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Maria Blaisse

Amsterdam-based designer Maria Blaisse is currently exhibiting in two exhibitions across two continents.  The quiet achiever of Dutch design – she has no interest in trends and is thoroughly committed to profound work that possesses an inherent responsibility.

By Gabrielle Kennedy / 02-03-2012

When we last spoke with Maria Blaisse three years ago, the toroid form was informing every facet of her work.  Whether it was tableware, costumes, boots or architectural forms, that basic shape, which she had almost accidentally stumbled across, lay at the root of it all.

Since then, Blaisse has stayed faithful to her instincts and not wavered from this direction.  She has made great strides and seen setbacks – the inevitable result of her very cooperative approach to design.  “I just believe that one has to stick to what they believe in,” she says.  “Stay true and the right way will be found.”

It was a lucky introduction to “maker” Harco Haagsma that led to the most recent big breakthrough in her work.  Her spherical and oloid forms, could only move with the assistance of human interaction.  It was natural that they needed to take on a life of their own.  Haagsma made that happen.

Using a small motor and nylon string, Haagsma worked to create an electrical breathing movement.  The entire grid of each form had to be painstakingly adjusted and section by section altered to make the movements subtle and in balance.  

“It took three months to develop, “ explains Blaisse.  “The results are beautiful.  So many people say the objects feel alive, like running water. I think it feels quite sacred, like a sacred space almost.  I can’t find the right words to express it.”

A second piece, which opens and shuts at one end like snail has the potential to now evolve into a real architectural piece. Blaisse has been in discussion with Cecil Balmond who has done most of the Serpentine Gallery Pavilions in London. He is keen to realize the forms as portable pavilions.  It has been years in the making, but Blaisse only now feels that the forms are ready.

Both these forms are currently exhibiting in Connecting Concepts (at the Designhuis in Eindhoven, the Netherlands) and in Curious Minds (at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem).

“I think these are essential forms,” says Blaisse.  “They touch on something very profound.  The structure of my forms is the construction, which in turn is the form.”

As to her part in the Dutch design traveling show, Connecting Concepts, Blaisse says she thinks what connects all the designers is their very precise way of looking at things.  “With very little you can create the whole,” she says.  “I think in general Dutch designers do have this quality.  We are simplified, in a good way.”

This year a book designed by Mariola Lopez expanding on Blaisse’s ideas and the history of her work will be published. 

What happens after that will depend on who she encounters next along her design way.  “I see it as a step by step process,” she says.  “I become so inspired when people understand that.”

Images: Main and top two the structure and grid of the toroid forms, bottom two from the Connecting Concepts exhibition currently showing at the Designhuis in Eindhoven.

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