In a previous post about the 2016 Dutch Design Week and especially its core event, the design academy graduation show, I was very intrigued/impressed by a student’s universe, Emma Wessel‘s, who was at the time displaying her textile creations and the look book putting them in perspective. The creations were very interesting but the pictures in the book were even more. They showed a very precise and coherent universe. With not much, she could create a very different yet very sensible world, where each object is carefully selected for a reason (purple, pink and blue colors, foamy consistencies, plays on draperies etc.). Emma also created a piece called Palettes which consists in a weaving of foam, rope and wood that can be used as a sitting, a room divider or a carpet, indifferently.
This year, the show in Eindhoven was about other students, and another aesthetic (cf post about Hala Tawil & Elissa Lacoste), but next to the Design Academy show, taking place this time in a place called Campina, was something that totally blew my mind. It was mysteriously entitled “Envisions and Finsa”. There was also something about the Gent museum, I understood later that this meant that there would be a show of this collaboration in Gent at the same time. But what is/are «Envisions » ?
It is a collective of designers longing for teamwork and solidarity and creating this brand new aesthetic that I had seen in Emma Vessel’s work. The first part of the show was really about this collaboration with Finsa – Finsa is a wooden board company trying to find new products – so the new products were interesting and their « mise en scène » was very imaginative: creating a giant black box in black MDF to create only a few views on a board and mirror landscape. But what really caught my attention was the dinner scene Envisions had arranged on the first floor.
The generosity of Envisions is this eye for « total » design. Each detail has been carefully worked on. I later learned that their catalogue was introduced by the great Hella Jongerius (one of the founders of Droog design, one of the queen of Dutch design, who has all her life worked on crafts and imperfections). She mentioned the similarities between Droog and Envisions. This really means that we are hitting a cornerstone here, but Envisions’ approach is less about each single individual talent than about the energy of the group, and the way one can really move forward by crossing all the hyper specialisations of the designers of the team.
The Founder and Art Director:
Born in Sweden and raised in Arnhem, Sanne Schuurman studied both interior architecture and architecture before realising she wanted to downsize in project scale, and definitely not just remix designs made by others. To have a hand in the aesthetic and making of a space’s details – from the curtains to furniture, lighting and floors – is what makes her tick. With an entrepreneurial spirit, Schuurman simultaneously founded her own studio in Eindhoven as well as two group-focused initiatives, the process-oriented design collective Envisions and De Design Shop, a pop-up which brings designer’s work to the market. ‘I think a designer is a connector and collaborator. You need to be able to dive into different worlds and be able to gather useful knowledge to apply to your processes. As soon as you start to collaborate and open up your practice – like an open source – you can achieve things on a bigger scale, joining forces instead of wandering around in your own imagination.’ Schuurman’s playful and experimental way of working is immersed into a layered world of color, material and texture. Not decoration applied as after-thoughts, ornate patterns result from the research-driven process behind material combinations and constructions.
Iwan Pol is a designer and one of the co-founders of envisions. We at hlow had discovered his work with concrete a few years ago (cf image). He works in Rotterdam such as the majority of « envisionaires » as they call themselves so we will only mention the locations of the ones not based in Rotterdam.
Simone Post is a textile and product designer and a former intern of the Jongeriuslab.
