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A retrospective of what the Dutch delivered this year in Milan

The Via Milano New Dutch Design exhibition was more about details and pushing materals to the limits than concepts this year.  But there was also a good sense of dry Dutch humour and some inventiveness that all bodes well for the next genertaion of young Dutch designers.

By Gabrielle Kennedy /asdf 10-10-2008

While not as inspiring as previous incarnations, the Via Milano New Dutch Design exhibition during Woonbeurs Amsterdam last week did have some standout pieces.  Stalwarts like Marcel Wanders presented his wall mirror from the Beautiful Woman’s Dressing Table series.  Richard Hutten’s bold and brilliant book table held one of Pieke Bergman’s Blubs and graced the entrance to the exhibition.  But it was the youngest designers who really wowed with pieces that fused humour and a mastering of interesting materials.

Rosalie Bak’s Dissection #2 is a series of intriguing table objects that function as vessels. “Cardiac” is shaped like a heart and holds red wine, “Hepatic” is shaped like a liver and holds hard liquor, and “Renal” is shaped like a kidney and holds water.  The pieces are all hand made from the same glass used for making medical science instruments and can endure low and high temperatures – even an oven.

“I am fascinated by medical science and its related materials,” says Bak who is a member of the “Groene Honden, Jong Ontwerp” collective. “It is because these pieces are so unexpected that they are able to generate such nice conversations.”

Ralph Nauta and Lonneke Gordijn from Design Drift exhibited their Ghost Chair.  The plexiglass piece is laser engraved to create a mysterious, other-worldly aura.  “The original idea came from one of those small glass souvenirs,” Gordijn says.  “We thought it was ugly but nice and wondered what else we might be able to do with the technique.”

The pattern, which threads through the chair, looks random but is designed to contain an intensity that makes viewers feel that an electric current is running free. “It looks like it is alive, but all you see is air,” explains Gordijn. “It is nothing.”

Floris Hovers “Archetoys”, is a series of sleek, metal collectors’ cars.  Inspired by his passion for model automobiles, Hovers has turned what he says started as a joke in his studio into a streamlined and colourful collection of toys that look backwards not forwards for referencing.  

“Every proper collection of cars needs one of everything,” Hovers says.  “A London bus, a police car, an ambulance … I have forty so far but plan to extend it further.”

Perhaps the wry sense of Dutch humour typical of the country’s home-grown design was best captured in Richard Hutten’s switch light – a small and simple stainless steel cube with an old-fashioned black lever that could switch left or right.  Pared-back and deliciously retro, the simple gadget was what it was – a cube holding a globe.

To see a video of the Via Milano New Dutch Design exhibition click here.

Images from top Richard Hutten’s Book Table, Rosalie Bak’s Dissection #2, Pieke Bergman’s Blubs, Floris Hovers, Richard Hutten’s Switch Light, Design Drift’s Ghost Chair.

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