Dutch designer and architect of Abu Dhabi's LIWA tower, Kas Oosterhuis explains why the bespoke tapestries and limited edition version of his 'Body Chair' are inspired by this master painter in the de Stijl movement.
Kas is part of Dutch Creative Industry, a strategic and unique three-year partnership of several Dutch creative industry companies with the Dutch government set up with aim of showing the Netherlands’ unique and collaborative ways of working by joining hands with local partners, and responding to new opportunities and challenges.
Here he talks to Design Days Dubai and explains why the bespoke tapestries and new versions of the Body Chair on show at this year’s fair are inspired by this master painter of the de Stijl movement.
Q: You will be presenting three more versions of the striking Body Chair at this year’s Design Days Dubai - is this because the design was so successful at last year’s show?
Kas Oosterhuis: We’re showing three versions to demonstrate that the concept behind the Body Chair is not one static model, but actually facilitates an endless range of possible variations, co-created by the user. We have designed a web-based application [www.byyu.eu] where the user can set his/her preferences in terms of his/her own unique length, and chose patterns, colours and finish.
Q: Why did you choose Ilona Lénárd’s Omniverse 2 Jacquard woven tapestry fabric for one of the designs?
Kas: Ilona Lénárd and myself have a long-standing cooperation. Since the early Nineties, we’ve worked together to show that art, architecture and design can be fully merged on a digital platform to become objects or buildings that can be seen in multiple ways - an independent piece of sculpture can be a functioning piece of furniture or a building, for example.
Q: Ilona Lénárd’s two woven tapestries are inspired by Dutch Modernist Mondrian - is he still an important figure in the narrative of Dutch design and why?
Kas: De Stijl celebrates its centenary in 2017, and the art world is championing Mondrian at the moment.
We would not call Mondrian a modernist, since he was the initiator of the truly unique De Stijl movement, which was criticized by modernist architects like Le Corbusier. Mondrian is not only important in the narrative of Dutch design, but actually is a major influencer for artists and designers worldwide. The influence his radical departure from figurative painting has had on the international cultural climate cannot be underestimated.
Ilona Lénárd noted that Mondrian's last work, Victory Boogie Woogie, is actually an unfinished painting, which led her to take it as a point of departure for further investigations into depth of space. Ilona interpreted the colours of the painting into different shades of grey to evoke the deep canyons of Manhattan’s urban fabric, where Mondrian spent his final years. Her artistic intention is to evoke the tension between the second and third dimensions, creating a feeling of depth of the urban fabric from the otherwise flat jacquard woven fabric.
We’ve also included a special Mondrian version of the Body Chair, which will only be produced as a limited edition.
Q: What are your plans when Dutch Creative Industry’s three-year partnership comes to an end in Dubai?
Kas: I designed and built the bespoke LIWA tower in Abu Dhabi before I joined DCI which has been very supportive in giving us a platform to show our domestic design products. We are determined to build up more presence in the region through Ilona's autonomous works of art like her robotic paintings shown during Design Week Dubai in 2015, and through my parametric design concepts for the affordable and iconic, and through intense affiliations with some of the best universities in the region.
Q: What have you learned from your time in the city and how will it help you in your career moving forward?
Kas: The UAE is a very stimulating environment, attracting key players from all over the world, and challenging creators to perform to the best of their abilities. We’ve been invited by several universities to extend our activities in the UAE, and we believe that the positive attitude of the UAE government will be beneficial for our development as artist / designer / architects.
For the full exhibitor line-up, click here.