Exhibition overview gallery 44, photo: Lotte Stekelenburg
Ergonomic concerns play an important role in the design of door handles. American industry employed the scientific study of ergonomics as an important instrument in the design and manufacture of household products. It is shown how new materials and production methods have also affected the way door handles are made.
In pre-war modernism the quest for functionalist - utilitarian, sober and modern - design often found expression in the use of geometric shapes and primary colours. This abstract visual language took its inspiration from international Constructivism and De Stijl.
From the beginning of the sixteenth century cabinets were used to store important belongings. Special art cabinets were made for costly collections of art and natural history. Due to growing competition, cabinetmakers in Paris, Augsburg, Antwerp and Amsterdam employed evermore opulent decorative schemes on their pieces. One of the most famous seventeenth-century cabinetmakers was Herman Doomer. He was probably responsible for two of the cabinets shown: the Tulip Cabinet and the cabinet decorated with whalebone.
The introduction of mechanical printing in the fifteenth century made it possible to distribute imagery on a large scale. Decorators increasingly used printed illustrations as examples for decorating objects. For a decorator it was a challenge to copy the printed pattern as accurately as possible on, for example, glass, tin and silver, but also silver, copper and ceramics.
Stimulated by the growing demand for new products created by the Industrial Revolution, in the mid-nineteenth century many designers drew upon examples from the past. Designers frequently combined elements from different stylistic periods to create new, eclectic designs. But soon criticism grew that these designs were not sufficiently original and that, by focussing too much on decoration, designers had lost sight of the product’s function. The Gallé garniture set shown is a good example of the marriage of various styles: Rococo and Japanese Imari porcelain.
The craft of the silversmith underwent enormous development in the Netherlands in the seventeenth century. Silversmiths succeeded in hammering and chasing increasingly complicated forms from the precious metal. The tazza from 1612 shown is an impressive example of this kind of work.