A project by Sander Wassink adds Moroccan spice to a Gispen classic

FURNITURE – From its inception, the Bauhaus and its timeless geometric aesthetic carried a hegemonic undercurrent. Its luminaries were among the first to realize that designs suitable for mass production could restore uniformity and authenticity to what they viewed as a fragmented and derivative society. Inspired by the movement, Dutch designer W.H. Gispen conceived the Diagonal chair in 1927. Although the frame consisted of a continuous length of tubular steel, one model of the chair had a rustic rattan seat that apparently rejected the Bauhaus principle of alienation from human handicraft.

Since that era, the trajectory of globalism makes the Bauhaus creed seem ever more prophetic, despite the individual creative impetus and originality so highly regarded in Western societies, as well as the far less egoistic values of the cultures it colonized. In Morocco, for instance, a design is never viewed as a finished product, allowing users the freedom to interpret and adapt the product as they see fit. Dutch designer Sander Wassink initiates a dialogue between indigenous Moroccan aesthetics and global industrialism in his reconstruction of the Diagonal chair. He spent nine days in Sefrou, a small city in Morocco, working with local artisans who had been asked to modify the chair using materials found on the street. Photographs of the chair’s incarnations demonstrate the fluidity of Moroccan design while separating the resultant pieces from the chair itself.

The result is Contrabande – now on display at Boijmans Van Beuningen as part of the Rotterdam museum’s Gispen Specials exhibition. The show is open until 26 February. 


This article is featured in Frame 114

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