CECI N’EST PAS UNE COPIE
DESIGN BETWEEN INNOVATION AND IMITATION
FRIDAY 25 NOVEMBER > SUNDAY 26 FEBRUARY 2017
Curator: Chris Meplon
Scenography by GAFPA BUREAU FOR ARCHITECTURE AND URBAN PLANNING
“Innovation or imitation: rarely a black-and-white issue.”
Copying is bad. Gaining wealth or fame with someone else’s creative work is morally reprehensible, and in principle forbidden by law. But are things really that clear-cut? Sometimes a copy – or something greatly resembling a copy – comes from an unexpected source. Sometimes it can even lead to surprising and liberating new insights. Is it then still substandard, a case of parroting something else, of shameless and unfair competition?
Ceci n’est pas une copie sets out in search of the nature, significance and acceptance of copying strategies in contemporary design practice. This isn’t entirely obvious, because we are touching on a sensitive topic. Designers do not always see the efforts of competitors who copy them as a form of flattery. In reality, they fear loss of income and damaged reputations.
In today’s digital age, with its unlimited possibilities for sharing and the free distribution of ideas, images and information, classic copyright protection offers less of a grip than ever before. The omnipresence of 3-D scanning and printing technology opens the doors to even more and sharper copying and reproduction. Advocates of stricter copyright regulations are facing internet activists and idealists who view copyright regulation as a threat to creative freedom.
Against the background of new mobile technology that is now within everyone’s reach, concepts such as originality and individual authorship are being increasingly questioned. Isn’t valuable innovation always based on what went before? Isn’t creativity always a form of inspired reuse, clever copy paste? Isn’t the history of design primarily a history of redesigning? Why do we so want to believe in the natural talent, the genius of the star designer? Can we learn from other cultures, where copying is perceived quite differently? Does copying take on a new meaning in an historic perspective?
This exhibition presents a selection of fascinating examples and diverse reactions to the phenomenon of copying. It covers well-known and acknowledged borrowing strategies, such as quotation, collage, homage and pastiche as well as more controversial and experimental reproduction, from copying as an accepted form of imitation to copying as base commercialism, plagiarism and piracy. With contributions and work by Jasper Morrison, Richard Hutten, Unfold, Bas van Beek, Konstantin Grcic, Maarten Baas and countless other designers who deal with this phenomenon on a daily basis and are forced to take a stand on the issue, whether they want to or not.
In Pracht und Prinzip the designer Bas van Beek combines the design principles of the Bauhaus (1919-1932) and the Wiener Werkstätte (1903-1932) with the collection of the Van Abbemuseum. Van Beek sees the Bauhaus school, with its total commitment to the industrially manufactured product, and the Wiener Werkstätte with its more frivolous, more craftsmanlike and smaller scale approach, as the cradle of contemporary design. He redesigned the series of designs and patterns of the two schools – some of which had never been executed – and adapted them when it was necessary. He then combined these with works from the museum’s collection, such as those of Donald Judd and François Morellet. He used the results with different products, such as wallpaper, a carpet, clothes and a wooden jigsaw puzzle. Although the designs are more than a hundred years old, dating from about 1910, they are still surprisingly up to date, particularly now that they have been placed in the context of a contemporary museum.
The designs of Pracht und Prinzip can be seen in different places in the new building of the Van Abbemuseum from 24 September. They are also part of the program of the Dutch Design Week (22 – 30 October). After 6 November the wallpaper on the long wall between the museum and the museum café will remain there until 26 March 2017.
Material Night: Plastic Ethic
20.00 – 22.00
Het Nieuwe Instituut
During Material Night: Plastic Ethic, researchers and designers will gather to discuss design processes related to plastic. How do designers use this material to make objects that matter? What is their position in the growing industry of 3D printing?
During Material Night: Plastic Ethic, researchers and designers will gather to discuss design processes related to plastic. How do designers use this material to make objects that matter? What is their position in the growing industry of 3D printing? Do they see this technology as a piece of equipment or does it shape their way of thinking and making? With Rick Dolphijn, Bas van Beek, Lucas Maassen and Christie Arends. The evening’s moderator is designer and researcher Sophie Krier. Before the programme starts, visitors can join a guided tour of Het Nieuwe Instituut, which takes in various items in the PLASTIC programme.
