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Dutch Invertuals – Happy Future (Milan)

Once again the group show curated by Wendy Plomp, this time with theme Happy Future sets a new standard for material innovation at the Salone del Mobile.

By Cassandra Pizzey /asdf 13-04-2014

It has become one of our ‘must-see spots’ during the Salone, the exhibition of Dutch Invertuals, located to the North of the city close to Garribaldi station. Well out of the way from other shows, a sense of calm can be found here each year, a welcome break from the craziness of design week. 

The group show is curated by Wendy Plomp and presents two brand-new shows each year – during Dutch Design Week and the Salone del Mobile – featuring a number of alternating designers who present work created especially for the show. This edition focussed on the theme Happy Future and saw a light, positive approach to material use. What unites these designers is not necessarily a common aesthetic, work method or material use, but the way they approach their raw materials; with curiosity and an open, experimental view. 

On this occasion, was given a tour by Sophie Mensen of OS ∆ OOS, a designers duo she forms with Oskar Peet. For the exhibition they created a series of flexible fluorescent lights. Made with bendable foam rubber and rigid, plastic light tubes featuring LEDs, the lamps can be hung from the ceiling or propped against the wall, using marble weights as an anchor and to create shapes with the foam. Usually fluorescent lighting is a rather rigid form which needs to be mounted in special casings to the ceiling, but by using both a flexible and heat resistant lighting form, the idea becomes more dynamic and suitable for domestic use. 

Designer Jeroen Wand showed his latest experiments with aluminium, a material that is usually melted, then poured into moulds of sand, and allowed to cool. Wand was interested in the theory of welding, a technique he masters for most metal types, except for aluminium. Instead of using a welding machine, he created his basic forms within a sand mould, allowed them to cool then proceeding with molten aluminium on various joint sections to form an unbreakable bond. The three resulting pieces (a bench, stool and trestle) feature these rough bonds which look almost too delicate to bear weight, yet also have a feel of strength thanks to the material itself. 

During their holiday travels to France, Thomas Vailly and Laura Lynn Jansen visited a number of caves where they found stalagmites and stalactites. Intrigued by this natural process, the duo set out to visualise the process of calcification. A series of 3D-printed models were placed inside various caves a regularly visited to measure the results. Surprisingly, the designers discovered that different mineral balances in different caves resulted in different coloured calcium build up. To create an even coating on their models, a machine with a rotating platform was developed. Vailly and Jansen also worked together with local, artificial calcium producers (who are responsible for souvenirs made of calcium) to measure the difference in colour and consistency. The resulting project shows the material research including a number of calcified objects.

Jólan van der Wiel presented his latest project, made in collaboration with the European Ceramic Work Centre EKWC, as an ongoing research into the possibilities of magnetic materials. Entitled Dragonstone these new objects form a jagged, multi-coloured landscape. The objects are made using fluid pottery clay, laced with metallic flakes which have been built up layer by layer and modified using Van der Wiel’s own gravity tool – seen in his earlier project Gravity Stool.  New ways of bending and shaping the material were researched and as the pottery clay dries slowly could be applied to the material. The resulting hybrid forms are reminiscent of a fantasy land, hence the appropriate named Dragonstone.

In addition to the exhibition itself, Dutch Invertuals has also launched an online gallery in which all previous projects can be viewed and even purchased. It seems like the addition to this already successful venture and make the products themselves available to a wider audience.

The other designers participating in this show were Brit van Nerven & Sabine Marcelis, Daphna Laurens, Edhv, Jetske Visser, Raw Colour, Roos Gomperts and Studio Mieke Meijer 

Main image:
Other images: 1&2 OS ∆ OOS, 3&4  Jeroen Wand, 5&6 Thomas Vailly and Laura Lynn Jansen, 7&8 Jólan van der Wiel

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