Job Lounge by Job Smeets 11.08.11

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"It's the stereotype that inspires us. You know that," says designer Job Smeets confidently of his vision for Job Lounge, the newly renovated entrance hall of the Groninger Museum, an art gallery in the Dutch city of Groningen. The multi-purpose space mimics the decor of 19th-century private members' clubs and smoking rooms to create a fantasy world of gaudy extremes.

Commissioned by the museum as part of a large-scale renovation, Studio Job created several key pieces, all handled with Smeets 
and partner Nynke Tynagel's trademark affection for the tongue-in-cheek. For the floor, intricate parquet patterns have been supersized to labyrinthine effect, with a sculptural fountain of tap and bucket at the maze's centre. Stained glass windows that describe scenes of industrial excess are framed by graphic curtains – thin imitations of the plush drapes one might find in a real gentlemen's club.

The game-playing is down to the material techniques as much as the forms. "It's a palette of the processes we've used over the years," says Smeets. Using traditional methods of bronze casting, stained glass and marquetry to subversive effect is nothing new for the pair, but Job Lounge takes things to new heights. Or depths, depending on your taste. Under an array of light fittings shaped like breasts sits a collection of plastic gothic chairs manufactured by Moooi. "A caricature processed in a very monumental and serious way is quite fun, no?" says Smeets teasingly.

The multi-functional nature of the space (it can be used as a meeting room, bar, dining room and chapel) has allowed Studio Job's recurrent themes of irony, taste, fantasy and industry to play out to full effect. Smeets sees it as his gesamtkunstwerk. It is the "continuation ... an extension of the object", he says, that makes it a total work of art.

The tricks and twists of Job Lounge are an unlimited offer to bemuse and surprise – even the electrician installing the breast light fittings didn't believe they were for real until he unpacked the box. But perhaps the biggest ruse of all is the installation of a stand-alone neo-classical interior within Alessandro Mendini's postmodern building. Relishing every opportunity to flout convention, Smeets says: "It says the opposite. It looks like the lounge was built first and the 'important' museum has been attached to it."

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Image

Robert Kot, Peter Tahl

 

Words

Riya Patel

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It is the "continuation ... an extension of the object" that makes it a total work of art

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