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Donald Judd, Chair


Saturday, December 15, 2018

Donald Judd, Chair

By Mara-Luna & Sharan

Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam

While walking around De Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam we got the assignment to select one design object out of the Base Collection of the Stedelijk Museum. This object would become our subject for a research about the different approach on information of different media such as the Internet, magazines, books and others.

The selection procedure was not an easy assignment. In some occasions we misinterpreted an artwork for a design work and visa versa. After a search of a few hours we both selected, by coincident, the same object, which was the “Chairs/Ameublement” by Donald Judd. The simple square shapes and the miner variations of the three chairs exhibited caught our attention.

Donald Judd is an American artist and designer most famously known for his minimalist works. Judd is, from origin, an artist and started designing furniture after he moved from Soho, New York to Marfa in 1973, Judd was unsatisfied with the furniture available at the local stores and so he started to build his own furniture such as the beds for his children and tables and chairs for his new home.

Children’s bed

His beautifully and most off all simplistic designed chairs, mostly made out of wood, are easily recognizable due to their primary colours and simple ‘practical’ squared shapes just as other works/furniture he made.

At the very beginning of our research, we started comparing articles of the internet.The first thing we noticed was the difference in the writing style.

In the articles we found on the internet most of the writers played around loosely with their chosen words and used a somewhat simple vocabulary in talking about the work. In the books there was a ‘deeper’ approach to the work of Donald Judd. The books, such as A good chair is a good chair give different insights to his works. There are more comparisons made and different people like curators review his work. This could in the end be seen as a broader perspective on his work.

During our research we stumbled across a great blog at the Rietveld Design Blog.  In this blog the writer explains how to make one of Judd’s chairs from scratch and shows the process step by step. It was interesting to have this absolutely different approach in the research. It gave us an opportunity to dive into Judd’s practicality in the making process of the chairs.

Donald Judd himself mostly describes his furniture in his essays just simply in how they were made and why; the why as in choice of material, shape and space. Not much words are spend on the ‘idea behind’ the chair.

While on the internet – and also in books written about him- his chairs are way more described following the concept of his work and the philosophy of Judd in general.

I think Donald Judd very much wanted to make clear in his specific objects/furniture and in his choice of ‘explaining’ them that the chairs exist as themselves and nothing more than that.

In that sense it was interesting to find this different attitudes in the media we encountered during the research. We found that in everything there is written about, or by Judd himself, there is a certain tension of ‘what can be said and what not’ considering his chairs are, as he says ‘just chairs’.

This also brings us to an interesting other subject within Judd’s approach to his work; the fact that Judd used all his furniture in his own home. He uses his chairs (could we call it his art?) as the chairs that we also use in our home. Just like all the other furniture.

Before we started this research I (Sharan) had planned a trip to New York for during our autumn brake. I did not want to let this great chance go by to also pay a visit the Donald Judd foundation in SoHo New York. Luckily enough there was still one spot available to visit this beautiful and interesting building.

Judd Foundation

 

The building that Judd and his family called home for many years used to be on old sewing factory. Its huge open plan floors, massive windows and high ceiling’s are heaven for any artist to think, create, live and of course host friends and fellow artists.

 

Up on arrival a friendly lady who was our guide for today greeted me. At the ground floor a few paintings by Judd and Manifest Destiny by Carl Andre were exhibited.  We were kindly asked to take a seat on one of Judd’s iconic chairs.

After a small introduction we were guided around the building. The foundation was a very interesting place to visit but I have to say it did really feel like a museum and didn’t fulfill my curiosity. Overall the tour was very sterile and it seemed like the building had lost its living soul and had become purely an exhibition space.

So we can see his work everywhere, even touch it in his own home.  We can all read and talk about it, and have an opinion. The internet gives you words and pictures, the books give you insight and a place in art / design history. We have seen it in the Stedelijk Museum for the first time; no words, no touching, no history.  Just three chairs, in a museum.

The chairs Judd designed are still for sale at the Donald Judd Foundation for the casual sum of almost $3000,-  https://judd.furniture/#chairs-stools

