well as on the spine of the book is probably what makes it most thrilling for me. One can sense a kind of aesthetic master plan that seems to follow a self-created design-philosophy which complexity seems to be only clearly understood by the maker himself.


The publication is part of the ‘Antennae Series’ published by ‘Valiz’ of which every issue is designed by Metahaven using the same lay-out for every edition with the only changing element being the different background layers each making use of a similar ‘washy’, psychedelic aesthetic. The series consists of theoretical essays portraying uprising phenomena in the field of arts. One can argue that the tension created in the decision making of the design (traditionalism + neutrality// subtle ‘randomness’? + psychedelia?) creates a suitable stage for the paradoxical approach of discussing ways of breaking with conventional structures of thought making use of the written essay, being one of the proto-types of traditional expression of thought.

700.4 gie 2.

Future Publics (The Rest Can and Should Be Done by the People) A critical Reader in Contemperary Ar

Wednesday, November 11, 2015


For me it was always easy to come to the quick conclusion THAT if it was about something interesting, it would effect the design on the book automatically. Maybe because it’s true, and therefore I only reached out to books that looked appealing to me, indirectly confirming a satisfaction about the content.

But having to choose a book on it’s look as an assignment put my mind in a different light. Books suddenly looked different to me, and it backflip reversed on me, and i found myself standing with a book, that I ironically chose only from it’s contents.

Try again.

I went to the library alone this time, isolated in my own mind I tried a different approach towards the books. Found it. A book that had a picture I found interesting for a cover. A women screaming at some boring conference. Something real is on her mind. the outside cover is that real photograph, continuing to the back reveling more boring conference room and people reacting to the woman in a social intelligent environemt. What I also liked was the size of the book. About the size of a hand, and an inch thick.  In the bottom of the front is a square that fits this long title. It’s A little transparent made of a dark blue color. Looking in the book shows more of this color, frequently used in text that is separated or commenting on the main text. Mostly written vertically. I also found it interesting that some chapters in the book is pages that has been scanned. these pages have comments and corrections, leaving a raw and hectic reading material.

700.2 cri 10

Future Publics (The Rest Can and Should Be Done by the People) A critical Reader in Contemperary Art

Design: Kummer & Herrman, Utrecht


The Future Issue

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The title of the book I chose is “The Most Beautiful Swiss Books 2009—The Future Issue.” This catalogue is the third part in the Back to the Future Triology. Covering the past, the present and the future of book design.

I tried to let my mind be open for new impressions during my selective process. My main goal was to find something that inspired me. Something that I could relate to but still find exciting in a new, different way. I also wanted to find a book with well thought out typography. So I could learn from it. Analyse it and break it down. Pick it apart like an engine.

At first, all the showcased works by students caught my attention and I started going though them. All though many of the works were inspiring—I felt like I had more to see before making a final choice. I started to drift towards industrial design. The aesthetics were nice, with lot of grids and furniture covering the front pages. But the typography that I was looking for was missing.

At last I found the future issue next to the industrial design section. At first glance, the typography of the cover really hit me. It was well designed, set in black and white, in a balanced layout. When I found out that the designer behind the book was Laurenz Brunner I made my choice. He’s known to me from before and I am looking forward to start study his work on The Future Issue.

Library catalogue nr — 758.3 swi 2009



Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Spines facing you, from every direction. The opaqueness of all this knowledge is overwhelming to put it mildly – your head spins of confusion. The environment breathes an air of calmness, yet great anticipation, as if the myriads of hardbound works of literature and art are eagerly yearning to reveal their insides.

You stand still indesicively- you feel yourself on the narrow interface between on the one hand panickingly running down the narrow corridor, to the door, halfway collapsing onto the floor and dying, and on the other hand siting down, indulging yourself in every publication that catches your eye, never leaving.

You regain your grip on reality. You see a bright yellow rectangle in front of you. You reach for it and you look at the front cover.

