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A Creative Chair

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

I always feel incredible small when I go to big museums. The artworks often fill up all the mental space in the room. I always end up feeling incredibly small, unimportant in relation to the art that surrounds me. When I went through the collection at the Stedelijk Base a couple of weeks ago, I felt the same way. Very small in comparison to these big paintings and great design.  Overwhelmed by all the history of modern art and design gathered in one place.

I find it fascinating the way they put the chairs on pedestals in museums, also in the Stedelijk base. They give the chair extra meaning, value. These are chairs that people also own in their homes, but suddenly they are given a different function. These chairs have a utility, but in a museum they are no longer to sit on. This is ironic, since it was made for sitting. A chair is often rated higher amongst other pieces of furniture. People have a closer connection to chairs, probably because it is made directly for our bodies to sit in. If you think about it, we spend a lot of time awake, sitting.

In the Stedelijk museum i was in the end also drawn towards a chair. I walked through the exhibition to look for my object, and I found it. It was placed in a smaller room, way back in the corner. It was hidden, but when I saw it, it caught my attention. There was no doubt that this chair was a sculpture in itself. It had an organic, almost sexual shape and a shiny surface.  I was curious as to how it would feel to sit in. Would it be comfortable, functional? Or was it even made for sitting? This is how i ended up picking the Floris Chair, designed by Günter Belzig.




First in my research, I found that the chair had been written about before, on the design blog. There is a post about the chair written earlier this year. He askes the question if the chair is even made for sitting. If the purpose is for it to be more comfortable, than functional, does it live up to this? link:

Also the chair is mentioned in another post on the designblog about plastic:


The Internet is never ending. It is insane how much information you can find. However, there is a risk of getting lost and it can be hard to filter the information you find, and sometimes even hard to find the right information. When I made a google search of Floris Chair design by Günter Belzig, of course a lot of links came up. 99% of them from auction sites. There were a number of sites selling the chair, or that had sold the chair. At first i thought that these sites were quite interesting to study. The comparisons and differences in prices, descriptions, but the more sites I looked at, the more prices I looked at, the less I understood the fact that the chair was valued that highly. I started to question my original impression of the chair. What was it, that made the chair so insanely expensive?


23,750 USD. This is what the google, could tell me about the Floris chair.


I continued my search, and the next thing I found was a danish website about ergonomics, where the one of Günter Belzigs designs had been picked, among other  ergonomic furniture, to sell on the website. It was the pegasus design, not the Floris, however. It was shown on the website next to ‘ergonomic tips’, which I found odd, but it was the most information i had found about the chair so far. They here showed images of how the chair was made.



The next thing I found was Günter Belzigs own website, and here the Floris chair suddenly seemed less important than it had so far. The chair was only one of many other kinds of projects displayed. Most of the website was about the designs of playgrounds for children, that Günter Belzig has made. Almost everything is under the theme ‘play’ apart from the plastic furniture, he oh, so happens also had made.



So this brought me much more close to the designer behind the chair. But I found it very strange, that the same designer had created these two very distant things. An almost erotic looking chair and playgrounds for children. Günter Belzig, a playground designer, but not famous for his playgrounds. Just famous for this one chair that he made…

How did the chair become famous? How did the chair end up in the museum? Who decided that the chair should be placed there? What made it important? I wonder if the chair was placed in the exhibition because it was famous, or the other way around, if the chair became famous, because it was placed in the exhibition. When someone decided to put the chair on the pedestal in the Stedelijk base, they in some way closed the discussion about the chair. They decided that the chair is important, that it was good, important design. In some way they also opened up for the discussion about the chair, by placing it there, on the pedestal. They show it; so we can study it, make our opinion of it…

It was hard to find anything about the Floris chair in books. All the books with information on it, you would find in germany, and in german. To find information in relation to the chair, you would have to broaden the research and look more away from the chair or the designer.

When I walked through the Stedelijk Base, I was seduced by the chairs shape, glinse and the kind of mystery there was. Would it be comfortable? Would it actually fit the human body? After the first research I did, i was disappointed. There was nothing interesting to find about the chair and I questioned why it was even placed in the museum. But, the final place that could help me to know more about Günter Belzig and the Floris Chair, was youtube.



I saw these videos of Günter Belzig talking about his the Floris Chair among his other work, and I came closer to understand why he designed this type of furniture. Günter Belzig believes in creativity and innovation and wants to create spaces that stimulate this. He created the Floris chair just as one of his playgrounds, as a space for creativity. Now the question has changed. We don’t just want to ask whether or not the chair is comfortable to sit in, but when you sit, does it also induce your creativity?


Skærmbillede 2018-10-31 kl. 21.40.09



Search path, just a matter of straying

Tuesday, October 30, 2018




halssieraad / neck ornament, 1967

aluminium / aluminum

verworven / acquired in 1990

Gijs Bakker neck ornament at the Stedelijk Museum


The few words that can be found on a white rectangle, the reference, all that I have in this temple of modern and contemporary art and design. It’s better to think about objects with my own perception. Too many precisions in the vocabulary and words prevents me from really seeing, feeling an object. The few words on the white rectangle : the starting point of my research. The few words on the white rectangle that I type in the Google search bar. It’s not easy to immediately get Gijs Bakker’s necklace as a result. I can criticize the few words on this white rectangle because it has a lack of detail from the museum. But maybe it’s up to Google to be more selective? Google Image, Pinterest : websites that look like Ali Baba’s cave, or the attic of my grandparents. There are pages and pages that distract from the intended goal. I can’t stop looking, scrolling.


Number of results

Google Image result 1

Google Image result 2



It’s curious. It looks like there is no end. The time looking seems unending. There is a lifetime of content. More than a million years to see everything. I can research for hours on end to no satisfying avail. The task at hand is a prevelent one, the thougt of finishing an essay is an up hill battle that seems to push you back down with distrations.

It’s just a matter of distractions. I click, I slide with my computer mouse. I like to let myself go with the waves. Four words typed can generate a profusion of images for a research module. This often feels like my mind has travelled great distances.

I easily loose the landmarks of my departure, as soon as I see a flashy thing go by. I think, I’m inspired by the recommendations. I dive into a sea of images. But fishing can be a test of luck. I swim between DIY and designer pieces. That way I learn the names of small and big jewelry designs. When I come to the realisation I have departed from my initial topic, I cry triying to get back into the flow of things. However, I sink deeper into the internet. Social networks. Instagram, Facebook. The draw of familiarity and humor. Gijs Bakker on his feed invites us into his daily life. It’s a good way to capture the universe of the designer, I try to catch images of his insight to understand his inspirations, or how he integrates his creations into reality. I like to see photos taken on the spot, not made for respectable publications. These forms of publication bring a new way of sharing creations.


Instagram Gijs Bakker 1

Instagram Gijs Bakker 2


It’s hard for me to letting go of my digital research, maybe laziness … but we always must look for more precise information with sources we can trust. So I take refuge on the designer’s website. Not surprisingly there are details on all his projects there, it is organized and clear. Also, I can find a list of publications in which Gijs Bakker appears in. On the other hand, there is no more information about the necklace than the few words that were on the white rectangle.

I continue on the website of the Gerrit Rietveld Academie, after all, he studied there. Yet nothingness, nothing about the old students. Shame. I feel that I will have to get going on the paper reading. It’s time.


Rietveld website no result


Book references of Gijs Bakker at Gerrit Rietveld Academie library


But it is true that I, a person who has become acustomed to the simplicity of a Google search, I also likes to rid themselfs of the inanimate screen. So I open books but soon I starts to get bored. It’s finally the same as a Pinterest search, or almost. There is of course the pleasure of the paper’s touch and the smell of a book. There is also the promise of more dedicated information base. Why is it that we always believe what is written on paper?

Anyway, why the same as Pinterest? Well, in the publications I’ve been flipping through, the designer is never represented alone. Always a name of book that creates a topic, it can be the use of certain materials, an era or a style of creation … I see that Gijs Bakker is a small part in a much larger book. It’s finally for me as another form of tab “recommendations”.