Iuvenis


Thursday, December 6, 2018

It drawn me to it. The cobalt blue colour emphasised the youthfulness of the imagery. The face was almost life sized, as if it wanted me to adore it and venerate the look in the eyes that told an enigmatic, coming to age story. A portrait of a working class, white, young man was gazing at me with his presumably blue eyes, covering almost the entire cover of the magazine. The image was beautifully screen printed with a raster. In a very strong looking font ‘’WERKER’’ was written above the flat cap of the lad. Immediately my mind started working – adolescent, masculine, boyish, Adonis. It was a very obvious attraction for me, as if the cover invited the spectator to get this aroused feeling of the sexualisation of a worker class lad.
As I’m browsing through the pages, the the layout comes across very nineties. It has a playful way of displaying titles, articles, text and images. But above all, it is a very smart moves that lies immediately the focus of the context of the magazine: young man. The structural slogans that are prominently coming back in the magazine, combined with the grainy images of young men and their body parts it gives the layout a feel of protest, anarchy but also youthfulness that keeps coming back as a theme. This combination is of the archiving layout and the strong images that are yet quite sexually intended are making everything stronger. It captures the underlying beauty of vital lads back in the day. It also reminds the spectator, by pulling the archiving trick, that now we can see them as more than just the middle class. It let my mind fantasise about these adolescent boys in a non embarrassing way. The mystery and subtle beauty, packed in something strong and masculine, let my eyes legitimise the scanning and the browsing at the photos. I wish I had a worker class boy by my side.

Indulgence at the beach


Thursday, December 6, 2018

Keeping my keywords in mind I drifted around during two afternoons, allowed myself to get a bit more ’lost’ in the library.

This book was squeezed in tight between other books on the shelf, but that only made it stand out more. I noticed its crooked pages seen from the top, making an interesting pattern.

I recognize the look of those pages. I feel like I know them well.
It is clear that this book at some point have been soaked completely wet in the top. And after the drying the pages now take on this beautiful soft curve, reminding me instantly of rivers. Somehow once material have been soaked it always leave a trace of water.

Clear nostalgia, I have tried it myself. Being caught in the rain with school books, drying them in frantic desperation on radiators and in front of the fireplace.
By instinct I smelled the book. Not took bad for being drenched! I only got a fragile musky scent from its pages.

I almost laughed out loud when I finally saw the books cover in all its glory: A tilted shoot; blue skies over a crystal blue ocean, a wave spilling over perfect white sand. In the sand a heart is drawn, and the flamboyant bold letters “LIQUID LOVE” is plastered in the middle.
Incredibly kitsch and yet irresistibly charming. –I both love and hate it.
I mean – who came up with that idea? For what reason? Amazing, I was stunned in full five minutes taking in the glory of the scenery.
It is clearly a book with personality.

Scenes like this are quite ionic. The island ‘paradise’. Blue skies, ocean, alone on a welcoming beach. The heart is really what makes this over the top – a sign of silly, clumsy first love. Desperate to prove itself and has to take form as initials carved into trees and hearts traces in the sand. And then you can watch as the ocean swallows it.

Then title in itself is quite spectacular “LIQUID LOVE”. The ultimate seduction, dripping from the title with desire. A love that is liquid, able to sneak in anywhere, binding, making you captured in its grasp.

By making this third choice I reveal my own fascinations. When choosing a books; wear, fragility and imperfections intrigues my curiosity and help me create a personality in which I can indulge.

 

This book can be found at: 305.9 bau 1.

Sun Bathing Serifs


Thursday, December 6, 2018

The boring becoming bold, the extravagant turning average. The library’s context has the power to change the appearance of each individual book. 

My last tag word ‘seduction’ resulted in the “The Pleasure of the Text”. A rather thin book, with the linking tag word as its main subject. And to admit, this is the most seducing copies I have seen during my Quest so far. Its beige cover contains the names of the author, title and translator. Each name centrally positioned and written in classical typeface. I remember talking about this daring design approach in Art Theory class; the rigorous use of classicism in an age of uncentered cacophony.

The title and author’s name are written on the spine, covering the top two thirds of its space. It looks like the book’s designer respectfully left enough space for a library-sticker to be added on its lower third part. The letters give a sense of monumentalism, probably because they’re all written in capital letters. This book is small, has only 67 pages, but seems to express importance and something all-compassing. Is if it contains words of the Bible, or the Tao Te Ching.

To me, the feeling of seduction grows out of its minimal means: the simple action of printing ink on paper, black on white. Simple rules created by human beings offering millions of possibilities and meanings. 

While in search for this book, I initially looked up its cover online before picking it up at the library. Just so I would maybe recognize it faster inside the library. It looked different online. The original title “Le Plaisir du Texte” was written in a smaller typeface. Also, the name of the translator was missing (because obsolete). This created a sense of generosity by the amount of extra empty space surrounding each word. They were given more focus and therefore value.

The letters of the current book I have in front of me are more frivolous, and seem to almost touch each other. The ‘h’s’, ’T’s and ‘l’s’ seem to tickle the lines above and below. The text pleasures itself.

Because of aging and exposure to light, the cover’s background color turned from white to beige. I imagine this book is left in the sun often by its temporary owners – I imagine them taking a break from the pleasure the words give them during their holidays on the beach. Absorbing the sun like they absorbed the text.

