"Confrontations: Contemporary Dutch Design"
Césare Peeren of 2012Architecten created “Eamescape” for the Dutch design exhibition currently showing at the Vitra Design Museum Gallery.
Césare Peeren is a thinker – a designer thoroughly absorbed by his design morality, which lies at the core of his work.
For “Confrontations: Contemporary Dutch Design” his studio, 2012Architecten, was teamed with Vitra to create a project.
“I am glad we were partnered with Vitra,” Peeren says. “It is an obvious match.”
Peeren likes to talk about “Superuse.” It means creating different uses out of existing situations and material. “I especially like working with what others might consider waste,” he says.
The collaboration – a veritable confrontation - between Vitra and Peeren is an interesting one given their clear ideological differences. Vitra’s quality control is second to none – every chair driven out of that factory has been scrutinized and measured against impeccably exacting standards.
Standards that Peeren disagrees with – although as he emphasizes it is not himself vs. Vitra, but himself versus the current system.
Peeren’s approach to design also clashes with his peers. A pen and a white piece of paper lead him nowhere. “I try to make a scan of what already exists,” he explains. “I look at the structures, the waste streams. … from there I think about transformation. I make a harvest map, develop a concept and only then start sketching.”
Minimizing the use of new materials is always paramount and avoiding the creation of new waste is essential.
It is a position that stems from a respect for what exists – both natural and man-made – interesting given the reality of the Dutch landscape.
“In Holland we rip down buildings and even nature when it becomes old or inconvenient, “ he says. “Developers cover the past with sand so they can start a project with a blank canvas. I don’t like this.”
For the Confrontations exhibition Peeren used 200 discarded Eames chairs, assembling them into a structure that can be used to sit, lie or climb on.
“They have a stock of 2500 discarded chairs made from chrome and aluminium,” he says. “Because perfection is so important, a lot are rejected. Sometimes it might just be a small scratch which will happen as soon as someone starts using the chair anyway.”
Peeren’s position is an evolving one. Rather than reverse this current situation, he embraces it as a start point for change. “The clash is not with Vitra per se, but with our current culture. I am trying to introduce a new way of thinking because we have created and now operate in a system that creates too much waste … you just have to look at the food chain to see how absurd it is. Only 40% of agricultural production actually makes it onto our plates.”
And comparatively speaking Vitra does brilliantly in so far as they are not making cheap furniture that will end up in landfill in three years time. Also, products that do not make it through quality control are recycled into different materials.
“In the West we start with resources and then create an optimal system to optimize output … and nobody cares about the rest,” Peeren says. “Potatoes that are a bit too small or carrots that are misshapen can’t fit with the system so are simply chucked. Solving this is what interests me – relooking at these systems, making connections, finding ways to use what is discarded, and finding short-cuts to other companies that can use the discarded materials.”
Peeren calls it cyclifiers – short-cuts in the system designed to enhance exchange and production while minimizing waste. “I see it as a building tool to make society more sustainable,” he says.
None of this happens fast. Right now there is a project for restaurant chain La Place that brings in coffee waste to create a fertile environment to grow mushrooms in.
“Of course I am anxious,” says Peeren. “I see so many opportunities like this, and they seem so small at first, but little by little they will create a different type of system.” Images: main top Peeren lounging on the "Eamescape" prototype. Other images of the project being erected in the grounds of Vitra.
"Confrontations: Contemporary Dutch Design" was realized in cooperation with Premsela, the Dutch Institute for Design and Fashion.
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