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Milan 2013: Dutch Invertuals

Once again the Dutch Invertuals manage to create a serene island in the madness that is the Salone del Mobile in Milan. Design.nl took a tour from curator Wendy Plomp. 

By Cassandra Pizzey /asdf 10-04-2013

In an ever-evolving world the eleven designers that make up Dutch Invertuals are constantly searching for the limits of their profession. Reacting to the current economic and social climate, the eighth edition is named Transform. 

Curator Wendy Plomp seems keen to lead us through the exhibition, and no wonder because once again the Dutch Invertuals (who are Kristie van Noort & Rogier Arents, Jeroen Wand, EDHV, Luuk van den Broek, Raw Color, Studio Mieke Meijer, Max Lipsey, Rachel Griffin & Emilie Pallard, Brit van Nerven, Roos Gomperts & Thalia de Jong and Jetske Visser) have managed to create a moment of reflection and calm during a week that is a whirlwind of impressions.

The illustration of the show, and an accompanying film, are the first thing you see upon entering the Dutch Invertuals show. “The illustration is made by Tim Enthoven. He took various shapes and patterns and turned them into the designers’ faces. Each one is different”, explains Wendy Plomp.

“I like to show all the different disciplines within design”, she continues. “This edition we took the theme ‘Transform’, see the designers as magicians who are able to create transformations.” For the exhibition, a number of existing Invertuals have taken their research a step further, they are always looking how to manipulate materials, pushing them to the limits. 

Take Kirstie van Noort & Rogier Arents study of raw red cabbage pigment and porcelain. By applying the cabbage pigment to ceramics then dipping it in various acid baths, the colour keeps transforming, creating various different layers upon the plate. The circles were then glazed and mounted on legs to create wonderful tables that seem soft as velvet yet are made from porcelain. 

Raw Colour has also taken its colour experiments a step further, this time showing the production process used in colour weaving. Instead of weaving various coloured threads over one another, they have managed to manipulate the weaving machine to weave threads next to each other. From a distance we see a colour blend but up close there a different coloured lines. 

Some designers however have chosen a completely new course such as Jetske Visser and Jeroen Wand. Visser has applied an ancient Japanese technique of dripping oil and ink into water and printing silk with the created pattern named Hydrophobia. “She has also applied the technique in 3D to a number of specially created vases. It’s not so much about the vases and their shape, but showing a new way to harness this technique.”

Jeroen Wand has also created a series of vases, a new work that has been five years in the making. By dipping the objects into plaster at different stages of the drying process, new layers keep forming in various thicknesses. “You end up with a lovely raw product which shows its origins.” 

A piece which really grabs you as a viewer is ‘Blush’ by Roos Gomperts and Thalia de Jong. “Stand on the spot and see what happens”, instructs Wendy Plomp. A girl starts looking, somewhat shyly, looking then looking away. It really gives you a feeling of sincerity, almost uncomfortable. “As designers our products and research is always being looked at, but why not let us look back? That’s exactly what this work is about, it reacts to you.” 

The two designers responsible for this series of short videos have recently graduated in two very different fields of design, one is a story teller, the other thrives on fashion but together they create a design that has real emotion. 

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