Frans Bevers wins the BNO Piet Zwart Prize, 2019
On April 2, 2019 the jury for the BNO Piet Zwart Prize, consisting of Timo de Rijk/chairman of the jury, Pieke Bergmans, Gert Franke, Joost Grootens, Ed van Hinte and Koert van Mensvoort. Madeleine van Lennep/Director BNO was the secretary. This jury has decided to award the BNO Piet Zwart Prize 2019 to Frans Bevers.
Frans Bevers is a spatial designer. With the OPERA agency, which he started as an interdisciplinary partnership in 1981, he has made a major and indispensable contribution to the course of exhibition design, a course that was barely developed in his early years.
From 1994 onwards Frans Bevers, in close cooperation with business partner and co-founder Lies Willers, further developed the practice of OPERA Amsterdam. He was looking for the substantive dialogue with the clients, so that concept and implementation could really come about together. He always sought the optimum combination of story and the exhibited end result. At an early stage he opted for a multi- and interdisciplinary, making use of what was in the 1980s known as the ‘new media’
Averse to conventions, Frans Bevers managed to stimulate and challenge clients to create exhibitions that are powerful and compelling, both in terms of content and visuality. He introduced metaphorical perspectives and worked intensively with external designers, artists, writers, photographers, film makers, technicians and curators. In the meantime, he himself was the driving force that set the substantive frameworks, directed the design process in a charming and energetic way. He gave space and at the same time he managed to steer towards a consistent entirety.
All this has resulted in high-profile exhibitions, presentations and spaces, among others in the Museum of Ethnology in Leiden, the MOMA in New York, the Victoria & Albert Museum, the British Museum in London and the Museum of World Culture, Gothenburg.
Frans Bevers has virtually always also been active as a teacher. Between 1981 and 2001 he was head of the Architectural Design department at the Rietveld Academy where he taught from 1979 to 2007. He gave guest lessons at Parsons School of Design in New York, Shanghai Normal University, East China Normal University in Shanghai and the University of Illinois in Chicago. To this date, he teaches at the Royal Academy of Visual Arts in The Hague and the Design Academy Eindhoven. There he was last year elected best teacher, which was accompanied by the presentation of the Jan Lucassen Prize. That must have been due to his personality: passionate, positive and enthusing.
In short, Frans Bevers has been an important booster for the development of the field of exhibition design, for processes of co-creation and good teamwork in a multidisciplinary and interactive approach, before they became common practice. As a teacher, he has passed on the profession and his design mentality in an excellent way and in doing so greatly stimulated upcoming designers.
All this is reason for the jury to award him the BNO Piet Zwart Prize 2019.