Designer Bas van Beek explains his form research ‘Extrapolations & Anachronisms’ and discusses it with curator and writer Christie Arends. Designer Lucas Maassen talks about his work D-Struct, in which he explores the fine line between physical and virtual reality.
Studium Generale HKU
Plaats: Oudenoord 700
Tijd: aanvang 16:00 – start lezing 16:30
Te gast zijn de multidisciplinaire kunstenaar Helmut Smits en vormgever Bas van Beek. Geen doorsnee ontwerpers, maar beiden kunstenaars met een scherpe en kritische blik, in hun werk vaak gecombineerd met een humoristische insteek. Het werk van Bas bestaat grotendeels uit ontwerpen, vaak series, die geïnspireerd zijn op historische en bestaande ontwerpen (of niet eerder uitgevoerde ontwerpen) uit archieven of die geïnspireerd zijn door de populaire cultuur als films en pretparken. Ook Helmut gebruikt in zijn werk veelal de dingen de hij tegenkomt in het dagelijks leven, vaak met een humoristische insteek: “Humor is niet iets wat ik met opzet inbreng, meestal is het er gewoon. Het is een hele goeie manier van communiceren. Tijdens het event gaan Helmut en Bas in op de vraag: ‘Hoe blijft een project interessant om aan te blijven werken?’ Het gevaar dat je plezier of interesse verliest ligt altijd op de loer. Zeker als je kijkt naar de huidige samenleving waarin nieuwe ontwikkelingen elkaar razendsnel opvolgen, geld een belangrijke rol speelt en de vraag van de consument ook meespeelt in het ontwerpproces. Welke beslissingen maak je hierin gedurende het proces om het geheel tot een goed einde te brengen?
SEMINAR KABK: CULTURE 3.0: PROSUMING THE ART ACADEMY
27/03/2015, 10:00 – 18:00
We are happy to announce the seminar Culture 3.0: Prosuming the Art Academy. Come and join us in the discussion on the digital revolution and its impact on art and design practices. We invited four experts from the field of art criticism and curating, media theory and art and design: Robert Hewison, Bas van Beek, Theo Ploeg and David Jablonowski. Culture 3.0: Prosuming the Art Academy is organized by the research group of the Lectorate Art Theory & Practice at the University of the Arts The Hague. RSVP before 13/3/2015: email@example.com INTRODUCTION Since the beginning of the 21st century digitization seems to stimulate ‘home made creativity’. The tools and possibilities for production are easily available to almost everybody. However, the digital gate keepers of the digital world are the real owners of these creative products, as they control distribution and access. On this day we will look at the impact of digital culture on ‘making’ and investigate its significance for art education. Three urgent questions will be addressed:
• How can we teach students to become prosumers?
• What are the implications of digital culture for the experience of sensuousness? And for the artistic process of making and its outcome?
• How can we teach students to develop a critical position towards Culture 3.0? What could a critical art and design practice look like in Culture 3.0?
Robert Hewison (UK, 1943) – Creating the Creative Industries: the British experience and its challenges
Bas van Beek (NL, 1974) – The Multiple Personality Disorder of the Designer
Theo Ploeg (NL,1969) – Design(ing) (for) the New World David Jablonowski (DE, 1982) – Stone Carving High
Performance (for more information about the speakers and the lectures please visit our website: www.lectoraatktp.nl) CULTURE 3.0 AND THE PROSUMER Pierluigi Sacco, professor in economics and culture an the International University of Languages and Media (IULM) in Milan, argues that we find ourselves on the threshold to a new paradigm, a new cultural revolution that renders the industrial revolution redundant . Sacco distinguishes three regimes of cultural production: the culture of patronage (culture 1.0); the culture of mass markets and cultural industries, based on the industrial revolution (culture 2.0) , and the culture of ‘content communities’ (culture 3.0). Sacco emphasizes the importance of technological developments. According to Sacco, we now find ourselves in a transition from culture 2.0 to 3.0, a transition that is driven by two simultaneous innovative tendencies: digital ‘content production’ and ‘digital connectivity’. We are witnessing the appearance of the ‘prosumer’, the combination of producer and consumer. In culture 3.0, communities create content and platforms that are open access en transparent in the construction of meaning. The distinction between producers and consumers is disappearing, culture is produced by the masses, also outside the market.