Thomas Dirrix is one of the new envisionaires, he is a conceptuel architect. Adrianus Kunderts is a designer interested in the process of erosion and of natural patina. Aukje Fleur Janssen mixes product design with the creation of patterns (mostly geometrical but not only) to create unexpected results. Bastiaan De Nennie is a designer positioning himself at the crossroads of digital and physical, using 3D scanner and printer. Elvis Wesley – pseudonym of Wesley de Boer – is a graphic designer and illustrator who worked in the Jongeriuslab. Emma Wessel whom we’ve already talked about is working in Eindhoven. She mixes design and fashion, she calls for a « versatile use of inner products ». Fred Erik – the pseudonym of Frederik Deschuytter – is a conceptual designer and design thinker based in Brussels. Jeroen van de Gruiter is a product designer interested in the fusion of shape, proportion, color and texture. Lody Aeckerlin is is a movie maker and the frontman of ‘Oneirocular’, a motion-design studio based in Eindhoven. Robin Pleun Maas is a textile designer based in Borås, a city outside of Gothenburg, Sweden. Roel Deden is a digital maker based in Utrecht, focusing on virtual reality and its relationship to the design process, making micrometer-accurate models for production. Ronald Smits is the photographer of the crew, he is based in Eindhoven. He was a former intern of Erwin Olaf, and instead of simply documenting, he is interested in adding poetry to the pictures of the pieces produced by envisionaires. Roos Gomperts is a designer-slash-image maker creates playful fusions of contrasting materials. Rudi Boiten and Mireille Burger founded the Studio Plott in Eindhoven and have developed a computer-controlled machine which is able to print their own custom designs by extruding a molten plastic filament. Studio TrulyTruly is run by Joel and Kate Booy, a duo coming from Queensland, Australia but based like the others, in Rotterdam. They are focussing on furniture and lamps. One of their most popular product is the PS armchair produced for Ikea in 2017 (cf image). Team Thursday is a graphic design studio that focuses on the design and art direction of visual identities. Tijs Gilde works in Eindhoven. He combines trends forecasting with his well-developed skill in product design (cf image). Based in the Dutch city of Hertogenbosch, Thomas Trum is an artist-slash-designer with paint as his muse. And the last: the Eindhoven based Studio Vantot, (Esther Jongsma and Sam van Gurp) creates beautiful lamps and plays with current (cf image of a lamp called « Current Currents »).
This makes a group of 26, basically they recreated a class room, a game-changer, the representative group of a whole generation of style.
Judith Clark calls herself an “exhibition maker”. She has the rare talent to associate scenographer skills and those of a fashion show curator. Through fashion, Judith Clark likes to show her interest in architecture (her initial training), weaving new links between the inside or outside spaces of buildings and the architecture of a garment (cut, manufacturing secrets, invisible interlining etc.).
Views of the exhibition Chloé. Attitudes, Palais de Tokyo, Paris, 2012
The Uncertainty of the Poet 1913 Giorgio de Chirico 1888-1978 Tate Gallery
Her signature consists in playing with shapes and concepts, freely following associations of ideas, having fun and delivering unexpected translations. For her exhibition “Chloé. Attitudes “at the Palais de Tokyo in 2012, she reproduced one of Alfred Janiot’s bas-reliefs decorating the facade of the building, which she placed at the back of a showcase showing the Chloé dresses by Stella McCartney with applied rearing horses as motifs. In the same exhibition, she quoted a famous painting by Giorgio de Chirico, Gera (1913), by the juxtaposition of a giant banana photographed on the invitation card and an embroidered dress of a trompe l’oeil of chiton and peplos, clothes of Greek antiquity (see images bellow).
Views of the exhibition Homo Faber, Venice, 2018
Her latest exhibition “Fashion Inside and Out” at Homo Faber, shows her gift for surprising and inspiring associations of ideas. Organized by the Michelangelo Foundation for Craftmenship, the exhibition held this summer in Venice on San Giorgio Maggiore, aimed to reveal what man does better than the machine. Within the 11 exhibition spaces of this vast project combining design, restoration workshops and demonstrations of craftsmanship, the fashion section was given a difficult space: a swimming pool out of use from the fifties with large windows overlooking the lagoon. But Judith Clark takes up the challenge, playing with the constraints of the place. As an allusion to Venice, she creates a pathway on pontoons and pilings in the middle of the pool, where three mannequins are crawling, headdressed by Stephen Jones in transparent plastic hats looking like splashes. As the title mentions it, “Fashion inside and out “, the show creates a confusion between the inside and the outside of the garment, between noble and rough textile through unusual diversions. The talent of the shown fashion designers become an ability to surprise. Haute Couture is made from poor materials, such as hessian cloth, or on the other side of the spectrum, a John Galliano raincoat turns out to be made out of totally permeable frayed silk organza. When fashion and crafts are concerned, one would expect to see twinkling embroidery of Swarovski crystals. But Judith Clark shows the unexpected: a Schiaparelli set consisting of 25,000 tiny knots, or a Chanel wood marquetry jacket by Karl Lagerfeld with a skirt entirely embroidered with sequins imitating cork.
