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200.000€ in one room or 4.000€ under my butt

Monday, February 19, 2018

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

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

maarten baas paris

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

clay furniture 's hertogenbosch

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

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

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



clay cafe

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

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

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


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

2) Pillows instead of clay seats


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

3)Regular tables


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

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

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

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

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