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Designing the Netherlands

The Italian critic and curator Angelo Capasso was invited to the Netherlands by the Mondriaan Foundation and Premsela. During his stay he researched information for an exhibition on Dutch art and fashion to be held in Rome later this year. He wrote about his trip for Design.nl

By Editor Design.nl / 06-03-2008

The Italian critic and curator Angelo Capasso was invited to the Netherlands by the Mondriaan Foundation and Premsela. During his stay he researched information for an exhibition on Dutch art and fashion to be held in Rome later this year. He wrote about his trip for Design.nl

Art & Design

A week of meetings in the Netherlands gave me the opportunity to gain an insight into the art and design scene there. Art and design are the most fruitful couple in the visual world. They give a different interpretation of the visual: as I said in my essay ‘Design and Ready Made’, a very simple difference between the two, is that 'in art, objects pretend to be useless, in design, objects pretend to be useful’. The word ‘pretend’ is very important, in this context, because it underlines a possibility (a wish, a project) that is not necessary fulfilled. Today objects coming from the two different ideas (or projects) seem to be moulded in the same oven but subsequently served to a different table and therefore with a different destiny. In the Netherlands, as I have seen, the two share an interesting debate that makes it difficult to show reasons for their different identity: if generally it is art’s task is to pose questions – while design’s goal is that of giving solutions – Dutch ideas show that a switching of these positions is possible. Therefore my short journey through the Netherlands was really a journey through the possibility of finding one main element of distinction between the two, or the elements that combines the two on a different face on the same coin.

Education

On the educational basis, each design school works by encouraging students not to be craftsmen or philosophers but rather engineers of real or possible needs (present or future, real or imaginary). The Rietveld Academy and the Sandberg Institute in Amsterdam and the Design Academy Eindhoven, show a vanguard approach to teaching in their posing of conceptual solutions in design. It was very interesting to see this in Platform21, a space for research in contemporary issues. Here is a platform for ideas which switch from art to design and back, concentrating mainly on the issue of creating ideas and positioning them in our everyday world. They say themselves ‘the domain of creation is not something professionals have a monopoly on. We are interested in creative developments in fashion and design, including amateur initiatives’. The Designhuis in Eindhoven is a centre for design where ‘design is connected to art and technology’. The exhibition ‘The Family of Form’, underlines this experimentation inside an aesthetic built on likenesses.

Dutch fashion

Dutch Fashion is very much intermingled with the rest of the design research and has nothing really to do with the traditional idea of fashion. Projects at the Dutch Fashion Foundation have led to the interdisciplinary expansion of an (inter)national network with fashion as a vehicle for the designers own creative development. Objectification, in the field of Dutch fashion, seems to be creating a body of fantasy that has very much to do with the everyday life but with a very enlarged creativity that opens the body to a world of imagination. This is reinforced in my visit to the DeMakersVan who say “We are plain but love the impossible / We respect the old but want the new. We want to challenge, confront the normal, the accepted, the expected. We believe in fusing talented writers, filmmakers, artists, and scientists into a movement that will go beyond ego; That will create a super story teller. As designers we are not limited to only one category. We work with museums, architecture-, furniture- and fashion companies, with commercial brands and self-initiated projects.”

Images:
Angelo Capasso at the Design Academy, visiting Bertjan Pot and
visiting Atelier van Lieshout.

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