 

803.1 bar 1

 

 

NEW BOOK NEW ME


Monday, December 3, 2018

Is incomprehensiveness  my biggest criteria when I chose a book? I tend to always go for the books with a cover that leaves you clueless. I guess that summarizes what I find interesting in life ( especially art) very well.  Preferably a title you cannot really read. The last book I chose had a title which you after a while could read; “BART VAN DER LECK”. The typo of the title kind of reminded me of braille, which was something I liked about the other book I chose last time. The idea of incorporating braille as a typo for those who can see really intrigued me eastaticly, and I guess that affected me when I chose this book.

 

Compared to the previous books I have chosen, this one actually has a few geometric figures of colors on its cover (wow?). I am currently in a state of mind when I question the aesthetics I usually opt for, which affects my choice of clothes, music and in this case books. The book is still very simple and black and white, but the few colors makes it stand out a bit to the other books I have chosen so far. I guess I am taking small steps at the time in order to explore the new me. To be continued…The small geometric shapes reminds me of playful blocks, which gives a naive, yet sophisticated and graphic impression. I feel delighted when I look at the cover, but not too delighted. A perfect in the middle for someone like me.

Anonymity was extra present in the cover of this book. It didn’t really say so much about the man Bart Van Der Leck. Usually I think that anonymity and mysteriousity can tell me more about something than when you make a clear statement, but this time the anonymity just made me feel blank. I’m not really sure why since the book look very much alike my previous choices. Maybe my current confusing state of mind just feel tired of all this mysteriousity I have surrounded myself with.

Leck 5

 

Black.


Saturday, December 1, 2018

Part 3

The book I chose this time is fairly different from the last two.

I think the reason why is because I added the tag : “Oma” which gave it a different spin.

Pink wasn’t relevant anymore and now I was looking for something more “serieus “ ( in my eyes ).

Something that would interest my grandma ; culture, black , photography ; in particular portraits.

It was hard since we could not choose from the design section this time and my grandma owns a few Asian artworks that are considered design; things such as old Asian jewellery.

The way I had searched for a book was by looking for books with the colour pink but now pink wasn’t anything near my grandma.

So the next step was to find something that had to do with photography ; but the books were not placed on subject but on name and god o god o god I had no clue.

Since my gran loves the colour black; clothing, furniture , nail polish, makeup etc, I started looking at books with a black cover.

Then I found the right book, it was not at all something I could find in my grandma’s house but still something that reminded me of my gran.

Black, cultured, portraits and photographs.

But most important, it interested me a lot.

Now I’ve borrowed this book from the library and read it from the beginning until the end and from the end until the beginning I can conclude that I’m a little conflicted whether this book connects to the others at all.

I’ll take it step by step.

  1. Fashionable: Yes, I think it’s fashionable since the people and the way they dress inspires me a lot and in a way they are fashionable, so I do believe this is the case.
  2. Difference: No, at first I thought ok this is different; it shows the differences between the people who are portraited in the book. But when I was done “reading” it I found out that they have more in common than they have in difference. I had this feeling of solidarity when I was done. So I think I’ll change that tag to solidarity instead of difference.
  3. Oma: Yes this book reminds me very much of my grandma, I already explained why so there’s no need to repeat myself.

But the thing is that I find it more emotionally loaded than fashionable. So I’ll change that too.

I think I’ve might done everything too much in a hurry.

Or I just connect books way to easily to some other things.

Might just be that.

 

Anyways.

Hereby: in common, emotionally loaded and oma.

 

INCOMPREHENSIVE TITEL


Thursday, November 29, 2018

I had difficulties reading the title, which made me pick up the book in the first place. Different kinds of black letters which reminded me of the graphic bauhaus logo. Since I am a pretentious, yet troublesome, art kid I had listened to some bauhaus earlier that day, which might have affected my interest in trying to read the title. Though it was impossible to read the title without knowing what was actually written. Thankfully the title was also written with bold letters in the bottom of the left corner; “JURRIAAN SCHROFER (1926 – 90) Restless typographer”.

 

This intrigued me to know more about this Jurriaan Schrofer. Why would someone choose a typo for the cover of a book, which you cannot read in the first place and in what way is this man restless?

 

I tried to get some more information about this book by looking at the backside, where you usually see some information, or a short summary about the book. But it was just the same incomprehensive letters, but this time reversed. A cool way of dealing with the backspace of a book, respect! Not being able to fully understand what the book really was about intrigued me even more to choose it, I wanted to know what it was all about.

 

I liked the binding of the book, a japanese binding, which you very rarely see in a bookstore or library. The pages are put together with a special way of stitching, which I find very aesthetically pleasing to look at. It looks homemade yet professional at the same time. I want to learn how to bind books that way. The japanese binding of the binding also gives the impression of a exclusive and a bit luxurious, like “this is not an ordinary book you are holding in your hand”. And just like everyone else I want to feel special every now and then.