It is clear that the book searches are much more accurate and relible, it is not the new of the century. Howether I appreciate internet research more because of it’s sprawling nature. I have the feeling that with a few words typed in the Google search bar, it’s a small fire that starts, just a click to take off, I like to lose myself in the web, whirl and lose myself completely in what I’m doing. It’s a way of escaping the rigor of books.


Saturday, October 27, 2018

The Presentation of ‘Screen 100’

In the Stedelijk Museum Base, a screen made of pinewood can be found, next to other Scandinavian design. The description tells the beholder some basic information of when the screen was designed, by who, and when this specific one was produced.The object was designed by Alvar Aalto, who was a Finnish architect and designer who was born on the 3rd of February 1898. He could be seen as one of the most influential in Scandinavian design of his time. When looking at the representation of his works in books, his architecture is most prominent, as those were very big projects he worked on for multiple years. For every building he made he wanted the environment to be functional, so naturally he also started making furniture. In books about Alvar Aalto there is often a mention of the Pinoy vase and the Paimio chair, but it’s difficult to find the more obscure ‘Screen 100’.

aaaaaaltoScreen 100 Alvar Aalto in Stedelijk Museum Base

However, looking for it on the internet, thousands of results pop up. Even though printed matter hardly mentions the less popular objects, this does not seem to be the problem online. Instead of information about the object itself, or biographical details about Aalto (or maybe even the theory behind his design) it seems to be mostly auction sites. Various auction houses have a broad range of prices, starting from around €1800,- till approximately €8000,-. The sites claim that their ‘Screen 100’ was produced very short after the design year, but never give actual information on the piece. Often, the screen is presented in a way that Alvar Aalto would never. Next to very decorative elements full of color, or with clashing styles. The only place on the internet that seems to accurately depict the aesthetic of his designs is , the company founded by Alvar Aalto himself to produce his products en masse. Still though, the site remains simplistic and does not give away too much information.

auction site aaltointernet screensaalto artek

To see how this object is represented in other media, a library needs to be visited. Specifically, the library of the Stedelijk Museum itself. In this library there are many books on art and design, but there are also documents on every piece in the museum, including ‘Screen 100’ by Alvar Aalto. Looking in their catalog, many books on Alvar Aalto mostly focus on his architecture again. However, there are some books specifically on his industrial design. Even then, the screen is not put into the spotlight. In one of the books about Aalto’s design, it only has a very small mention in the back of the book, where his designs are put in chronological order. Only a small symbol is present, no pictures of the screen are shown in the book. The depiction of this exact design item is very scarce, even in very specific books.

alvar aalto furniture bookartek design alvar aalto chronological order

Luckily, the museum library has more than just those books. A brown file storage box is brought out, containing various brochures and sale catalogs from Artek. There are folders and papers from the fifties, nineties and early two thousands that contain every object sold by Artek. These are one of the few printed documents that show ‘Screen 100’. Besides the catalogs, the library also has the complete object description on hand, which is a file including all known details about the specific screen that they have in the museum. Details like the manufacturer, the size, the number of slats, and even how the object is transported are included. In this description it is mentioned that the screen was used in the museum, before it was put in the collection of the Stedelijk Base. Pictures show that the screen was used to block entryways while exhibitions were built. This means that the object was also represented in a very practical context.
artekartek catalogus spread alvar aalto designscreen 100 alvar aalto volledige objectbeschrijving stedelijkscreen 100 aalto stedelijk

The differences of how the media presents this object lie in the frequency and detail of information. Printed matter available in regular libraries often focus mostly on the more iconic, time consuming efforts of Alvar Aalto, as his architecture is often more prominently shown than his design. If the design does have a mention, it is mostly the more popular things that will be mentioned. This also holds true for more specific books on his design. One of the few printed matters that do mention the screen are very functional such as inventories or catalogs, where the context is about selling a product, instead of informing the reader about various movements or ideas. The price is often listed right next to the object. The same holds true for the information found on the internet, where auctioning sites give a very simple description on the object. However, the online results show a variety of pictures of the same object, in different combinations and settings, whereas the printed catalogs often go with the same pictures and symbols. While the museum library has one of the most accurate and detailed descriptions for the object, one can only understand it fully by seeing it firsthand. Even then your understanding of it can depend on the context in which you see it, as the screen can be represented among other furniture of Scandinavian designers in the context of a presentation in a museum, or seeing it functional, as an everyday item, where you are more likely to glance over it.

Yet, after a deep dive into the designs of Alvar Aalto it seems impossible to glance over it and not admire the simplistic beauty that is inherent to ‘Screen 100’.

Jan Toorop’s Delftsche Slaolie

Saturday, October 27, 2018

This poster is one of the first works that is exhibited at the Stedelijk when you enter the base. I spent a couple of hours at the museum looking at everything, trying to look for different options, but in the end it is the first one that I saw that made the cut.

It is a litograph made by Jan Toorop in 1894 for the Dutch oil company Olie Fabriek (NOF).



But it is also because graphic design (and in this case advertisement) can be forgotten; when people think about design, the first things that usually comes to mind is furniture. I then wanted to investigate how different it would be to research in this field of design.

I first started by going to the school library and found three books about Jan Toorop, two in Dutch and one in French. In art books, Toorop’s posters are always quickly mentioned, if ever mentioned at all. Most of them focus more on his paintings and drawings and his advertising period during the 1890s is largely overlooked. But what would there be to say? It seems to be a question I cannot find an answer to. I find it strange that this piece is considered one of the most famous works of Toorop and Dutch Art Nouveau and that there very few information and texts about it.


43676249_362040011202122_7840147990630105088_n (1)


Furthermore, when I did my research on the internet, only basic information showed up, usually on museum’s websites like the Rijksmuseum or the Victoria and Albert museum in London. Both of them have a print in their collection, that’s why you can find it there: a picture, with a title date and dimensions. So no analysis or study or history or context like I expected. For instance there was only one website (the Moma) that mentioned the company this poster was made for; you can find the initials on the poster (NOF).

Another thing really intrigued me: in the first websites popping up under the research bar were both Christie’s and eBay. On the first one, original 94×64 cm prints are auctioned from 22500 euros. On the second one 53,7×12 cm prints are sold for 25 euros. The one in the Rijksmuseum is 95×62,5 cm, in the V&A it is 101×69,9 cm. I alsou stumbled upon who retailed two sizes, for 50 and 70 euros. The posters always come in different sizes and prices, original print or not; they even come in different shades since Toorop made versions with slightly altered color schemes. I also came across stamps with the design printed on it.


slaolie 1


slaolie 2


slaolie 3


Everything published before 1928 is automatically public domain, which is the case for the Delftsche Slaolie poster (which was created in 1894); it means that with no copyright, anybody can use it. If I wanted, I could sell postcards like this person on eBay or commercialize shirts with this image on them.

This thought also made me realize another weird thing: when I was browsing on google images, I only found pictures of the poster alone, but never in context. At first, this affiche was supposed to be an advertisement, but I never encountered a photograph showing a situation where this work was actually put to its initial use. I also expected to find pictures of this poster as decoration, since it also sells like this nowadays, but absolutely nada.

After searching for a long time I only found one image with a framed poster. It was on the website of a gallery and the piece was sold for an unknown price.


slaolie 4



I started wondering about the fact that more than a century ago, people saw this on the street like we see advertisement ourselves nowadays; we wouldn’t think about hanging this Oatly poster that has been all around Amsterdam on our wall and maybe the people back then would have laughed at the idea of putting the Delftsche Slaolie affiche in their home.


I went to the Rijksmuseum again but couldn’t find a postcard of the work in the giftshop. Since I couldn’t find any picture of the poster in context, wether it be advertisment or decoration, I would do it myself, and I decided to do that with a kitchen wall because I figured that most people would hung that in their kitchen. It is food related after all.





If I print it myself at school in good quality and same size as the original it would cost me a couple a few euros, and maybe it would be even better than the eBay or ones. I will have to do that for my grandmother so she can add it to her collection on her toilet wall.







