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"Design in the Stedelijk 3" Project


The London Supplementary Design Show


Friday, November 1, 2013

 

< LONDON DESIGN >

 

< CAREFULLY SELECTED FOR YOU >

 

17 Rietveld Foundation Year students visited London in the first week of October 2013 where they composed their own London collection of design highlights.

Items were selected from the collections of many renown institutes like the British museum, Victoria & Albert, The Design museum, Off-site ICA or galleries (The White Chapel, Ravenrow etc…..). What is interesting for us? What do we like and why.

Previous to this trip we did visit the permanent design presentation in the Amsterdam Stedelijkmuseum. Compared to the items we selected and researched there [project: Design in the Stedelijk-3], this show presents a personal comparison between that and those of the London institutes.

If you click on them a caption will appear –just as a in a real museum– presenting information and a personal reflection on why that item was selected.
Researching contemporary design we present this “The London Supplementary Design Show” as a mirror of our own selection motives, an imaginary online exhibition space with items carefully selected for you.

click on images to visit the exhibit

 

Spira-Ribb Westwood_T-shirt

no_angle_no_poise_tiagodafonseca_2 ChloeMeineck_music-memory-box GatewayRouter_redu

8_snow_white_wrist_redubrave-new-world-lamp_1helmet_cropped

Samoerai-armor Sottsas_London_Item_LeftSottsas_London_Item_Right RavenRow_poster_tadanori-yokoo

MarjorieSchick material 3d printer

selected by Wiebe Bouwsema WillyBrown_redu TrojanColumn_VAA G_Force_Cyclonic_James_Dyson

 

the “ B A T H T U B ”


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

John Knight - Autotypes

Walking through the high white corridors in the Stedelijk Museum, you notice the colorful museum Posters on the left wall. On the opposite wall, there are four rows of five plates. Because of the white background, they do not pop out, but blend in to the surrounding. Next to a vitrine with a stack of five of the plates inside, a sign explains the artwork and the artist. The black graphical forms on the plates, with a gold-trim, are parts of blueprints. These blueprints are the recent additions to Modern and Contemporary Art Museums around the world.

The work, acquired in 2011, is titled Autotypes. The title stands for the desire to expand and to create, which fits the underlying criticism of the artist John Knight (LA, 1945) and his work. With the by mass-production created set of porcelain plates he creates an opening for a critical discussion of the changing role of the museum. Which includes serving a marketing tool for city branding within the ever-expanding spectacle of mass tourism. Because the plan of the original, historic structure are omitted, the blueprints of the additions are isolated, showing the uniformity of museum architecture.

John Knight Autotypes

The moment I looked up at the plates I was intrigued. The gold on the white ceramics looked sophisticated and slightly kitsch, but the black graphic made it modern. Which is just the way I like it, slightly kitsch with a modern touch. Before I read the text about the work, I thought about the forms. ‘What do these forms stand for? Do they tell a story? About a growth? Expansion? Are there any recognizable forms? Is there a specific order?’

So when I read in the information that they are parts of blue prints and that this is part of a debate on the additions to museums now a days, it made me think. I was standing in one of these museums that had expanded. Why did the Stedelijk change? And why did it take so long?

By asking myself these questions, I realized that John Knight had pulled me into the debate. A clever man, that John Knight.

Mysteryman

After seeing this question-raising artwork, I wanted answers. So, what is this debate John Knight is referring to really about, what role does the Stedelijk play in it and WHO is this man I have never heard of? I could not find any images of the man in question, so John Knight’s appearance remains a mystery. I do find out that he has been around in the art circuit for quite some time and that it is not easy to lay a finger on him.

He has been producing art since the late 1960s, early 70s, using existing forms and communication to reconsider the social structures and value systems that support the exchange of ideas and merchandise. He takes the art establishment as his subject of investigation. his practice unpacks conventions and codes that give art its value, using art as a platform to reflect upon larger political and economic systems. Working “in situ,” each project is based on analysis and intervention specific to the venue at hand; its aesthetic logic takes its cues from the structure of that of the gallery, museum, or other exhibition space.

Another stack of plates

I also discovered that Autotypes is a follow up work from Museotypes from 1983: sixty glazed ceramic plates with gold trim. Like he did with Autotypes, he did not represented the particular museum building by its familiar, literal image. Instead, he ironically chose the abstract configuration of the floor plan that on the plate serves as a ready-made code or symbol. In Museotypes John Knight fuses various visual but specifically non-art traditions in order to questions and revalidate contemporary art. He presents the plates as collectable items and reduces them to commercially available, limited-edition souvenirs. The museums are literally put on display, and as the artist explained, the work as a whole becomes “a representation of the museum and its role in culture”.

Bathing in art

In the last several years it has become necessary for museums to expand not simply to house their ever-growing collections, but also to stake their claim in a global tourist trade characterized by spectacle and speculation alike. But, why did the Stedelijk Museum change?

Old Stedelijk museum - Nickname Stedelijk museum - New building Stedelijk Museum

The original Stedelijk Museum was designed by A.W. Weissman in 1895 to house modern art and contemporary art. It was built in a Neo-Renaissance style
but in 2003 firemen made the museum shut down temporarily for a renovation. It lasted until September 2012 to re-open in its full glory. A new all white and glass part was added to the existing building by Benthem Crouwel Architekten. A few major changes were made with the renovation: it had created enough space to house the permanent collection in the main building and temporary exhibitions in the new part. Because of its remarkable appearance, it didn’t take long for the museum wing to get nicknamed the Bathtub. To get back to John Knight, the Stedelijk museum closed, not because of too little space for artwork, nor too little space for the public, but because of safety issues. However, in the end the expansion took care of both.

 

John Knight inspiredJohn Knight inspired

Put it on a plate

I wanted to do something with the information I had gathered. Firstly, the fact that Autotypes is a work that is visually as interesting as the idea behind it. Secondly, the fact that John Knight chose this medium, ceramics, to make a point. Thirdly, the fact that the work Autotypes is the extended version of Museotypes. And lastly, the fact that the Stedelijk did not really need to expand, but during the time it was closed slowly took part in Knights discussion. That is why I expanded John Knights work with three more plates. On one of the plates I drew the old floor plan of the Stedelijk museum. On another I drew the floor plan of the Stedelijk museums extension from 2012 and on one plate I did my own take: the nickname of the Stedelijk Museum. I think it is a very interesting subject, nicknames. I think in the case of John Knight, it doesn’t get deeper into the discussion. But, I do think it goes deeper in to the subject. Knights discussion talks art and tourists, but it doesn’t say anything on the people of the city where the museum expanded. A nickname would then be a symbolic gesture to the reaction and or emotions of the people living in the area.

But then again, maybe it is just me. I am an ‘Amsterdammer in heart and kidneys’ and when this huge white thing was added to the Museum square, near to where I went to school for six years, I had to process this. Apparently in this research, I started with trying to be a participant in an interesting discussion on museums and their expansions and ended up in ceramic therapy.

John Knight inspired

 

 

Moving Forward


Monday, October 28, 2013

Daan Roosegaarde has been one of my favorite modern Dutch artists since I saw him once in the TV show De Wereld Draait Door, where he discussed his work Crystal, Marbles and Dune. This is because his way of thinking and working; he combines art with technology and tries to improve the world. Especially the first work, Crystal, caught my attention right away: thousand and one light rocks that interact with people: the lights functions as a ‘digital campfire’, each crystal contains an LED light charged via a power mat. People can move them, add them and even take them with them, once they are moved the basic breathing of the crystals changes. The lighting behavior of crystals moves from ‘excited’ to ‘bored’, keeping visitors curious. The lights become social and people can share their stories about the lights. He said himself: you can share or steal them and sharing is the new having. I think this is a good point because in light of the economic crisis and the earths resources running out we have to change the way we life now and make a new world and I think sharing is a good way to solve a lot of problems.