In short: “From cultivation (1.0) to entertainment (2.0) to co-creation (3.0).” The three regimes, says Sacco, exist simultaneously in the present. In the art world we can find examples of 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0 everywhere. In 3.0 the range and the possibilities, of the creative, professional maker are expanded in terms of co-creation and participation (‘creative leadership’). New and mutual forms of sustainability and of creative production are made possible. The ‘making’, in the concrete and material sense, acquires new meaning.
The British writer and art critic Robert Hewison emphasizes the relation between ‘home made creativity’ (the making), digitalization and creative industries . Hewison argues that, strictly speaking, the creative industries do not exist. Hewison regards the creative industries as a political invention, a programme installed by neoliberal politicians to stimulate the economy. The way in which creative industry is marketed is based, according to Hewison, on a hierarchical notion of art and creativity, in which creativity finds itself in the centre of everything and overflows to other regions in society. This deeply romantic notion presupposes the artist as the isolated genius, as an autonomous, self-driven and self-sacrificing individual, pouring forth expressive meaning. However, states Hewison, the artist is at the centre of nowhere. All sort of professionals are working in the creative industries, except experimental designers and artists. If they are anywhere at all, it is in the margin where they are struggling for survival. How do artists and designers relate to creative industries? What is the position of art education in this, what is the meaning of these developments for art education? Do students need to be taught to be prosumers, and if so, why and how? Also: Pierluigi Sacco: Culture 3.0: The impact of culture on social and economic development, & how to measure it’.  In Cultural Capital. The Rise and Fall of Creative Britain, Londen, Verso 2014
Het Nieuwe Instituut presents a series of design workshops and tools to the imm cologne public days visitors on a 100m2 creative playground with 3D printing pens, MineCraft and more. Het Nieuwe Instituut combines new insights from design and e-culture, inviting visitors to make extraordinary things with new accessible technologies. The focus of the workshop is on plastic as a material and the 3D-printing pen, a new digital toy which allows you to create your own three-dimensional structures. During the workshops, Dutch designers Bas van Beek and Helmut Smits will explore the possibilities of the tool and stretch its potential with the visitors to the fair. For designer Bas van Beek the challenge is to apply modernist design principles to a medium with endless possibilities to create new forms.
The button below will open a new window where you can find all the works neatly organized in a database
Bas van Beek
3036 EP Rotterdam
WHAT I DO:
Like a kind of Naomi Klein of design Bas van Beek agitates against the present Dutch designscene. At exhibitions, in magazines appear always the same “big names”. The same “brands” that ask big prices for small designs. Smart marketingmechanisms push up the sales and disguish contentual poverty. With his Ripp off-vases Van Beek criticizes this practice. He copied a number of designvases by buying the originals and casting them . Also he bought vases at a fair which he casted as well. The “covers” cost 95 euros a piece so that – typically Dutch – a leveling effect appears: the designvases became cheaper, the vases from the fair more expensive . Van Beek emphasizes the imitation by carrying them out in black and white and the standard printer colors ( cyanide blue, magenta red and yellow). On top of that he finishes them roughly.
In the tradition of Wim T. Schippers’ work for television Van Beek exploited what he calls “ the power of failure”. The copied designers reacted usually as bitten at his action, but despite his criticism the serie also forms a tribute to the “duped”. Trouble in Prozac-paradise. Is there anything against copying? For centuries artists learned the craft by copying their predecessors or masters. This so called “imitatio” was seen as a virtue. Not even so long ago Dutch academy of arts students also were drawing antique plasterfigures. Whether this led to any profoundness is questionable. It does lead to craftmanship. In Asia this practice still holds and it is the goal for the pupil to imitate his master perfectly. We perceive this as uninteresting , but does the West not go to far by overemphasizing originality? In the history of music it is also common place to vary on existing material. Bach also used themes by his predecessors, Strawinsky as well, while contemporary composers like Tavener and Pärt reach back for the middle ages . Within the world of design leading designers practice nothing else. The Tolomeo-lamp by Lucchi/ Fassina, meanwhile a designclassic is an interpretation of he prewar folding-arm lamp. Philippe is inspired by streamlining from the thirties. Jasper Morrison continues on the Italians from the Interbellum, while Konstantin Grcic followed initially Gerrit Rietveld, later on Eileen Gray. Joe Colombo and the peers from his generation seem to be the great example for the Bouroullec brothers. Compared to much contemporary Dutch design. I find this work many times more sensuous and wittier.