Fulvio Bianconi Pezzato Vase

Saturday, October 27, 2018

The starting point of my research was Fulvio Bianconi’s Pezzato Vase. The Vase that displayed in the Stedelijk Base (fig. 1) was designed in 1950-1951 and acquired by the Museum in 2002 from the artist Tomas Rajlich. The Pezzati series [Pezza (it.) – patch] was designed between 1950-1954 and produced by Venini & C., a Murano glass manufacturer.

Pezzato Vase at Stedelijk Base


I started my research by looking up for books about Bianconi in “WorldCat”, an Internet-based books catalog that contains combined data from thousands of libraries around the world. Most of the relevant books about the artist that I could trace in Amsterdam were either in the Stedelijk Library or the OBA (Amsterdam public library). Besides, I searched in the Stedelijk library internet database, and with the help of its librarian, I could find a few more catalogs and books that did not come up in WorldCat. I also checked in the Rietveld library search engine, but unfortunately, no result came up. Most of these searches brought up relatively focused information about Bianconi and Venini & C.

Later I started to search about Bianconi by going through the glass and crystal books collections, both at the OBA and at the Rietveld Library. Those searches brought up less specific types of books, either about design in general or glassworks.

The physical materials I found can be divided into several categories:

Exhibition Brochures

The Stedelijk library has two original Bianconi’s exhibition brochure: one from 2015 at Le Stanze del Vetro (fig. 2), and the other from 1975 at Gallery Danese in Milano (fig. 3). The Danese’s brochure is the oldest physical material about Bianconi I could find in Amsterdam. It’s an envelope that contains six large postcards of the artist work and innovation to the opening in September 1975 (fig.3.a).

Exhibitions Br.



The book (fig. 4) and the Brochure (fig 5.) are both directly related to Bianconi’s work at Venini. The book consists of information about Bianconi’s life, but its central part presents Bianconi’s designs throughout several decades. The designs are divided by series of production (one of them , for example, is the “Pezzati”), and the objects displayed next to their drafts and numbered as in a catalog (fig. 4.a.). The Venini Brochure function both provide information about the company and service as a poster (fig. 5.a). Although it doesn’t revolve around Bianconi’s body of work, some of his designs can be identified on the poster (such as the Fazzoletto series).




Private Collectors

I also found information about Bianconi’s designs at private collectors book. The first one is Losch collection (fig. 6), a private collection that focuses on Italian and Finish Glass. The other book presents Nancy Olnick and Giorgio Spanu Venetian glass collection. Both books are not exclusively focused on Bianconi’s works and display an assortment of his designs alongside the designs of his Italian colleagues at Venini.



After going through all the books found with the help of the Libraries’ database, I checked if I could find information about Bianconi in books about glass in general. I searched in the OBA collection about Glass and Krystal, that are categorized on shelf number 775.6. Three of the books (fig. 8, 9 & 10) consists of very little data about Bianconi, while one of the consists a more in-depth look into his body of work (fig. 11).



Searching online brought up other results. Searching “Fulvio Bianconi” in Google provided around 90,000 results, and adding the word “Pezzato” narrowed the results to 12,500. The internet-based results concern mainly commercial aspects regarding the designer works and present rather little data about his life and body of work.

Many websites either sell Bianconi’s designs or providing data about future auctions and previous auctions results. The site varies from e-bay to Sotheby’s and online auction houses.



Other websites, more “institutional” ones, deliver basic information about the designer works and his life. First, the designer’s official site contains his biography and a small picture gallery of his glass and graphic works. In Venini & C., official website this information can also be found. Modern art and design museums such as the MoMA, Stedelijk Museum, Museum Boijmans, the Cooper Hewitt and the Metropolitan provide limited information about the designer works in each of the institutions own design collection.


Limited data about the designer can also be found in social media. The designers have around 900 pictures the contain his name tag on Instagram. In addition, in Venini official instagram account some go his designs can be traced. The designer has a facebook fan page that is currently not active.



Compared to the information found in books, the one found online is not as thick and much more general. In books, we can see extensive data relating to historical contexts, manufacturing processes, and the designer’s biography and full body of work. The information that can be found online Is mainly revolving around the commercial aspects of the designer works, focusing on his popular and “more profitable” production series.




From virtuality to reality- Shoulder Ornament by Gijs Bakker

Saturday, October 27, 2018
    In this research, I choose the shoulder piece designed by Gijs Bakker and focus on the difference the object present on printed media and online media.
    I start with Gijs Bakker’s official website, which is clear and detailed. You can find nearly everything about his biography and works since his early design career, and from this perspective, what I see is that the object I research is just one of his virus works.
    Next, I searched this work on “Google” and Chinese searching engine “Baidu”, it’s obvious that you can see the designer’s official website ranks at the top of Google’s search result, which is also the most important information. But on “Baidu”, the reviews of the mass media is always the top and full of unnecessary information, I think this phenomenon is closely connected with Chinese internet policy.
5bd5944027800 5bd594363b8aa
    And also the totally different image search result on “Google “ and “Baidu”, you can not find this work on “Baidu”.
  5bd594706b8fd      5bd5949625995

    Then I searched on platforms like Pinterest, Tumblr, Facebook, and Instagram. You can find many works similar to Gijs Bakker and also the person who collect this work. However, as a platform for sharing the image, what I feel more about is that I’m just looking one of the countless pictures instead of Gijs Bakker’s work.
    And platforms like Tumblr, Facebook, Instagram, which have the social function, people can like, share and comment, which is effective to communicate but also your judgment is easily influenced by the public comments at the meantime. Furthermore, these photos all posted during the Gijs Bakker exhibition which shows the instant character of the media. I also find that people like to add a filter to the photo they took on the exhibition base on their own aesthetic, so the information you get on the social media is quite personal and incomplete. From my point of view, It’s always necessary to get the first-hand material in reality if you want to research your subject in a deep and serious way.









Then I researched on Youtube, I found many interviews of Gijs Bakker and video shotted for his works.





    Then I come to media, both online and material from the library of Stedelijk museum. No matter online and printed media, the information is always incomplete, and also much unnecessary information like the advertisement. Meanwhile, if you don’t have enough understanding about the work, your judgment is easily influenced by the reviews of media.
Capture d’écran 2018-10-08 à 18.15.04  Capture d’écran 2018-10-08 à 18.11.02
 IMG_3361 2 IMG_3360 
 IMG_3362 2
     I continued to research on printed media, the follows are the portfolio of Gijs Bakker that I found in the library. In these books, you can find complete information about Gijs Bakker’s career and the introduction of his design concept, moreover, the book itself can also give you more focused and enjoyable reading experience.
IMG_3151 IMG_3137
IMG_3136 IMG_3154 2
IMG_3602 2 IMG_3137
IMG_3603 2 BxiuZ

    Besides, I also compare the printed media with online media, one thing I find very interesting is that the design of Gijs Bakker’s official website changes into real stamp on printed media, which shows the different possibility on different media.

    Eventually, I don’t want to draw a conclusion that whether printed media is better than the online media because the real world is already a combination of reality and virtuality, both of them can be used as the tool to help you to find the truth.

Providing research in reaction to Research

Friday, October 26, 2018

A Research about research

Taking the Work “Relief Rug” from Dutch Artist Kitty van der Mijll Dekker, made in 1934 as a leading example, the following text will try to surround and highlight analogies as well as differences in researching online or in printed matter.

The following articles give additional information about the Artwork itself, the Artist as well as the Bauhaus.


Starting with the inscription, which is hung by the museum next to the piece as the first information any audience should get, and could already be named printed information as well, the text doesn’t say anything but the basic information we expect from such source. Juxtaposed with other objects, artworks and artefacts from the same period and art-movement, another inscription announces some facts about the Bauhaus, which educational institute the artist that made the piece, attended. Therefore the very first appearance of printed information just adds little more but what a viewer may be expected to have as common background knowledge.

