Dom Hans van der Laan (1904-1991) studied architecture but decided early in his life to become a Benedictine monk (1927). Although he did not complete his studies in architecture, the discipline remained a constant preoccupation alongside his religious life.
Nonetheless, he has realised very few buildings: among them two monasteries, an abbey church and a house for Jos Naalden in Best. For this house, Van der Laan also designed several items of furniture. A selection of these pieces was acquired by Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen following Naalden’s death and is shown here.
The plastic number
As a designer, Van der Laan was interested in form, proportion, harmony and the ways in which people experience spaces. Both his buildings and furniture are based on Van der Laan’s own ratio: ‘the plastic number’, in which the architecture is governed by the human experience of space.
Simplicity, balance, order and space are also central to the work of the artist Ad Dekkers (1938-1974), but from a different perspective. Like Van der Laan, Dekkers sought harmony through simple forms, such as circles and triangles, in relation to light and materials. However, unlike Van der Laan, the symbolism of Freemasonry played an important role in Dekkers’ penchant for geometric forms.
The presentation 'Dom Hans van der Laan and Ad Dekkers. Simplicity and Spirituality' is now on show in gallery 51.