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‘Happy Families’ | Studio Makkink & Bey

The exhibition ‘Happy Families’ currently on show at Kunsthal KAdE Amersfoort, offers an insight into Studio Makkink & Bey’s design philosophy, which is largely based on personal relationships and close collaborations.

By Editor / 03-12-2009

'Happy Families' tells the story of Studio Makkink & Bey. More than simply a display of finished work, the exhibition currently on show at Amersfoort’s Kunsthal KAdE shows how the studio’s design practice has developed over time and exemplifies their close collaboration with other designers and design institutions.

Studio members and kindred spirits in the design world are part of their studio as a family, together planning the future, sharing knowledge and working on the development of cultural heritage. The evolution of this design family tree is revealed at Kunsthal KAdE, itself part of the ‘family’ ever since Studio Makkink & Bey designed its interior. The accompanying catalogue shows the family epic from the initial seed right through to the outermost branches of the tree.

The design network and exhibition is divided into sections on the basis of four different areas of work:

The studio is a nursery for young designers and a base for Bey’s teaching activities in London. New designers can make their debut and be helped with workspace, contacts and publicity. Travel provides impressions from other parts of the world to be integrated into the studio’s design process. The place is at once a library and a knowledge centre.

Production space
Handmade products, small series of objects for galleries and work produced in the studio itself are displayed in the production space. These are the final results of the design process which begins with the collection of impressions and concepts.

Garden shed
The studio disseminates ideas and uses them to create new ways of looking at current issues. Product lines are the result of alliances with experts and result in new storylines within the ‘family network’.

Model home

Production is done in-house on the basis of model-building and maquettes. Models are sometimes designs in themselves, like the blue polyurethane foam interior of the Droog Store in New York. A model is a rough design that can be taken in any direction. It shows the way the designer is thinking but can still be tailored to exact wishes and desired dimensions. Tactics, concepts and experiences are mutually reinforcing because they are connected with people in the Studio Makkink & Bey family tree. Visitors to the exhibition will find themselves surrounded by model scenarios in which solutions can be found and from which latent opportunities may yet emerge. Finished products and projects reveal their origins through distinctive characteristics and linked firms or individuals.

The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue produced by graphic design studio Koehorst in ’t Veld, who are also responsible for the museum's identity and Studio Makkink & Bey’s new website. The catalogue narrates the history of the family on the basis of a family tree and the work produced by the network. As close collaborators, the book’s designers, Toon Koehorst and Jannetje In ’t Veld, are themselves a clear-cut example of how the ‘family’ philosophy works in Studio Makkink & Bey’s design practice.

Photography: Peter Cox

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