Dutch, More or Less: Contemporary Architecture, Design and Digital 

Nieuwe Instituut

Architecture | Digital | Exhibition | Product

‘Dutch, More or Less: Contemporary Architecture, Design and Digital Culture’ is now open at the Nieuwe Instituut in Rotterdam and will run for two years.

The more than 60 objects, spanning over 30 years of Dutch design, are drawn from all three disciplines that are the focus of the Nieuwe Instituut: architecture, design and digital culture.

‘Dutch, More or Less’ begins with a section of iconic works from the 1990s, while the second section shows how over time the boundaries between the disciplines are dissolving more and more in a common quest for a better world.

In addition, every five months during the presentation, there will be space for a new work by an emerging maker that reflects on the future of Dutch design.

More than 70 designers, architect and digital makers are represented, from icons such as OMA, Victor & Rolf, Iris van Herpen and Bas van Abel to unexpected gamechangers, and from interactive installations to fashion items, models and furniture.

As the Netherlands itself is in many ways designed and fabricated, its spaces, objects and interactions have traditionally been a breeding ground for new ideas. This presentation explores how driven by social and ecological urgencies and technological developments, boundaries between the three disciplines are dissolving since the 1990s in a shared search for a better future.

Iconic work from the 1990s
‘Dutch, More or Less’ begins with a trip down memory lane, with several iconic pieces from the 1990s. In a time of increasing globalisation and the rise of the internet, Dutch design, often with government support, quickly became of international importance. This is reflected in the characteristic playfulness and positivity of the works included from the three disciplines.

These include Sjoerd Soeters’ ‘circus theatre’ in Zandvoort and the Expo 2000 Dutch Pavilion by MVRDV; the Long Neck Bottle by Hella Jongerius and the Chair with Holes by Gijs Bakker; and digital works such as the Digital City [Digitale Stad] and Mediamatic’s proceedings of the Doors of Perception conference.

From what they are to what they do
In the second part of ‘Dutch, More or Less’, the focus shifts from what Dutch design is to what it can do and mean. Since the 1990s, the boundaries between the three design disciplines have increasingly dissolved in designer’s attempts to address pressing social and environmental issues – sometimes to the point where they can no longer be distinguished as separate.

The 21st century works in this section are no longer grouped according to discipline, but according to six possible questions about how we might look at Dutch design practice today. How do we design with nature rather than against it? What intelligences will we need in the future? And what is ‘Dutch’?

Rotating commissions
Finally, every five months ‘Dutch, More or Less’ offers space for new work by an emerging designer, who – under the title What’s Next? – explores where Dutch design might be heading in the future.

The first designer to occupy this space is Amsterdam-based digital artist and illustrator Black Childish (Mickaël Mehala). He playfully combines the vibrant colours, culture, nature and characters of his home island of Martinique with a familiar Dutch design: the famous black and white striped traffic light. His work will be on display until 20 October 2024, when he will be succeeded by Estelle Bariol / Studio ACTE.

Aric Chen, general and artistic director of the Nieuwe Instituut says:Dutch, More or Less not just shows the bold and innovative spirit of Dutch design, architecture and digital culture. It also proves that the combination with new approaches and interactions that go beyond the individual disciplines, is a very promising one. And a very needed one as well, given the current social and ecological urgencies.”

Spatial design: Koos Breen and Jeannette Slütter
Graphic design: Jacob Hoving
Photography: Aad Hoogendoorn

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