Printed documentation from and about Bauhaus highlight the emphasis Walter Gropius, founder of the Bauhaus, put on the concern of equality between women and men inside the institution. The Bauhaus was one of the few institutions, where not only men but also women were allowed to attend. What seams ahead of time, quickly turned out as not very long lasting and supportive to the persons concerned. Here, the most significant gaps from printed matter to online material can be pointed out. While printed matter talks about a topic and somehow provides information, online publications and writings mostly start with questioning facts which are already researched and published. Some of them come with an outspoken oppinion as well as a contemporary context and  as a reaction to other publications.

The disconnection from general information about the Bauhaus to the issue that female artists and their part of the Bauhaus legacy are barely mentioned in publications, can be taken back to the difference of “providing information” with printed matter and “reacting on information” in online publication.


If assumed, a book or documentary publication is preserving information about its content, and not too much voicing an opinion, unless it is a critique, the reader gets broader information which needs to be classified afterwards by the reader itself. Going through the listened publications underneath, the attempt to sum up or conclude seams to be more present than putting forward a subjective perception or even including a critical position.

  • The Worlds Greatest Art – Bauhaus“ by Andrew Kennedy, 2006
  • Das Bauhaus“ by Hans M. Wingler, 1962
  • “Bauhaus“ by Magdalena Droste, 1990
  • Human – Space – Machine. Stage Experiments at the Bauhaus“ Eds.: Torsten Blume, Christian Hiller, Bauhaus Dessau Foundation, 2014

Simply spoken, these books come with a quality of  objectivity that allows the reader to bring further a general knowledge. It builds up kind of a base where more specific ideas or concerns start to unfold.

Research in literature may appear more challenging, since the linking to connected subjects is not provided and has to be done by the researcher. Googles (or any kind of search engine) supports with its algorithm and referring proposals. Although this twofaced matter, the advantage of high rated recommendations is considerable. It enables the user to quickly collect a lot of information from many different sources, processing the subject in different contexts. To later on distinguish the quality of information or confirming sources stays an important part of putting research forward to a conclusion. At the same time the internet’s bottomless quality leads to many dead-ends, what creates an alarming but ironical analogy with the lack of importance that was payed to refer female artists to the Bauhaus history.

Heading to a provisional end, the following experience works as an example of applied research.

“Looking for work about v.d. Mijll Dekker I first went to the library of the Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam. But I was not able to find any literature dealing with her or her work. But knowing that the artist was a part of the Bauhaus Dessau, I started looking through the English and German literature the library had to offer about the whole Bauhaus movement. Unfortunately, even looking through the register of them all, I wasn’t able to find anything about her specifically. So I tried finding out more about the women who were part of the Bauhaus. I started researching information about different influential women who were part of the movement. That turned out as quite a challenge. After this I went to the library of the Stedelijk museum in Amsterdam. But also there I could only find few new information on Mijll Dekker and her work.“ progress report, field researcher L.P., Amsterdam octobre 2018


Text by Luca Putz & Jonas Morgenthaler, GRA 2018

Alvar Aalto, New wave of curved wood

Friday, October 26, 2018

Alvar Aalto was born 1898 in Finland that was ruled by the Russian federation. Aalto’s generation was heavily influenced by National romanticism and the “fennoman”-movement which had the goal to create finnish culture, art and ultimately a independent nation. Finnish national romantic style was very decorative and even complicated, reminiscent of art nouveau. Aalto’s work seem to be a comment or a reaction to this atmosphere.

Aalto graduated as an architect in 1921, when Finland had been independent only for few years. The time for dusty hardwood vitrines, and massive decorative stone buildings where fading to the background. Aalto was on the verge of a new time, and it showed in his designs. In his early career there where a few very influential projects, and the Paimio sanatorium was one of them It was one of the first buildings where he designed everything regarding this building, the whole experience.

paimio sanatorium

paimio sanatorium

What is it like to sit in a chair, and what do you see when you look out of the window. Is the position comfortable, or the material pleasant? And of course, what does the chair look like when you are looking at it.  The lounge chair 31/42 was designed in 1931 for the common areas of Paimio sanatorium, and received all sorts of publicity after that since it was a part of the finnish pavilion in Paris world exhibition in 1937, and after that was exhibited in New York MoMA in 1938. Today it is one of the most iconic designs from him.

As I started researching this chair I mostly found auction sites selling this chair between 4,000-8,000e most of them had the same description text about Aalto and the curved wood.when I searched in finnish I found a bit more. The auction sites, Aalto foundation and Aalto  museum, on top of that I found a pile of news websites asking “Is your grandma’s chair worth thousands of euros?”-or something similar. Internet research gave actually very limited information on the actual chair.

Next I looked in the Rietveld Library and found 1 book regarding Aalto’s early career and wich mentioned this chair and was from 1965. This book already gave me a lot more information regarding the making of the chair, how it relates to other designs from him at the time, and what is the mindstate in which Aalto actually made this chair, what is the so called “philosophy” behind it. The curved wood was a specific asset wich was also emphasised on internet about this chair, since it is the most unique feature in it.In  this book there is a quote that explained his view from me very clearly:

“In order to achieve practical goals and valid aesthetic forms in connection with architecture, one can not always start from a rational, technical standpoint – perhaps even ever. Human imagination must have room to unfold. This was usually the case with my experiments in wood. Purely playful from with no practical function whatsoever”-Alvar and Aino Aalto

IMG-5275 IMG-5268 IMG-5269 IMG-5272 IMG-5273

Final step in my research for now, was the stedelijk library. My goal was to find original advertisements and maybe a pamflette of the chair in New york MoMA. I did not find original advertisements from the 30’s, but i did find artek publications that the museum had collected and a magazine MoMA had published on Aalto’s Furniture and glass designs. There were also two books which were very useful for this research a book about aalto from 1938, showing how this chair was displayed and viewed at the time. The Other book was called Alvar Aalto furniture, and this book showed the evolution of his chairs as well some sketches and experiments on the curved wood on this chair.


IMG-5681 MoMA magazine



IMG-5671 written in 1938


My research is not over yet. My next step is to search finnishpublic libraries and Aalto university department of design’s library and compare the information to the one I collected in the Netherlands. After that I have to go to jyväskylä where the Alvar Aalto museum is, and try to find some original finnish publications of this chair there, since they could not do much for me on the phone.

Panasonic Toot-A-Loop R-72

Friday, October 26, 2018

‘It’s an S it’s an O, it’s a crazy radio! Toot-A-Loop!’ that was the phrase of the famous transistor radio called the Toot-A-Loop. The Toot-A-Loop… We never saw something like that before, we remember that we were both walking in the Stedelijk Museum and that we were looking for something special, something that had to mesmerize us. Eventually we both got mesmerized by this yellow thing that was laying behind glass and we knew that this was the piece that we wanted to do research on. At first we thought it was a weird mobile device, later on we read that it was a transistor radio, a transistor radio where the designer was unknown from, something that made us even more curious.
At first we decided to do our online research separate, to see if the different language we speak and in which we do our online search would pop up different results, we hoped and thought that that would increase our information, but in the end we came to the conclusion that our information was almost identical, so instead of working separate we began to do our research together.

Our research began with first going on Google, we typed in Toot-A-Loop and google gave us a lot of links and pictures of the radio, the first link that popped up was Wikipedia, of course.


This information about the Toot-A-Loop that Wikipedia gave us was comparable on almost every website, there was nothing more, nothing less.

After Wikipedia we went to the websites of different museums, almost every museum website was disappointing, because they didn’t had a lot of information about the object, they all got a picture of their own Toot-A-Loop with a short text (or no text!) about when it was made etc. but nothing more. The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Stedelijk Museum of Amsterdam gave us some book references, something that we could definitely use later.


The many pictures on Google were linked to auction sites and even Marktplaats (the ‘Dutch Ebay’)  we saw that a lot of people were selling their old Toot-A-Loop or already sold them, so there is still a lot of interest in the radio, it hasn’t lost its popularity. The selling price of the radio was quite various,  for example on Marktplaats the radio would be sold for around 50 euros, but on the auction sites it would cost around 200 euros.


We also found youtube videos, videos where people were most the time trying to explain how the radio works, we noticed that the videos were quite recent and that the people who commented under the videos were most of the time talking about how they would (and still love) the radio, so a lot of people from earlier generations.