Crystal

His side-specific art installation Dune is also one of my favorites and is the work I have chosen from the Stedelijk Museum. A landscape of ‘Wuivend Koren/Waving Wheat’, which interact with human behavior; your motion and sounds. To watch, walk and interact. The work is made of large amounts of fibers with lights in it that brighten according to the sounds and motion of passing visitors. A new way of making a futuristic nature in relation with urban space. Nature and technology together. I saw this work on videos before I saw it in real life in the Stedelijk and that is a world of differences. By interacting yourself with the art work it makes you feel part of it and that gave me a really good feeling. The sight, the sounds, the lights, the change of it made it really special for me and is the reason why I really like it. The work was shown in museums in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, London, Tokyo and Hong Kong.
The specifications are: modular system of length 100 cm, width 50 cm, variable heights. Hundreds of fibers, LEDs, sensors, speakers, interactive software and electronics; variable up to 400 meters.

Dune

The last couple of years Daan Roosegaarde had a lot of publicity, his works has become more known, he was a regular guest on Dutch television on shows like De Wereld Draait Door, has won this year Danish Index award, which is regarded as the most important design price, for his work Smart Highway, he has his own studio called Studio Roosegaarde with establishments in the Netherlands and Shanghai. Last summer 2013 he was a guest of the Dutch talk show ‘Zomergasten‘ which was really nice. This episode of ‘Zomergasten is the reason I became a big fan of him and his work, because that was a good way to really get to know him and his ideas. ‘Zomergasten‘ is a Dutch television program broadcast every summer, in which about ten known people, writers, artist, politicians, scientist are invited. They are allowed to show videos or fragments of videos of things that are important for them, inspiration wise, learning wise or which they have found intriguing there whole life, and talk about with the host of the show.
After watching the episode I was really happy, because what he showed and talked about where things I am also interested in and it made me think and philosophize about. I have made some links of some of the things he showed because I though was really interesting:

(Mobiel Bellen 1999)
An interview of Frans Bomet about the use of mobile phones in 1999. It’s in Dutch and no subtitles. What funny is about this video that it shows how fast the world can change, almost 15 years ago not all people had a mobile phone and didn’t even want it and look at the current situation everybody has a phone and more important the way it’s used now, a lot of people can’t life without it.

(Solar Sinter)
A video of the work Solar Sinter by Markus Kayser. He made some kind of machine, a bit like a 3D printer, which absorbs the sun light which then goes through a magnifying-glass and then gets sprayed on sand which becomes hard because it crystalize. So you can make sculptures with only sun and sand, so imagine the possibilities, maybe in the future it can make houses in the desert.

(Ameisen, die heimliche Weltmacht)
This is maybe the most intriguing nature documentary I’ve ever seen: Ameisen, die heimliche Weltmacht (2004). In the Zomergasten episode they only showed fragments but this is worth to watch completely. I had already seen it on a BBC nature documentary and watch it again after the Zomergasten episode. For me this show how much we as humans still can learn from nature and other animals, the way the ants work together, it looks like their ‘city’ is built by one designer, one mind, but of course it’s made by a million ants.

I think the reason why I feel attracted to Daan Roosegaarde is because his way of thinking, most of the time his works are ideologies to change the way we, as people, are living now. He really tries to change the world. I think that that is very important in this time. There are so many problems and in many ways you can say we are destroying the world, and I think that art is a good platform to change the point of view of people, and make people aware of problems in the world. Daan Roosegaarde is one of those artists, he is an innovator.
Are we moving forward, are we evolving as people or have we stopped evolving and are we becoming more human or machine? We got to raise our angle of view, to learn, to grow and make the world a better place. Human and inventions have lived for years together and I think it becomes one (humans and technology), because if you look back in history, humans always have tried to improve themselves and improve life, like fire or the wheel; those are inventions, improvements of life. Technology is part of human’s evolution. We got to work together as one collective.

Grayson Perry


Monday, October 28, 2013

From the big design collection of the Stedelijk museum, I could point out a few pieces which I like a lot. Still, by having the limitation of choosing just one, I had no trouble remembering this one big pot I’d seen on my way. Not that I especially like ceramics, (nor shiny pots I would say) but for some reason this specific one got all of my attention in a completely positive way.

Strangely familiar was the name. From Grayson Perry. I thought: never heard of it, but in fact it looks strangely familiar to me. These drawings on it were telling a lot, making sense.

IMG_66581

After this first innocent impression, the investigation process started. First of all, as I cannot deny, I googled it – images. An amazing work collection appeared. I was happy already with my selection. I found out very quickly that apart from ceramics Grayson Perry also makes tapestries. Also it was easy to understand he likes dressing up as a woman.

Research went on for long, and still I know nothing of him. He has his name on a few book covers, is active on discussions about art, culture, education… Made a 3-episodes documentary for channel 4 in which he introduces 6 tapestries and discusses the idea of taste held by the different social classes in the United Kingdom. It was very successful, and won the turner prize in 2013. In 2002, Stedelijk made a solo exhibition with Perry´s work.

I went through one of his books: Grayson Perry, portrait of the artist as a young girl, a biography written by Wendy Jones. I found a lot of interest on his childhood, full of fantasy. He tells about his parents and sister, how they got married and divorced thanks to the affair of his mother with the milkman. His father left the family, which he takes as the event with biggest impact on him and his life; his stepfather violence or his teddy bear, which he sees a bit as a God.
Later on he studied in London, had lot’s of fun and lived in squats.

Grayson Perry has an alter ego, Claire. She is the kind of woman who eats ready-made meals and can barely sew a button. He likes to dress up like a girl since seven. Nothing ever made him stop. But Perry says that he is not pretending to be a woman; he is just a man in a dress. He is married and with a daughter born in 1992.

One of the reasons that made me identify this much with his work is that he likes to make things that he finds beautiful. Not with a big idea behind it, just in a spontaneous way. I think as well that sometimes is nice just to enjoy art, with no interpretation or understanding.
Grayson Perry thinks it is sad that in contemporary art the craft work is getting a bit lost. Like as if the concept is all. On this I agree with him, if it is all about concept, than why is it art and not philosophy? This way most philosophers are doing great works of art every time they use an object to explain their idea. I like to look at an art piece, and together with the concept to see something personal of the artist, that he actually did himself. Perry finds it very interesting about Duchamp and his urinal and all, but that is quite old now. It was new to point at a random object and to say it is art, but not anymore. Also that the question is not about what art is, because we’ve seen already everything can be art. This way the question becomes ‘’what is the good art?’’. For him a good concept is not enough. He compares it with a film that has this great subject but not good visuals and sounds. It might make it a good film, but not a good work of art.

In the end I think the reason why he is so famous is that he provokes other artists and people in general, somehow in a conservative way; but very cleverly, it is hard to criticize or contradict. Also he always speaks his personal opinion, but at the same time he justifies it very well, as if he is praying to people for some new art religion of esthetics and craft work, easy and accessible. He is going back to the old way of looking at art, the beauty of shapes and colours, and the feeling it gives to people. Instead of giving confusion which is after explained with the concept. I see it as the difference of drawing and illustrating. Before works of art were like a drawing, which tells the story by itself. Now it became like illustration, of a concept which should most of the times be told together so that you get the complete picture. Then again it is all a matter of what each identifies with or to find a good balance.

He will give lectures about the state of art on the 21st century on Reith Lectures from BBC radio 4, October or November 2013. I give everyone the advise of taking a look at his work and the things he wrote and says. Enjoy!

I am telling Grayson Perry’s opinion based on this interviews:

Scattered Matter


Sunday, October 27, 2013

 

 

ES Sandberg1

 

The picture shows a manuscript called ‘Lectura sub aqua’, part of the series ‘Experimenta Typographica’ from 1943 by Willem Sandberg.

Sandberg, a Dutch graphic designer, typographer and long term director of the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam was forced to hide when the German occupation authorities discovered that he was involved in the resistance. While concealed on different farms, Sandberg produced graphic works out of the materials he found there – utilizing collected quotations – that correspond with his view of the world.

The chosen manuscripts states: ‘La propriété c’est le vol’ – property is theft. The slogan is a quote from the French anarchist Pierre-Joseph Proudon, taken from his book from 1840 ‘What is property?’. Proudon was a French politician, largely considered to be the ‘father of anarchism’.

