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"furniture" Tag


From death to life


Monday, February 19, 2018

I found « Clay furniture » by Maarten Baas really interesting as a design object.

Clay furniture by Maarten Baas

First of all, I noticed the colors. Afterwards, the shapes. My first impression of the piece was that it was more similar to a three dimensional drawing than to an object in space. It has very clear lines and really simple shapes. I like this work because, more than just being a practical, usable furniture, its unusualnature made it seem more like a work of art. Maarten Baas tried to build objects that remind a part of the human body, I saw that when a man sits on a chair he becomes one with this chair. He was inspired by the human body to give a unique shape to his furniture. In this way they become like molds of the human body.

Clay furniture by Maarten Baas

By using clay as his material of choice to create his furniture, it seemed to me that the artist was expressing fragility. The shapes that the clay creates (not straight or parallel lines), adds to this idea of being fragile. Again, I think this refers back to the human body and its own fragility (bones can brake).

The shape of the furniture is very fluid. I got the impression that the legs were almost moving. It isn’t a very solid shape, not fixed to the floor. It’s a very fluid shape.

The chairs have a very different form than that of the classic ones (which we would expect from a chair), although his purpose was not to recreate the classic chair.

The colors used aimed to give life to these objects. Maarten Baas changed the nature of a stool and a chair. It’s not even just a chair or a table, but something we are going to live with.

This design work takes place on « Jump in to the futur » ’s exhibition which gives us an idea of what was and is the 90’s and 2000’s design and how it grew up during the years. I gave my attention to the neons ’s work which, for me, made a guiding principle during the whole exhibition, the works of Cerith Wyn Evans, Bruce Nauman and so on. When arrived in front of the Clay furniture of Baas I directly thought about these neons which linked the art works between each other, with these clear lines, easy to break like the glass of neon; they all looked like uncertain props. I also saw a real freedom of color during these 90’s and 2000’s designs which pursued in Baas’ work.

I finally found smart to put the « Clay Furniture » close to the paintings of Maria Lassing and in front of a big installation where we have to look above the wall to see what’s happening, because « Clay furniture » also looks like ladders.

 

Quite ironically, Baas has tried to bring life by torturing.

Going from decomposing a ready made to creating an artwork in its whole, metamorphosis remains the link to his works.

He firstly buys ready made furniture, which he destroys to create his own. From life, he uses death to give birth. Cutting, mutilating, burning, he ends with the suffocation of the object by applying varnish, letting the object remainwhat it has become.

Smoke by Maarten Baas

Uncertain, colorful shapes, simple and childish, Baas tenderises us with his Clay furnitures. The proximity with the human body surely does give us a sympathetic effect.

Torned feet, broken back, Bass plays with this uneven symmetry to destabilise us. Will they dare to?

Although seemingly nurturing with this simplistic and joyful harmony, I wonder if these works really are as sympathetic as they may let you believe. With these harsh, cold materials, what would our bum think when sitting on a chair made of clay? Wouldn’t the fragility of our bones be going through hard times?

Fragility of the human body, fragility of clay. Have we ever wondered if a chair would be fighting our weight? Alike human legs, the chair’s feet seem uncertain. Homemade, these furnitures take a more artistic dimension than that of a classic one. With these fine drawn lines, as I said above, the air runs through and gives to this chair, this table or this cupboard a lightness that reminds that of a three dimensional poetry. The softness of the paint recovered of varnish gives more comfort to the mind than to the body; however aren’t they both as important?

These furnitures become a real nice company. A touching fragility, friendly presence, comforting colors, amusing shapes, childish naivety.

Baas works in harmony with space, and finds a way to link his works.

Starting with very gloomy, dusty works, darkness reigns over his graduation work.

Baas has produced a real contrast between his two works « Smoke » and « Clay Furniture ».

A real meltdown of materials, processing and concepts, Baas presents us two projects which have similar use but are visually opposite.

Smoke by Maarten BaasClay furniture by Maarten Baas

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.

    

cafe

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

caps

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

cafe1

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

cafe2

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€.