The cover of Henri Matisse's Jazz

You look at the cover for a solid minute. You like the bright yellow color and the sturdyness of the cardboard. You look at the image on the cover. Primary colors have always fascinated you immensly. The blue night, the black figure, the yellow stars, and above all the tiny Red Dot as a heart. You are intrigued – you know of this man, Henri Matisse. In your head appear images of brightly colored faces and dancers, composed with mildly crude yet incredibly accurate brush strokes. You also like jazz, and wonder what this book could be about. Filled with curioustiy you open it.

The inside of Henri Matisse's Jazz

That’s it. You’re getting this one.

Henri Matisse – Jazz, mat 17

BALCONISATION / Constant Dullaart (book design)

Wednesday, November 11, 2015





As I pick up and put back hundreds of books around the library, I suddenly find this delicate-sized book with a very clean minimal cover in greenish Aquamarine. B A L C O N I S A T I O N I read on the top with small letters. same color as the cover but darker. I open the book, and as I flick and look through the pages it gets even better. a page after page, repeating the same coral-red monochromic image of some modern architecture on a shore. I’ve checked, there is not a single difference, not even a tiny one.. so, why? I keep flicking, and some small changes appear, but the same image. The entire book is only shades of this greenish Aquamarine and Coral Red.

BALCONISATION. what does this word even mean? while I get more and more curious about this book, I finally find some text, words and sentences all put together. ”we are all outside on teh balcony now.” it says, missing a space between the next letter and the pause “standing on a platform made out of tweet into corporate versions of public space.”


Realizing that the term Balconism (created by Constant Dullaart, a conceptual Dutch artist born in 1979) is related to internet culture, and the blured line between public and private caused by the online space. I began understanding the language of the book. what first seemed a bit strange to me now seems genius.I go back to the first page and I start over and I drown into this world, and I read these words in big and small letters that are sometimes streached and all over each other. they get a voice, and that pink modern architecture image echoes in my head,  and all i wanna do is close this book and get rid of my every social network account.






Rietveld library catalog no : dul-1


Turbulant Times for Tubular Chairs

Monday, October 19, 2015

Turbulant Times for Tubular Chairs


In the Boijmans Van Beuningen museum Design Derby exibition there were two chairs that use a different main shape to catch your eyes and bring them to ‘ their side’ of the show. In both cases, the armrests follow this main shape; the rests of the Dutch chair are symetrically shaped by an oval, while the rests of the Belgium chair are asymetrical and sturdy angled.


Screen Shot 2015-11-23 at 20.28.27

The Auping fauteuil, 1931  

Screen Shot 2015-11-23 at 20.30.00

The Chaise Lounge by Gaston Eysselinck, 1932


Despite this difference, the chairs are rather similar because of the chrome-coted construction parts, the use of wood in the armrests, the shared function, and the same exact period in witch these chairs were made (1930′s). Without any background information you could say that these chairs were made by the same enterprise or you can take it the other way around; these designs could have been competing with each other back in the day. This tension field spiked my interest to take a closer look in the history of both designs. Are they that different?


On further examination of these chairs I found that the same Dutch designer movants influenced the choices that were made in both of the designs that were meant for the modern progressive consumers. These influences include Dudok, Oud, Gerrit Rietveld, the Amsterdamse School and De Stijl movement.

In the 1930′s Auping decided to broaden their horizon and manufacture a line of tubular living room furniture including the Auping fauteuil. At this time, this branch was not important. The designer of the Fauteuil was not even linked to the chair itself. Later investigation concludes that the unknown interior designer Ben Reynsdorp is likely to be the designer of this magnificent chair.