 

757.3 sch

A soft seduction


Thursday, November 29, 2018

I looked up books with my first keyword: soft.
Soon I got guided to the first floor in the library section 779,0 .

It was my first time in that section of the library, and that somehow made it feel like an adventure. A search for something I didn’t even know yet.
The section is all about textiles, wowing, carpets and all subjects related to fabrics. That pleased me, and I would occasionally take out a book I found interesting.

But then as I was gliding my hands though the shelf, I found it: A soft velvet book, in the shade of deep marron red. “De fluwelen verleiding” by Hans ferrée.

My immediately impression of the book reminded me a lot of my previous choice. A5, slim and with an unfamiliar language on the cover.
But the more I looked the more it gained its own personality and charm.
It makes quite an impression: velvet make one think of value and the rich cursive letter speaks of abundance. It claims your attention – this book is far from modest.

The nature of the velvet welcomes you. It felt like it had been waiting there for me, begging to be touched. The color made it immediately important – royal.  Such a deep red color gives it a certain association with power, history, strong emotions, and even a touch of danger – a blood red warning. A glimpse of fobidden fruit.

The title “De fluwelen verleiding” is written in clear-white cursive and quite demanding, as the take on a certain space on the cover. The text quickly realized to be Dutch by Henk Groenendijk, and translated to: “The velvet seduction”. Amazing. Suddenly the book seems more erotic and sensual.

In the middle of the front there is an odd symbol: an interesting graphic mark in black and white. It is the only shiny part of the book, which only adds to the mystery. The pattern of the mark reminds me of a small carpet on a loom. A quite nostalgic feel.

The back is without words, as to say that red velvet is enough information, and the spine quite worn, the letters almost dissolved. Maybe from the tool of time, or maybe from greedy hands?

You could imagine such a book to be too much – distasteful and kitsch.
But for me it is quite the opposite. I see this book as a classic.

779,0 fer 1.

Grey Hypocrisy


Thursday, November 29, 2018

Continuing my Quest for the Dull. I did not find any books by the tagwords connected to my previous result: ’Boring’ or ‘Seductive’. Only the third and less subjective ‘Interior Architecture’ gave a match. Though, this match wasn’t the ‘right’ book for me, in the sense that it was maybe too mediocre, but its neighboring book did catch my eye. It looked kind of dull, but at the same time demanded an autonomous authority. Not so dull after all, and therefore forcing me to adapt the definition of my Quest. Perhaps it was the rather small size (15 x 15 cm.), or the textless spine. I realized how the blanco spine is actually quite a sensation in this library, considering that most books contain either a title, some text or other imagery on this part the book. At the same time did this book blend in well with the rest. Just like all other copies, it is plasticized, and then some: front, back, top, bottom – everything drenched in the monotonous clammy layer by the name of adhesive cellophane. A perfect recipe for blending in, at least in the world of books.

Even though this grey square of about 50 sheets of paper could be considered boring, there are a few elements that make this otherwise invisible copy stand out by its demand for adapted care-taking. For example, the thinness of the book made it impossible for the librarian to place the code sticker in its entirety on the spine, the rest of it had to be placed on the cover. I can imagine when doing this job, the irregularity of books like this is quite bothersome. A visual rupture in the repetitive rhythm of the surrounding stickers. Besides, because of this invisibility, it is harder for a person wanting to look up a book only by the code he/she was given by the library’s database. Maybe that’s why I was drawn to it, the code was missing, or at least not visible at first sight. Maybe that’s why this book has this size; it only wants to be noticed by people who don’t follow the code, but choose by its appearance only. A stubborn little fella, this “cDIM Valencia”. Hypocritical even. Its innocent appearance, yet sneaky way of asking for attention.

774.4 cat 17

Oma’s aan de top het feesten kan niet op met oma’s aan de top.


Monday, November 26, 2018

Part 2

In English.

I wrote the first part of this assignment in Dutch because I can express myself way better in my mother tongue than in a language I’ve mostly learned from the webs.

And I have to be honest with you; I’m terrible at grammar.

Anyways.

Here’s the deal.

The assignment was to find a book that covered all the tags (preferably) from the previous book we choose from the library.

Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

Well, for me it was an easy one man’s one minds one seconds job.

My tags from the previous book were; pink, fashionable and difference.

Since the last book caught my attention by its colour; pink. Had me at the fashion and identity and since it was a timeline to show the difference between the different years I choose difference.

Which are, of course subjective tags since they have something to do with my opinion.

To get back to the way it worked out for me; I immediately figured that the most fashionable things are to be found in the fashion section.

It can differ from person to person but for me it’s fashion that’s fashionable.

