Tag Archives: Dutch Design

Transformed Traditional – Studio Rolf.fr

Decorating with upcycled and refurbished objects, once considered trendy, is now a design style.  One which I happily embrace. In my home, Victorian-era pine floor boards, saved from a long-gone St. Louis hospital, form a pedestal and discarded steam gauges are now an art installation. Sometimes a few coats of lacquer turn “old” into “new.” At other times it’s a new use. What should we call this style? It’s neither Shabby Chic nor Industrial. Perhaps Redux? At Studio Rolf.fr, the approach to upcycling and refurbishing is a bit more radical.

Concrete Cabinet

Concrete Cabinet

Rolf works with objects that have sentimental value, but no longer fit with today’s design aesthetic. He slices, encases and reshapes them into contemporary pieces, while honouring the memories of the past. The Studio Rolf.fr design style could be called Transformed Traditional.

Rearrangements bench. Resin with sliced balusters.

Rearrangements bench. Resin with sliced balusters.

Extended Cabinet

Extended Cabinet

Rolf began transforming things as an architect. He studied architecture and urban planning at the Delft University of Technology in The Netherlands. In 2003, along with architect Marnix van der Meer, he founded Zecc Architecten. Among the firm’s projects are the  Water Tower of Living and Church of Living. As the names imply, these living spaces were once a water tower and a church.

His own home is the award wining The Black Pearl. Located in a revitalized neighbourhood of Rotterdam, the house, once a crumbling relic, is an outstanding transformation. From the link, you can also watch a short video (Rolf speaks Dutch in the video, even if you don’t understand Dutch, it’s interesting to watch) and take a 360 tour.

In 2009, Rolf formed Studio Rolf.fr and now dedicates his time to designing and creating furniture and products. The photos below are of his Cutting Porcelain series. By covering the exterior and slicing the tea pot and vase apart, he reveals the simple, elegant lines of the hidden inner structures.

From the Cutting Porcelain series.

From the Cutting Porcelain series.

From the Cutting Porcelain series

From the Cutting Porcelain series

When I first saw Studio Rolf.fr’s Concrete Cabinet (top photo) in Amsterdam at Woonbeurs 2013, it seemed familiar (minus the concrete). It reminded me of my maternal grandmother’s sewing cabinet. As a child, I adored rummaging through it. The drawers yielded bits of lace and spare buttons that I crafted into bracelets and hairbands. I asked to have the cabinet after my grandparents died. It became my daughter’s bedside table. She still has it in her home today. Although she likes it just as it is, perhaps a concrete remake is now under consideration. (Update: I’ve been assured the treasured cabinet will remain as is).

In the photo, my grandmother is wearing a silk dress created by my mom. I love seeing how my family dressed for casual strolls in the park. Perhaps not practical, but definitely chic.

Photo credits: 2, 3, 4 & 5 Studio Rolf.fr.

Lighting Up with Dutch Design – Sander Mulder

Being somewhat focused when I’m working at my desk (and perhaps a smidgen lazy), as the day approaches dusk, I find it annoying to have to get up, walk across the room, and turn on the overhead light. If I had one of Sander Mulder’s Cyclops pendant lamps in my office, then I could simply reach up, give the “eye” a little upwards flick, and light up the room.

Cyclops Light Sander MulderThe Cyclops Pendant Lamp is another light fixture design that caught my attention at the Woonbeurs 2013 show in Amsterdam (in an earlier post, I showed some of Stef van der Bujl’s unique creations). The lamp is an environmentally friendly 39 watt LED.  While minimalistic, the fixture is available in several standard anodized finishes as well as custom RAL colours. It’s also possible to order custom cable colours.

My “annoyance” at having to get up to turn on an overhead lamp is not the problem Sander Mulder set out to address with his Cyclops lamp. He conceived the innovative design as a solution for impractically placed light switches. Through the form of the lamp, aided by technology, a light switch becomes unnecessary. Push the “eye” upwards and the lamp turns on, pull it downwards and it switches off. For me, the beauty of the design is the surprise of realizing what’s not there.

Lighting Up with Dutch Design – Stef van der Bijl

With the dark days of winter creeping up on us, it’s a good time to show you some of the creative Dutch light fixture designs as seen at the Woonbeurs 2013 show in Amsterdam. Today’s post, the first of three, introduces you to the work of Stef van der Bijl.Stef van der Bilj Chickmaster Flashdrill LampFormerly a discarded vintage drill, the desk lamp shown above is from Stef van der Bijl’s “Chickmaster Flashdrill” series. The drill’s original on/off switch is still functional. It controls the light bulb. I think that the lamp’s unexpected context, sleek shape and polished surface would add industrial chic to both contemporary and traditional interiors. Stef van der Bilj Squirtmaster LampCan you guess what the light featured above used to be? The name of the design series provides a clue. It’s from the “The Squirtmaster” series. The designer created it using refurbished antique fire engine parts. A copper fire-hose nozzle holds the tube lamp and the fire-hose wheel acts a dimmer switch. The lamp is both functional and a conversation piece.

Stef van der Bijl’s inventiveness includes more than lights. For his “The Time Traveller’s Watch” collection, he creates watches from old camera parts, Steampunk style. He once turned a rusty Art Deco stove into a smart storage cabinet and even converted a 1967 Volkswagen T1 van into a travelling beverage bar and DJ booth. He also designs entire living and work spaces. You can see more of Stef van der Bijl’s work, including his own studio/home loft, on his website.

What I like most about Stef van der Bijl’s creations is that they are unique, handmade and support sustainable product design. As such, they are excellent examples of the new definition of “luxury” that is prevalent in Dutch Design today.