The Dutch Design Avantgarde 1919-63-77-95
ONE WEEK ABOUT Product Design by curator Toon Lauwen
As a spectator, I noticed between 1995 and 2015 – no more than, let’s say, one generation – a couple of striking shifts in the landscape that we now call Dutch Design. In 1995, as a curator, I started making descriptions for the NAGO of the work archives of the post-war generation of graphic designers: Jan Bons, Otto Treumann, Dick Elffers, Jurriaan Schrofer and Wim Crouwel. As a trained (architecture) historian, I diligently tried to explain these oeuvres also historically.
In interviews, Wim Crouwel indicated a fault line around 1963: the creation of Total Design – “crucial for the professionalization of the design profession”. He looked back to the generation of the 1920s for inspiration: Piet Zwart and Paul Schuitema. Gert Dumbar, his main competitor, did the same when in 1973 and 1978 he drew attention to “Dutch Design for the Public Sector” with two traveling exhibitions of the same name in which progressive design for the Dutch Government was presented to an international audience: the bank notes by Ootje Oxenaar, the NS house style, stamps for PTT and the house styles of ministries.
In 1995, Studio Dumbar played an important role in the furnishing of the MoMa Café in New York. Even so, this presentation also marks a turning point: not the graphic work but particularly the furniture and the products drew wide press coverage. Two years earlier, Droog Design had introduced the refreshing sobriety of the Dutch approach at the Salone del Mobile in Milan, thus laying the foundations for the international careers of, among others, Marcel Wanders, Richard Hutten, Jurgen Bey and Studio Job.
During the presentation of ‘De Stoel in Nederland’ (The Chair in the Netherlands’) in 2013, Job Smeets remarked that “there’s little point in reinterpreting history over and over again.”
Publication ‘De Stoel in Nederland’
Author Toon Lauwen