I find Sandberg’s manuscript an interesting starting point to ponder the relation between content and form. The repetition and graphical variations that he applies on the inherently strong political statement seem to point out the link between the visual appearance of the statement and its content. Moreover, I find it an compelling artistic choice to break down the phrase into a simplistic formula, eliminating all parts of the syntax apart from ‘propriété’ and ‘vol’, making the phrase into an undiluted juxtaposition of two nouns. I feel that the two words not only strengthen each other, but also get the message on a high conceptual level.

Sandberg’s work reminds me of some of the text works of Lawrence Weiner. Weiner started this conceptual artistic practice in the 1960′s/70′s utilizing brief phrases, statements or words combined in formulas put up on walls. I see quite strong analogies between the ways that the two creators employ typography as their medium, in spite of coming from different eras and creative practices. In the 1960′s and 70′s, when Weiner evolved as a conceptual artist, his work was considered extremely avantgarde. Looking at Sandberg’s work from 1943 gives me a new perspective on Weiner’s wall pieces.

ES Lawrence Weiner

As many of his statements manifest, Weiner is an artist strongly rooted in the present. At the event of the opening of his current solo show ‘Written on the wind’ at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, Weiner stated: ‘Time is looking at the sky and realizing that it moves.’ I always enjoy making connections between art works from different eras or fields. Discovering references between Weiner and Sandberg was nice, because it points out once more that there is no inherent difference between ‘applied art’ and the so-called ‘fine art’ that Weiner would belong to, if you would obey those categories. I don’t know where that difference would lay. I find it intriguing that once one decides to devote time and attention to art, it becomes inevitable to realize that similar tendencies have been and are present throughout art history, also crossing between fine arts and applied arts. Artists and designers work on certain ideas and develop certain styles that keep influencing each other, while those ideas keep gaining visual, symbolic and historical meaning with every new era they enter.

One could say that Sandberg and Weiner share the way that they use language and – more specifically – typography as their medium. For some years, I have had a huge interest in the relation between the content and the form of an art work. To me, Walter Benjamin genuinely sums it up: ‘Beauty is not the object and not the shell, but the object in its shell.‘ The relation of the object and the shell is a very relevant question for myself and my own artistic works. If I was asked to chose one source of inspiration for the rest of my life, it would be this one.

The reason why I have chosen to compare the works from Sandberg and Weiner is my interest in the question how phrases change when their visual appearance is changed. What I like about conceptual art is its power lying in the mere thought. In 1968, Weiner manifested some view points on conceptual art in his ‘Declaration of Intent’: ‘The work need not be built.’ I can just agree with that. I can say that I find the relation between Sandberg and Weiner interesting with regard to the different fields they come from (applied art versus fine art), the different times and the different working methods. Both of the artists’ works inspire me to think about the relation of the content and the form. It furthers the understanding of Weiner’s work to hear him talk about it – e.g. the fact that he considers language sculptural. Weiner also states that his works are to be understood as gestures – which are immediately understandable, so they become language, too.

Weiner and Sandberg are interesting examples, because both of them chose for the immediacy of the language, while at the same time playing around with different colours and graphic variations. Also, by using language as a tool or medium, they put a concrete thought out there, which comes off as quite forcing compared to other media like painting or sculpture, while at the same time it leaves a large space for personal interpretations and associations. I like the directness of working with language, but also the openness.

Weiner always works with the same typeface – a very simple mono-space font designed by himself. As he states in this 2008 video: „I don’t like Helvetica, because (…) I find it a clumsy typeface. I don’t know if I find it clumsy because of its association or just aesthetically clumsy, but I try to avoid it.“ By creating his own font, Weiner avoids standardized visual appearances. His wall statements seem to get carried on to another level of visual meaning through the font they’re set in and to gain additional meaning by the way they are molded by their appearance. But even this typeface seems to be perishable, as the artist reveals: „It seems to be functioning for a while and I guess, one morning, I will wake up and it will have entered into the culture in such a way that I’ll try to find another typeface.

Irony, puns, provocations


Saturday, October 26, 2013

ashoka Ettore Sottsass (1917-2007) was a vivid rebel, a child with grown mans needs. He was disrupted by rules and clear ways, why do we (have to) live by rules? He wanted to play so he started a game of his own: The Memphis Group. A group of designers from around the world to fight against traditional functionalism with a postmodern touch and only one rule, there is no rule.

They really did create something new, a new kind of playground and standards for being creative and getting rid off limits and good taste. Memphis was colours, forms, lot of different materials. It was an attitude. Easy but radical ways to get close and referred by Ettore Sottsass himself as a strong drug what you should never take too much.
They were active in the 1980s. The artists tought Memphis as a trend wich would die like in fashion.

The Ashoka table lamp(1981, Ettore Sottsass) has a major status in the Memphis Collection. For me it looks like an altarpiece, a sculpture full of life, light. It has five corners and it turns out by the symmetry as a statue.

It really wants the attention. An ad/hd kid who is only positive and wants to show you that there is a smile around us, it makes me smile.

Ashoka was an Indian emperor who was a peace ambassador, a leader who knew how to make a change and that the change is in need. A great example of positive change in history, kind of like Memphis itself.

He wasn’t trying to create a utopia or a better world but he wanted to get his voice up and make a comment for the whole industry. I think he saw the bitter and wanted to add some sweetness, a lot of sweetness in the world.

techniek die samensmelt met de omgeving


Saturday, October 26, 2013

http://roosegaarde.blogspot.nl/

Trophy Cups


Sunday, October 6, 2013

6916281473_cc98cbc543_z-1
Trophy Cups by Vika Mitrichenka

Vika Mitrichenka (1972), is originally from Minsk but she moved to Amsterdam on a tourist visa in 2000, because she was fascinated by the Golden Age painters from Holland, like Johannes Vermeer and Pieter Hoogh. This fascination with old things, is still visible in her works today.

She got accepted into the Gerrit Rietveld Academie, and after that she studied at the Rijksacademie.

This work is dedicated to her father and consists of five small trophies made of porcelain painted in blue, yellow and pink, with some golden details. On each trophy cup there is a small text, and a little sports person is posing on the lid. On the pink one, with a little swimmer kneeling at the top it says:

‘For trying to educate his mother-in-law in understanding art till her last days.’

I like the work, because I think what Mitrichenka is trying to do, is give some credit to the little everyday good deed, that means a lot but rarely gets rewarded. Usually trophies are a symbol of achieving something extraordinary, like running really fast, jumping very high or kicking a ball to the goal. Mitrichenkas trophies are small and detailed, not very flashy but very pretty and knickknacky. They look like something you could find on a shelf at your grandmothers house.

The trophies stand out from a lot of the other things at the exhibition, because they are so over-the-top and shiny. Designers like Rietveld, and Poul Henningsen, work with handy, functional, simple furniture with no decoration. In the exhibition you see a lot of wood, metal, plastic and other strong, long lasting materials. The colors are only black and white or blue, red and yellow.

The trophy cups are multicolored, decorated and detailed. They are made of porcelain, and they are difficult and expensive to produce. Still they are made to reward the normal simple person. 

In 2005, the Frozen Fountain, a design store in Amsterdam gave Mitrichenka an artistic assignment to make a tea service. When she had finished it one of them were immediately purchased by the Stedelijk museum.

I went to the Frozen Fountain to look at some more of Mitrichenkas’ work. One of the first thing I noticed when I got there was the tea set called “Victoria” that she made in 2005. It is a set of 15 pieces, made especially for the Frozen Fountain. 

 


Grandmothers treasures

 

At first, the tea set looks like it is made from old pieces of Chinese porcelain, that has been glued together in kind of a clumsy way. Different styles and colors gets mixed up, and sharp edges appear where the pieces has been put together. But when you look closer the set actually looks like it would be nice to use at a tea party. The sugar bowl is made from two different cups, one has a fish printed on it and one with little flowers. The lid is light blue with a colorful pattern, and with a head of an angry, pink gorilla on top of it.

 

tea cup and saucer with a perch and some parrots
tea cup and saucer with a perch and some parrots

 

What inspired Mitrichenka to make the tea set was her Russian grandmothers’ Chinese porcelain, which she would never throw away, not even if it was broken. The work is very nostalgic, and it reminds me of my own grandmother, who also used to collect different porcelain tea cups. I remember that I used to take them out of her cabinet and look at them all together. The nice thing about them was that they were all different, and had a little story of their own. One was bought on a holiday in Italy, one was inherited by my great grandmother and another one was from some small flea market in Birkerød where she lives. The porcelain cups would never have given me the same feeling if they all looked the same.

