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Milan 2013: Aart van Asseldonk

It was in Milan last year during the Salone Internazionale del Mobile that Aart van Asseldonk got the idea for his new series – “Modern Times”.

By Gabrielle Kennedy / 18-04-2013

Like Dick van Hoff who we covered last week, Aart Van Asseldonk is right on trend with his “Modern Times”. It catches all the raw and unpretentious design processes that dominated earlier times.

“But my work is not a reaction to anything,” Van Asseldonk says.  “It is just a way of working and that it has become fashionable is really just a coincidence.  What this series showcases is how work is created in my atelier and it expresses my views and opinions on design.  It is just how I see life and is merely a way of giving form to products.”

Van Asseldonk has an ironic relationship with the past.  He is fascinated by the handcrafting of the pre-industrial era, but is obsessed with the mind-set of designers rethinking their approach to fit the needs and limitations of the industrial age.  

All Van Asseldonk’s designs begin with a familiar respect for the purity of traditional materials - wood, steel, and glass.  “And I don’t want to create any tricks,” he says.  “I like to use these materials in a very honest and predictable way.”

In this latest series presented in Milan there is a closet, two lights and two stoves.

“I think the closest captures the series best,” Van Asseldonk says.  “It is made like an old machine and the focus is on how an object is used.  The door is large and it has a wheel on it that has to be turned seven times before it opens.  Inside is a lock made from the old gears.  My interest in designing this was about the sound, and the feeling you get from using these heavy machines.”

The elbow light is inspired by early robotic arms used in 1950s production lines, and the stoves (01 and 02) are old workshop stoves.  “Everything in the series has a reference to that time,” Van Asseldonk says.  “It’s a nod to the wonders of the industrial era.”

But it also takes time to create works like these where handcrafting is of the essence.  Van Asseldonk sees no inconsistency.

“I love both,” he says.  “The industrial era for how they designed with such different priorities, but the pre-industrial era for its love of materials and craftsmanship.  All these designs show the best of both.”

Which sums up how Van Asseldonk approaches design in general.  “It is not that I do not like what other designers are dong now,” he explains, “but everybody is desperately looking for new ways to produce things like rapid prototyping and I just don’t feel anything for products made like this.  There is no love.  Nobody takes the time to feel It. Of course I use technology in my atelier too, but I want handcrafting to also play a big role in my work.”

Images" main at top "heating Stove 01", "Safe Storage", "Trouble Light", "Unimate", "Heating Stove 0.2"

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