At the same time, when the heroic period of the Avant Garde was past, the young architect Eysselink succeeded in assimilating these influences in a highly personal way. He went after Rietveld and designed his own home in Gent and manufactured fitting and unique furniture;

“In 1932 he designed all the furniture for this house. It is tubular steel furniture, of which the stacking chairs and the large recliner are the most interesting. He hoped to manufacture the furniture at a later date, with the name FRATSTA (Fabriek voor RATioneelse STAalmeubelen – Factory for Rational Steel Furniture), an enterprise which in fact proved unsuccessful. Eysselinck is the only architect in Belgium from the period between the wars to produce a ‘collection’ of tubular furniture.” (‘ an unknown Belgian modernist’ Universidade do Porto


The latter brings me by another less fortunate similarity found; both chairs were part of lines that initially were not well received in the market and this brought production to an end in both cases. As said, the enterprise of Eysenck went bankrupt after only two years. His unique “machine à habiter” was not mentioned by the media. Auping on the other hand, focused on the improvement of their bedding and the continuing of their existing production lines in the crisis. They did not continue the production of tubular living room furniture as it was not as popular as their beddings.

Nowadays Eysselink is designated to be one of the greatest in Art Deco. The Chaise Lounge even got a re-edition in the 70′s; a modern and luxurious implementation.


 Re-edition of the Chaise Lounge, 1970′s


The Auping chair ultimately got the attention and the designer got the credit he deserves. Both chairs flourish at the Boijmans Van Beuningen museum and defend the honor of their ‘native countries’.


But ‘What differs the Chaise Lounge from the Auping fauteuil?’ you might ask. These chairs can not possibly be from the same designer for one major reason: The Auping fauteuil is not designed by Eysselinck’s ‘Form Follows Function’ regimen. The armrests of Auping are used in a more decorative way than Eysselinck would have wanted. This makes that, although these chairs may look very similar, my gut feeling was right and they can be categorized in a whole different way.


Design Holland and Belgium

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The composition of the ceramic vases Belgian artist Rogier Vandeweghe and vases Dutch artist Jan de Rooden.


Firstly, I’d love to explain why I’ve chosen ceramic vases for this essay. I imagine how the fingers are buried in soft brown slimy mass when I am thinking about creating a vase. I remember a few stories associated with clay from childhood. I grew up in a village. I loved poking around in the mud, but I had a special passion for the mud formed after rain on the roadway. Vehicles in the village – trucks, and the land under the wheels was pressed carefully because of heavy machine. As a soft mass, it was very pleasant to touch. Mud was becoming really strong as soon as it started to dry. I loved to do the round cakes of this manure. A day after i used to threw them on the floor and watch them breaking into pieces. This is the first thing I imagine when I’m thinking about ceramics. It seems to me very important to understand people, what events have affected them, how their personalities formed. An artwork produced by the artist containes all the information about his life, sensibility, condition. That’s why I’d love to highlight some events in the biography of Rogier Vanderwede and Jan de Rooden.

Born in 1923, he was the youngest son in the family. They moved a few years later to Beernem. From 17 to 23 years old, he studied at the Art Academy in Ghenthe. In the year of 1974 he was followed by a short internship at Joost Maréchal. In 1948 Rogier formed a business with his elder brother on the basis of fathers larger company. Their studio was named ‘Perignem (Latin for “through the fire”). In 1954 he married in the Church of St.Anne in Bruges on Maryanna Pyck (the collection vase that i chose called: Rogier Vandeweghe en Maryanna Pyck). Maryanna worked since 1952 as a ceramics painter at Perignem. As soon as regular production was established, Rogier decided to change direction towards a more modern product. The cautious, rather conservative attitude of Laurent and especially of Cecile Roets, which is in complete contrast with the radical and total renewal sought by Rogier, are the direct cause of the rupture between the two brothers in the summer of 1956. In 1957, Rogier Vandeweghe didn’t pay much attention to make his first ceramic production. In some cases, his wife Myranna Pyck painted the initials “RVDW”, eventually adding “Sint Andries”, with cold enamel after the firing. Soon however, Rogier adds this mark with glaze. In 1960, the workshop is named “AMPHORA».

Jan de Rooden Born in Nijmegen in 1931. When he was 5 years old his mother died. From 6 to 14 years old, he was admitted to Elementary School of the Heilig Landstichting. The landscape around us formed a beautiful country to grow up in. “In November 1944 I left home for the Passionist monastery in Mook September 1952 I became novice in the Passionist monastery in Pey, but after nine months I left the novitiate forever. Ultimately I could not reconcile myself with life in a monastery. I found that life too cut off, too safe and too well-provided for. ” As autodidact he started working in the studio of ceramist Lucie Q. Bakker in Amsterdam in 1956, and in 1958 started his own studio with Johnny Rolf with whom he later married.