After long clicking, link after link, (it must have been the last Google search page) one of us ended on this Italian radio website where we finally found some new information about the radio, they  mentioned the name of the designer, somebody called ‘J.M. Willmin’, after reading this we started to Google the name of this designer, the only information about the designer that Google gave us was linked to the Toot-A -Loop. Later on we found an antique website where they were also talking about J.M. Willmin as the designer of the Toot A Loop, we sent them an email with the question where they got there information from, this is what they answered


We think that the name J.M. Willmin was made up by Panasonic  so the radio would sell better abroad (in countries like the US and UK),  this is probably why we couldn’t find anything about this designer.

After our online research we went to the library of the Stedelijk Museum and the library of the Gerrit Rietveld Academy, thanks to the book references we found online we were able to find books that mentioned the Toot-A-Loop. The information we found per book was different, in the first book, Twentieth-century ornament by Jonathan Michael Woodham, the Toot-A-Loop was used as an example to show something about the Japanese design of the 1960s/1970s further then that there was no information about the Toot-A-Loop itself. In the second book we found, Radio Zeit by Isabel Brass, there was more information about the radio, but nothing we hadn’t read before.

That was something that surprised us, because books carry this magic trustworthiness with them, you should be able to find everything that you want to know in a book, at least that’s what we thought.


It’s strange that there is only limited information about such a popular radio on the internet and in the books. Maybe we should use our imagination to answers the remaining questions.

the research is a cooperation between Philipphine Bordeaux and Sena Abraham


Twist and turn over

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Starting with the research on architecture magazine ‘Wendingen’,

First I checked the context of this magazine in design history at Stedelijk.




Among the interior objects with distinctive decoration style,

the magazine was closely reacting with similar shape, form, and motifs.

Emphasizing emotional resonance and playful imagination, several

authors in the first issue of Wendingen criticized rationalists for

overly rigid and austere rules they apply in design. Published in Amsterdam

during 1918-1932, Wendingen mainly functioned as a mouthpiece of

architectural movement ‘Amsterdamse school’.

IMG_E1508 IMG_E1496


(Cover design by El Lissitzky / Michel de Klerk)

Amsterdamse school

‘Amsterdamse school’ is the design movement flourished from

1910 through 1930 in the Netherlands, with the advent of

industrialization in 19th century. It started with the aim to lift the

living condition of working class, covering from social housing complex, school,

church, bridge, monument to furniture, textile, objects. It’s playful, romantic

and organic style gave rise to expressionistic architecture.

Het Schip

Het schip is one of the most iconic buildings of Amsterdamse school.

It’s built as social housing complex,

currently used as museum of Amsterdamse school and residential building.

(Architect : Michel de Klerk)




Museum offers overview about history of public housing history of

Amsterdam with the feature timeline and audio/visual guide.

Main focus is settled on Amsterdamse school and magazine Wendingen,

IMG_2678 IMG_2717 IMG_2699



Amsterdamse school in Eindhoven

This movement was not only limited to Amsterdam.

We can also find Amsterdam School style constructions in other dutch cities.

Amid visiting Eindhoven for Dutch design week, I visited some buildings

constructed by the style of Amsterdamse school.


House built in 1924 after a design by F. Wolters. It is included in the

western street wall of the Markt, in the center of Eindhoven.



Dating from 1875, the building was originally a Van Gardinge cigar factory.

After closure of this factory in 1926, it converted into an apartment in 1927.

The only work by architect Van der Meij, One of the first dutch examples of

the reuse of industrial heritage.

Self-guided tour of Amsterdamse school architecture is possible

If you enter this website.


It is a website dedicated for Amsterdamse school, made and supported by

museum Het Schip. You can find digital image archive of buildings, bridges,

furniture, and artists of this movement.

I used information in this website as a foundation of my research plan.


Map around Gerrit Rietveld Academie with the Amsterdamse school spots.

Biking or walking around the city, I occasionally found some remarkable

buildings, bridges or sculptures that drew my attention. But I used to pass over

regarding it as just nice city design of Netherlands.

After this research, the perception about the city totally turned over.

The vague interest became clear, enabling myself to respect and

understand the city I moved in.

Bauhaus Tea

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

When I visited the Stedelijk Base, I looked at a very diverse range of objects. From colorful Kirchner paintings to the well-known Eams chair, but Christian Dell’s tea infuser from the Bauhaus collection particularly drew my attention for its small size and simplistic appearance. It is made from silver-plated brass and the part where you hold the object, the varnish is slightly worn off and damaged which gives it a precious look.

Christian Dell (1893 - 1974) tea infuser

Christian Dell (1893 – 1974) tea infuser (1924) at Stedelijk Base

While I was looking for other objects to potentially  base my research on, I started noticing that while people walked around, the tea infuser was overlooked a lot by everyone, so I decided to stick with the object.

Metal tea objects

Christian Dell worked as a foreman of the metal workshop at the Bauhaus in Weimar between 1922 to 1925. He was hired after Willy Schabbon and Alfred Kopka, who lasted there for a short time. When Christian Dell was hired, the metal workshop gained some needed stability. Still, not much is known about Christian Dell.  Only that Christian Dell was a very experienced silversmith and a skilled teacher.

Prior to the War he was at the Wiener Werkstätte in Vienna, producing metal tableware in an avant-garde and geometric style. At the Bauhaus metal workshop Dell’s work was completely absent of decoration and concentrated on the innovative use of geometric forms. He was mostly known for his highly innovative designs of lamps. So the tea infuser made me wonder how it came about that Christian Dell was the one who designed it. I fantasized about that his idea and goal were to give another light to the transparency of water.  But when I thought of the principles of Bauhaus I realized it probably meant much more than that.

Christian Dell, tea infuser at MoMa

Christian Dell, tea infuser at MoMa

Many questions began to flood my head. At first, I contemplated about the fact that tea was normally something for aristocrats in the times of colonialism when it was imported and which resulted in it being partially westernized. The fact that it was meant for the upper class made me aware of the obvious contradiction with the Bauhaus ideals. Besides that, I also found it very interesting how this small tea infuser brought me to think of big historic moments and political affairs. Maybe more so than the paintings shown by Piet Mondriaan and such. This partially because it is so self-evident and quite easy to integrate the object into your own life. Unlike a painting where you are immediately confronted with aesthetic issues and has no real  useful function in daily life.

The Bauhaus thought that the function of an object had to determine the shape and thus they found that decorative part of design was usually nonsense. Similar to the chair by Gerrit Rietveld. It is a kind of realism that they embrace, but also paradoxically utopian-abstract (based on the ideals and ideology of social democracy / communism) that was not realized at that time but would take place in the future.

Klee and Kandinsky drinking tea at Bauhaus

Klee and Kandinsky drinking tea at Bauhaus

The tea infuser from Christian Dell was made during the early 20th century when there was big political uncertainty and turmoil between Europe and Russia. Especially in Germany there was a lot of skepticism and poverty (Germany had to pay heavy war debts to the Allies after WWI), and particularly the young generation found itself disillusioned and in sort of a general identity crisis. That is why ‘Bauhaus’ was looking for certain creativity and design that would have a social impact, in the sense that it would improve the world.

So what does it mean today? This beauty vs functionality: the pedagogical function of the new way of doing business in the economy, making a product beautiful and useful for everyone, even for the less rich, an ideal that was the most prominent within the Bauhaus movement and is still resonating in our time.

Type in Space

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

In 1995, the graphic designer Zuzana Licko created the typeface
Modula Ribbed, a variation from the original Modula font :

Zuzana Lincko - Modula Ribbed

Then Guy Williams, made an 3D virtual interpretation of it with the program Alias, called Polymorphous : (see Dimensional Typography [x], J.Abbott Miller, 1996)


An former student of basic year, Suzanne Jensen, realized a 3D printed version of this letter as part of this research program back in 2016




The original version of Zuzana Licko already shows an interest around a 3D perspective. Flat but already shaped; round, but with a sharp feeling. As if Licko already had in her mind the physical sensation of this letter in her hands. Considering this, we even could imagine this one as the shadow of Suzanne Jensen’s object, realized years after. Surprising how the shadow come first, before the object.

