One of my favorite stories from The Hague Design Festival last month came from an artist named Roland Pieter Smit, who was selling blankets from looms he built himself.
Roland works with people who have intellectual disabilities, such as autism and Down syndrome. At the same time, he’s interested in reviving the Dutch wool industry, which had declined significantly as sheep have become more valuable for their meat.
In a project called Wolwaeren, he sourced native wool and built looms and developed yarns of different sizes that play to these artists’ needs:
“Autistic people do, for example, very precise and delicate work, while people with Down syndrome want to see quick results. I developed different yarns for different limitations: Thick and very fine yarns.”
The resulting blankets hung from a beautifully minimal stand in the home of a local Hague architect. At 800 Euro each, I need to save up for one of these gorgeous soft sculptures, but Roland assured me that he can ship anywhere. (Here’s a charming video that shows the process)
Equally sculptural during my walk around this adorable design quarter was a light by Susanne de Graef, which folds in on itself. It’s called the Rhythm of Light:
You can hang it at its full length, or lift it up for a different look:
Just as Susanne reimagines light as sculpture, the artist Rolf.Fr does the same thing with ordinary objects, such as teapots. He puts them in an entirely new context by encasing them in concrete block, reviving an old fussy hand-me-down as a piece of modern art:
These were on display at Galerie Helder, which was off the beaten path but well worth the trip.
In the middle of the action was a fabulous design store called Edwin Pelser, which showcased dozens of Dutch designs for daily living—everything from wall hooks to candles:
I wasn’t able to buy much at this festival, but I found a really cool print at Tas-Ka, another design shop in town:
I watched artists from We Are Out of the Office produce riso prints, which is sort of like silk screening, but with a machine that helps the process along.
I got the print of the leaves that hangs on the left, above. Here’s a video I shot of them working, which I posted to Instagram:
So cool. I’ll leave off with the last exhibit I was able to see before I had to dash back to the train station for Amsterdam, where I was staying with my sister while she attended a law conference.
These are a series of photographs by David in den Bosch, who created an ethereal new world out of… broccoli.
He produced 100 views of broccoli as a project to get people to rethink the way we view food. “We no longer think about what food is, or where it comes from,” David wrote. “After all, if you are what you eat, but you do not know what you eat, than what are you?”