Dutch Design: minimalism with a good dose of quirkiness12-Mar-2017
Squeezed in between Belgium and Germany and the ever threatening North Sea, flat as a pancake and riddled with windmills, canals, bicycles and tulips, the Netherlands has a rich history in art and design going back many centuries. Their unique history and location has made the Dutch inventive, often bordering on the eccentric (and perhaps beyond).
Like their Scandinavian neighbours, Dutch designers follow the principles of minimalism, but with a healthy portion of quirkiness, experimentalism and humour. We had a look at the latest designs from The Netherlands to find out more about what Dutch design really means.
Ineke Hans was born in The Netherlands, where she graduated from the ArtEZ Institute of Arts in Arnhem, but she also has a long–standing connection to the UK. Most notably, she spent several years designing mass-produced furniture for Habitat UK after a degree at the Royal College of Arts.
Ineke Hans Collection: Coffee Set
In 1998 she decided to move back to Arnhem to set up her own studio INEKEHANS/ARNHEM. Her work is often characterised as an unconventional combination of high-tech and low-tech – both in terms of choice of materials and the design and manufacturing processes. Whilst her background is in furniture design, the collection has now grown to cover homeware, toys and gifts.
Ineke Hans: Toy Collection
LUCAS & LUCAS
Lucas & Lucas: Cup Chandelier
Husband and wife team Sander and Marijke Lucas are both graduates from the famous Design Academy Eindhoven. Their design encapsulates the essence of Dutch quirkiness from the cup chandelier to the steel clamp table. Sander is a product designer and still works on his own collections and exhibitions, whereas Marijke’s background is in graphic design. Together they express their slight eccentricity and love for simple functionality as Lucas & Lucas.
Lucas & Lucas: Clamp Table
Studio Job: Wallpaper Collection
Founded by the notorious design duo Job Smeets and Nynke Tynagel, Studio Job has made a name for extravagant and often outrageous Dutch design. Their work is also a manifestation of the fact that Dutch design has maintained its historic proximity to and intimacy with the arts. Smeets and Tynagel are continuously experimenting with styles, art movements and cultural references to produce a range that challenges conventional perceptions of art and design. As well as selling their designs online and through retailers, they also run their own gallery where visitors can immerse themselves in their idiosyncratic world of style fusion.
WooJai Lee: Paper Brick Table
Eindhoven-based WooJai Lee caused a bit of a stir with her ‘Paper Bricks’ at last year’s Dutch Design Week. The innovative furniture designer is part of another Dutch trend that is growing stronger and stronger: sustainable design. WooJai describes herself as a “Korean New Zealander”, but she graduated from the Design Academy Eindhoven last year where she developed the ‘Paper Brick’, which is a surprisingly sturdy building block made out of recycled paper. Sturdy and stackable like real bricks they combine a pleasing marbled look with the warmth and soft tactility of paper or wood. She clearly is a talent to watch out for.
We’re continuing our sustainability theme with Christien Meindertsma, an inspiring young designer from the low country. “I see myself as a designer of products that tell something about their origins”, she explains. Meindertsma initially made a name with her book “Pig 05049”, a culmination of three year’s research into the range of products made out of a single pig. Last year she won the Dutch Design Awards with her ‘Flax Chair’.
Christien Meindertsma: Flax Chair
The designer started her ‘Flax Project’ in 2009 by investigating the uses of flax - from food to ropes to fabrics. She soon developed the material for furniture use by combining short flax fibres with PLA, a biodegradable polylactic acid made from natural starch. The result is a fully biodegradable chair. She is now working on developing the material for further furniture use.
Christien Meindertsma's TED Talk about her book "PIG 05049"
Oooms: Glassbulb Lamp
Another design duo here who both graduated from the Design Academy Eindhoven. There’s a theme here. The studio combines Guido Ooms’ ‘high spirited and frolic approach’ with Karin van Lieshout’s ‘down-to-earth attitude’ to create a unique collection of unconventional functionality. At the heart of the brand is product design - the duo doesn’t limit itself to a specific category. Oooms products cover household items, lighting, furniture and jewellery. Their common denominator is a good dose of quirkiness combined with surprising functionality.
Robert Bronwasser: Tile Clock
Across the IJ waterway, accessible via free ferries that leave behind Centraal Station, is Amsterdam’s new secret quarter. Only a stone’s throw from the crowded Dutch capital, a new development in this wide open space has grown into the a hip area attracting start-ups and artists. This is where Robert Bronwasser has based his studio. He describes his design philosophy as wanting to be “smart, modest, iconic, logical and enjoyable”.
Robert Bronwasser: Ceramic Kitchen
Studio Daniel: Pronkstuk Vase
We conclude with something a bit more traditional – or is it? Daniel Hulsbergen has combined two traditional Dutch crafts to create a series of sculptural vases. The fragmented Delft Blue vases are decorated with beautifully crafted wicker braiding. What on the surface seems to be a traditional decorative piece actually reveals itself as a rather contemporary object. Maybe this contradiction is typically Dutch – the land of windmills and tulips as well as legal highs and red light districts.
Studio Daniel: Satori Lamp