Decorations in the park (the
Noorderplantsoen), during the ten days that the annual Noorderzon Performing
Arts Festival is held are often refreshingly original, and in some cases thought
provoking for the viewer. Summer 2012, saw the inclusion of an unusual
collection of birds throughout the park: outlines of over 30 familiar species
native to the area, and they were constructed from detailed, three-layered laser
cutouts of mirror. Each was mounted on heavy iron bases by metal nuts and bolts
and displayed at intervals throughout the park; one could spy a kingfisher hanging
from a pole, a heron balanced on a branch staring intently into the distance, or
groups of birds standing in the water’s shallows.
A promotional postcard from the festival,
which turned out to be a pitch to the CBK (Centrum Beeldende Kunst) to realize
the project, led my curiosity to contact interior designer, Carolijn Slottje.
Carolijn told me that apart from the
obvious decorative aspect, the thinking behind this project was to make people
aware just how many bird species are resident in the Noorderplantsoen, and what
effect the presence of a festival can have on the indigenous flora and fauna.
I met her at her studio, in part of an enormous,
high-ceilinged old school premises destined for demolition, and run by the
anti-squat organization, Carex. It is here that she has all the room necessary
to work on the five or so projects that she completes per year; either under
her own name, or as part of the collaborative label (with Eileen Blackmore, Martijn Westphal):
Young and Hanson. We ascend a series of bright red wooden stairs to the
slightly warmer, large-windowed, mezzanine area of the studio, and sit in the
sun, with large glass beakers of hot amber-coloured tea.
A graduate of Minerva, Carolijn has had a
great deal of interest surrounding her work, beginning with her graduation
project: Capilliar. This organically
formed and ‘intelligent’ display structure has exhibited in Berlin, been
written about on blogs, and drawn attention from museums for its originality. Looking
like a magnified cross section of blood vessels and arteries on a glass slide under
a microscope, and constructed from a series of adjustable rubber membrane cells,
plastic straws, and with grey plastic tubes as inner display areas, this book
case can be adapted to fit any space.
I ask Carolijn where she gets her
inspiration from. It seems that her design philosophy and approach comes from
her interest in natural structures, the stories contained within patterning,
sustainability and fair trade. Finding inspiration in the mechanical working of
things, for example bionics, she then figures out how she can translate this
for human use. Or from nature: the already documented information on how a leaf
unfurls, or the resistance of a riverbed. Knowledge gained from the former has already
been applied to the technology of how a satellite opens in outer space. The
natural world for her is inspirational through its planned chaos: “If you fill
a pot with stones, whether big or small, they will naturally fall to
accommodate each other within the pot, and find their own level.”
It can take up to a year before Carolijn
can finally launch a new product on the market. Not only does the designed
object have to be able to exist in its surroundings, but there is the question
of feasibility; materials have to be costed, the end design has to be tested
for safety, and then there is the question as to whether there is a market for
Although her income could do with a boost, Carolijn
is just able to survive from her work: commissioned interior projects, and the
creation of small saleable objects. For example, her fabulous up-cycled Zaanse clocks
as bird houses – traditional old style Dutch clocks, with new life blasted into
them. Plus of course, products from the design collective: Young and Hanson, in
house at Vos Interieur.
For the future, her objective is not so
much about making a name for herself, but to maybe work for Ikea or Hema, producing
products with the underlying philosophy of them being financially accessible
and attractive to all. Also, she would like to use her knowledge for the design
of a “good chair for a well-known label.”
If you’d like more information about
Carolijn’s work: www.carolijnslottje.com. Or call her: here.
As a follow up to my last post on edible packaging, it seems that Brazilian-based fast-food chain Bob's has replaced its plastic burger wrappings with edible ones - Way to go! - I wonder what it tastes like? Via: DesignTaxi
“Blues is to jazz what yeast is to bread. Without it, it’s flat.” - Carmen McRae There's nothing more disappointing, whilst on the run, than grabbing 'a-sandwich-to-go' only to find that the bread is less than acceptable. The momentary illusion of a tasty sandwich, created by the attractive packaging, its filling promising satiation, is immediately dashed by the first bite; the filling runs off in terror, the bread shrinks into a glutinous lump and then proceeds to stick to the roof of one's mouth. Swallow, and it dawns on me that this 'bread' has only just started its journey, and has a long way to go... Ugh! It is with this in mind that I rejoice at the movement of the real bread movement, where the baking of bread is artful - the use of the best organic ingredients, perfect preparation, and the pimping of the worn out old homely-style bakery establishment to one befitting the sale of real bread.