A new monograph delights in the Dutch studio’s brilliant approach to colour, in everything from tableware to textiles.
The pages of this monograph, with edges fittingly tinted a fluorescent orange, document creative processes from one of the most brilliant design duos to emerge in the past decade. Renowned for their thoughtful, compelling manipulation of colour, their quiet graphic lines and minimal forms, Carole Scholten and Stefan Baijings have developed a distinguished approach that has borne such works as a delicate tea set for Georg Jensen, geometric wooden tables for Japanese manufacturer Karimoku and Rothko-like textiles for Maharam. Most poignant, though, is that the firm’s palette, colour gradations, pared-back forms and detailed finishes present a far different vision from the work produced by other Dutch studios (read: Droog’s conceptual quirkiness or the opulence of Moooi).
This insightful survey (published by Phaidon and edited by Joe Pickard) is divided into seven sections, each dedicated to a different medium – wood, textile, porcelain – all arranged by Joost Grootens, who has translated the pair’s sophisticated use of pastels, neons, shapes and materials onto paper. Readers quickly move through an introductory interview with Michael Maharam and an essay by design critic Louise Schouwenberg before getting to the eye candy. Page after page is saturated with large images, each with a nine-character coded caption identifying the name, status and date of the piece. These grant readers a behind-the-scenes look at what all hands-on industrial design processes should encompass: detailed sketches, renderings, cardboard models, material and manufacturing experimentation and, finally, the finished product.
What sets the firm apart is the way its strong yet subtle schemes and forms weave traces of historical movements into ultra-contemporary objects without seeming nostalgic. “They definitely don’t rush into things,” writes Schouwenberg. This book is proof of the intensive research behind the textiles, accessories, furnishings and installations that bear the Scholten & Baijings label.
Nina Boccia is a former associate editor at Azure who now manages the marketing and design team at the Design Exchange in Toronto.