When I walked further into the shop I found some more trophy cups! I was happy! I didn’t know that she had made so many of them! And some of them I thought were even more cute and funny, than the ones in the Stedelijk. They were displayed in a showcase in the back of the store, and most of them looked a bit like try outs, but somehow they seemed more personal, than the ones I had seen before.

 

"For having said please forgive me if I ever hurt you"

For having said please forgive me if I ever hurt you

 

"For giving lectures on the history of art to his bedside neighbors in the hospital during his rehabilitation after a heart attack"

"For giving lectures on the history of art to his bedside neighbours in the hospital during his rehabilitation after a heart attack"

This day I already felt a little emotional, so the texts on the cups almost brought a little tear to my eye.

Not all of these trophy cups have a sportsman/woman posing on the lid, but instead a glazed, white roman sculpture. They are put together from a square bottom with the text on, something from a Chinese porcelain set and a little sculpture posing at the top. I like this kind of clumsy way that they are put together. It is not at all ‘tasteful’ or in a stylish design. The texts are not at all pretensions, but very honest and down to earth. One of them had the caption: “For looking in the distance and doing noting”. The theme of the cups is for me again about the intimate memories of home, about the stuff that happens in the everyday life, that is actually really important, but we never really take the time to think about.

 

 

THE THRILL OF CONFUSION/ POINTY BEAUTY


Monday, September 30, 2013

One piece of the permanent exhibition at the Stedelijk that stimulated some form of internal reaction was ‘Cow Chair’ designed by Niels van Eijk in 1997 for his graduation project at the academy in Eindhoven.

At first glance it appears to be a thick legged kiddie chair with a cow hide pinned onto it, which is nice enough – I remember thinking how well it would go with my new old cowboy boots – however, much to my astonishment, as I drag my feet past the seat to check off the next object to admire that it was obstructing I sneak a peek into the chairs insides, where to my amazement was in fact no such chair supporting the skin! I began to pace from one side to the other, pushing my face as close as I could to the void within without drawing the attention of the eagerly hovering security, reassuring myself that it was truly self-supporting.

Curious, the way that it looks so flexibly drawn around a form, with bunched creases contrasting with the tautness in the extremities yet still feels that if you were to sit on the cloth would fall beneath you like a loose rag. When considering the properties of a hide I had no reason to consider that it was it’s own shape, rather than taking the form of a structure beneath it; after all, isn’t that what skin does? My perception of the design changed completely; a hollow, anorexic skin made rigid by the last moistness of life being drained from it, locked together by savage stitches pulling at the skin as both leathers shrink in opposition.

 

Rather morbid, really.

As oppose to being a complex object that requires calculated thought to attempt to understand, such as an optical illusion or some form of puzzle, this intense feeling of pure confusion is induced when a seemingly mundane, daily object or situation is not how you automatically assume it to be; so automatically  that you don’t even think about it, that’s what really puts you out of whack. This sensation is one that has fascinated me (or haunted, in some cases) since I can remember. One chair related experience almost brought me to tears, it was such bedlam. On a morning no different to any other I took my usual seat at my dining room table with my tea and toast, but as I slid my chair under the table the top of my thighs brushed against the underside of the wooden table; this never happens! I was simply overwhelmed, I just didn’t know why it had happened. I called to my mother to seek an answer, ‘oh, well it must be because one of the chairs is slightly lower than the others, they must have been switched’; what a cruel trick to play so early in the morning. It was such a minute change that upon reflection such a reaction could easily seem somewhat overdramatic, but in the heat of the moment it truly felt like the world was crumbling around me and the chair.

The experience with the cow chair was less of a painful confusion and more of an intriguing, encapsulating.. confusion.  An object to eradicate all other drifts of thought.  To be noticed above all other things, even if the intention of the design is to be discreet . To create an object capable of such engrossment is surely the target of all designs? I find it so refreshingly satisfying to experience such a concentrated distraction, allowing you to grant all focus to the subject at hand, being lost in thought for something that is really real. After all, how can you think in an unclouded manner when you’re constantly mentally multitasking?

Niels and Miriam, hangin’ out.

Mr. Van Eijk and Miriam van der Lubbe have been partners in design (and in [x] their personal lives) since they graduated from the Sandburg institute, leading them to found their design studio in 1998, which lead to their own label: Usuals. Whilst managing not to come close to making the same thing twice, these two capture Dutch design by collaborating humour with vast imagination and experimental works, ranging from spacial projects to product and furniture design; this creative combination attracted numerous museums and other collaborative design companies such as Droog, and many others.

‘Poodle Chair’ 2002, another example of humorous chairs by VEVDL.

The design was of pure inspirational birth. According to ‘Subjects’, one evening whilst Niels was admiring his shoes he was captured by the way the leather formed so beautifully around the point of the toe he thought ‘if this is possible, it must be possible to make a whole chair this way’. This notion developed my opinion on the design even more so; I like a good lump of leather around my feet and can absolutely empathize with the new found pointy beauty that the chair possesses. Why, I just want to wrap myself up in a crispy point of leather.

Although I am a great enthusiast in the field of pointy-leather-beauty, I can’t help but feel a mild disappointment towards the  lack of confusion in the way the design was conceived; it all seems a little too cosy. Alas, perhaps only few are subjected to the level of intense confusion that taunts me so heavily.

A piece of (furniture)?


Sunday, September 29, 2013

 

 

CRI_157986

 

Table-chair is a furniture made by Richard Hutten. It’s a two-piece furniture consisting of a chair and a table with an almost shy and invisible character. The interesting thing with this piece is that it’s a illusion of a table and a chair. By closer observation I realize that it’s the relation between the two parts that create the visual expression of a table and a chair, and if you separate them, the expression changes and along with it the whole concept of the furniture. The parts are defined by each other as furniture. Presented separately, you might not even recognize it as a specific furniture. Richard Hutten’s works makes me question what actually constitutes a piece of furniture. It also makes me understand what a big role our associations play when we observe our surroundings. The Table-chair automatically lead our thoughts to a table and a chair, not only by name but also trough its execution. It’s interesting how this piece, with its simple and discreet design, can contain our ideas of what a piece of furniture is.

 

thedish

 

Perception, function and behavour
A table usually consists of a flat horizontal surface that is held up by a base of one or several supports. The fundamental purpose of the table is to support various objects in order to relate to them; for overview, work, show, storage.

The table is an ultimate tool when eating dinner. It creates conditions for you to perform the activity of eating. The flat surface of the table support the plate and consequently free your hands and makes it possible for you to use the cutlery. By placing the objects on the table, their relation becomes more clear and also their behavior related to the format of the table. A rectangular tabletop requires structure, the objects relates to the straight lines of the edges. When placing my computer on it it’s constantly relate to the lines of the surrounding. I place the laptop in front of me, push it a bit backwards to get enough space for my arms to be supported. The table support my activity with the object.

I place a sheet of paper onto the flat surface of the table, I then place a pen beside, in perfect line with the sheet, unconsciously I move the pen a bit more to the right, I continue moving it back and forth until it feels right. The right balance occurs when all element are taken into account, table, objects and body and even though my actions are based on sense it’s not a coincidence – It’s about being taught how to behave and relate to the table

At first sight the Table-chair of Richard Hutten behaves like any chair and table and therefore I know how to relate to it, but a  closer look makes me doubt. This piece of furniture requires a new approach and for that I must forget my conception of what determines a chair and a table.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Within the context
I found myself at the Stedelijk, continuing to observe the Table-chair. One thing is clear; Hutten confuses me. And somehow the object makes me feel tricked. Part of Stedelijk’s design collection, the Table-chair stands on a podium among other famous design-items. Its chosen placement puts Hutten’s work within the context of modern design.

It’s clear that the work is dependent on its two phsyical parts, that together create the image of a furniture. Another important component is its ability to create confusion in the viewer. But also, I wonder if the greatness of Hutten’s furniture depends on the context in which it is shown. Perhaps it’s the context of Design that creates the confusion surrounding the object.