I choose the same strategy: keep your eyes open for the colour pink and then I wanted something that had difference in it, keep in mind: I was not looking for a timeline.

My eyes caught a book that contained some pink spots and a pink brand name; now I did not know what was written about the subject precisely, but I knew Barbie.

The book I choose almost in a split second is a book about Barbie in different time areas and different clothing styles and I could not Imagine a book that would fit better than this one.

This is a book too that concerns my heart and reminds me of my grandma big time.

She collects old barbie dolls and makes them clothes, I once got a vintage barbie myself and a book about 50 years of barbie.

Plus; I played a lot with the barbies when I was younger. Maybe these factors effected my brain a little.

But I’ve got to say this;

I’m happy that my mind leads me to what I like (which is not weird at all and very logical). I forgot that your brain is an unconscious piece of mush hand that’s great.

So hereby; I’ll add one tag;

Oma.

gerrit rietveld academie library : catalog no. 906.6-jac-1

I-dentity


Monday, November 26, 2018

Ik snap een hele boel niet en mensen snappen het niet als ik zeg dat ik een hele boel niet snap. Ik bedoel er ook niet mee dat ik het serieus niet snap; eigenlijk bedoel ik dat ik een vreselijk verward en chaotisch persoon ben en dat ik mij nooit ooit goed kan focussen op iets. Dat heeft natuurlijk heerlijk geholpen bij het uitzoeken van een boekje omdat wij een boek moesten uitkiezen vanuit ons innerlijke gevoel. En mijn innerlijke gevoel en innerlijk leven schreeuwt; kies op kleur liefje. Dat deed ik ook. Dit was een eitje voor mij; aangezien ik altijd een boek uitzoek doormiddel van de kaft en letterlijk bijna nooit een boek met een lelijke kaft koop. Dus ging ik maar met de meest hippe kleur van 2018; roze, want ik volg de trend en ik vind het genieten. Ik greep met mijn zweterige knuisjes naar het lekkere boekje en voelde meteen dat het asmr voor mijn hand was. Sommige boeken die kan je zo verrukkelijk bewegen en dan maken ze ook een vol-boek geluid; waar ik persoonlijk uren naar kan luisteren. Flexibel en sexy. Gadver nee een boek sexy noemen is echt iets waar mensen voor opgepakt moeten worden. In ieder geval pakte ik het boek op en liep ik er een paar jaren mee rond terwijl ik verder opzoek ging. Boek na boek na boek na boek na boek na boek en ik bleef met dat ene boek ‘wat eigenlijk een van mijn eerste keuzes was’ rond paraderen. Het boek was ondertussen mijn lichaamstempratuur geworden en zodra ik dat opmerkten bedacht ik; lol, deze wordt ‘em bitches. Hij werd het dus. Natuuuuuurlijk ging ik erin bladeren; om precies te zijn heb ik het hele boek bekeken op weg naar mijn huis; ong 1;30 min; omdat het een easy read was, daar mee bedoel ik: Geen tekst en alleen maar plaatjes en ik vond hét echt leuk, nul spijt van mijn keuzen want het boek is van i-D; een magazine over identiteit en vooral identiteit onder jonge mensen. Ik moet nu wel een klein beetje uitleggen wat de inhoud is om te kunnen uitleggen waarom ik het leuk vind. Het is een boek met de tijdlijn van i-D van tachtiger jaren tot en met 2000. Elke bladzijde is de voorkant van i-D of iets typerend van die tijd met een toepasselijke quote van een persoon die in die tijd beroemd was. Nu kom ik op waarom ik het leuk vind; Ik hou van tijdlijnen, verschillen tussen ideeën van de tijd bekijken, mensen kijken en ik hou enorm enorm van verschillende soorten stijlen bekijken en gewoon een beetje plaatjes loeren. Daarbij kwam ook dat mijn favoriete actrice die groot was in de jaren 80 door de film Betty Blue er ook in zat en daarmee was het voor mij eigenlijk al priem. Kortom; geen spijt van mijn keuzen, geen spijt at all. Groetjos Minnon.

gerrit rietveld academie library : catalog no. 754.5-jon-1

Beige Seduction


Thursday, November 22, 2018

What book to pick in an art academy’s library? Each one so carefully designed, asking for individual attention and therefor disappear into an abundance of ‘designiness’. It makes me long for the boring book that could potentially surprise me with its content. Perhaps one of those plastic file folders on the top shelves hide some curiosity. Unfortunately, I find out that these are not for students to be looked into – the Quest for Boringness continues. My eyes are caught by a book with a textless beige spine, carrying only the library’s tag: “718.6 pov. 1”.

