OBJECT Rotterdam presents the works of well-known and up-and-coming designers in crafts, product design, fashion, architecture and art. This year’s edition is located in the awe-inspiring SS Rotterdam – a former ocean liner and cruise ship which sailed the Holland-America line.
What’s remarkable about the contemporary design fair is how it merged the glorious 1950s interior decor of the ship with the contemporary designs of more than 75 designers and artists. It’s like being in a labyrinth of wonders: a hundred design chairs are displayed in the cinematic engine room, while the grand art deco ballroom is filled with stunning pieces by young designers.
The ship’s retro swimming pool area (pictured above), designed by Rotterdam architect Hugh Maaskant, is opened to the public for this special occasion. Against the pool’s special shimmering tiles which glow red when the temperature drops, design agency Tuttobene presents works by 16 designers, including Rick Tegelaar, Mieke Meijer and – one of my all-time faves – Mae Engelgeer, among many others.
Read on to discover my favourite designs:
Workshop of Wonders’ 100 Years of Dutch Chair Design
Deep in the sea-green engine room – the colour was chosen so sailors wouldn’t get seasick – a hundred chairs tell the story of contemporary Dutch design, from Gerrit Rietveld to Scholten & Baijings. www.workshopofwonders.nl
One of my favourites is this lovely forest green chair by Rietveld for Metz & Co. It was named after the Amsterdam-based department store Metz & Co for which Rietveld designed the chair in 1942.
This AVL Chair (2002) by Joep van Lieshout is very special indeed… President Obama himself sat on this very chair!
The Dutch collective Envisions showcases everything but the end product of its designs. The collection of works lets process be its defining factor, offering insight into different phases that normally would never be seen by the public’s eye. www.envisions.nl
Studio Jeroen Wand alters, reinvents and modifies traditional combinations of materials and techniques. I fell in love with these beautiful vases, made out of dental plaster, both for its exquisite colour combinations and its alluring textures. The unique forms were made through a “biochemical struggle”: the primary shape of these vessels, which is based on one mold, is first cast and dried. Then, this basic shape is immersed in newly mixed plaster. Through the combination of control and letting the plaster react freely, the material forms its own unique cover. www.jeroenwand.nl
Michael Barnaart van Bergen
Fashion designer Michael Baarnart van Bergen’s beautiful knitwear collection is inspired by various art movements, with De Stijl featuring prominently. The forms and styles of the dresses are ingeniously knitted into the design, making for a surprising 3D effect. www.michaelbarnaartvanbergen.com
Korean designer Sejoon Kim looks at the proliferation of “cute” culture in Asian countries and gives it a dark, edgier twist, resulting in an ambivalent (ultra-enticing) aesthetic. www.sejoonkim.com
Nicolette Brunklaus’ elegant wall tapestries were inspired by traditional craft, particularly by her experience in Morocco during her artist residency, where she worked closely with a local carpet knotter. Acoustic Tapestries were made in consultation with sound engineers – the 100% wool product can absorb sound, and thus is also an effective soundproof panel. www.nicolettebrunklaus.com
These delightful starter dishes were designed by Maarten Baas in collaboration with renowned chef Sergio Herman. The one-of-a-kind plate set was produced by Cor Unum to celebrate Baas’ Maarten Baas Makes Time exhibition during Dutch Design Week 2016. www.corunum-ceramics.nl
Rops Soetekouw’s Fungy! collection was inspired by microscopic structures and things swimming in petri dishes. The imagery for the collection was actually hand-drawn directly from seeing fungi cells under a microscope. www.roossoetekouw.nl
Hannah van Luttervelt
Last but not least, Hannah van Luttervelt’s adorable Playing With Weapons offer a thoughtful insight into weapons of mass destruction. These soft woollen objects are cute and cuddly but are actual representations of bombs, missiles and mortars. One of my faves is the huge cluster bomb with multiple landmines inside. www.hannahvanluttervelt.nl