Around the pool, the collaboration between Natacha Ramsay-Levi and Rithika Merchant is revealed. Judith shows the creative process from the initial inspiration: starting with two Chloé dresses by Karl Lagerfeld with large hand-painted patterns, then a few pattern essays that will end up not being used for final production, then fabrics from the atelier, and delicate little paper dolls created at the precise moment of the creative process, when the two-dimensional illustrations of Rithika Merchant were placed on the templates to turn them into dresses, moving sculptures … Visitors discover some of the many steps, errors and achievements behind the four fine figures that will eventually parade. If one can say that “the hand thinks”, clothing demonstrates it, in one of the most sensitive and alive ways.
Views of the exhibition Homo Faber, Venice, 2018
We had promised on our last post about Maison & Objet that there would be a next episode, so here it is.
We were very impressed by those little cubes by Jbj Interior, a Dutch fashion and embroidery brand which is now starting a new interior line.
Then we came across the creations of the German editor Ames. We especially liked their textile pieces.
In the young talent section, there was the work of a talented resin artist called Zuza Mengham.
The beautifully simple K-Lamp by the British editor Vitamin really caught our eyes (but you must know by now that we have a thing for terracotta).
Colonel had no new piece, but we love their 2016 neo Memphis collection very much and they are extremely talented and kind… so here they are too.
We are always impressed by the joint effort of a craftsmen using ancestral techniques and designers. This was the case when the Bouroullec brothers worked with the lacquer Japanese company in Wajima and created the first Wajima Lamps for Galerie kreo, and it is also the case with the Sebastian Conran workshop in Gifu (the Japanese town of paper lamps where the Akari lamps by Isamu Noguchi are made).
Then there were this piece, that we hesitated to leave in this article, because it is not what we usually call design, but it is indeed a very good idea. In fact for pilate amateur such as myself, it is a brilliant idea! I often asked myself whether it would be a good idea to have a pilate ball as a desk chair, but after searching for ages for an acceptable looking one, I usually gave up the idea. And my body paid the price for this snobism of mine. The brand Vluv has created an acceptable pilate ball, that you won’t need to hide, and my tummy thanks them for it.
The next piece is also outside of our usual box. It’s a new way, much cosier way, of designing office pieces. Here: a colorful and harmonious meeting board by the Suedish Lintex.
The last pictures for today’s post are not just simple pieces, the great Julien Renault, whom e have been following for years, have had the mission to entirely redesign a whole Belgian office furniture brand called Kewlox, and we simply love it!
The salon Maison & Objet, takes place in Villepinte, near Paris (France), twice a year, and this edition had plenty of things to show. These professional salons give a clear indication on trends and on the state of the market. We were there last week at the end of the salon. To be honest, all the design venues are at the moment quite interesting but not revolutionary, after marble and copper a few years ago, terrazzo for the past two years, we understand that the next new thing is resin, and industrial glass, but apart from that, there is no major mouvement. But this does not prevent us from appreciating some of the beautiful pieces, that once again, dearest reader, we would like to share with you.
The first thing we came accross was the very Memphis Maison Dada from Shanghai.
We had never seen the latest Bouroullec vase for Vitra in real life. It was the star of one of the greatest editorial of the latest months for the French AD (visible on Sight Unseen). We were glad to come find it on the Vitra booth and were surprised at how big it actually is and how its anodized aluminium appears to be totally immaterial.
The carpet brand CCTapis and their now famous Visioni by Patricia Urquiola and After Party by Garth Roberts
We also noticed La Chance‘s very colorful booth, with their very smart valet stand, called Jeeves by the architects Tolila + Gilliland, and Tapigri, a carpet by Nathalie Du Pasquier, one of the members of Memphis who specialized in 2 dimensional works and patterns. But you will tell me that these are not new pieces. As you can see if you regularly read this blog, I am not at all into the cult of newness…
We usually dismiss the design brands that are just about tricks: about one smart idea. But this one is a bit different, because it is a good idea, but it is incredibly beautiful! Meet the Danish brand Design Letters, and their letter board.
Renske Rothuizen‘s Lemonade Factory was quite something and brought the childhood and playful world back to grownups kitchens. It was influenced by post-modern design (which was one of the leitmotiv of the show) and particularly, according to us at Hlow, Sottsass‘s micro Roman architectures such as the Pausania lamp for Artemide.
Still in the kids area and in post-modernists influences: The Odd Ones by Mandy van der Heijden.
Julian Jay Roux‘s Relativistic Surfaces were very impressive for all kinds of reasons: they worked incredibly well, you could really see all the colors of the rainbow into them, but at the same time they had a very glossy finish thanks to transparent glass at its surface.