Painting, smoking, eating, chairs, table, shelf.


Sunday, January 21, 2018

Oil, canvas, metal, clay,

Met in the Stedelijk one day.

 

A strong effect can be produced with simple actions. Sometimes it makes a big difference just to put together things that never met each other before.

Maarten Baas’s clay furniture is something that I didn’t see at the times of the old Stedelijk permanent exhibition. The composition includes are different size coloured chairs, a bookshelf and a small table. Objects are placed on white square shelves attached to a wall on different levels. They are actually made out of a synthetic clay put on top of a metal skeleton.

It would be difficult to write about only one of these objects because they are placed so close to each other that I immediately thought of them as one composition.

philip guston and clay furniture

The wall where all the clay furniture is exhibited happens to be next to a painting “Painting, smoking, eating” by Phillip Guston. This neighbourship doesn’t seem to be random. Put in this corner of space the all these objects create a common vibe. Thick and handcrafted legs of clay furniture resonate with fat lines of paint on Guston’s canvas. The furniture and the painting are so alike that you can easily imagine these chairs, the table and the shelf to appear from the Guston’s painting which makes them highly connected. The painting is so much overlayered with paint that it produces the visual effect of the furniture almost dripping on the floor. Both furniture and painting have this tactility in them. You can see how thick and greasy the layers of the paint are so you want to touch the cars to feel the softness of clay.

marten baas clay tablePhilip Guston

To conclude I’d like to emphasise again how beneficial the neighbourship of these objects happened to be. Putting Guston’s  painting and Baas’s furniture together solved the problem of placing artworks in the space in a whole new way.

Marshall Moderism


Wednesday, October 14, 2015

IMG_0377_2

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

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

Tomado Bookcase

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

Jacques Seeuwes Desk

 

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

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

tomado bij charlie ikea

 

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

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

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

e4436177fef81c8674471797ff6828ba f_10547351_1

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

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

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

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

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

 

Colouring Interiors


Thursday, November 24, 2011

 

There is no spectacular reason why I chose this Wendingen magazine. I haven’t had the luck to know anyone who owns such furniture or designed their home according to the Amsterdam School. But maybe because I know so little about the Amsterdam School and the Stijl I became curious in it’s influence on present design, art and architecture. Additionally, how do we people living in the 21st century look at the ideologies of the artists like Piet Kramer, Gerrit Rietveld and W. M. Dudok? Also, what do we think of the photographs of interiors that were designed by these designers?

 


The first thing I thought of when I saw the photographs is that I wouldn’t want my house to consist of only primary colors with the black, white and gray colour combination. I generally find their houses too impersonal and geometrical because of the lack of spontaneity and absurdity.
The Schröder-Rietveld House, however, I find exceedingly playful because of the ability to turn an open space into separate private rooms. Also, the practicality of the house is simple, sincere and has its particular charm.

The main reason why I liked this ‘Wendingen’ magazine was because of the numerous black/white photographs. My focus also drew to the captions underneath the photographs as they tried to describe the colors of the furniture, which you could not see or even guess.

For some years ago I liked to find old , black & white pictures of random rooms. I would use colored pencils to color these, for example, living rooms or dining rooms in. I would attempt to make the color combinations expressive, intense and sometimes clashing so they become livelier.

I like to work with themes such as nostalgia: focus on the beauty as on the absurdity of it. The furniture in the ‘Wendingen’ issue have a touch of nostalgia now, which I do not believe that someone like Rietveld or Kramer would have wanted their designs to turn into. This is simply bound to happen, so the interesting part to it now is what to do with these photos in the Wendingen issue?

There were several photographs of Piet Kramer‘s work in the issue, which I genuinely like, and who is now one of the known key figures of the Amsterdam School. I did a bit of investigation on him to see what else he has made, how his style developed and who he worked with etc. This I considered to share on the blog but I did not desire to simply focus on him but specifically on the work shown in the issue. I wanted to rediscover the style of the Amsterdam School and turn these practical and geometrical methods into something bourgeois and decorative and work against their ideology, without offending them.

 

(more…)


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