Tuesday, October 9, 2007

No Sign of Design

When visiting the Kunsthalle in Rotterdam, we were fortunate to intersect an exhibition by Dutch designer Richard Hutton.

The exhibition of Hutton's work illustrated his range of simple and playful qualities. Hutton tackles furniture, product and interior design amoung other things. He is known in the design world for his "No sign of Design" and "Table upon table" concepts. "Table upon table" is exactly that. Hutton arranges structures out of stacked table forms and the result is familiar and fresh all at once. "No sign of Design" seems geared toward functionality combined with somewhat cumbersome primary forms. Chairs take on fun blocky silhouettes.

One aspect of the exhibit that I really liked was that each of his pieces were accompanied by quotes from people who used the products. When commenting on an entertainment center that Hutton designed, one client expressed a fondness for how functional Hutton's products were and how they didn't necessarily beg for attention. One look at his natural wood entertainment center left me unimpressed until I realized the whole structure was composed of many tables and shelves sort of stacked on top of each other. Now I want one.

Other pieces aren't so passive and practically scream to be fondled or sat on. A good example would be his iconic "Dombo" a plastic mug featuring two absurd ring handles that read like ears. The Dombo mug has dogs and toddlers among its fans. Said mugs can be seen transformed into a white chandelier in the exhibition. Another playful item (seen in red in the second image) is the ZZZIDT. It is marketed as a seat, table and cup holder and features the same ring handle as the Dombo. The ZZZIDT is not ergonomic or collapsible but it does enliven a space with its toy-like presence.

The exhibition as a whole was masterfully executed. The displays were clever and there were plenty of opportunities to interact with Hutton's pieces, which I think is essential to really appreciating Hutton's work. Good show!

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