Rogier was studying in artistic school and Jan at theological collage. But the story of the two artists is like when they meet their women and begin to follow their way.

I feel a similar sense when i am looking at the vase, I find something natural in that. Vases Jan de Rooden remind me about the forest, the surface of the vase is like a bark of a tree overgrown with moss and seabed, shells overgrown with silt. Vases Rogier Vandeweghe remind me of the mycelium, or forest spirits, or rocks. I like that he used black clay, I’ve got a association with caves and coal mining. From vases is completely different. Jan de Rooden used a simple sealed form. It gives a sense of confidence and stability, which in combination with glazing, creates the effect of natural stone. Rogier Vandeweghe several vases connects one composition and shape of these vases is like a bottle, but shorter, with a thin neck and a narrowing nizu.eta composition looks like a beehive. The Rogier Vandeweghe vase can be used rather only as an object, and the Jan vase may well accommodate some flowers.

In conclusion I would say that the facilities are beautiful.

Marshall Moderism

Wednesday, October 14, 2015


The Design Derby exhibition at Boijmans Museum in Rotterdam compares what was happening in design in the Netherlands and Belgium from 1815 to present day. Pieces were picked as representative of the era of design in both countries, which allowed you to make comparisons of the objects for design and aesthetic value, but also by being displayed chronologically, you are able to see where on the timeline they place and thus allowed you to to understand the context in which they were designed and the preceding works/ inspiration. I picked two pieces from the 1950’s produced during the post war reconstruction period; a fascinating time for the reestablishment of design as a social, economical and cultural actuality.

I chose two pieces with very similar aesthetic qualities and obvious connections visually/materially, produced a year apart they are from exactly the same period so can be perceived from a single point in European history despite different national situations.
The first piece is a bookshelf designed by D.Dekker for Tomado – Dordrecht in 1958, The shelves are a genius design, with simple brackets on either side and tin trays which can be slotted in at any level, there’s a variety of combinations/arrangements of the unit so they adapt easily to any room.

Tomado Bookcase

The second is desk and chair by Jacques Seeuwes, designed for the architecture department of the University of Ghent in 1959. The only colour used is a bright blue Formica on the table, which compliments the soft dark tones of the oak seat and foot rest.  Its a vivid primary colour which is fitting with the modernity that was being practiced in the design at the time, when the chair is tucked under the table, there is brilliant flow of the basic forms, and the subtleties in angles of the chair suggest a certain spring to it by highlighting the ergonomics which contrast to the stubborn rigidity of the black tubular frame, they both exhibit a neo-plastic approach to design. This is collection of research i made in order to further understand the situation of each country after the war and how design fit into their society at the time. What were the inspirations/ defining influences in the Netherlands and Belgium which concluded in two very similar pieces of furniture.

Jacques Seeuwes Desk


De Stijl introduced an important merging of art an design by promoting an Utopian philosophical approach to aesthetics. The goal was to catch timeless beauty in spare precision, De Stijl movement was a reaction against the excessive decoration of the Art nouveau that preceded. It was an attempt at a universal language in design and aesthetic, that applied rules which erased all subjectivity to the artist because the individual was loosing its significance, ideals of the period shift from visually heavy to visually light and ‘de Stijl could be seen as social redemption.