The correct question is perhaps: how sensitive and intelligent must one copy to prevent imitations from becoming common and uninteresting? Van Beek regards copying as a phenomenon of our time and as a designer one has to do something with it! Van Beek: “ The last years the copying of images developed from VHS-videotape via DVD-disc to present-day KAZAA. The last is in effect again qualitatively a retrogressive step. The colors are often more hazy, the images more comprimated. The Rip-offs series is in that regard like KAZAA. In Asia brand merchandise is being very skilfully reproduced on a large scale. In China a new city has even been named USA so that they can write on imitations “ made in the USA”! Legally it is not allowed, but everyone is doing it , so why should it not be allowed with vases? Also he is of the opinion that the “big names” are doing it just as well, only designcritics hardly ever punch through this. Van Beek: “ Maarten Baas burns furniture, Alessandro Mendini already did this in 1974, Marcel Wanders loothes the ninteenth century, which is not any news since Mendini’s Proust-chair, Richard Hutten imitates Berlage, Hella Jongerius archeological pottery and Viktor& Rolf imitate Martin Margiela. In Art it is allowed since Duchamp, Pop Art, Warhol and Koons. Then why not in designing? Besides Coco Chanel said that the ultimate compliment one can get is being copied. Is it really so simple?
It seems like Van Beek is confusing citing and copying. The last one can not do unpunished in the Arts. As soon as artists really steal, commotion immediately follows. Think of the several affaires concerning Rob Scholten and the countless fake Picasso’s, Appels et cetera. One can cite something or someone, but then one is expected to do something with it, to add a form, a comment, to add a vision. That is my problem with many contemporary artists and designers. They are using again all sorts of forms from the seventies a new, but remain stuck in soulless imitations, that have no connection to the present whatsoever. And what does Van Beek think for example of Ikea and Jan des Bouvrie who sometimes unconcernedly plagarize products ? They earn well whilst he original risk-taking producer is left in the cold. When the German manufacturer of furniture Moormann recently went to court for two years because the Swedish furniture manufacturer had stolen an idea it almost ruined him. Van Beek: “There is no false pretence behind Ikea. It is what it is, for “the masses”. Jan des Bouvrie strongly reminds me of the Prozacian ambiance f the Oprah Winfrey show. I do not dissaprove of it and view it rather as an instrument phenomenon; he caters to a certain need.” Just like No-sign-of design-Richard Hutten as a designer Van Beek wants to operate as anominously as possible and add no new shapes. There already is plenty. Where Hutten often does tread into the designtrap, Van Beek is looking for hybrides. He screws for example an Overtoom bucket seat onto the undercarriage of an Eames-chair. The result is convincing: Leen Bakker meets El Croquis, a middleway between design gallery and recycling shop. Van Beek wants to turn design into a mass product , to “mass-producesize” and describes his work as uplifted mediocrity. He saws up Oisterwijk occasional tables into a smart nest of small tables , in which the massive oak becomes visible again. He admires this furniture because of their honest, realistic functionalism: they are strong and fulfill the demand of the market. He prefers this furniture which is itself , to designers who “improve upon” this furniture like Marcel Wanders or Jurgen Bey. Does he not follow the same procedure? Original Van Beek is not for his work is completely on a par with the by Viktor Papanek ( design for the real world ) stimulated do-it yourself designing, the car tyre sofas of Des-in (1975), or the poetic, early work of Ron Arad, Tom Dixon, Jasper Morrison, Tejo Remy, Piet Hein Eek. Originality is not his goal. Designing is simple: everybody can do it, without workshop and without subsidies.
Just like the by him admired Jan Schoonhoven, Van Beek works simply at home behind his computer. He tries not to be dependend on subsidies, but rather makes a living in a call centre. His latest project is ambitious and costly. In he footsteps of popartist Allen Jones, whose lively combination of eroticism and furniture once made him decide to become a designer. Van Beek wants to make a variation on his SM-furniture of 1969. He wants to remake them, not with women, but with Fassbinder and Von Trier actor Udo Kier in the lead part. Through a computer-controlled program he is going to cast him in polyester. Kier is interested, but the process is expensive. That is going to be a lot of phone calls.
Peter van Kester 2003
The Throne of the Skeksis
“Another world. Another time. In the Age of Wonder.” Thus starts Jim Henson’s 1982 Fantasy flick The Dark Crystal, immaculate production design from the pre-CGI era. It is Reagan-era politico-social commentary of the first order. It is of especial import today as the conservative era enters its fourth decade, unless otherwise averted. The film tells a tale about two species that were once one, the evil Skekis, vulture-like creatures sucking the life out of the planets inhabitants, in control of the police, crab-like creatures named Garthim. They have their own CIA, Crystal-bats, flying surveillance cameras that provide a live feed to the castle from what is happening in society. The good Mystics in harmony with their surroundings only in need of the bare essentials are involved in vague rituals.