The color is more band-Aid like beige; it would blend in well with my skin, or my grandmother’s sweater. The surface is slightly textured, but the book’s front has been plasticized by the library for protection. To me, this adds to the sensation of monotony, since so many other books were treated the same way. All individual books have been esthetically democratized by this layer of plastic. This endangers even the most exotic looking book to drown in a pool of textureless mass. This book’s only unique touch might be its shape, which, unlike most surrounding books, is wider then it is tall. Nevertheless, it still hasn’t excited me. Bingo.

Flipping through its pages, I see prints of black and white photographs depicting shop windows, -interiors and -facades. Repeatedly placed on every other page, accompanied with a short description. These photos focus on the design (architecture) that is used to sell other design (product). These designs are made to lure the viewer in; not by their boringness, but their promise of exclusivity. Not much unlike these books in the library. In search for the dull, I ended up with a book about seduction and exclusivity.

I’m quite fascinated by these images. Maybe because I once worked as a sales assistant in a luxury fashion store. A frequent visitor was a well-known Dutch architect, whose experience in designing various (Prada) stores apparently made him a valid person to complain about our bad lighting system. It was too yellow and not bright enough. However, I think he kept visiting our store for its unpretentious appeal; no overly designed cabinets, shelves or fancy lighting systems. A store with a no-nonsense atmosphere; selling quality products through quality service. Like a boring book with neat photographs.

code: 718.6 pov. 1

 

 

Softness of the alphabet


Thursday, November 22, 2018

 

In the library, I was first overwhelmed by the fact that I had to make a choice.

Because of my mood, I was drawn to all the books which seemed to hold a certain amount of history – in other words, old and mysterious.
I was lingering at a big blue book with no inscriptions, when I first saw it:

SCHRIFTKUNDE, SCHREIBÛBUNGEN UND SKIZZIEREN
Ein kleines Lehrbuch der Schrift für Setzer und Graphiker
– Von Jan Tschichold
Almost too thin to be of any importance. A5, 77 pages, and rather uneven around the edges. The color is a light slightly yellow brown, the main title in black capital letters and the further inscription in dark toned orange cursive.

Maybe I felt a bit of myself reflected in the design, or maybe I was drawn by the nostalgia and romance I often ascribe to objects which are a bit ‘old-fashioned’.  A weakness of mine.

Immediately I felt the need to give this book a certain personification.
To claim that this book has a character, and with it a history hidden in its scruffy pages.  It is almost stoic, with its simple design.
Moderate, German = serious, important.

The plastic cover for protection is exhausted, and has been repaired, giving the book an even dodgier look. The plastic reflects the light and makes me think of grease shining on the forehead of old sweaty men.

Although my German is a bit rusty, I try to decipher the title; SCHRIFTKUNDEN – ‘the art of writing’.
The text on the back is a bit more confusing, but overall I get some words: Typographic, graphic art, learning and maybe something about photography too.

The backside only confirms my notion of this book and its author.
Jan Tschichold makes his own introduction of the book, mentioning its precise size (148 x 210 mm), number of edition (112), publisher, something about the paper and the prize of the book (5 Franken), which I find amusing.

Typography – the artwork of creating letters and numbers.

The beauty of an alphabet has always fascinated me.
I remember making up my own alphabets as a child:
Aa, Bb, Cc, Dd, Ee, Ff, Gg, Hh, Ii, Jj, Kk, Ll, Mm, Nn, Oo, Pp, Qq, Rr, Ss, Tt, Uu, Vv, Xx, Ww, Yy, Zz, Ææ, Øø, Åå. I would write them over and over again.
Different sizes, lengths of the lines, curves, dips and turns,
Words as drawings, numbers as symbols. Somehow it was important for me to claim the letters. Taking over, making it into my personal alphabet, in a sense conquering the language.

After this notion I felt softness. A sense of safety mixed with the slight sadness of nostalgia. I remembered other things. Smells, touches., sounds.
And I felt grateful.

Book number, 757.4-tsch-5

 

As Little Design as Possible


Thursday, November 15, 2018

I was startled by the fresh, sleek but subtle apparence of the SK 4 as I walked by it in the basement of the Stedelijk museum. I stopped and bent over to get a closer look. This audio system combines a turntable and a radio with two speakers in a single white metal box ornamented solely by two wooden boards on each side and an acrylic glass lid. The rest is all functional: a few plastic control knobs and an analog display for radio frequencies.

« Hans Gugelot, Dieter Rams » stated the label on the right.

Those two designers (Hans Gugelot and Dieter Rams) worked for electrical appliance company Braun which released the Phonosuper SK 4 in 1956 as one of the first products to incarnate their new design. They wanted to get rid of the superficial and fashionable to make room for efficiency, simplicity and the beauty that comes with it.