Tanita Klein‘s Norm is a big shelve which has the proportions of a standing man with his arms spread. It is at the same time very structure oriented and quite post-modern in its shapes, the combinaison of circles and lines.
Woojai Lee‘s Paperbricks are an attempt to use the rests of paper for construction as “paper is among the most produced and most discarded materials in the world. It can be recycled, but not indefinitely: with every cycle the fibres grow smaller and the quality downgrades. ‘Paper Bricks’ are made from recycled newspapers. Sturdy and stackable like real bricks they combine a pleasing marbled look with the warmth and soft tactility of paper or wood.”
The congratulated ATMOSPHERICAL POTENTIAL OF BOREDOM by Maxime Benvenuto is “a lexicon of words and notions related to boredom and (…) translated (…) into a series of material and visual elements. A hard, glossy, black tile for example, stems from the word ‘silence’. And a heavy steel cubicle hanging from a frame comes from the word ‘slow’. These 3D elements form a new language, revealing how boredom can be used to shape design.”
Emma Wessel‘s world is one of great continuity between fashion and design, one of vivid color and solid fabrics. Her project, a collection and its lookbook called Hide and Sleek, is simply incredibly beautiful.
At TAC, there was also the statement piece of yet another Eindhoven Academy graduate Teresa Mendler. This piece was the starting point of a textile project called Merging Cultures, and shown at the Academy, but we at Hlow, fell in love with the piece in itself, this self-sufficient beautiful collage:
We finished with the Van Abbemuseummuseum, where there was an incredible exhibition called Broken White organised by the Academy, once again, and I guess, there was many other great stuffs, but we had to put an end to this post. Anyway, Eindhoven is and still will remain one of the world centers of design.
We went to Kortrijk (Belgium) design show last week, and found some treasures we would like to share with you. Most of the pieces are creations by little Belgian editors. So we thought they needed a little highlight. But you will also find international talents, huge brands, self-produced designer pieces and gallery masterpieces, so follow us in this gorgeous labyrinthe.
Our first discovery: the German brand Atelier Haussmann. Here are Petite Table d’Angle and Blumenampel.
Beltrami‘s booth was also quite a surprise, just as we thought we had seen everything there is to see concerning marble, here they come with there laser cut beautifully shaped tiles and bath elements.
This week-end Hlow was in Eindhoven and in Kortrijk (of which you will also have a overview in a futur post). We discovered A LOT of great pieces. I guess you won’t have it all at once. So this is only the first part of our dicoveries in Eindhoven. We hope you will enjoy it as much we did. As a start I would like to talk about the city, Eindhoven, an industrial city, where everything is named after the big central mother company: Philip’s. But it is also a town that has managed to reconvert itself through design. It’s not only the place where the academy is located (one of the two best design schools in the world with the ECAL in Lausanne), it is also a place for all the designers to open their practice, as it is quite cheap and full of factory reconversion that are ideal for designers. As it is in the Netherlands, everybody was travelling by bike, there was nearly no cars, and the places were crowded. In Holland, we take design seriously!
First piece we came accross at the academy, was Mila Chorbadzhieva‘s Immemoral Lanscapes. It is about Bulgaria, its past and its evolution toward acceptation: ” Bulgarian society has seen great social and economic turmoil since it radically turned its back on communism. ‘Immemorable Landscapes’ offers a revaluation of an era whose impact is still so palpable. Researching period architecture, specifically the use of concrete, Mila Chorbadzhieva takes distinctive details from monuments that have stood neglected for decades and casts them in a mix of concrete and resin, to be reintroduced as architectural elements or decoration. Mila says of her visual reminders: “To confront, accept and know our past, to shake off the shame and negativism – this seems to be the only way to move on.”
Then we came across Marble Earth by BART JOACHIM VAN UDEN. Here is the text on the brochure “The ‘Marble Earth’ furniture range plays with our appreciation of chipboard furniture with a decorative top layer. We tend to like it because it is cheaper than solid wood furniture, but it has an aura of discount brochures and mediocrity. Our solution is to cover it up with imitation wood prints. But why stick to a ‘birch’ cupboard door? An ‘oak’ kitchen worktop? Why not embrace the full potential of the material? Bart Joachim van Uden re-imagines our self-deceit. He uses images from Google Earth, selected to look just like exclusive natural stone, and combines them with the aesthetic details of standard furniture production.” To me it is not any news. The people that used laminated flat patterns on furniture the Memphis group, so it is wonder, in the midst of its revival, and while Marble is at the summit of its glory, one encounters a piece like Marble Earth, but it is true the result is more than just that, it is stunningly beautiful and not kitsch at all.
