Salone del Mobile 08: Lotte van Laatum
At Salone del Mobile Lotte van Laatum is introducing the interior collection 'Room for improvement', consisting of products for the home, ranging from furniture and lighting to accessories. The designer shows us round her new work.
Social design and sustainability are currently hot news. But rather than just focus on ecological sustainabilty van Laatum says she also looks at social and cultural aspects as she feels that her products should make a positive contribution to society.
This approach can best be shown in the her new Bloei! sofa. Van Laatum worked with first generation Turkish immigrants in the Netherlands. 'Often these women, who may not speak Dutch, can be isolated. The sofa is based on the shape of the traditional Turkish sofa, with separate blankets and cushions. The motif used is well known in Turkey and the cushions are handmade by the women.' This project follows on from her earlier 'Tulipa' vases. 'The tulip originates in Central-Asia but is the national symbol of the Netherlands. The shapes of the vases are derived from the traditional Dutch Tulip vases.’ But here van Laatum reinvigorates the symbolism with traditional tulip patterns from Turkish kaftans. 'The tulips are red on a plain white background referring to the colour of the first tulips which arrived from Turkey in The Netherlands.'
'Green issues' do play a prominent role in her work too, the title of the exhibition suggesting that we should be making more of an effort to combine design aesthetics with our own sustainable living. 'Many people already use energy saving lamps in their homes, but often the shape of the lamp and the lampshade don't go together.' So in Watt’s new? van Laatum made the shape of the bulb and shade related to each other, with the bulb itself playing an important role.
For Air vases van Laatum worked with the TNO Built Environment and Geosciences in Utrecht. ‘We took a sample of Dutch air and examined it under a microscope. The shapes we saw became the shape of the vase. From thousands of particles only five made it to become new vases; pollen, soot, fly ash, a plant part and an insect leg.’ The finished result are transparent vases, visualising the contents of air we breathe.
Continuing a concern with the ecosystem, van Laatum made a set of mirrors decorated with plant motifs, New Nature. ‘Every few years a new inventory is made of plants growing in the Netherlands. Some species have disappeared, some return and some new ones are found. These wall mirrors contain a selection of plants which are new to The Netherlands since 2004. With the see-through layers of plants a new world is created.’
Finally, one of the standout pieces in the collection is a cabinet made from Dutch elm wood, Treecabinet. Van Laatum explains: ‘The elm used for this cabinet was cut in 1999 as a result of Dutch elm disease. The shape of the cabinet relates to the shape of the tree, conical and with the same width as one of these big trees. The shape of the front of the drawer has been left untouched as a memory of the natural shape of the tree.’
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