Simple, efficient, and very particular, Licko’s « f » gives a lot of inspiration for who’s interested in 3D environment.

Guy Williams obviously got inspired by those multiple peaks, and came naturally to this virtual 3D representation, which doesn’t surprise next to the original one.

S. Jensen challenged to finally give this « f » a physical form. The next step for her was to think about the materials and a  technical realization : how to choose a material which gives the physical feeling expected through the previous examples, and how to realize it with a practical and efficient technique. The 3D printer was obviously the most clever solution, to get quickly if we can say, a first physical result.

On the basis of those 2D to 3D experiments, and the desire to give a physical touch to a letter, comes naturally a curiosity for the other way around. Observing our daily environment, well known from us as a 3D space where everything get a shape, a form, a touch. The thing is to get into the same processes as Licko, Williams and Jensen did : looking at the qualities given by the dimension we work on, to see how they can relate to another dimension. The idea isn’t really to get a space visually flat, to then guess typography on it, but to perceive letters as 3D objects. Doing so gives almost infinite possibilities, typography appears everywhere, as long as we make a visual effort and look through different points of view around a portion of a space.



In an apartment

p p2 p3 p4


As well as in nature

A skyline of colorful contrast talks in different shapes and by every millimeter i move my head a new letter appears by light incidence


A 2D surface already offers a lot of possibilities, considering that 3D got this 360° properties, we can imagine how far it can go. After looking around for  some time, the viewer get quite used, and letters pop up naturally to the eyes. They start to get bigger and bigger, as we don’t look only at human sized space and elements, notion of close and far disappear: buildings, trees, highways, clouds, …


blog fin

Looking up, there is a whole new language



Tuesday, May 22, 2018

UNIVERS REVOLVED is a three-dimensional alphabet consisting of 26 letters. It was created by Korean artist Ji Lee as an attempt to challenge and question conventional reading methods. With the Latin alphabet as the starting point Lee revolves the existing letters around themselves in a 360 degree using a 3D modeling program until they become symmetrical ‘objects’ which the user can arrange to form words and sentences readable from left-to-right, right-to-left, top-to-bottom and bottom-to-top, as well as using them to build sculptures, buildings or furniture. His project ‘3-D Chess Board was created to “add an extra dimension of physicality to the game’s battle field.” Lee combines learning with play. On one hand he wants to challenge the linear way in which we perceive and on the other he seeks to add a playful perspective, turning two-dimensional letters into three-dimensional objects which you can build and create with. (More about the importance of play in learning and building is to be found in Johan Huizinga’s book Homo Ludens). Similar to Lee’s 3D alphabet, graphic designer and illustrator Karl Nawrot uses a playful approach too, where “geometrical forms don’t confine themselves to neither the constraints of two dimensional paper nor the responsibility of representing something else”. This can be seen in several of his works and typefaces including the Bauhaus Type 2012 ,  Ghost(s) Writer or Stencils etc.


Example of words written with the typeface Universe Revolved


Karl Nawrot

Example of work by Karl Nawrot

Lee states that the linearity of reading, which we have adapted to as the reading standard, could be a possible limitation to extend our ability to perceive the world in different ways. While linearity offers a system to ease communication it also leaves out certain aspects for which our brains would be able to convey and interpret in their own ways. Linear means for something to be arranged in a straight, or nearly straight, line; a sequential progress of an order. An arrangement that provides the most ‘logical’ way to read, perceive and understand. Linear goes from A to B, B to C, C to D and so on. However there are plenty of examples of non-linear narratives as well. The early calligrams of Emil Bønnelycke and Guillaume Apollinaire, where written words are placed to form a visual image, to Tarantino movies where the scenes are jumping from one chapter to another and back again, almost resembling a circular structure. Although many mention-worthy novels, films and texts belongs in this category, it seems that linearity is reserved for formal matters whereas the non-linearity belongs to the narratives. And this exactly is what is so interesting about Lee’s Universe Revolved.

It could be that it’s either the linearity of which we learn or the mere lack of three dimensionality in most subjects such as literature, physics and mathematics that is the core problem. And if it’s applicable or not is hard to determine, as the linear methods do provide common ground for us to communicate and understand each other in the first place. Imagine if that was only the first step in the learning curve and that Lee and Huizinga’s ways of combining playing and learning was applied, not instead of, but in extend of this first step. Fora dyslexic or a person with dyscalculia it might be difficult to follow a course of which you have to make a logic sense out of a two-dimensional arrangement of letters or numbers, but if these subsets of alphanumeric had an actual, physical existence too, there would be a change for one to grasp, feel; sense these letters and numbers, not only for their logical purpose but for their potential as well. Take the Danish mega brand Lego for instance. The very name is a hybrid of the phrase ‘Leg Godt’ which translates to ‘Play Well’. The playfulness is incorporated in the very name, and though the various sizes and colors of the lego blocks don’t indicate a specific value, it’s possible for kids (and adults) to construct three-dimensional objects, letters, cities etc. in a way that makes sense for them.

For this research we have both made our separate attempts to interpret the Latin alphabet in a personal way. With tin foil and patience, WooRyun Song has created letters by grabbing and crumbling the foil into small, physical landscapes each one containing a different letter. Due to the chosen material it has reflective paths and shiny hills. When the letter A has been formed, you go to B, C, D until all letters has been given a physical existence. She then unfolded the roll of foil, stretching it slightly until it’s back to its two dimensional form. Using digital techniques, she made the last few steps to create a new font in this project called ‘From Plane to Line, From Line to Plane’, outlining the patterns and letter of the tin foil landscaped.

From-Plane-to-Line_1200       From Plane to Line, From Line to Plane

As for Sidsel Lehn Mehlsen, she used the video game Mine-craft (quite similar to the idea of Lego) to build sculptural letters in a virtual park. Inspired by Lee’s approach she revolved the letters around themselves, but unlike a full 360 degree the letters have only been extracted at 90 degrees angles, forming a cross when seen from above.

Skærmbillede-1_1200 Skærmbillede 2018-05-21 kl. 12.00.44

Skærmbillede 2018-05-21 kl. 11.59.05 Skærmbillede 2018-05-21 kl. 11.58.57

AZART (ART from A to Z)

Tuesday, May 22, 2018


Azart alphabet is designed by Guy Rombouts & Monica Droste

Guy Rombouts is trained as a printer-typographer. Since the seventies, he works on alternative communication systems.  According to Rombouts, direct communication is not possible because some ‘feelings’ cannot be expressed through our language. This is the main cause why he is searching for a system where form and content might coexist. which is an almost impossible goal to reach since every language is subjective and languages are constantly changing.  Guy Rombouts expands and questions what it means to communicate.

Link to Guy Rombouts lecture: [x]


In 1984, an abstract alphabet called AZART was finalized by him and his companion Monica Droste. There are few references that term alludes to:


•    AZ-Art, art from A to Z, art for art

•    French word hazard that means the coincidence

•    The Azart is Russian for inspiration or passion in the game

•    The bridges: Idea, Word, and Conscience. (pictures will be bellow)


Each letter correlates to:

 a line with the specific name,

the color that relates to the first letter of that color and sound

In Azart each letter is translated by a corresponding line, on the basis of the first letter of the word which describes the line.

A is angular, B is barred, C is curve, D is deviation and Z is a zigzag line.


Screenshot (541)Screenshot (564)




AZART alphabet is very much trying to make word physical or special. It combines letters into words as two-dimensional objects, instead of one-dimensional strings. According to Guy Rombouts, the use of color causes stronger affection between letters than in normal text. Just like in spoken language – where each sound influences the sounds preceding and following it – letters must adapt to their neighbors. This is way sentences appear as 3D characters. It creates an image in which each letter is replaced by a line.  When the lines are linked together forms and word as  images appear.

Azart words define themselves in a visual way




The Azart computer program was made after the alphabet’s completion. It visualizes the natural Azart writing activity and the method/principles how the words/sentences are communicated through Azart.