During the post war reconstruction period, Tomado thrived because its products represented the incoming modern Dutch household; cheap, affordable, functional furniture. The core of Tomado string furniture was formed by pragmatism, before the war there was a demand of bits and bobs and comfort in clutter, but in the aftermath, there was a desire for a fresh functional way of living to maximize efficient recovery and thus wanted to be surrounded by practical and rational possessions. Tomado’s minimalist airy structures symbolized the modern age, and these bookshelves in particular were commonly present in households around the country, just like IKEA is nowadays.

tomado bij charlie ikea


The Dutch government returned to the Netherlands from its exile in London in 1945. The government, while in London, had created plans which would speed up the country’s challenging industrial and economic reconstruction, there was no conflict between industry and the arts, because the Netherlands has a trading history and sourced its cultural input from its colonies in Asia. This meant that recognizing the need for mass production to furnish homes wasn’t politically opposed and the dutch produced functional furniture for the masses with talented designers appointed to every sector, Marshall Aid investment into the Netherlands accelerated industrialization and by 1950, 38% of the population was working in manufacturing or some form of industry.

In Belgium, there is a rich history of the arts and crafts from their own country because they had no interest in their colonies in Africa. This meant that high level professional craftsmen worked hard to produce and design quality products, and then after the war they were fighting against the industrial takeover. However there were a lot of poor factory workers and thus mass production was a cheap necessity, people weren’t as encouraged by the government to pursue design careers whereas in the Netherlands every state company had a designer.

Marshall Aid played a large role in the modernization of Europe, with the investment to rebuild its financial economical and industrial systems, and along with the money came the intention to inject a new ‘spirit of productivity’.

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In Belgium they funded the Belgium Office for Increasing Productivity (BDOP), which supported The Design Centre. Design in Belgium was struggling to find its place in society, The Design Centre aimed to broaden the understanding of design as a social, economical and cultural phenomenon, however, the BDOP demanded a definition of design which was appropriate to the contribution towards the economic efficiency, it was struggling to leave behind the origins of design promotion, dominated by national export interest and be recognized for its social and cultural value by the Belgian government, this was frustrating because of course they believed that design is the most visible and pervasive cultural manifestation of a country at any time.

Industrial design was redefined in Belgium  in the 1950’s, and planted foundations in 1954 under the reign of the first social-liberal government.
Industrial design is a creative activity whose aim is to determine the formal qualities of objects produced by industry. These formal qualities are not only the external features but are principally those structural and functional relationships which convert a system to a coherent unity both from the point of view of the producer and the user. Industrial design extends to embrace all the aspects of human environment which are conditioned by industrial production.

With this definition you can understand how the values of De Stijl integrated easily with this new wave of industrialization. Design was being viewed as a practical notion where productivity and efficiency is key, with such a mechanical demographic, it makes sense that the prevailing approach to design in Belgium was that of De Stijl – the international modern style, and easy to replicate in industry.

After WW2 De Stijl became known as the International Modern Style. However without Theo van Doesburg to lead the way and enforce the ideals and definitions of the movement, the strict pre-war rules were broken. The post-war reconstruction forcing society to depict a new way through complete disarray towards the future, efficiency was key and maintenance of artistic values weren’t withheld so preciously. Broader structural design properties of industrial materials could be worked with more easily in mass production too and the extreme ideals of De Stijl were not practical anymore.

To conclude, the unifying desperation of each country to rebuild after the upheaval of the war and the catastrophic state in which the Nazi’s left, meant the productivity objectives that accompanied the Marshall aid from U.S, persisted to define the countries’ reform and thus profitability and potency heavily determined design of the post war era.


BIG CHUNK, little purpose

Saturday, October 10, 2015

When I first heard about the task of choosing a pair of compared design objects in the Boymans van Beuningen exhibition “Design Derby” –where Dutch design is being compared to Belgium design– I thought it was going to be a long and painful process since I have never been interested in design. Especially not in furniture design which I know nothing about. It was a relief when I found out that the exhibition was well organized and the objects presented were described in an understandable manner. At first I had to take several strolls through the exhibition before I realized what my choice should be, and it was no other then the Grandfather clocks. Seeing them made the choice so easy that I even didn’t think about how hard it would be to compare them. That turned out to be difficult, since only later I realized I know nothing about the styles of design and even the point of owning one is completely unclear to me.


