Twenty-five years ago, a group of young, unknown Dutch designers took Milan by storm with a stance that was ‘anti-luxury, anti-formal and anti-product’. Their influence is still shaping European design practice two decades later
In this issue: Milan and the Man – How the Expo persuaded the design capital do sell out. Plus: 25 years of Droog, Claudio Luti, Forensic Architecture and more
After a year of public brawls between co-founders Gijs Bakker and Renny Ramakers leading to Bakker’s resignation, we can’t say we were expecting much from Dutch conceptual design company Droog – but it came up trumps.
Provocateurs ran wild at the Experimenta Design biennale, which this year was held in Amsterdam instead of its regular home, Lisbon.
It’s a word with nothing but negative associations: repellent, mutant, nasty. On the surface, it’s the enemy of design. It stands for formlessness over form; artlessness over artistry; revulsion over delight; randomness and chaos in place of craft and precision. But it’s also magnetic.
There was a time BC (before Conran) when chefs and designers moved in separate spheres. But, in recent times, the boundaries between food and design have begun to dissolve.
Intimately associated with the conceptual approach that has characterised Dutch design for the past decade, Design Academy Eindhoven is one of the most highly regarded design schools in the world. Now it is shifting its focus and creating a new agenda for the next generation of Dutch designers.
So farewell Milan and hello, er, Rho-Pero. With the Salone Internazionale di Mobile moving to a new out-of-town location next year, this year’s furniture fair marked the end of an era.
“When I was a student, porcelain was associated with kitschy souvenirs or stupid mugs,” recalls Czech designer Maxim Velcovsky. “But recently a new wave of ideas has revived the material and placed it in a different context.”
“Yap! Ya ya. Yoo hoo. Bye!” That’s Gijs Bakker ending a call on his mobile phone. “Ya, yuh yuh. Ya.” That’s Renny Ramakers taking one on hers.
Joris Laarman only graduated from Design Academy Eindhoven last year but is already being touted as one of the Netherlands’ most promising young designers. Just 24, he is working with Droog to get his graduation project, a baroque concrete radiator called Reinventing Functionality, into production by the end of 2004.
When icon was invited on a whistlestop tour of the Dutch design scene, we of course said yes. But the trip took on new meaning when, in last month’s issue, Marcel Wanders said design in the Netherlands was in crisis, stifled by state subsidies and a lack of business sense. So what do leading figures in Amsterdam, Eindhoven and Rotterdam think?
“I can do anything. I could have been a dentist and I would have been the best dentist ever. I could have been a farmer. I really feel I could have done a lot of different things and I’m pretty sure that whatever I’d have done I’d have done it with so much passion and love that I’d do a great job.”