As a distinguished person with a recognized position and an important role within the design world, Richard Hutten can certainly play with the main principles of design. For me, it is obvious that he choose to use the design context, with its limitations as well as its possibilies, to raise issues and questions about how our perceptions and behavior are shaped by of our surroundings.

For me, the most interesting aspect of Richard Hutten’s work is the fact  that he makes them as a designer.

Bless you Hutten!

Super Nice Witteveen High Chair by Gerrit Rietveld


Sunday, September 29, 2013

 

images

I have chosen this object  because I didn’t realize what was his main feature at first. Which made the object very mysterious for me. It looks like a chair but I thought it could also be one made for kids (the gate would protect them from falling and the table help them eat). And their is also a hole in the middle of the seat! So I have come to the conclusion that it is a high chair toilet. I love this object because of all the colour Rietveld used. I thought  the lines present on all the file of the chair  make it look very graphic. It reminds me of the tribal art which consists in painting their bodies with lines. As you can see on the picture represented below.

images

My opinion could be a little extreme but I cannot stop thinking that this chair looks like an instrument of torture. It should be comfortable to welcome a child but it is raw wood, and there are no cushions to absorb to body. The vertical and horizontal bars also vaguely recalls the prison world.

torture wre

In fact, this chair was made for Hendrikus Johannes Witteveen Junior, the future minister of Finance who was born in 1921. It is almost identical to the original one, built in 1918.
According to museum experts the Witteveen chair is important because it is the first example of Rietveld’s use of primary colors, a key step in the development of his Red, Blue Chair, considered as an icon in Dutch art history. Even in our school, a lot of students have fun and try to make their own one. Some friends have it on their balcony! Rietveld designed it in 1918, under the influence of The Stijl movement that he has integrated in 1919. This chair is painted with the primary color palette added black, white and gray and a touch of yellow, so specific to this movement. Initially designed with a natural wood finish, Rietveld gave it these colors later, in1923, after officially joined the movement.
What’s The Stijl? It is an “avant-garde” movement, founded by Theo van Doesburg, with the active participation of Piet Mondrian. will destroy the Baroque through the use of colors and “pure” forms in dynamic equilibrium, as visually weightless.  According to Marek Wieczorek “most of its members envision a utopian environment through abstract art, universal harmony in the full integration of all the arts”.

 

In addition to being a designer, Rietveld was also an architect. I have chosen the Shröder house to illustrate it. I haven’t visit it yet but I already have some really good echos. It was Rietveld opinion that sleeping, eating, bathing (in short, whatever people do at home) should be conscious activities that require a certain amount of effort : letting down the table or making up the sofa bed. Rietveld also was of the opinion that the size of the room should be in agreement with the time spent there. The ideological approach of this house lead a strict view on architecture. Truus Shröder was the ideal client : after the death of her husband, she ask Rietveld to built her a new house. It was the first house of Rietveld which was an exuberant experience for him! He came to a type of design which does not strictly define a space, but instead lets it breath by means open and closed planes, varying lines, colour accent and incidents of light. In this from all sides asymmetrical composition, the transition  between inside and outside are fluently and surprisingly.

RietveldSchroderHuisPhotoErnstMorits   images (1)

Rietveld had deeply left its mark and is always present around us (I know it’s a little easy to say that because we are  studying in one of its architecture but whatever …). His manner to rethink the space make that he will be remembered !

Zig Zag Stoel


Sunday, September 29, 2013

Ik zig/zag
een zig zelf
zittende
zichzelf zaggende
zig
zag ik zigzaggen.

Ziedaar de zigzagstoel van Gerrit Rietveld. Zag jij hem ook?

Zo zonder leuning, zonder pretentie zeer zeker van zichzelf?
Zig Zag
Een Zizag, ziedaar het woordenboek, is
een bewegende lijn die plotseling van koers verandert.

Zo Spannend, de Z, ik zou hem om willen draaien om zo de Z van alle kanten te bekijken.

 

Zo, van ziehiertje zie daartje en zo en zo.

Zalig zon zigzag!
Zo zonder aarzeling aanwezig, een bazige Zigzag- Z-stoel.

Zigge zagge
zage
zigge zagge zo
zigge zagge zage zonder
zigge zagge
zoooooooooooo
ziezo
zie zo

Zigzag,
ziedaar zo in de verte
zaagt de zigzag door de lucht
gelijk een bliksemflits

O zigzag, kartonnen design klassieker, zonder ondersteuning zeer zitbaar.

Test, Test, test, test,
Ziedaar iepenhout, bout en messing,

Zigzag in zicht.

Met Zwaluwstaartverbinding verbonden, zo zigzaggend aan elkaar.
Zonder benen, zig zagt zij als een zwevende zwaluw gier!

Zij is zeer zeker zwevend aanwezig maar ruimte neemt zij niet!

Zo is Z een stoel, of is Z een tafel,of is Z een Z
Zoals je wilt!
Zig-zag-zo-zoals-
je wilt!

Stijvolle Z,
Zakelijke Z,
Zinderende Z,

Zwaluwstaart, Deuvel, Lij, Schroeven,
niet piepend iepen hout:
Een Z, een Zwiepende Zig Zaggende Zag ik nooit eerder Zig Zag stoel

Ongetooid, Ongekleurd,
Z, Zomaar Zie ik Z Overal!
Zie hier, Zie daar,
z, Z, Z, Z

Het Zigzagje, zegt Rietveld,
Ik noemde het altijd het Zigzagje,
Zegt Rietveld zachtjes zigzagggend.

Zigzagje, schotje in de ruimte,
Zag jij haar ook, zo met je blote oog?

In Z, om Z, tussen Z,
Zigzaggend zag ik Z in
en om en tussen

Zigge zagge
zage
zigge zagge zo
zigge zagge zage zonder
zigge zagge
zoooooooooooo
ziezo
zie zo


Een ruimte om op te zitten,
te zagen,
te zwoegen,
te zo evenaren,
Zo nog eentje, Zo dezelfde Z


Ijzeren Z, Fiber Z, Bandijzer Z,
Z, Z, Z, Z, Z.
Oneindige ruimtelijke Z

Zigzagje,
Zag je Zigzagje?
Gebruik je zintuigen,

Zag je zigzag je echt
Zigzaggen?
Zag je hét
Zigzagje?

Zag je een zig zelf

zittende
zichzelf zaggende
zig
zigzaggen?

 

De Zigzagstoel heeft in de geschiedenis van de twintigste-eeuwse vormgeving niet voor eenzelfde doorbraak gezorgd als de rood-blauwe leunstoel1

. De Zigzagstoel wordt in de geschiedenis van de twintigste-eeuwse vormgeving veelvuldig genoemd als voorbeeld van de synthese tussen vorm, functie en constructie die door Gerrit Rietveld werd nagestreefd.
De zigzagstoel omsluit de ruimte niet, maar doorsnijdt haar met vier vlakken: rug, zitting, poot en grondvlak.2

Volgens Rietveld corresponderen de beeldende kunsten, schilderkunst, beeldhouwkunst en architectuur met de drie elementen van het zien: schilderen met kleur, beeldhouwkunst met vorm, architectuur met ruimte. De beeldhouwkunst moest zich concentreren op één zintuig: het oog. Via het oog kan de mens ruimte evenaren, aldus Gerrit Rietveld.

Rietveld citeert dichter Tagore:

Door begrenzing, van het onbegrensde wordt de waarheid werkelijkheid”.

De Zigzagstoel was voor Rietveld een oefenterrein, een middel om nieuwe ideeën, materialen en technieken uit te proberen. De Duitse meubelontwerpers en fabrikanten Heinz (1902) en Bodo Rasch (1903-1995) hadden al eerder een stoel gemaakt met een Z-vorm, de “Geiststuhl”, maar daarin speelde de ruimtelijke werking geen rol, zoals bij Rietveld zijn Zigzagstoel.

Ida van Zijl noemt in Gerrit Rietveld, de doelstelling van Rietveld consistent, “Hij wil een deel van de onbegrensde ruimte afzonderen en op menselijke schaal brengen om die ruimte als werkelijkheid te kunnen beleven. Dat is en blijft de essentie van zijn werk, los van alle experimenten met materialen en technieken en variatie in zijn stijl”.3

Gerrit Rietveld speelde met de begrenzing tussen binnen en buiten. Kleur is voor Rietveld een middel om de begrenzing van ruimte te structureren. Vorm en kleur stimuleren een actieve waarneming die mensen uitnodigt om het werk te leren kennen.

