Formafantasma and Sabine Marcelis: who said Dutch design was dead?

ROERMOND, the Netherlands – Transcending design disciplines, mindful of craftsmanship, linking aesthetic signatures with functionality – these are a few of the makings of a Gesamtkunstwerk. Total design at its purest takes root from the early days of modernism, which Dutch architect Pierre Cuypers revelled in. The mastermind behind Amsterdam Central Station and the Rijksmuseum, Cuypers’ attention to detail from the intricate façade to the furnishing ensures that beauty is present on all scales.

The annual Limburg Design Award honours such design mentalities in his memory. Last week, the award was presented in Roermond alongside the newly established Harrie Tillie Prize for emerging designers.

A glamorous jury included Frame’s very own founder and director Robert Thiemann; Henk Wolters, general director of Kern Architecten; Thomas Eyck, producer and distributor of contemporary design objects; and Jeroen Junte, writer and curator in the fields of design and architecture.

The two awards were presented at the ceremony on 3 December, both with three final nominees to deliberate on. For the emerging and promising designers the selection consisted of NOMAN studio, Studio Sabine Marcelis and Jólan van der Wiel. To celebrate and highlight those who have already proven their signature in the Dutch design scene, the three firms of Formafantasma, Overtreders W and Studio Drift were nominated for the prestigious Limburg Design Award.

Through a unanimous decision, Studio Sabine Marcelis won the Harrie Tillie Prize. ‘The cross-disciplinary approach of her work – from small artistic objects to larger architectural installations – excels in material expression,’ says Thiemann. Marcelis has gained much recognition in recent years for her comprehensive ability to understand and communicate client intentions whilst maintaining a distinct signature of her own. ‘The jury has no doubt that her best is yet to come,’ he adds.

With the spirit of Cuypers as a guide, the jury found Formafantasma the convincing winner of the Limburg Design Award 2017. The celebrated duo behind the studio continuously stretch the boundaries of design: their objects have a narrative power, and their installations don’t shy away from revealing their production process. While their work serves the client, it is unmistakably Formafantasma: refined and aesthetic.

The award-winning designers’ work as well as the other nominees’ are housed in the Cuypershuis museum until 25 February 2018 in an exhibition designed and curated by Maurice Mentjens.

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