Screenshot (563)

you can create your own Azart word with the image link above:

On this website you can see a number of bridges designed by Guy Rombouts and Monica Droste. The serpent figures in the bridge railings forms a word.  Nine letter- or Word-bridges by artist couple, 1994. The Belgian artists designed a whole new alphabet, ‘ the regulation ‘, an image in which each letter Azart is replaced by a line. The squiggly figures in the bridge railings forms a Word.   Bridges to a  certain extend do refer to language they have same function – connection and comunication


Quotes from the interview of the witte Raaf (that in our opinion give some insight to approach that Rombouts has) :

Volledige interview:

‘De verwondering over het gewone; het feit dat wij het normale niet normaal vinden.’

‘The wonder of the ordinary; the fact that we normally do not find it normal. ‘

‘De alfabetische volgorde is een garantie voor neutraliteit, ze kent geen hiërarchie.’

‘The alphabetical order is a guarantee of neutrality, it has no hierarchy.’

‘Ik was gefascineerd door de spanning tussen woorden en dingen. Je hebt die strakke, lineaire lijst van 26 drieletterwoorden, die allemaal even lang zijn; maar de objecten zijn totaal verschillend.’

‘I was fascinated by the tension between words and things. You have that tight, linear list of 26 three-letter words, all of which are equally long; but the objects are completely different.’

‘Obsessies kunnen vervelend worden, vooral als je er niet zelf voor kiest. Als je zelf een obsessie kiest en daar tijdelijk inkruipt – als spel, ironie of knipoog – dan kan het heel ontspannend werken.’

‘Obsessions can become annoying, especially if you do not choose them yourself. If you choose an obsession yourself and temporarily sneak in – as a game, irony or wink – it can be very relaxing.’

‘Ik hou ervan dingen bijeen te brengen zonder ze vast te leggen. Dingen vastleggen is vreselijk. Ik probeer lijm te vermijden.’

‘I love to bring things together without recording them. Capturing things is terrible. I try to avoid glue.’

‘Er is niets zonder moeder. Zonder moeder bestaat niemand.’

‘There is nothing without a mother. No one exists without a mother.’



Pam: ‘I also composed a new alphabet with shapes that you can see above. I stood in the form of the letter that, in my opinion, represented the letter. After having been in this form I converted it to a computerized graphic letter. My alphabet is still from A-Z and you can read it in your own way. It was interesting to try out how I could use my body to create an alphabet and not to use the existing form.’



FOURFOLD Autonomous Scenography

Autonomous Scenography-project that started in 2014 by Meryem Bayram

Bayram’s artistic practice as visual artist and scenographyer explores the parallels between humans and their environment. Fourfold will be an interactive installation that challenges our conception of the known and the unknown, the rational and the irrational.

The  project is  a living encounter between Meryem and visual artist Guy Rombouts.  In this work her proposition of a space will be given as a gift to the body of the fellow artist . Guy`s response to it, his “unpacking¨of Meryem`s spatial gift will generate a core of the “Fourfold” event.   the communication between both artists extends the field of language+image and action. the ritual itself becomes a  form of communicating. Language is not only sound that comes out of your mouth it is also an act.



The Code of Imagination

Tuesday, May 22, 2018


During 3 weeks of design theory, we came across many different font types, some of which were far from understandable. Some of these abstract types surpassed the intelligible and had a whole coding system for themselves, in which every letter of the alphabet had a symbol of its own, which should be able to be coded and decoded in order to write and read text.
In it’s own special realm of this font families, there is a book that navigates the imaginary, it’s the Codex Seraphinianus.


text in the codex

text in the codex

It’s creator, Luigi Serafini , was an architect, designer and painter, who published the book in 1981. It took him around 30 months, between 1976 and 1978, in a single room apartment in Rome to create the 360 pages of this curious “encyclopedia
The book describes almost scientifically a different and strange world, reminiscent of our own planet but equally strange and obscurely abstract and unfamiliar. It is composed by two parts, one which seems to be about human science and a second about general nature, society and ruling structures of this foreign world.
The piece stands for itself, it should be seen as an art book that does have an explanation; it is extremely fantastic and creative with wondrous drawings and ideas, which stimulate your fantasies, and invite you to dream along its colorful and psychedelic illustrations.



At a first glance you will be taken through constant confusion, where referencing what you see from what you know from the natural world leads nowhere. The feeling it creates could be described as the one of a child, scrolling through an encyclopedia, believing that what is written makes sense but is not able to verify if true or not. The pictures are all that is left to rely on and are the actual source of the story telling going on through our heads.
Ever since its publication, this book stayed as a mystery; intellectuals from all disciplines have tried to “understand” and “decode” it. Despite the familiar characteristics of language like rhythm, repetitiveness, paragraphs and even punctuation, there has been no success on making sense of this “text”. It simply can’t be figured out, but why should it? What would the decoding of this alternative encyclopedia bring and why are the efforts centered in doing so? Which interpretation would be the correct/truthful one?


The Codex could be compared to the “Voynichmanuscript” (, written around 1450-1520, which is also also written in a code impossible to decipher and is illustrated with bright colored images of a scientific nature, just as in the Codex Seraphinianus.


The feeling the codex creates could be compared to Aldous Huxleys  “Brave New World” (;  a novel about an utopian or dystopian future where everything seems to be so great and neatly organized that it gets scary, and even though it is quite different from our world we see parallels that remind us on how easily our order can slip into the realms of suppression and absolute control, without us even noticing. The aesthetic of the world described in the Codex reminded me of this morbid perfection of the modern world.
In more general terms, the story of the interpretation, coding and decoding of the “Codex Seraphinianus” could maybe be compared as a more recent artistic Bible. “The Holy Book”, which sets a broad set of rules and explains stories through metaphors, could easily be compared since, for centuries, the scriptures have been read, analyzed, compared, re-written, interpreted and decoded by intellectuals and well as whole cultures and societies. But, which interpretation is the right one?


Interpretation is a key element to understanding, a fundamental capacity and force of the human essence. The reason for this need falls uncertain and as mysterious as the subject of this text, but somehow it’s force is so essential and true as any other basic necessity such as eating or reproducing, interpretation is key to learning, evolving, developing and creating, it is indeed inevitable and inescapable, nevertheless, when could we say an interpretation is true?
Plato, tried to explain the burdens/risks/nature of this issue, through what is probably the best known philosophical allegory. It’s the allegory of “The Cave”.

The Allegory of The Cave
People have always lived in a cave and haven’t seen the outside world. There is no natural light, and all the inhabitants can see are the shadows on the wall projected by the light of a fire. They are fascinated by the reflections, moreover they believe those shadows are real and if you concentrate, look and study them, you will understand and succeed in life. They don’t realize that they are looking at mere phantoms.
One day by chance, someone discovers a way out of the cave. At first he is simply overwhelmed and dazzled by the sunshine in which everything is for the fist time properly illuminated, and once his eyes adjust to the light, he encounters the true forms of the shadows he had been seeing on the cave. Previously he had been looking merely at phantoms, but now, he is nearer to the true nature of being.


When the cave dweller crawls back into the cave, he is confused by the dark setting of his previously familiar space. Confused, he tries to explain his co-habitants about what he just saw and discovered, about the truth he had witnessed. At first, the other cave dwellers don’t understand his ideas, they believe he is being sarcastic and at some point, even plot to kill him.
This allegory is a symbolic explanation of philosophy and humanity; Cave dwellers are humans before philosophy, the sun the light of reason, and the messenger a philosopher (and what happens to the messenger, is what truth tellers can expect when they take their knowledge back to people).
This allegory is a warning as well as an explanation about the risks of pursuing the truth, of thinking and exploring, but, where does the force of wanting to understand, to think, to decode and understand come from? Science is maybe busy trying to find the truth of things, while art is maybe one of the fields looking to solve the bigger question, WHY?


It is believed that the Codex Seraphinianus doesn’t have a purpose, but do purposeless things mean nothing? Is the same to make an incomprehensible statement than making no statement at all?
In art and out contemporary times this is a burning question looking for an answer. E.g. What is tho be expected from a stone carver artist today?
Stone Carver: I want people to see that I pushed the material as far as I can possibly go. I maybe want people to see themselves in it. Maybe that they wonder about my reasons for carving it. I want them to argue about why did I make it the way I did and maybe have different ideas of what the reason and its purpose is.