While two Skeksis are battling over the throne trying to split a rock with a big sword: ‘Trial by Stone’ (the inverted tale is that of King Arthur pulling one out of a rock); the loser of the game is stripped of his decadent belongings. Evil here is portrayed by an elitist society that is at the peak of its decadence, protecting it by any means necessary, while knowing it will all be over soon. The centre of it all is a throne that has quite some similarities with Mr Laarman’s Bone Chair. I’m not stating it is the ultimate symbol of an evil diabolical society, though I am tempted to do so.
The Skeksis throne has an organic aesthetic referring to all the creatures they sucked the life out of, turning them into servants, the moment you see it you know it is evil, no question about it. One of the wonders of production design in comparison to product design is that Styrofoam can be turned into basically anything, rock, steel, timber and yes bones. After sculpting a layer of plaster, paint does the rest. An under-constructed reality made for the illusion of film. What you see is what you won’t get (WYSIWYWG). In product design we see the quality in the honest use of material and form, no one can deny this shifted towards imagery that does well in magazines. Or as Mr Baudrillard puts it so well ‘ Simulacra’, not a copy of the real but a truth in its own right.
The Bone Chair gives the illusion of a shape solely generated by the computer, the reality is that the parameters that are set come out of Mr Laarman’s own aesthetic spasm, therefore making the use of the computer completely obsolete. It merely serves as an effective Radio Shack sales pitch. The use of aluminium in his design suggests by the use of his ‘program’ that material is only used for the structure where it is needed, If this was the case oddly enough Charles and Ray Eames succeeded in doing exactly that 57 year ago using a fraction of the material Mr Laarman is using (rough estimate would be 1%) without the use of a computer. Besides that they brought their design to the masses instead of the decadent few, say the Skekis that are living in our present society preying upon bourgeois kitsch.
The WYSIWYWG for the bone chair still holds with the difference that the conditions that apply are inverted, an over-constructed reality made for the escapistic sphere of the interior; with the same result. There is a prophecy though; a Gelfling will come to heal the Dark Crystal, curing the world from ornamentalists (Skeksis) and hippies (Mystics). By plugging the missing shard back into the crystal the two species are merged into a supreme being, the palace rids itself from the organic bone structure, The painted plaster skin literally falls of exposing a transparent crystalline shape Bruno Taut would be jealous of; bringing back balance to the planet…force (Frank Oz was the co director on this project).The Garthim police falls apart, revealing there is nothing inside the exoskeleton but air.
One could say this already happened in contemporary architecture, the ‘discovery’ of the computer in the early 90s resulted in a lot of blob-like shapes simply for the sake of ‘new’ form. Looking new and contemporary but far more expensive to build than conventional constructivist structures. Architects found a new way to complain about the old ways of construction. In retrospect we are lucky that only a fraction of this ‘Architect sitting behind his 400 MHz computer moving the mouse with his hand and the table with his hard on, ecstatic by the Maya interface’ masturbation was built. There is a realm for these porno graphical outbursts now, it is called Second Life, and the good thing about it is that you do not need to be an architect or a designer at all. The Gelfling came to the sphere of architecture freeing it from its organic doctrine exposing Herzog and de Meuron as the new contemporaries (Gregg Lynn who?). Their structures are WYSIWYG using the computer as a tool instead of a high tech Rotring pen.
Mr. Henson addressed some political issues in his film through the use of production design. One could do the same if you address the political sphere through product design. You can make similar categorizations or rather expose the strategy contemporary designers have chosen, left, right, (social) democratic, (neo) conservative, liberal, fill in the dots yourself since I am namedropping too much as it is. The Crystal bats showed us there are other forces to take into account, widely accepted authorities controlled by Big Brother that legitimizes the current Dutch Design sphere. Infiltration and manipulation is in the hands of Lidewij Edelkoort. Time will learn if she too like the Garthim will be exposed as an empty shell. It took 1000 years for the Gelfling to come and fulfill the prophecy in Jim Henson’s world, 10 in Architecture, let’s make it 5 for Design.
Bas van Beek 2007