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Dutch design goes Tokyo

Ten Dutch designers and brands have been chosen to show work in a joint exhibition this autumn at Japan’s international trade fair 100% Design Tokyo.

By Editor / 26-10-2007

Here’s an idea to stop you in your tracks: a urinal shaped like a lipsticked mouth. Meike van Schijndel, who designed it, calls it ‘a target men will never miss’. The urinal, manufactured by van Schijndel’s Utrecht-based firm Bathroom Mania!, is called ‘Kisses!’. As the designer says, it’s a playful fixture that ‘brings sexiness to the loo’. Her company also offers a Good Morning Sunshine flowerpot toilet, complete with singing bird and eternal sun. ‘Kisses!’ was featured in the International Design Yearbook 2003, and has fascinated journalists from New York to Taipei.

The designer with the whimsically controversial imagination will be taking part in a collective exhibition of Dutch designers at this year’s 100% Design Tokyo in Japan. The group exhibition, called Created in Holland, will occupy a 100m2 stand at 100% Design Tokyo 2007.

Other Dutch designers taking part in the Tokyo show are Bookarrest, producer of an ergonomic document stand; high-tech fabric company Hybrids + Fusion; porcelain designer Sander Luske; ceramics maker Royal Tichelaar Makkum; textile-accessories maker Studio-ePosh; product and interior design firm Studio Laurens van Wieringen; product design firm Studio Samira Boon; fashion-accessories label Vlieger & Vandam, and glassmaker and ‘form-finder’ Arnout Visser.

The sheer range of taste and style included in the show is immediately evident from the work of Arnhem-based Visser, who also works with the renowned Droog Design. Visser makes objects in a variety of materials, including glass, ceramics, synthetic material, water, and other materials. He can turn out bowls, bottles and art objects, always with strict attention to function. But if it’s got a job, it’ll do it with a smile, like his fruit bowl on wheels. And the same will be true if it’s just an object, like his soft toilet and bidet. (Yep, back in the bathroom…)

Visser’s work can be described as ‘scientific – experimental’, according to the journal Design Management. But maybe a better description of it would be ‘applied science with a sense of humour’. This capacity to bring together very different elements in everyday objects is a strong characteristic of Dutch design, and it will be featured extensively in the Tokyo exhibition, from timeless themes from life, literature and history in artist Elleke van Gorsel’s work to Vlieger & Vandam’s whimsical accessories.

Amsterdam design foundation Premsela has organised the Created in Holland event to promote Dutch design in Japan. The aim is to ‘position the Netherlands abroad as a crucible for unique, interesting design and surprising collaborations’.

100% Design Tokyo, 31 October-4 November 2007.

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