The fourth edition of Object Rotterdam (adjacent to the more established Art Rotterdam) has been given a sturdy makeover courtesy of Anne van der Zwaag - who we spoke to earlier regarding her role at the Dutch Photography Museum.
At a glance not much has changed in this edition of Object Rotterdam - it’s the same location at the Las Palmas building on Rotterdam’s Wilhelminakade featuring some of the same galleries. But a lot has changed.
“The programme used to be all about design galleries and their latest acquisitions,” says Van der Zwaag about previous editions of Object Rotterdam. And she would be right. Gallery holders would present their latest buys, with their importance dictating the square metres available to them. Or so it seemed. Selling was the main focus of the fair.
“What I wanted to do was bring design, fashion, architecture and photography together at Object Rotterdam.”
Of course some of the galleries have returned (Galerie Ra and Particles for instance), yet a number of autonomous designers have been given their own spot, independent of galleries. Instead of allowing designers to pick their own stand and show whatever they want however, Van der Zwaag paired up those creatives she felt had a similar aesthetic or idea about design.
We came across some successful pairings such as Chris Slutter Ontwerp and Studio Maaike Roozenburg whose similar approach to tradition allowed their products to complement each other instead of fighting for attention. “We’d met years ago,” says Roozenburg “so it was great to have our products put together.”
Van der Zwaag didn’t only focus on purely functional design, take the Nienke Sybrandy, Jeroen Wand and Ontwerpduo stand. “I definitely consider myself a designer not an artist,” says Sybrandy. “Yet my designs are more about asking questions than producing answers.” While Sybrandy and Wand were originally planning to present work together, Ontwerpduo was new to them. “It works though!”
A special spot at Object was reserved for featured designers Studio Drift. Presenting their Ghost Collection, Lonneke Gordijn and Ralph Nauta have once again created a series of hauntingly beautiful objects. Using specially developed lasers, hand-drawn patterns appear in the form of tiny air bubbles inside plexiglass frames. As uplighting is shone through the chairs and stools, the ghostly patterns appear inside.
In addition to the established crowd at Object, space was reserved for several design schools to present their best work. The Utrecht School of the Arts, Sandberg Institute and St Lucas University College of Art & Design Antwerp were each present. While Antwerp presented mainly jewellery design, Sanberg balanced on the thin line between art and design and Utrecht showed a group effort.
The main consensus from designers was that the fair has certainly improved from last year but still has some way to go. It could be down to the tricky location with its huge columns to work around. “I tried to keep the industrial feel of the space intact,” says Anne van der Zwaag. “No more shiny walls and carpets throughout.”
The feel of the fair has changed and it’s refreshing to be able to speak to designers directly, not through the pr-machines found at some galleries. Object seems more geared towards the general public this edition, and while buying and selling are still objective number one, visitors may well enjoy browsing all that the fair has to offer.
Art and Object Rotterdam continue until 12 February 2012 in Rotterdam.
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