So these are the clocks that I ended up choosing, The one on the left is Designed by a Belgium artists Georges Hobe and architect Antoine Pompe in 1902 while the other clock at the right is designed by a Dutch designer Christiaan Wegerif also in 1902. You can see that both of the clocks are made at the same time, yet they are completely different. The Dutch designed clock is much more masculine and solid, also it has more detail and decor in general. The Belgium clock meanwhile is famine and is more about the function, It hasn’t been overly decorated and is just as complicated as it needs to be in order to serve its function. To have a general idea of what similar types of clocks look like and how they are the same or different you can visit this link that sells german grandfather clocks or this that sells grandfather clocks in general and has some background info as well.

So after the exhibition I thought to my self what the reason was of making this, (now seemingly) foolish choice that seemed so easy and clear at the moment I made it. Suddenly it clicked to me; my grandmother, she used to have several Grandfather clocks, and only now I started understanding how sad it is that I never paid attention to them. I never had the chance of asking her why does still keep them. My grand mother was very old and as I noticed, the clocks just became closer to her with time, after she got moved to an old people home, she took only few belongings with her, few pictures, bottle of cognac and one of the grandfather clocks. I guess there it served as a reminder of past and the overall importance of time.

So due to the lack of information on the specific Grandfathers clock’s of my choice I decided to do a general research and the first thing that was unclear to me was the origin of the name “Grandfather clock” why not Grandmother clock or just Tall clock? Once again it all comes down to pop music, its named after a song “My Grandfather’s Clock” performed by an American songwriter named Henry Work [x], who wrote a song about a clock which stopped working the same minute of the day when the last surviving owner died and happened to be a grandfather, you might think that this is a made up myth but let me surprise you that the chances of this actually happening are pretty high since the less expensive clocks at that time needed to be wound every day or they just stopped working. The Grandfather clock is usually 1.8 – 2.4 meters tall and is a weight driven pendulum mechanism that is located in the tower or the waist of the body, this kind of clock was first developed in 1670 by an English clockwork William Clement.

Longcase_clock antique grandfather clock Friese staande klok

Until early 20th century these were the most accurate time keeping technologies so they were often kept by huge businesses and rich households. Now they only serve as decorative objects since it needs a lot more maintenance then a everyday wrist watch and most people now don’t have the TIME for that. Since I have a very limited interest and knowledge of history I decided to take a look at some modern day grandfather clocks, and I was rather sad to find out that with few exceptions they are not made by hand anymore and they have all become electronic. So I found very few companies that still make handcrafted clocks but only this Kauffman’s company offers to make a clock costum made just for you and how ever you want it so it has a much higher value and can relate to a specific family which in this case I think is very important. Though I must admit that the clocks made by hand then and now are not pleasing to my taste, and I find the modern ones more aesthetic and visually appealing for example this black and simple clock.


At the same time by loosing the need of a huge item that serves only the purpose of showing time they now serve new purposes that previously just couldn’t fit in the same casing with a pendulum mechanism. They can have built in drawers or be used as book shelves a and probably many other new purposes could be thought of. Here you can see the same clock as previously but opened and instead of the pendulums you have a set of drawers, that could be used perhaps for your dirty underwear that you wish to hide from the public eye.


Another great function but a rather ugly outcome.


I think the shape of clocks should not be forgotten, they just need to be redesigned to serve more purposes then showing time or they can just as well turn in to art pieces since they have such a strong image and meaning as a thing on it’s own, for example artist Maarten Baas has done few works that relate to grandfather clock directly or to time in genera. Most related to this subject would be his work “Real time” where instead of the usual clock face there is an LCD screen within the clock that shows a human inside the clock drawing the time on the clock face. Read about three contemporary artists that explore the general concept of time.

