To accommodate the thousands of visitors each year, the Groninger museum needed a renovation and who better to call than Maarten Baas, Studio Job and Jaime Hayón?
Designed some twenty years ago to take in around 80.000 visitors per annum, the yearly droves of up to 250.000 visitors were taking their toll on the museum.
That, and the fact that there had been water damage in previous years, was a good enough reason for a large-scale renovation. In addition to some exterior work, three spaces were given a new lease of life courtesy of Dutch designers Maarten Baas and Studio Job, together with Spanish creative Jaime Hayón.
"The museum had an affiliation with the three designers as it collects and displays their work in the permanent collection," says Caspar Martens, head of collections and technical operations. Each of the designers was given a space to work with; Maarten Baas was in charge of the renovation of the Mendini restaurant, Studio Job was commissioned to create the Job Lounge and Jaime Hayón designed the new information centre.
The Job Lounge is a multi-purpose space which serves as either an overflow for the Mendini restaurant, a conference room or even a chapel complete with altar for those wishing to get married amidst the artworks. In keeping with the museum's function as an artwork and landmark itself, the lounge is a true tour de force by designers Job Smeets and Nynke Tynagel. The duo was inspired by 19th-century smoker's clubs and designed each element of the space accordingly. From the parquet floor to the stained-glass windows and the furniture itself, every piece was especially made for the Groninger museum.
In typical Studio Job style, not all is as it seems, with chairs cast in plastic, the fountain centrepiece featuring a dripping tap and wall-mounted lighting shaped as female breasts. "We wanted the lighting installed by a professional electrician and had forewarned him about the nature of the lamps. Up until the moment he unpacked the boxes and actually saw the lamps, he didn't believe us," recalls Martens. "It was great to see how the construction workers reacted to the artwork, many had never been inside a museum before."
The renovation of the Mendini restaurant (named after its architect) lay on the shoulders of Maarten Baas. Taking from an earlier collection entitled Clay, the furniture in the restaurant is handmade using wire frames and industrial clay. The lamps, chairs, sofas and mirrors were especially designer for the restaurant keeping in mind the practical issues of such a commission. Apart from the eye-popping furniture the overall feel of the restaurant is much more muted than those of the other designers.
Jaime Hayón's design for the new info centre certainly encourages visitors to dig a little deeper into the museum's history and collections. "We gave the designers a number of demands such as budget, function of the room and in the case of Hayón, number of computers we needed to house," explains Martens. The Spanish designer matched some existing lighting designs to a completely original set of furniture. "This space really does what it was made for, inviting people to discover more about the Groninger museum." Visitors can choose to sit at the starfish-shaped table behind a computer, browse through the magazine racks or visit the 'theatre' where videos from the museums collection are shown.
Click on the images to enlarge
Main image: Job Lounge
Other images top to bottom: 1. Job Lounge 2. Job Lounge 3. Mendini restaurant 4. Mendini restaurant 5. information centre 6. information centre
All images courtesy of Groninger museum
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