The next piece, Just a Scarf by Kris Vleugels is as conceptual as it is graphic: each line on the pattern is a folding line to adapt the scarf to a different culture. It has been designed to be able to embrace as many religions and cultures as possible, and it is a way to answer with love and beauty to sterile polemics such as the one around the veil.
Dinstinctive Hue by Renée Mes, is a sort of structure or giant screen that creates warmth and delight to a-personal places such as hospitals.
Then, we encountered Forrest Wool, by Tamara Orjola, who got her diploma Cum Laude, was the nominee for the Rene Smeets Award, and the Keep an Eye Grant, and was the winner of the Brains Award. It is a very smart research on material. The idea is to use pine needles as “pinetrees are the world’s main source of timber. Every year 600 million pine trees are cut down in the EU only. But there is more to the tree than just wood: pine needles account for 20 to 30 percent of its mass.” And until now these needles are unused. With random and affordable industrial techniques, Tamara creates an ecological high quality wool. Well done!
Charlotte Therre‘s wellness devices for modern workers, called Body at Work, are less of a revolution but they are indeed desirable and elegant. The fact that Charlotte’s studio is in South Korea, somehow does not surprise me. This series looks like a form of lacquered ritual object. I am very receptive to this kind of patiently obtained sacred harmony. And I think that using it for a wellness device is also a philosophical gesture: our new religion is about preparing the body to productivity.
Next, 21G by Seungbin Yang is also a material revolution. Basically it is lacquered paper. So it is at the same time very light, water resistant, nobly finished, durable, sterilized and eco-friendly. The technique is an ancient Korean natural lacquer called ott-chil that is on the verge of dying out.
Hayo Gebauer‘s Props’s for Order is also about sacralizing the profane, it is sacrilizing the notion of order. “Sorting things and reorganising them is as natural as birds collecting and assembling sticks to make their nests. But sometimes we can get hung up on the act of establishing order. It can become an obsession. With ‘Props for Order’ Hayo Gebauer aims to show the beauty of such behaviour. Instead of hiding our storage systems away like a dirty habit, these objects are designed to use in plain sight, for all to admire”.
Eloise Maës‘s Inner Weather is “ a design for an air cooler and humidifier, was based on Eloïse Maës’ research of porcelain sand with Studio Unfold. Porcelain possesses the ability to absorb and diffuse water. Its porous nature allows the water to soak into the cavities between the tiny grains of porcelain sand. If you add color to the liquid, the water’s path becomes even more fascinating to track, and pouring and watching it becomes like a meditative ritual. When the water evaporates, the color remains, and the process repeats when you pour again.”
Sejoon Kim is interested in “cuteness” and in why he is more attracted to it than Europeans. His hypothesis is that “with its rigid hierarchy, Confucian culture brought a hidden desire for dominance and control. The rise of commercialism and its powerful marketing aimed at children over the past decades did the rest. Kim believes that when people find something cute, there is an inherent sense of superiority, domination and even violence. Satisfying these urges stimulates the human pleasure centres. Acknowledging both loveliness and darkness can be necessary and useful; it may help alleviate the human urge for control and conquest. This is why he has incorporated these conflicting qualities in his designs.” As you will surely have guessed by now, the name of his series is Cute.
Sigve Knutson‘s Drawn Objects is about relinking design, or the object production process, to the spontaneity of drawings and crafts.
This is only half of it guys, you will soon be able to discover the other pieces. That is a promise!
I must tell you that I have a record with contemporary art. I was a gallerist when I was 22 years old, I also worked for other galleries and for museums, it’s been in my life for the past 10 years, but it’s a love and hate relationship. I advise all my intelligent artists friends to become something else than just artists. To be able to create something from scratch is one of the most amazing thing to be doing. But it really is never like that. The art market right now is a bit depressing and self-centered. I must also tell you that although I went to the Fiac, Paris’s contemporary art fair, yesterday in order to post something about it for you, I really dislike fairs and their crowd of wannabe subversive VIPs. However as I love you all dearly, lovely readers, I still took some little pics of my favourite pieces.