Als literatuurwetenschapper denk ik bij het aanschouwen van de Zigzagstoel direct aan de letter Z, aan poëzie en vooral aan taal. Ik schreef een gedicht. Waarom heeft Gerrit Rietveld voor deze letter gekozen? Wat betekent Zigzag eigenlijk, waar lijkt zij op? Hoe klinkt de Z, de laatste letter van het alfabet als je de Z voortdurend gebruikt. Wat voor ruimte ontstaat er als er een stemhebbende letter Z in een ruimte wordt geplaatst? Is er zo weinig nieuws over de Zigzagstoel geschreven omdat zij niet te vangen is in beeld of taal? Omdat zij zig-zagt? Beweegt? De Z wordt een kunstwerk op zich, soms ontsnapt er kunst, in Rietveld’s woorden. De Z wordt onderdeel van de ruimte, haar voeten raken de grond, maar zij blijft toch ook een object.

Peter Vöge noemt in The Complete Rietveld Furniture de Zigzagstoel conceptueel interessant en niet zozeer interessant als sculptuur. Vöge is van mening dat de Zigzag stoel zo interessant is omdat het een dynamische kwaliteit heeft door de diagonale vorm, “Like a crouching animal about to convert watchful suspense into vigorous action”.

Voor mij is de Zigzagstoel een ruimtelijk beeld dat autonoom wordt als letter, als Z, als bewegende vorm, die je van alle kanten zou willen bekijken. De Zigzagstoel als oneindige letter, want het alfabet begint na de Z weer opnieuw bij de A tot de Z en weer opnieuw. Voor mij is de Zigzagstoel een bliksemflits en een gierzwaluw zonder poten die ongrijpbaar in de lucht blijft hangen, zonder vastigheid.
De Z- Zigzag als kunstwerk, als stoel, als experiment, als overdenking, als trillend geluid, als zin, als gedachtezigzag. Oneindig veel mogelijkheden zitten er in de Z, zie ik, want na het zien van de Zigzagstoel zie ik overal Z, Z,z, z Z.

 salie zigzag stoelen

ZigZag- salie Tekeningen

 

1,2,3 page 189, Ida van Zijl, Gerrit Rietveld

Lamp Science


Saturday, September 28, 2013

 

Gispen’s Giso lamp (model 24)

A lamp, a simple product. A lamp only needs to give light, you have to turn on the light and after that you don’t have to touch it anymore. So a product designer is not really limited to the function of it, except the fact that it must give light. Or is this not true? Despite of all the possibilities to create a decorative lamp, Willem Hendrik Gispen made a really minimalistic lamp, the ‘Giso Lamp’ []. Only a white opal glass shade and a frosted glass above it, but that simplicity, I think, is the power of it. Willem Hendrik Gispen (1890-1981) was a dutch designer. In 1916 he began his own forge, called ‘W.H. Gispen & Co’, where he created crafted products. But in the twenties Gispen  became increasingly influenced by the design ideas of De Stijl and he switched from traditional to mechanized production. In 1926 he designed and produced the Giso lamps, it became a big success. The Giso lamp (Nr. 24) is a pendant lamp and  has a shade made of white opal glass that is 25 cm and a frosted glass disk that is 43 cm, the stem is made of nickeled metal. The opal glass ensures that the light is not really intense, but soft. The disk ensures that the light is not going up but only going down, the reason why most of all the lamps have a hood is interesting. Maybe a lamp is not only to give light, but also to give it a direction. There are a lot of Giso lamps [], but I think Nr.24 is one of the nicest, because of that disk above the shade.

This lamp is an interesting starting point to look at the vision of Gispen about de art of light. Gispen says that in the theatre the only place is where they control the light so good, that it became a real lighting art. This is because they focus on the most essential element: the light, and they are constantly occupied with the goal: lighting. If you want to make a lamp, you should be aware of the technique and also the goal: the right light on the right place. The requirements that must be set by a good lamp are  of different kind: physically, technical, economic, psychic. There are two groups that create lamps, but not with all the suspects. Architects and artist only focus on the psychic suspect, but then rarely on the main points of this suspect: colour and mood of the light. They only focus on the carrier of the light source, the lamp or ornament. The meaning of a lamp and the way to show it be interchanged. He thinks of all possibilities, an interesting way of hang up, or he creates lamps in the form of a square, instead of round, or a lamp out of wood. He thinks about everything except the fact that a lamp must be an object that light the space as good as possible. The other group is the group that only focus on the technical and economic suspect of a lamp, they want to create the best formula: the most light for the lowest costs. A lot of calculations and math, but a moderate result.

Gispen_Model24_redu

 
I will explain the different requirements.

The physic requirements: the light must be calm and not flicker, that is harmful to the eye. Also the light must not be too strong, that is also harmful for the eye. So you have to cover the light source. You can see how it is done in the Giso lamp. The shade is made of Giso-glass, the best kind of crystal glass, in minimal achievable thickness, (1mM.) covered with a layer of white glass, to a thickness of only 1/5 mM. They make the light pleasant and soft and only lose 10-15% of the light. Also the light must not be too weak. If the light is too weak it requires too much effort from the eye.

The technical requirements: the light out of a lamp can be controlled, by the use of reflectors, diffusers and light-breakers. The light can be absorbed and reflected, the way it absorbed and reflects depends on the material that is used for the reflectors, diffusers or light breakers. So you need to know about materials if you want to create a good lamp. There are also three different ways of lighting: – direct lighting. The reflector is so made that the light goes straight to one place, and is very concentrated. Examples are outdoor lighting or lights in a storefront.

-Indirect lighting: you get this light to let the light first been shined on to the ceiling. But the shadow it creates is so small that you get a surrealistic feeling, and also it is really expensive because the efficiency is only 35%.
-Half-indirect lighting: the best for general lighting. You’ll get this light if you put the lamp in a diffuser of a particular form. The light will shine in all directions . The Giso lamps are made to create this half-indirect lighting. But what you can see, the Giso lamp Nr. 24 has also a reflector above the diffuser, so the light won’t go up to the ceiling.

Economic requirements: maximum efficiency at minimum power consumption. Giso glass is perfect for this efficiency. It has a huge perseverance.

Psychic requirements: the place where a lamp hangs is of course important for how it looks like, a lamp in a living room must be different than a lamp in a party room or a storefront. As you have read there are many different requirements that a lamp must meet. They already decide what a lamp should look like, but you still can design a lamp as good as possible. For example Gispen uses soft gold bronze instead of dark bronze, so there is less contrast between the white shaves and the metal. The Giso lamp (Nr. 24) does not hang on a clumsy chain, but on a fine metal tube.

So maybe it was not true that a lamp is just a simple product. You have to be aware of all kind of different suspects if you want create a lamp, as Gispen did. But if you think it doesn’t matter at all, you can make whatever you want, without looking at all the requirements. (in my experiment I look don’t really look at the requirement, only at the atmosphere.)

 

Light experiment

Experiment

So now we know what Gispen thoughts were about light. I wanted to do my own light experiment. I changed my lamp into different forms, to look what will happen with the lamp and my room when I make small changes. I used my lamp in my bedroom that has a reflector above the lamp, so the light is more concentrated on the floor and less on the ceiling (like the Giso lamp number 24). I put all kind of different things under the lamp or covered it. The changes are huge, you can see it in the pictures, but it was even more in reality. If we look at the physic requirements I think Gispen would say that I made really bad lamps, because they are often too weak. Personally I like weak light, I liked the one with the white paper around the lamp, and the light concentrated on one point of my room and the rest of the room was less light. Economically it were also not really good lamps, a lot of light gets absorbed so it was not really: maximum efficiency at minimum power consumption. But my experiment was not about creating a good lamp. But about what little changes to a lamp do with the atmosphere of the room. I found out that it changes a lot to a room, but also really your mood. When found out that when the light changed, so my view at my room changed, so my mood changed. The best example was maybe the one with the color, the blue was cold and the red warm. Also the weakness of the light matters to my mood, the darker, the more I get into a mysterious almost melancholic mood. So I discovered through this whole research the impact of a lamp in a room. And that is bigger than I first thought.

