The Netherlands was the first country I saw outside the Soviet Union. It was 1991. More exactly, 19 August 1991. That day we were on the way to the airport and did not know whether they’d let the plane go or not. On the nineteenth no one knew anything. The Dutch greeted us pasty faced and asked if did want to think seriously a political asylum. But 21 August the broadcast of Swan Lake was over, and after a week we returned from Holland to quite a different country. Everyne who traveled to prosperous Western Europe from Russia in the early nineties (and if it was also their first trip abroad!) will understand me — it was like a trip to another planet. That’s Holland that become my first traveling experience, the first love remembered over the lifetime. Since then, I’ve been to the Netherlands a lot, but each time I discover this wonderful country again with enthusiasm and delight.
In my professional environment, there’s been a view for a long time that Holland is the most design country in the world. And my latest trip to Eindhoven to the Dutch Design Week (www.ddw.nl) has only strengthened my sincere conviction of that. I believe it’s Dutch design that has managed to become a national priority, not only in the industry, which is absolutely natural, not only at the state level (which also occurs in developed countries, but not that often), but also in the society regardless of the guild (and this is rare!) Holland is the country of the winning design. The undisputed fact.
However, I love Holland not only for extremely high professional level and the deepest penetration of high-quality design into the everyday life of this country. Holland has always pleased me with its humanity. I do not know how to explain bestwhat I mean by this word. This isprobably a purely personal feeling of comfort, joy, friendship, proportionality of country towards the people, not only in physical dimensions, but also within the relationship «person-state». I can see how the Dutch love their country, appreciate it, cherish it and care about it. And such an attitude is impossible to be implanted by any orders from above or a the lesson of patriotic education at school. I envy Holland that it has such Dutchmen!
And I still haven’t mentioned orange color. Maybe the Dutch owe their optimism and creative energy particularly to this national color identifier.
The special issue of Projector, dedicated to to Dutch design, is my personal declaration of love to this magic country!
Projector № 1(14) 2011
The new long-awaited issue, from cover to cover devoted to Dutch design, has come out. It would not have been assembled without the grant of the General Consulate of the Netherlands.
The magazine opens with its traditional historical publication. Of course, it’s devoted to the most well-regarded Dutch designer Gerrit Rietveld. However, we illustrated the article in an unexpected way. Everybody knows what the objects by Rietveld look like. Therefore, the magazine editors considered it possible not to use photographs at all. Instead of those, Alexey Boyko’s text is accompanied with trenchant, dynamic graphics by the famous Saint-Petersburg designer Dmitry Blank. By the way, the Blanks are known among the designers as veteran «wearers» of corporate orange color, so who if not they would have taken active part in the design of the Dutch issue!
«The name of Piet Hein Eek has been resounding not only in the Netherlands but also far beyond its borders in recent years. Mitya Kharshak has interviewed the hero of Dutch Design Week. Here is what he writes in the introduction to their conversation: «Piet Hein Eek designs objects of unthinkable masculine power. For me, not only is his cabinet or a chair -a «he», but also a bed or a cup. Even a chair, which is linguistically neutral, becomes a «he» by Piet! If you can try to imagine a male personification of design, it is an object by Piet Hein Eek, regardless of size, purpose or material».
For the project №3 «Lettering» our constant witer and the member of the editorial board Vladimir Yefimov and Anna Shmieleva have taken a rare historical journey into the XVIII century Netherlands. Their article presents two bright figures of typography design of the time: «Michael Fleishman and Jacques-François Rozart are the names associated with the development and flourishing of Dutch text in the XVIII century. Despite its stable distribution and success, and perhaps because of this, the period after 1700 can be considered the time of stagnation, if not of incipient decline. Most typefounders were exploiting their old punches and dies this period, and almost no one created a new font. Thomas James, an Englishman who came to the Netherlands in 1710 for the fonts, wrote: «… It’s hardly possible to find an honest man: they all live buying and selling …».
