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from March 23 2013 until June 23 2013
'Design Column #4 The Circle Is Round' features four stories that provide a counterweight to the current tendency towards withdrawal and defence. In different ways the projects show that thinking in terms of boundaries and linear developments is by no means always relevant. When doors appear to close, opportunities arise elsewhere. The ‘plastic soup’ in the ocean is not bound by national borders. Newer and bigger is not always better. Growth is cyclical; the circle is round.
‘The World is Deglobalizing at Breakneck Speed’ - so read the title of a long article in the Financieele Dagblad on 4 March this year. Over the last few decades there has been far-reaching globalization in which different economies, politics and culture have become increasingly interwoven at an international level. A widespread consumer culture brought about the scaling-up of our production processes and a worldwide distribution of labour. The international flows of money that accompanied this peaked in 2007.
In the article, the author Marcel de Boer describes the present downward spiral of economic growth. The article was published in response to a report - ‘Financial globalization: Retreat or reset’ - by the leading think tank, the McKinsey Global Institute. This report confirmed that international credit is at an end and that global flows of money have decreased by 60% compared to the peak in 2007. The financial crisis has meant that countries and companies post 2007 are now more often opting to look to themselves. In the first instance governments protect their own interests and become inward-looking, without examining the international impact of their measures.
It is an illusion, however, to think that far-reaching ‘deglobalization’ could happen in the current system. We are all part of the same global system. The McKinsey report advocates reform, ‘resetting’ the present financial model, so that a more sustainable phase of the world economy can begin.
Every three months the Design Column stages an exhibit focusing on a subject in the news. The column is a place where new ideas are made visible – where the power of the imagination speaks. Designers and artists are by their very nature interested in experimental imagery. With their individualistic eye they often see things just that bit differently and they can set change in motion. The Design Column provides scope for this imagination.
The Design Column is more than a presentation, it also asks for reaction and comment. You are very welcome to join in the round table discussion with Kieren Jones on 24th of May. If you would like to take part, please contact the compilers of the Design Column at firstname.lastname@example.org and explain your motivation.
Maaike Roozenburg, 17th-century teacups, porcelain, collection: Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, photography: Maaike Roozenburg
In collaboration with Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen and Delft University of Technology, Maaike Roozenburg made Smart Replicas of 17th-century teacups from the museum’s collection. Various CT scans were made of the original pieces and a 3D print was made of the scans to produce a mould for making a porcelain cast. A ‘smart tag’ carrying information about the object was then linked to these new cups.
This combination of innovative techniques brings objects from the past back to life. An object that has lost its original function now it is part of a museum collection gets a second life outside the museum’s galleries and repository. Modern technology makes the replicas ‘smarter’ than their pre-industrial predecessors – and they can be put to use again.
The project is part of a long tradition of copying, reproducing and sharing between the East and the West. Porcelain from China was imported on a huge scale in the 16th and 17th centuries, but it was not until the 18th century that a European geologist and an alchemist managed to ‘crack’ the recipe for porcelain so that Europe could make porcelain of its own. Smart Replica’s has been made possible by the EKWC, Mareco Prototyping and ARLab.
Studio Swine & Kieren Jones, Sea Chair, plastic waste, collection: Museum of Architecture and Design, Ljubljana, photography: the artists
The first ‘plastic soup’, effectively a floating rubbish dump of compacted consumer waste, was discovered in the Atlantic Ocean in 1997. Over the past ten years the area of plastic in the ocean has tripled.
This mass of rubbish gave Studio Swine and Kieren Jones the idea of converting fishing boats into plastic refineries. Instead of fish, the fishing boats would collect plastic from the ocean. This waste plastic would be converted into usable material. Every chair made from this
material would have the exact polar coordinate of where the plastic used in it was fished up. In this project, craftsmanship, recycling and environmental protection come together in an ecological cycle. The project demonstrates that while a production process can cause waste, it can be just as good at cleaning it up and recycling it. Reuse in the future would push down the demand for new plastic and our output of waste would shrink, the depressed fishing industry would get a new boost and overfishing would decrease because boats could fish for plastic instead.
More information: www.seachair.com
Scholten & Baijings, Colour Porcelain, porcelain service, purchase: 2012, photo: Scheltens & Abbenes, 2012
In the second half of the 17th century the Dutch East India Company exported enormous quantities of Japanese porcelain from the Japanese porcelain-making town of Arita to Europe and elsewhere. More than two centuries later the Dutch design duo Scholten & Baijings was asked to give Arita’s porcelain trade a new boost.
They developed a service with a colour palette based on the traditional colours of Japanese Arita porcelain. The service was made in three ranges: Minimal, Colourful and Extraordinary. Each set has a different colour intensity and level of finish. Scholten & Baijings’s recognizable modern style is combined in the service with centuries-old Japanese tradition. Whereas Eastern influences worked their way into the Western art world in the 17th century, the Colour Porcelain project reverses the process.
Dirk van der Kooij, Satellite Lamp, 3D printed recycled synthetics, collection: the artist, photography: the artist
The Dutch designer Dirk van der Kooij is interested in 3D printing, but found the scale of standard 3D printers too small. With an old computer-controlled robot arm as his starting point, he developed his own 3D production process in 2010, bringing a written-off robot from China to the Netherlands for the purpose. Van der Kooij values the lack of precision of this old-fashioned arm, and magnifies it in his design objects.
After the invention of the steam engine, the printing press, electricity and the internet, 3D printing marks a new phase for manufacturing industry. After years when industrial production processes were outsourced to China, new techniques like 3D printing are making shorter production chains profitable again.