Philosophy as seen by Plato and many others, is a practice that will teach us to live and die well, some sort of therapy for the soul. Pieces like the Codex Seraphinianus, despite it’s attractive and superficial nonsense take a stand towards curiosity, imagination and discussion. It encourages doubt and reflection, study and analysis, key element to critical thinking and human/personal/intellectual development but most important, it encourages imagination.
The book gives us back that brave imagination of a child, that creates the story itself by looking at images and assuming what is written. The book is an invitation, to exercise our imagination again, another time, its another chance for the adult to go back to the golden age of childhood, before going to school.
Weather its real significance has, will or had ever existed shouldn’t be the main focus, instead, we should appreciate the process of adapting our eyes to the light and be courageous enough to be doubtful and think, go out of the cave even if what we see is confusing, truthful or not.


codex seraphinianus1



Before the first day of this world …

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

in the beginning

Before the beginning  of everything, there was only the unity of nothing
Within this nothingness, everything was in its total infinite potential

this particular representation comes from "The book of the netherworld" 14th century B.C.

Ancient beliefs say that   ….   Before the first day of this world
The Oneness just was, eternal, immobile, perfect, silent and harmonious.
  In its timeless existence , the Oneness, to experience itself, in all its realms of possibilities, decided to manifest itself in this world of dualities . A dress for nothing that is everything. A universe of dividable appearances, that are manifestation of one indivisible essence.

These ancient beliefs tell that  …  before the beginning
 the holy Oneness , was meditating on how to begin .

as there was only one nothingness , in which everything was in its total infinite potential, also the letters were in there total spiritual infinite potential, and the unity of the alphabet, represented all the possible realms of
a possible everything.
During the creating process of a everything, all realms of possibilities, represented by the letters, would have become manifest, so before the first day of this world , all letters proposed them self to the Holy Oneness, as realm through which beginning the world.

Six letters were chosen, to compose the first word of the world

in the beginning

In the beginning




was chosen as first letter, of the first word of the world; the realm through which the world has been formed is : blessing.
Bet is the container for blessing.
It represents duality, a one that contains two things joined together,
-one capable of being revealed , one shrouded in mystery-
. One appearance and one essence, generated by one unity .

Bet is the essential structure of our world,
a world where all possibilities can be.

-Bet means dwelling place, house, home-
Bet is a house in which all dualities are at home, where the essence is manifest in all its possibilities , our world .

But Bet, can be fully understood , only through



Aleph is the central letter of the first word of the world, and the first letter of the ancient alphabet.
The realm of Aleph is Oneness , the dimension of pure existence, of the goodliness, of eternal and perfect beauty.
-the pulsating unbridled force of the being of the Oneness-
Only through Aleph (the unity behind duality) , we can understand Bet ( the founding structure of our universe of dualities ) .
Only through being the unity, we can understand the duality of our existence.
It’s by being the essence, that we can fully be overwhelmed by the beauty of every manifestation of appearance.

Ancient beliefs, say that before the beginning of the world,
there was one, perfect, silent, immobile nothingness.

then came the beginning
-the creating process, which always is, which always is beginning ,and always will be beginning, that began with  –

in the beginning

Again and again, the gothic.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Gothic Fraktur is a typeface that has been used in many different contexts ever since it arose in the early 16th century. Fraktur loans its name from its broken up characteristic. Compared to the smooth curves of other calligraphic typefaces, the Fraktur has many angles and letters stand more independently in relation to others around them.

What intrigues us about the typeface is that it has been picked up by various social groups with contrary beliefs, that have used the typeface as part of their identity; which can be quite confusing, two opposite groups with different values and focusses using the same typeface for expressing themselves. We were wondering in what ways the identity of objects and public spaces surrounding us would be affected by incorporating the gothic fraktur typeface in and on them.

Everything around us is focussed on being modern and looking towards the future, and the fraktur typeface is one that represents craft and passed times. On the other hand something we have observed in our surroundings, is that people have an interest in more traditional artisanal products and have a new found appreciation for the past. We see this coming up in brand design of products but also the interest in vintage design. To us it makes sense that this is an aftereffect of living in a fast paced society that is always living in the tomorrow, and artisanal design and craft give people a nostalgia that they may never have experienced.

Typeface design and identity plays with references as certain forms can relate to modernity, the past, technology or artisan and by using a typography you can direct a product or public space into certain contexts containing certain associations.


Apple pie Fraktur


This apple pie may not be artisanal and fresh, however after changing the title by using the Fraktur, the pie seems a bit nicer to me. I would expect this pie to be made with fresh creamy butter and a lot of cinnamon, whereas before I saw it as a pie that would taste a bit artificial maybe, due to its shiny coating.




Chocomel, de enige echte

I usually like drinking chocolate drinks in the winter, because they have more calories than petrol. My depiction of a chocolate drink is chilling outside in the cold, in the winter, or inside, watching a 1960’s cartoon,  and therefore it accepts Gothic Fraktur very well, and what I also liked is the fact that the Fraktur worked well with colors in this case, which is something I didn’t quite expect.



Singel bord fraktur

Singel street sign in the Centre of Amsterdam

The Fraktur typeface looks quite good on the street signs of Amsterdam, especially the signs in the center that are a bit older. I think if I would have seen this picture, I might not have noticed it wasn’t the actual typeface of the sign. On a closer look, this typeface would never be used in Amsterdam. Being a country that has been shaped quite strongly by modernist design, you wouldn’t see a Gothic typeface being implemented as a design decision in any public sphere.




BBQ Runder Kebabspiesjes

The barbeque kebab worked to the extend that it is meat, but to me it doesn’t look like very high quality meat, yet packaging design can bring a change, but people will feel like they have been lied to, since they expect the packaging design to follow the quality, and therefore typeface is also a very important player, since it gives a reference, besides the very packaging.




Delta Loyd Building in Amsterdam

For some reason, the postmodernist buildings accept typefaces pretty well, at least in my opinion. Maybe the building accepted it so well, because there is no frame, and the building’s facade is a background of the logo which is made out of typefaces, instead of the logo having a background, which is then put on the background which is the building itself.  Therefore, if I had a 3D option, I think I would have been able to give a much better impression of what I wanted to do.



Red bull fraktur


I was quite curious if the type would work on a can of Redbull, I could see certain teenagers who would wear hoodies with text in Gothic typefaces also drinking Redbull. It works quite okay, it isn’t the best choice for a drink that promotes itself as an energy booster, however I expected it to not work at all. I think this typography is quite versatile, it can get away with being used for so many different purposes without immediately questioning the identity of the product or context.


In practice, we can choose any typeface for anything, but in our minds it wouldn’t always make sense. Typography and logo design speak, and they are something that give us a bigger picture of the meaning of a logo through references and comparison. A logo can consist of forms, but also of typefaces, where the letters are the carriers of the form, design and message. Some newspapers have very little colour which cause them to lean more towards the content. Meanwhile, Newspapers can also be in colour and they are usually combined with explosive designs where the image is a more relevant factor in reporting. Of course, there still are newspapers with Gothic Fraktur typography that try to show more research oriented journalism, where the text is of main importance.

Thus here we come to a conclusion that a typeface in combination with colours can change the meaning of words and how you perceive something, for example the logos of brands of water depending of its typeface, it will tell you what they’re trying to sell you and what you want to buy. The same way you want beer to be written in the way you will think: This is it.

The public space usually accepts it pretty well. In smaller sizes, but also on bigger, on all heights, and on different heights it had a different effect. Also, to me the angle and the place influence the choice of the colors. I think it works well on 1890s Amsterdam architecture, but then everything would look very neat, but I think that the city has a very neat design, and an element as a different era typeface can bring a change in the space and break the feeling of only one correct answer.

Sometimes more practical ways for doing things are found, but the practicality would not be compatible with what is trying to be advertised to us.


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