Limited/Unlimited - One Hundred Years of Dutch Design

14 June – 12 October 2008

One Hundred Years of Dutch Design

On the 14th of June, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen will open the exhibition Limited/Unlimited – One Hundred Years of Dutch Design, in which the museum will use a fixed timeline to mirror traditional craftsmanship and industrial design. The exhibition represents one of the characteristics of Dutch design: the co-existence of unique objects and serial production. The exhibition was prompted by the publication of the book Dutch Design. A Cultural History, in which the museum curator discusses 20th-century Dutch design in a social and artistic context.

In recent years, Dutch design has grown into an international phenomenon. The exhibition Limited/Unlimited – One Hundred Years of Dutch Design displays everyday objects by Dutch designers, such as chairs, irons, radios, vases, textiles and packaging. From every decade of the 20th century, two design traditions are placed side by side, enabling visitors to view both traditional objects or those made in small numbers alongside industrially produced pieces at a single glance. The effect that different influences and trends had on both design traditions is explained, thus placing the attention that Dutch Design paid to unique objects in a wider historical context.

Unique versus serial objects
Traditionally made objects or experimental objects made in small numbers were subject to greater attention than products designed by unknown designers. While, with the odd exception, many of the latter may be less famous, they are certainly not less valuable or innovative. Against this background, many objects that were mass-produced industrially have ended up in the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen collection. Striking examples include the simple services made by Regout and the Sphinx in the early 20th century, Kristalunie glass from the 1930s, Gero designs from the 1950s and 60s, and office furniture from the 1960s, 70s and 80s.

The forthcoming publication Dutch Design. A Cultural History, published in Dutch with the title Goed in Vorm. Honderd jaar ontwerpen in Nederland, outlines the background of Dutch Design’s recent success. The history of design culture is the central theme of the book, describing the views, education, journals, exhibitions and organisations in the world of Dutch design. One of the issues to which there is special attention is the fact that, in the 20th century, only a fragment of what was produced was covered in publications – and this was primarily the work of famous artists and designers. The author of the book is Mienke Simon Thomas, curator at Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen.

The exhibition Limited / Unlimited – One Hundred Years of Dutch Design will be opened on Saturday, 14 June 2008 between 2.00 p.m. and 5.00 p.m. The book Goed in Vorm. Honderd jaar ontwerpen in Nederland will be also be presented on this occasion.

The English translation of the book was made possible with the support of the Mondriaan Foundation and the Prins Bernard Fonds.