The continuation of the letters’ subject could very well migrate to the section of object design, as the work ABCHAIRS by Ruhland Otten is the case at the junction of two genres — type and furniture design. «Of course, the inexpressible lightness of being is felt when trying on the process of the invention of the chair out of the lowercase «h», where the very essence of grapheme is a character with the legs and back. Or, for example, out of the capital «A», which has a horizontal junction stroke in the middle — isn’t it a chair with a triangular back and widely spaced resilient legs?! But what about, say, the capital «L» (or worse — the lowercase «l»)? Where’s its waist?» Text by Mitya Karshak.
The project №4 «Subject» has turned out to be most abundant in publications. The editorial board is especially proud of the publication, devoted to one of the most famous objects by Gerrit Rietveld — the red and blue chair: not exactly to the original one, but the later dedications to it and its design modifications. Many modern writers have paid tribute to the master and his famous object. The publication presents the red-blue chairs: by Lego; of small round logs; fitted into a cocoon; and made on a drawing with the left hand. The armchair, invented by Rietveld in 1917, still encourages contemporary designers for new achievements.
The only non-Dutch publication here is the article about Diagonal — a witty modern furniture object by the Stockholm studio o4i. However, this publication had been planned by us and the company Martela a long time before, so we decided not to interrupt the series of the articles.
The following article is about the brightest (literally) objects Mitya Kharshak spotted at the exhibition Liberation of light in the Dutch capital of design, the city of Eindhoven. Lamps made of dandelions, tomatoes as a power source, a still shining broken light bulb, and a birdhouse powered by solar batteries — this is not the list of «impossible» objects, these are all real exhibits of the display and publication Freedom of Light.
Ten recipies of color by Hella Jongerius continue the series of publications coming out with the support of Vitra. The text and the picture are also both made by Hella.
Project №5 «Environment» opens with an incredibly beautiful article about the Dutch pavilion at the World Expo in Shanghai. The architect, who came up with the idea of Happy Street, floating in the air, has e-mailed the editorial board with his first sketches and photographs of the finished pavilion. Extremely valuable valuable material!
The dynamic object of environmental design Slug by Jurgen Bey is a materialized philosophical treatise, rather than an item of customary transport and / or environmental design. «It’s either a box office or a traveling puppet pavilion stage with the only puppeteer behind the curtain, or some constructivist reincarnation of a folkloric hut on chicken legs — now on wheels and with an electric motor. The concept of a private mobile space, invented by Jurgen Bey, — Slow car. Environmentally friendly slug in the cities of the future, the retarder of the frantic pace of life. Text by Mitya Kharshak and Karin Long.
Project № 7 «Photography» tells the story of the Dutchman Jan Adriaanse. After a long series about Saint-Petersburg photographers, taking black and white (but less beautiful!) pictures, Adriaanse explodes the pages with color. Juicy, powerful and, at last, color photos in the Projector.
Project № 8 «School» is a story in the first person. Irina Smirnova graduated from Type & media course. Especially for the Dutch issue of Projector, she happily remembered her student days: «You do not play!» — this was the most serious accusation, and the biggest mistake you could make while studying there».
The project № 9 «Books» has two wonderful publications. The first one is written by the well-known book collectors and historians — Serge-Alyosha Stommelsom and Albert Lemmens. They show the unique materials from their extensive collection — Nieuw Rusland («New Russia») magazine. Surprisingly, it’s dedicated to the culture and art of the new Soviet state would come out in the Netherlands at the time when all diplomatic relations between our countries had been cancelled! In the late 1920s — early 1930s, this magazine had a relationship with most significant figures of design, fine art and photography of the Netherlands at the time, including, by the way, the main hero of the issue Gerrit Rietveld.
In the second publication, the friend of Projector, famous Dutch designer Hans Gremmen presents his book «Fake flowers in full color». I think that the author didn’t realize that in Russian language «flowers» and «color» give much more freedom of verbal juggling than the English version of these words.