I started searching the internet for some historical context and information about the relevancy of the object today. A few scrolls were enough to realize how influential the SK 4 design is. I first stumbled on countless ads selling the product from one to three thousand euros. Then I found many blogs paying tribute to it by sharing images and information about the design philosophy of the brand. I noticed that Dieter Rams was a lot more mentioned and appreciated than his co-worker Hans Gugelot, probably because the former was involved with Braun for many years (and still is) and has worked on many other notorious products. In fact, Rams is a legend of product design, referenced by many younger designers, such as Apple’s Jony Ive, as a major influence. This is very apparent when looking at today’s electronic products like smartphones, computers, bluetooth speakers but also furnitures and architectural edifices. I found a short documentary on Vimeo yielding the floor to Mr Rams himself at the initiative of the V&A Museum in London. According to him, his willingness to bring a new world of modern design to post-war Germany began when he met the Braun brothers. The success of their new creative approach proved the importance of a well though and original design. He also developed the 10 commandments for good design (which undoubtedly still hold up) in order to teach the students and the media, as well as keep together the behavior of the brand.

I searched the library of the Rietveld Academie as well as the library of the Stedelijk museum for documents published in the 60’s when the SK 4 was commercialized but I was not able to find any. All I could find were recent books paying tributes to the design philosophy of Braun and Dieter Rams, compiling images and information on their broad collection of products. I did not learn anything new about the SK 4 except for a few drawings I found in the book ‘Less and More, the Design Ethos of Dieter Rams’ by Klaus Klemp. They were made by Rams during the conception of the audio system, which I was quite excited about. The drawings are very simple, almost innocent, and denote of the « new beginning » state of mind of their author. It only made me thirsty for more archive documents of this type, so I kept on researching the internet. I found an image from an original Braun catalog including the SK 4, as well as a diagram of the SK 4 electric circuits naming the object « schneewittchensarg » (« snow white coffin »). This nickname shows how groundbreaking the design of the SK 4 was.

Overall, I found the internet much more efficient for my researches: it brought me more information in a shorter amount of time then books did. Nonetheless, the search for material publications is much more thrilling. It leads to discovering new places (like the archives of the Stedelijk museum) and offers a tactile, more intimate experience. The books I found did not really offer more information but displayed in a more interesting, compelling and memorable way. This leads me to thinking that printed publications will continue to play a very important role along the exponential growth of virtual data. Our senses have not changed and the book is a design object which offers a cleaner and purer visual and tactile experience than computers.

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.

 

1

 

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. The writer asks 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: http://designblog.rietveldacademie.nl/?p=67734

Also the chair is mentioned in another post on the Designblog about plastic: http://designblog.rietveldacademie.nl/?p=68917

 

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. 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 that was most information I found about the chair so far. They 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

 

 

Printed Matters?


Wednesday, October 31, 2018

In the basement of the Stedelijk Museum my eyes were immediately drawn to all the printed matters showcased. Maybe it was all the colours, their placement or the fact that any day I would prefer a great book over a beautiful chair.

One that stood out was the brochure for the 14th Bauhausbücher made by László Moholy-Nagy in 1929.

BB

The Bauhausbücher is a series of books published from 1925 to 1930. László Moholy-Nagy and Walter Gropius were responsible for the publications whose main focus was the challenges and accomplishments of the Bauhaus movement. Many great German and international artists contributed to the books.

BBooks

I could choose to focus my research on the Bauhaus movement.
Bauhaus was a part of changing the traditional academic way of perceiving and teaching art. Bauhaus focused on creativity instead of talent, command over skill, visual perception and imagination.

As mentioned before, the aim of the Bauhausbücher was to express the challenges and accomplishments of the movement. Today it serves as kind of a testimony for the Bauhaus.

I asked myself if it is a common thing for movements, such as the Bauhaus, to publish things about themselves?
In Berlin I went to Haus der Kulturen der Welt to see the exhibition “The Most Dangerous Game”.

TMDG

“The most dangerous game” is an exhibition focusing on the movement Situationist International.
The exhibition showcased, among other things, a collection of books, documents and manifestos.

To quote a text from the exhibition:

“… the main aim was to bring together the key founding texts and manifestos of all organisations whose members had later joined the Situationists. This includes very many, indeed almost all, of the artistic groups that saw themselves as revolutionary in the first half of the 20th century…”.

So the answer to my question, whether or not it is a common thing for movements, such as Bauhaus, to publish things about themselves, the answer must be a clear and loud yes!

One of the publications showcased at HKW was an art based magazine called “Helhesten”. The main focus in the magazine was the spontaneous abstract art of the time. “Helhesten” was published nine times from 1941 to 1944 and most of the contributions in the magazine was made by the danish artist group also called “Helhesten”.

In Berlin I also went to an archive, a fanzine archive. A fanzine is a publication produced by people who are interested in a particular cultural thing such as a musical genre, literature or a movement. The fanzine is mainly produced for people who share the same interest as the author/publisher.

