Exhibition overview gallery 42 / 43, photo: Lotte Stekelenburg
Scarcity of materials and the housing shortage after the Second World War forced Dutch designers to rethink their approach to design. Products for the interior should be tasteful, utilitarian, affordable and simple in form. Designers and the government were more pragmatic. They saw investment in industrial design as an important stimulus for the economy. The products of Wim Gilles are an example of this more sober approach to industrial design.
Plastics have played an important role in post-war design. Growing prosperity led to rocketing demand for consumer goods. Innovations in materials, originally developed for aeronautics and space travel, were applied to the production of clothing, household appliances and furniture. Plastics for example are ideally suited to the lightweight and hygienic camping service by Jean-Pierre Vitrac but also for the Valentine portable typewriter by Ettore Sottsass.
The cube and other elementary forms were ubiquitous in art, design and architecture around 1970. The interest in basic forms and grids in art and design stemmed from Minimal Art and pre-war modernism. Designers mainly approached the cube as a formal problem. In various designs in this gallery - such as the ‘Zodiac’ lamp by Ton Alberts, the ‘TC6’ lamp by Aldo van den Nieuwelaar and the plate by Dick Simonis - the cube is combined with other elementary forms.
In the past few decades materials have increasingly been used for their expressive qualities, and designers have sought a tension between expectations and surprise. Martin Margiela and Ron Arad have used materials that are unconventional in relation to the function of the object: a concrete stereo and a waistcoat made from broken crockery. With the ‘Random Light’ Bertjan Pot made a decorative product with a technical and functional material: ﬁbreglass. Hella Jongerius’s bottle-shaped vases are the result of her research into the possibilities of combining glass and ceramics.
Many practical demands play a role in the design of a desk lamp. The lamp must be easily adjusted, provide optimal illumination of the work surface and take up as little space as possible. The introduction of hinges and cantilever mechanisms initiated a quest for the greatest possible ﬂexibility. The desk lamp by E.W. Buquet has two hinge points, allowing for a vertical movement in the armature. By using springs in both parts of the armature, the ‘Anglepoise’ lamp by George Carwardine can be placed in almost any position.
Nature is an inexhaustible source of inspiration for designers and artists. It is often seen as the romantic counterpoint to industrial production. Forms, colours and motifs from nature are used as decoration or as inspiration for new forms. An example is the walking stick by Ineke Hans which is a synthetic version of the broken branches you can ﬁnd in every piece of woodland. In their vases, Hella Jongerius and Wieki Somers have translated elements from nature into their own visual idiom. And the ‘Vegetables’ series by Scholten & Baijings are imitations of various vegetables in textile.