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100 Years of Pastoe

The Dutch furniture brand Pastoe celebrates its 100th birthday next spring with an exhibition at Kunsthal Rotterdam. Design.nl quizzes curator Anne van der Zwaag on what we can expect to see.

By Katie Dominy /asdf 15-11-2012

Alongside author Gert Staal who will oversee the accompanying publication, Anne van der Zwaag has developed  an anniversary programme of events for Pastoe based around the highlighted exhibition that opens 23 February and runs until 2 June 2013. 

We asked van der Zwaag how she came to be involved in the project?

“For some years I have been working with and for Pastoe so I know the company pretty well. It is based in Utrecht, my hometown, and quite a landmark in the city. The location itself is like a hidden gem and Pastoe as well as the Toonkamer (former Dutch Design Centre) have been organizing activities there for decades. In 2011 the director of the company, Remco van der Voort, asked me if I would be interested in curating Pastoe’s jubilee programme in 2013. I didn’t take long for me to decide. Pastoe has a unique identity both nationally as internationally. It is rooted in a very strong and consistent vision that focuses on quality, craftsmanship and simplicity. ‘Virtues’ that still stand out in the current design and furniture field. Furthermore the company has a tradition of working closely together with designers, architects, as well as artists and photographers, an interdisciplinary approach that I relate to very much. So they trusted me with their jubilee programme and I trusted in my colleague Gert Staal, together we shaped both the jubilee exhibition in the Rotterdam Kunsthal and the book that will be published by nai010 Publishers.”

Within the exhibition, the Pastoe archive collection that spans special designs, publications, posters, sketches, models and photos will be presented in new and surprising ways with the help of the Dutch artist Krijn de Koning.

How will Krijn de Koning contribute?

“Krijn de Koning is an acclaimed visual artist in and outside the Netherlands. De Koning is known for his intricate site-specific installations. The work emphasizes the environment and gives the audience new possibilities to use and interpret the place. Krijn has an interest in archives and archiving, he researches how objects relate to their past and current environment but also to their form and function. De Koning is able to look at the Pastoe archive in a distant way and has the ability to emphasize aspects of objects that we would normally not see or make us look at them differently. Last months we dived into the Pastoe archive, which is enormous, and together we selected around 250 objects (furniture but also posters, photographs, drawings, catalogues and more) to be presented in the exhibition. The objects will be displayed in three actual buildings that he and architect Anne Holtrop have designed especially for the exhibition. The buildings all have a very distinctive form, colour and atmosphere, which means the objects, are experienced in totally different spaces with different lighting. Just as in a real home.”

Can you tell us who else will be involved in the project?

“We not only invited Anne Holtrop and Krijn de Koning to work with us, but also typographer and graphic designer Dirk Laucke. He is responsible for the visual identity of the whole jubilee programme including the graphic design of the book and the graphic design in the exhibition. Then there are four more contemporary creatives that contribute to the project in a very special way. After researching the company’s history and defining the Pastoe vision, we concluded that there are four characteristics that are part of the brand’s DNA: Minimalism, Flexibility, Craft and Furniture as Object. Each characteristic is visualized in the exhibition and the publication as a future vision. Here too, we are working together with professionals from different (design) disciplines representing various countries and mentalities.”

Can you give us a few insights into the installations that the four designers will present?

“The Italian architect Claudio Silverstrin will present a piece of furniture that could also be an architectural or sculptural object, German designer Konstantin Grcic is working on an installation about craft combining several old and new techniques, the photographers Scheltens&Abbenes are visualizing flexibility in a room-filling installation and industrial designer Naoto Fukasawa is creating an extremely minimalistic product, which will be available and sold this spring. Their contributions are presented separately so they are not combined in one of the three buildings. The idea is that visitors will encounter the past, present as well as the future in one building and you’ll be surprised every time you open a door and enter a room. The exhibition is definitively not the usual museum (or furniture fair) experience!”

Main image: Dirk Laucke, 2012
Other images: 1. Salone del Mobile Milan, Pastoe 2007 2. Factory – Pastoe, photo by Cas Oorthuys 1952 3.  Anne van der Zwaag at the Pastoe factory, photo by Anneke Hymmen. 4. Pastoe bookshelf, design Claudio Silvestrin 2012 5. Pastoe Century, design Dirk Laucke 2012 6. Poster designed by Dick Bruna 7. Pastoe colour pavilion, design Krijn de Koning 2012, model for exhibition 8. Pastoe shelf system, design Naoto Fukasawa 2012

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