Are you able to compare the Bauhausbücher, and other publications buy similar movements, such as Helhesten and Høst, to the fanzine? I think you are.

I was reading a fanzine about the punk culture in the 90’s, it was very informative and gave very detailed insight. In the fanzine there were articles by people from the community, recommendations (music, books, movies) and also some artwork. So somehow the aim of the fanzine also is to inform about the accomplishments and challenges the movement faces.

Fpunk

The fanzines are becoming very popular again and some people even make online fanzines – back in the days it was only printed matter.

Back in 1925, when the first book in the series of Bauhausbücher was published, the world wide web didn’t exist yet, which might have been the reason Moholy-Nagy and Gropius chose to publish books, they simply didn’t have the choice to ‘go online’.

If you publish a book these days it is a conscious choice you make.
You have so many different options if you want your information to get out to the world. For an example you can make it into an e-book, a blogpost or make a whole website dedicated to the matter.

But what about the printed matter? Does it matter?

The internet is great for some quick research, it is easy accessible and you can find information on almost everything. The internet is always changing – content are being added and taken down, so can you really depend on it to be there when you need it? You can learn many things, but how do you know if its true? Take this blogpost for an example: what do you even know about the writer and their reasons for posting this content?

A lot of content on the internet only needs one single person behind it and you might not even know their real name.

I can’t speak for everyone, only myself, when I say I would prefer to read something printed.

There is something about buying a book or any other printed matter, you know that someone put a lot of effort into the whole process and that makes me appreciate it more.

The printed matter will always remain the same – the internet can change.

The printed matter matters.

Big Bird


Wednesday, October 31, 2018

While walking through the basement of the Stedelijk, one object‘s shape caught my eye. When I looked again I saw such a friendly face looking back, cheerfully. I wondered why it was such a friendly face. I noticed a lack of bright colours. But this – what I thought to be at this point a birdmanvaseface – looked so happy and alive, with his wobbly and alive-like-lines and flappy wings or its little beak.

foto1.0 Grote Vogel

 

First I tried to search online for this bird and it first brought me to the website of the Stedelijk Museum. Here it is described and documented and in which publications it is mentioned. The second things I found were different spices of Picasso’s ceramics which have been auctioned off back in 2012. Soon I realised that this same auctionhouse/their website, had a whole collection of these ceramics. They called it the Madoura Collection, the best Pablo Picasso auction that has ever been and will be.

 foto2.0 stedelijkweb boekken

foto3.0 Madoura Collection

 

The Auction House Christie’s made a film about the collection. After seeing this film I wondered they sold over 500 ceramic pieces of Picasso so statistically speaking they also could have Picasso’s bird vase. So I set upon the quest to scroll through the entire collection and see if I could find it. There were similar vases but they did not have the bird face so I kept on scrolling, until I got half way through, when I found it.

foto4.0 Video Madoura Collection

I learned from the auctionfilm, that Picasso was working with the Ramié family in 1946. After a year he returned and stayed working with the family, was living in the same area till he died in 1973. So he must have had a lot of pleasure making these ceramics and maybe that pleasure you see in this bird vase.

 

Because now I new of two vases which were the same, I wondered how unique is this vase. So I looked into the catalogue of the auction and learned that this vase was executed in an edition of 25.

 

My last  “issue” with this beautiful vase (in fact with all ceramic vases by Picasso) is that you never see the vase being used as a vase: for example on a kitchen table, in a window or as an mantelpiece. I think it is a kind of sad that this vase is always in some kind of studio/museum setting and never in a real environment. Because of several reasons: According to the lady of the video Picasso wanted anybody to come in and buy a piece of his ceramics with their pocket change. That is, I think, the main reason, so many pieces are made.

For us, poor people who are not willing or  “able” to buy a 300,000 Euro vase, it is hard to imagine how the vase would look like in a natural environment. In other words for our first impression of the vase we have to read how big it is, to read how the texture is and to guess which flowers I can put in: I mean what kind of vase is this? Would big sunflowers look good, or would daisies look even better. Because after all, it’s still a vase and when it’s used for it’s purpose then a vase filled with flowers gets an extra dimension and can glow with radiance.

I have studied many Picasso’s, paintings, ceramics and pictures of his studio’s and for what I have seen, he himself is very practical with his work. The following pictures show how this statue of a goat is often a cheerful object in his daily life. The only picture of two vases near some flowers shows again that the object is not used for its purpose. Nevertheless this particular picture shows what some colorful hydrangeas do for those vases.

foto5.0 gaot

foto6.0 hydrangeas

My point of view is that a few beautiful sunflowers in Picasso’s bird vase would certainly give an extra dimension to the vase.

 

 

 

 


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