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The antiques of the future


Globalisation is gradually blurring the national distinctions between designers, yet the quality of Dutch designers remains highly praised. Why is it that the Netherlands should be such a great country for design? It has a lot to do with our academies, with their unerring emphasis on strong design, but also to various funds, such as the Netherlands Foundation for Visual Arts, Design and Architecture (Fonds BKVB) that offer subsidies to design graduates for projects they are working on. Another helpful factor is that museums and galleries are always keen to buy Dutch Design. Museum curators see contemporary design as a means of connecting past and present, with traditional costumes next to high fashion, and historical artefacts complementing contemporary design.

The major event that Dutch designers and designers all over the world work towards each year, is the Salone del Mobile in Milan, the world’s largest furniture fair. Here they present their latest work to an international trade public. And the number of design events within the Netherlands is also growing. One of the largest of these is the Dutch Design Week, which takes place each year around the time of the autumn holiday. This is an easily accessible festival where design lovers can spend a whole week enjoying work by both established names and up-and-coming talent, in various locations in Eindhoven. 100% Design is yet another interior design event in the Netherlands. Two years ago 100% Design was expanded with a new offshoot called Object Rotterdam, a natural follow on from one of the most important new trends in the design world: the creating of unique objects, so-called ‘one-offs’, which are not primarily meant to be used, but generally find a home in a museum or gallery. This way of working is diametrically opposed to the no-nonsense mentality that made Dutch Design famous. Take the Bone Chair by Joris Laarman for example: price tag: € 30,000; or the showpieces from Studio Job: way beyond the budget of any ordinary person. Are these design pieces or works of art? Or are they the ‘antiques of the future’, as suggested by Job Smeets (Studio Job)? Object Rotterdam exposes the cutting edge. It is clear that Dutch designers refuse to be pigeon-holed and that they are happy to set a zigzag course between Dutch sobriety and bombastic excess. They are continually re-inventing themselves.