I personally don’t like clocks at all since they just keep reminding me of the amounts of time I have wasted on useless activities. So I would need a grandfather clock that goes backward and is constantly fooling me or doesn’t show time at all. Something like this…



The 2 Visions

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The Design Derby exhibition in Rotterdam is a friendly (or not) competition between Dutch and Belgian designs. It is presented as a playful and colorful route where, in chronological order, designed items are paired up for the viewer to compare the contrast between them. Some of them are not iconic (one of the works exhibited is even a student work from 2014) but I chose a rather famous pair (or pairs). I chose to write about the famous (or infamous) hoof-Tabi shoes by Belgian designer Martin Margiela and the Iron Lady shoes by Dutch designer and shoemaker Jan Jansen.


I have chosen these pairs of shoes because they stood out to me as interesting takes on what is beautiful, what to wear. They both have unusual and innovative designs with a strong vision. They have visual, emotional and conceptual impact, but they are also quite different.

Martin Margiela (born 1957 in Genk, Belgium) studied in the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp and graduated in 1979. He is known for his avant-garde designs that break rules of aesthetics and are often with extreme proportions and deconstructed appearances. He has worked for luxury fashion houses such as Jean Paul Gaultier and Hermes before opening his own brand.

Margiela is continuing the work of Japanese avangardists such as Rei Kawakubo (Comme Des Garcons) which was started in 1980. This movement rebels against  the luxury fashion world with it’s unusual designs who challenge viewers to reconsider their ideas on clothing and beauty among others. Margiela often makes use of the post modern architectural concept of deconstruction. Deconstruction is characterized by fragmentation and distorted sharp shapes. It displays interest in manipulating the surface of the structure. Visually, these structures are characterized by unpredictability and a sense of “controlled chaos”.


He has maintained a low personal profile and was rarely photographed, staying behind the scenes of his fashion shows. Perhaps due to the hectic nature of the fashion industry, he has resigned in 2009.

His creation from 1989, the Tabi shoes, were inspired by the Japanese shoes of the same name that have a characteristic appearance similar to cattle feet. They are almost anti-aesthetic and opposite to traditional femininity. Although they are sometimes heeled, they can be quite repulsive at first glance. The first thought of visually pleasing high heels are not of ones that are completely closed off, with bulging seams and a shape similar to a camel’s hoof. The silhouette has become a classic for the Margiela brand and it has been reconstructed and revamped many times. The designs are often gritty and minimalistic, the most radical example is perhaps the version of the Tabis that is sold only as a sole and includes clear masking tape to connect it to the foot. The design is aligned with Margiela’s asexual and deconstructed esthetic.

Martin Magiela • Tabis Shoe

Jan Jansen is a Dutch shoe designer and maker, born 1941 in Nijmegen. He has been fascinated with shoe making from a young age, as his father was manager of the children’s shoe factory Nimco. He interned in a shoe factory in Brabant and took evening drawing lessons in the art academy of Eindhoven. Jansen studied shoe making further in Waalwijk and Rome. He has several shops in the Netherlands, including one on Rokin street in Amsterdam. His designs are extravagant and colorful, but maintain a certain classic appeal. Jansen says he’s not concerned with trends and market forces, and he mostly makes what he thinks himself beautiful.


Unlike Margiela’s Tabis, The Iron Lady shoes are extravagant. They are propelled by an exaggerated heel made of bent metal at the back and a pedestal-like piece of metal in front that seems to leave the wearer in mid-air. Two intertwined prominent straps connect it to the foot in a compelling illustrative way. The classic femme fatale red is on display, with a suggestive upside down heart shape in the front. Perhaps Jansen inspiration, his wife, and his love of timeless classic design which focuses on beauty contribute to his design aesthetic which is often colourful and full of lyrical and aesthetically pleasing organic shapes. They have an abundance of detail that keeps the viewer looking. While Margiela’s shoes and general design esthetic is a commentary on the high fashion luxury world that he perhaps reluctantly belongs to, Jansen’s design are not interested in trends. Not many people would wear them, but they are purely esthetic.

I don’t know what these two particular designers say about their respective nationalities, and do they fit the bill of Dutch and Belgian design. I’m not sure people’s esthetic and artistic integrity can be narrowed down in that way, especially in our time when each artist wishes to express him or herself and create something completely new. But it is definitely interesting to look at these two completely different takes on wearable art.

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