The Proto Avant-garde 1987
ONE WEEK ABOUT Product Design by curator Toon Lauwen
The renewal set into motion by Droog Design in the field of product design and furniture is often attributed to the Design Academy (formerly the AIVE). This idea is not quite correct. Several preliminary steps had arisen at the Arnhem Academy of Visual Arts and Design (now ArtEZ Institute of the Arts Arnhem). In the late 1980s, young designers became thoroughly bored with the modernist design approach that set the standard in higher professional art education and definitely at the AIVE. Arnhem alumni like Ton Haas, Paul Schudel and Hans Ebbing found it hard to find a job and founded their own brands such as Designum, which produced furniture in small series.
This development was promoted by Gijs Bakker, who taught at the Arnhem Academy from 1971 to 1987 and had on the job developed from jewelry designer into product designer of, among other products, prototypes for utensils and chairs for design agency Ten Cate Bergmans. What was born out of necessity, the self-producing practice (which Gijs Bakker, as a jewelry designer, knew very well) would become the driving force for the development of Dutch Design.
Increasingly more students (who later on ended up at Droog Design) supported the concepts of craftsmanship, anti-consumerism, recycling and the environment. These concepts first found a wide response at Collectief Oktober to which Wilma Sommers, Bob Verheyden, Jan Siebers and many others belonged. They were all in favor of creating quirky, post-modernistic furniture. The breaking point in this short case history was around 1987. At that time, Wilma Sommers started her career as head of product design in Arnhem while Gijs Bakker moved to Eindhoven.