November 12, 2008. Why this chair and why not that one? During Dutch Design Week in Eindhoven at the end of last month, art publisher Onomatopee produced Lift Off 2008: The Truth of Basics, Resetting the History of Living between Four Walls, in an attempt to shed new light on why our interiors look the way they do. The Truth was an exhibition of 11 interiors designed by 11 artists, architects and designers, each using a room in a financial advisor’s office as a starting point. I.D. spoke with co-curators David Keune and Freek Lomme about why the show looked the way it did. davekeune.com, onomatopee.net What did you want to explore through the development of these template interiors by different designers?
Freek Lomme: Dave and I did not want to raise, again, the question: Why another chair? The idea became to depart from four walls because it seemed as if it could trigger another perspective. The question ‘why another chair?’ entered a completely new arena: that of the installation context, the social context, the cultural context. This notion could bring in new perspectives on the interior.
How did you choose the location of the show in the offices of Philip van den Hurk?
Dave Keune: Lift Off has taken place in Philip van den Hurk’s office since its first edition in 2002. He offered us his entire floor filled with colored cubicles, the workplace for his financial advisors. All advisors had to work somewhere else for one week, and from then on one week every year. The first years the show was about the “lift-off” of new talented designers, showing their latest works. This year, the spaces give the participants an opportunity to create their own world, isolated from the others. The spaces enable the visitors to have a good, clear look at each oeuvre, and make them curious to have a look at what was next. Which interior surprised you the most?
DK: My favorite was the design by Christoph Brach and Daniera ter Haar. They showed 3D with a 2D approach and material. They stated that we should look more for the subtleties in a room created by light, shadows and small corners. Their result was, in my opinion, very bold, since it did not have a function, it was not a space but a statement, an investigation. The works they showed were very refined in color as well as shape and made me happy every time I looked at them.
FL: I was very surprised by the work of TTTVO, which both functioned as a product display and a site-specific design. With mirroring beams through the space, she created a setting that almost seemed like a ‘Mission Impossible’ to enter but it still was both visually attractive and playfully intriguing. It lured one to enter and engage with the space as a whole. The work also made me think about a new notion of the sculptural in design, a notion that I’m currently thinking to make an exhibition about, so I’m not going to talk too much about this!
After doing this show, do you think that design can give meaning to a space without a user being present?
DK: I think a designer, artist or architect always gives a meaning to a space, this meaning may not be clear to everyone and it may not be possible to translate it in a word. As soon as you get a feeling, it is there. With our show we wanted to show that meaning in the most direct way, the most abstract way and everything in between. This is why we asked many different disciplines to participate. IJM Studio created atmosphere by the use of styling, Thomas Bakker creates a space with only light and makes the space it is shown in part of an installation.
FL: We did not solely present ‘design,’ although I strongly believe that all artistic practice entails design. Still, I think the exhibition has proven that multiple disciplines can alter the notion of a specific space. This is nothing new since installation art is a practice with some decades of history and style chambers are not a new notion either. Still, what might be considered as new is these ‘entrepreneurs’ practice of producing culture, which is relevant to a broad audience, and both residential or commercial space.