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Independent designers fresh from the academies stand next to established names during this year’s Object Rotterdam. The design fair has grown in many ways and this year presents itself independently from big brother Art Rotterdam.

By Cassandra Pizzey / 06-02-2014

An exciting new location on the Wilhelminakade in Rotterdam has attracted many of the Netherlands’ top young designers to present at Object 2014. The building (designed by Rem Koolhaas) houses luxury apartments and the newly opened Nhow hotel. “Time to take the training wheels of?” we ask Director of Object Anne van der Zwaag about the new status of the fair, she agrees.

We meet with Van de Zwaag in the Nhow hotel bar a few days before the opening of Object 2014. She is visibly excited about the location and tells us : “I have been bringing everyone up here to see the view.” Krijn de Koning is to her left side and she reveals he will present an installation inside the penthouse, “I just picked up the keys.” The penthouse is completely bare but recently sold to a private buyer. Van der Zwaag and De Koning were given permission to create a one-off spatial design as part of the fair, with only four days to complete their vision.

Up to the 44th floor then where the view is indeed breathtaking. As part of his installation, De Koning covers the concrete floors and bare walls with his characteristic geometric forms in primary colours blue and red. We have seen artworks in high rise before, but not in a new building and not to this scale. It’s strange knowing this particular penthouse will probably never be open to the public again.

Taking the lift down a few floors there is another original idea. Six empty, bare apartments have been furnished with works by talented young designers, brands such as Functionals, gallery The House of ABABA and design studio Makkink & Bey. It’s refreshing to see functional design presented as it should be, part of the home instead of inside a glass box on top of a pedestal. Makkink & Bey were given an entire apartment to decorate and created installations in the bedrooms featuring their own work. The collaboration with label Prooff is exhibited in the living area.

The ground floor of the Rotterdam (as the building is named) features multiple presentations with a commercial section free of entrance. The ticketed part of the fair features a host of new names to Object such as Nienke Janssen who presents her re-imagined multiplex furniture, Charlotte Kiekebos with her Bauhaus-inspired fashion collection and Fransje Killaars, an established name in the art world who is stepping into the design territory with beautiful, colourful textiles.

Another new name this year is New Window led by all-round creative Woes van Haaften. The idea is to showcase designers (or makers as he prefers to call them) and the creative process behind the designs. His first project is together with Lex Pott, the talented young designer whose material-based projects have led to several design prize nominations these past years. Diptych looks at the process of sandblasting as a tool for design rather than a surface enhancer. Multiple products such as combs, and screens have been created by sandblasting out certain markers in the wood, creating a play of lines. The entire process has been documented through the New Window website. Van Haaften explains that he is essentially the facilitator for projects such as this and wishes to build a ‘portfolio’ of designers, while developing existing products.

Of course, a number of established studios and galleries are present at Object such as Galerie Judy Straaten, The gallery-owner says she is happy to be back at Object, musing that this is really the only Dutch fair of its kind. Kranen/Gille – who are showing the finished version of the Meck lamp among others – agree that Object is held in high esteem in the design community, with many big names coming to visit.

The overall consensus by the designers is that the Rotterdam is an inspiring place to show. A good mix of designers, and artist bordering on design are represented and the architecture itself is pretty impressive to say the least. We see many fellow creatives discussing their work and feel an overall positive vibe, visitors included.

For those looking for a more interactive programme, a series of lectures, discussions and displays will be on over the weekend.

Object Rotterdam runs through Sunday 9 February.

http://www.objectrotterdam.nl/

Images
1. Lizan Freijsen
2. Nienke Janssen
3. New Window x Lex Pott
4. Functionals
5. House of ABABA
6. Makkink & Bey

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