 

Light experiment

 

Gesamtkunstwerk ?


Saturday, September 28, 2013

ARNE JACOBSEN (11 February 1902 – 24 march 1971) is a danish architect and designer. He was first able working as an architect, then mostly influenced by the modernist ideas. Typically, modernists reject decorative motifs, to emphasize more on materials, pure geometrical forms, function and adaptation to the industry.
Following the modernist philosophy, Jacobsen concieved buildings such as the Stelling House on Gammeltorv (left picture), or the SAS Royal Hotel (right picture), both in Copenhaguen.

old-square-gammel-torv-gammeltorv-_-6-k-c-3-b-8benhavn_700_0 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

He went to design products because of his interest for the Gesamtkunstwerk concept. It concerned the preoccupation of building a place as a whole, every objects matter, one place (architecture, furniture’s, light…) is driven by one full concept, vision.
Jacobsen’s design products are therefore influenced by modernist ideals, but are more precisely a part of the organic modernist movement. This movement gave to Denmark and Scandinavian countries a particular place in modern design. Jacobsen played an important contribution to that.
The philosophy of organic modernism’s main concept is to emphasize on the harmony between human living and the world of nature, so that they are combined in an united, interrelated composition for a better living. Actually, it brings to modernism a humane element to its rationnalism. It’s to create clean, pure lines based on an understanding of classical furniture craftsmanship coupled with careful research into materials, proportions and the requirements of the human body.

Kokfelt House 1957 Kokfelt House

The Kokfelt House (1957) by Arne Jacobsen is a representation of what organic modernism can be in architecture.

Jacobsen uses craft and “natural” materials to build his design works. Jacobsen combines aesthetic for a better living and adaptation to industrial production (social matter); which made his works a critical and economic success in the 50’s.

The Egg

            The Egg is a chair designed in 1958 for the Radisson SAS hotel in Copenhagen. It is manufactured by Republic of Fritz Hansen.
The chair answers to the project Jacobsen was commissioned for : designing the whole hotel. He could therefore fully following his interest on the Gesamtkunstwerk concept.
The Egg is considered as a triumph concerning Jacobsen’s design : the organic form of the chair constrats with  the building’s almost exclusively vertical and horizontal surfaces. Jacobsen searched for the perfect shape by first sculpting clay in his own garage. This shape offers to the user a bit of privacy in a public space such as the hall of the hotel. It also can be used in a private place such a home to lounge. The Egg is available in a wide variety of fabric upholstery as well as leather, always combined with a star shaped base in satin polished aluminium.
By combining pure organic form, industrial adaptation, craft (strong foam inner shell underneath the upholstery technique), and conception as a part for a whole; the Egg is an excellent representation of how was design conceived in Scandinavian countries in the 50’s.

 

Interior of SAS Royal Hotel Interior of SAS Royal Hotel

        This piece shows a particular vision on human living. A better living combining functionnalism (research of materials), human proportions (requirements of the body) and aesthetic (part of a whole, pure forms). It allows the user to take distance from the flows going through public spaces or even in a private one; to find again a bit of intimacy. In a world where we are constantly solicitated, this chair offers with a cleaned form the possibility to manage to deal with those requests. That doesn’t mean to disconnect, but to get better relation to our environment.

         I wonder if the search for better living through the concept of Gesamtkunstwerk, which was the main preoccupation of Jacobsen, can be found in our daily lives. What happens to interior spaces when they are not conceived by professionals, but by individuals. Can we find the concept of Gesamtkunstwerk in vernacular spaces ? Do the objects, the planning of the space allow the user to enter one full vision of it ?

IS GESAMTKUNSTWERK UNCONSCIOUSLY PRESENT AROUND US ?

The Bel Air chair


Thursday, September 26, 2013

2011EN5032_jpg_l 2006AG2159_jpg_l

 

I think it’s pretty obvious why someone would want to write about this the iconic ‘Bel Air’ chair by Californian designer and ceramist Peter Shire. It’s simply not just another designer chair we see every day! “Quirky but sophisticated, playful but not over-the-top” was my first impression on this piece. There were also many questions that popped in my mind. The quarter circle backrest and the ball shaped “chair leg” for instance – why are they there? Why in such forms? And what about the rest of the design? It’s one of those designs that made me so curious, so now let’s get it started…
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Peter Shire’s often revealed traces of the surfing culture in his homeland through his work, always so full of colours and “cheerfulness” : I see the sharp line of the quarter circle which is in contrast with the round form of the elbow rest. The backrest is partly based on shark fins, and on the Stevens House by architect John Lautner (see below), located on the beach in Malibu.

John-Lautner-Stevens-House-78-Malibu-Colony-Rd-3_0

 

One thing interesting thing about Peter Shire is that, his design are very creative reinterpretations of normal forms. His work can be seen as art rather than solely functional designer objects (which he also explained in this interview). A good example would be the teapots he designed. Looking at how the teapots appear in various shapes and “movements”, I start to wonder if they are maybe 3D drawings rather than just real teapots (but can some of them really function properly as a teapot..?)

 

IMG_15841 7292938_1 Peter_Shire_City_Hall_Teapot_2003_630_88

Some of the teapots by Peter Shire

 

Now back to the Bel Air chair – of course it does function perfectly as a chair (given it has all the essential elements of a chair: seat, back, legs..), but it can also easily fall into the category of ‘art work’. Take a look at the chair again, doesn’t it look like a giant sculpture composed of geometrical shapes, or something you can find in a kids playground? 

And this is exactly the kind of playfulness and quirkiness that I like about the chair. This piece has so much to examine and look at. Everything changes when you look at it from different angles. Yet the elements come together very well, like a harmonious explosion of shapes and colours.

 

bel_air_peter_shire_memphisbel_air_peter_shire_memphis_facebel_air_shire_memphis_milano

AP0200_1_peter_shire_400AP0200_2_peter_shire_zoom

 

Now, the best part of the design has to be the bright orange plastic ball. I can totally imagine everyone looking at it twice, or more. No regular looking chair leg is found here, instead we only see this plastic ball giving a memorable twist to the piece of work, truly an uncommon but fun element to look at. It definitely brought the final result to a whole new level.

It didn’t surprise me a lot when I found out the super fun Bel Air chair was the most important contribution of Peter Shire to the Italian design group Memphis. Yes, the quite crazy and very much groundbreaking Memphis Italian group, always challenging the narrow constraints of traditional Italian furniture design. Peter Shire’s involvement in the Group came about after his ceramic work attracted the eye of Ettore Sottsass, one of the founders of Memphis. Sottsass found Shire’s ceramics “fresh, witty, and full of information for the future”. The group invited Shire to Milan to work with them.

 

memphis-group2011ET6775_bedin_superlamp_bulbedettoresottsasscarlton1981
The word “ordinary” just doesn’t exist in the dictionary of the Memphis…

 

As previously mentioned, the Memphis design held the intention to break away from the conventional and conversation sides of general retro classic Italian furniture design. So let’s recall a bit: traditional Italian furniture has been popular since renaissance periods and was used by the royalty. One can easily associate words like “classic”, “elegant”, “deluxe”, “expensive” with the style. Colours that are commonly used would be, let’s say, white, ivory, gold and brown etc.

On the contrary, the Memphis stroved to design products which were much more than just furniture—but also political statements, existential metaphors, and visual poetry. Everything. The Memphis were expert at communicating their ideas with colourful decoration and asymmetrical shapes. They have also been described as “bizarre”, “misunderstood”, “loathed”. It’s simply a collection with endless possibilities and surprise.

As for the style and works of Peter Shire, I can see that they do fit perfectly into the Memphis aesthetic.

One nice comparison with the Bel Air Chair would be the Kristall pedestal table by DE LUCCHI Michele (see below). Initially we see colourful and eye-catching components in just one table: a bright yellow top, black and white body, and four blue-gray legs. It reminds me of the first time I laid my eyes on the Bel Air chair. So unique, so eccentric, so unforgettable. Just like the Bel Air chair, the structure of table looks rather simple. Yet there are so much to look at when the graphics come as a whole: the brights colours, forms, shapes, and the very much Pop Art inspired tone…

 

gueridon-kristall

 

The Memphis just isn’t too Memphis without asymmetrical shapes. So here we see this table appears in such manner (It was in interpretation of the Apollo XI Space Mission, in case you wondered). The outwardly placed yellow top in the Kristall pedestal table gives a similar result as the bright orange plastic ball in the Bel Air Chair. They are not simply placed there to form a asymmetrical shape, I see them much more than that – the ultimate surprise and highlight of the work. Indeed, the table top and the chair leg both give a little “bizarre” and asymmetrical twist to the final look of the pieces of furniture, revolutionizing common objects, which is pretty much a very important part of the spirit and essence of the Memphis style.

Anthon Beeke plays


Thursday, September 26, 2013

This is a poster for an exhibition in the Stedelijk museum by Anthon Beeke.

Anthon Beeke-dansendemeisjes-stedelijk

It has been printed in several different colored layers which show dancing figures. Anthon Beeke designed this poster in 1995. He sought to achieve independence from the rules of typography, and from popular trends.  This unconventional move has earned him a unique place in the Dutch graphic design history.

Before I came to Gerrit Rietveld Academie I graduated in graphic design on the Media College Amsterdam. After four years I disliked graphic design so much that it made me come to Rietveld. This graphic design school is very strict and technical without much freedom. Form follows function, as they say. You learn more to become a desk top publisher. I learned about Anthon Beeke but did not really notice because it was not allowed.

But not long ago I rediscovered his work and I really started to admire the pleasure he puts in his work, Form follows fun! And I totally agree with this concept. It makes possibilities limitless. One of the reasons why I came to Rietveld is to create without boundaries, because I really felt constricted. Since he was the first to step out of these rules I decided to chose this poster. It got my attention right away, in spite of the fact that the line of sight was partly blocked by some other objects at the entrance viewpoint.

I think it is not his best poster design but I chose this object more or less because of the artists. The whole poster looks like an accidental moved photo at a party with a lot of dancing. The font that he chose adds to the dancing, it is if the letters are dancers as well. I also like the fact that it is a layered print, nowadays this look is easily Photoshopped, but he experimented with the layers and colours.

Anthonbeeke-dansendemeisjes-closeup

At the graphic design study I learned the Do’s and Dont’s which you have to obey. Of course it is good to obey these rules and if you don’t it easily becomes a bad design, but if you don’t obey and do it well it will become way more interesting then following the rules. It’s more exciting. I had to make a poster explaining typography rules this is a small part of the poster showing the Dont’s.

Don'ts typography

It’s in dutch, this is the translation:

Use more then 3 typefaces.

Align text in Block form.

Use outline on a font.

Right text alignment.

Chinese typography, line the text from top to bottom.

Obvious rules, but if you break them it could be so interesting, Anthon Beeke did this many times and he is one of the designers that could do that well.

Hollandfestival-Anthonbeeke

All the dont’s i learned are in this poster, but he did it so well that its interesting and exciting but also readable and understandable. There is a story behind this poster as well. The theme of Holland festival was avant-garde in the second world war. He used a poster of Dirk Elffers and painted it white.

Dirkelffers-weerbaredemocratie

And the Typography is copied form a letterproof of Piet Zwart. ”Pure stealing, a shame!” Anthon Beeke said. Every time he sees the poster he has to smile, because the poster says on the left side, Designgraphy: Dick Elffers, Piet Zwart, Anthon Beeke.

But what inspires me the most is that you can see in his design that he is having fun making design. In dutch graphic design it’s called grafisch vormgeven, vormgeven means form-giving, giving things form, sounds so much nicer then design. But that is really what he did, he has an assignment and looks at the possibilities (while playing) and starts giving it a form.

viewoncolour-AnthonBeeke-knitting-itsamiracle

This is for a magazine called ‘View on Colour’ which he published with his wife Lidewij Edelkoort. In this cover, about knitting, you can see something you can not think off from the start, you have to play and have fun to surprise yourself and have something to use.

James Victore says something very interesting is the book It’s a miracle about Anthon Beeke’s work.

”Anthon Beeke always kept playing. A lot of other graphic artist look more like accountants with posh watches and they don’t ask themselves what impact their design has. He plays for his own pleasure and to surprise himself. He doesn’t make work for clients, not for commissions, not for the money, its not even about the assignment or design it self – Its about him. And because its about him it’s about us. The more authentic and personal it becomes, the more impressive his designs becomes gives it more dept; it speaks to us, we can here him snigger of fun. He speaks to us because he gives himself to us. Anthon plays”(Translated from dutch version, not original quote)

I have nothing more to add or say because this quote says it all.

Bye-Anthonbeeke-nudeabc

I like Hutten


Thursday, September 26, 2013

tabel chair orange

 

Both parts are built by straight lines and rectangle forms. So plain and elegant it is easy to walk by. The work contains out of two separate parts that together create an object we recognize as a chair. The Table Chair is manufactured by Droog Design and can be found in different variations. The Table Chair is the exam work of  Richard Hutten when he graduated from the Design academy in Eindhoven.
It takes some time to realize how the different parts work together. My brain process what I see. What is the object and what do I think the object is? Can I try it, Please? How would a dinner party or a meeting work out when using Table Chairs? There is a feeling of being tricked. The designer  have a sharp sense of humor.

Design has always struck me as a contest in elitism, tyring-to-be-smart and commercial profit. The Table Chair’s supposed function is completely unpractical and has no intention to flirt with the viewer. Richard Hutten’s complete lack of compromise with his customers, the material and his own creative process is something I admire. I’m attracted to the Table Chair because of it’s obviousness. Still I haven’t seen anything like it before. The Table Chair is such a conceptual piece that it first makes me laugh and then gets me interested in the designers other works. It makes me see a 40 min long interview with Richard Hutten on YouTube. It makes me consider the DesignLAB program at Rietveld. It makes me visit the store that distribute Richard Hutten‘s other work. It makes me question my own sense of  value. And it makes me like his Facebook page. I like Richard Hutten.

Parkrand Building, Entrence

Parkrand building, seen from east

The Parkrand Surveillance

                                                                      

The ultimate Hutten experience, a journey through Amsterdam
I. Contact
I send an email to Richard Hutten Studio and ask for information about where I can find Huttens works in Amsterdam. Favorably somewhere I can experience the works in any way. While thinking about what to do next I use Huttens own method and start playing around, in Photoshop. I realize how fantastic color combinations you can find and that everybody really do look better in black and white.

II. Action
I have never been west of the Rembrandt park before. On my way to the Parkrand building I notice how the neighborhoods I pass differs to the area I live in. There is much less shops and almost no restaurants. The houses people live in have smaller windows and are not as old as the houses in the Museumkwartier. I recall a sequence in an interview with Richard Hutten where he speaks about cultural and social design. He says that is the only design that interests him. The Parkland-project is a typical example of cultural and social design to improve the reputation and well-being of the suburbs west of Amsterdam. The Parkrand building is an apartment complex where Richard Hutten designed three outdoor rooms: one room for children, one living room and one dinning room. I get to Doctor H. Colijnstraat and start looking for a way in to the outdoor rooms. I can’t get in anywhere. I try to follow a couple of construction workers but then I reach a locked door and see the surveillance cameras.

III. Capital
There is one place in Amsterdam where I know I have a chance to see Richard Hutten design products close up. The droog store near Nieuwmarkt distribute Richard Huttens design and has Richard Hutten design works on display. I recognize three. The Loo Table, a extremly small table with a stick coming up from the center, it keeps toilette paper rolls in place, 59,00 €. The Leaves, small and strong magnets put together with plastic leaves, 29,95 €. The Domoor cup, an oversized childrens cup that make passing tourists to fascinatingly mimic the drinking movement. I realize that it is a rich mans world and pay 10 €.

IV. Use
A black Domoor cup, also known as Dombo, with tea. My father laughs when he sees me. “What is that?!” I explain to him that it is my new cup. He asks me if I like it. I tell him I do.

Playing is the reason The Loo table at Droog Design

How to drink from a Dombo mug

 


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