Furniture and Interactive Wall for the Bonnefantenmuseum

viz3_mozaiekFor the Bonnefantenmuseum in Maastricht TvH created designs for an interactive “mosaic wall” and a number of collapsible furniture units.

The wall consists of magnetic tiles printed with imagery chosen out of the collection of the museum. The Bonnefantenmuseum has a world class array of baroque religious paintings, even if it’s main source of pride is its collection of medieval ecclesiastical art. These colorful paintings lend themselves well to colorful blow-ups of several meters high. However, the magnetic tiles are meant to be interchanged so that what once was 8 recognizable paintings becomes a new work created by visitors. Tiles of course can be assembled in endless new ways, but some possibilities are: arrange them by color, arrange them by detail, and of course arrange them in an attempt to recreate the original painting. Any result shows an exciting jigsaw puzzle.

The museum also needed flexible furniture, preferably collapsible, to fill a narrow hall between exhibition spaces. The main purpose of the space is to showcase the efforts of the museum’s youth outreach project. It needed to be fun, easy, affordable, new and flexible. TvH created a design that is made of simple flat-pack elements, printed with colors and patterns drawn from Aldo Rossi’s museum architecture, as well as visual motifs from the building (the famous Bonnefanten dome) and the collection (the Gothic arch.)

We were pleased with the design solutions as well as the quality of the renderings themselves.

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Zeeslag!/Naval Battle at the Dutch Navy Museum in Den Helder

photo by Digidaan

photo by Digidaan

The fate of the seaman is never certain. Will it be victory or defeat? One admiral ascends to national Valhalla, the other is to be commemorated for his vain valor. The sailors and marines have little choice but to follow the leader. Zeeslag/Naval Battle explores the unpredictable chances for valor or defeat through the eyes of average seamen during two famous sea battles. Todd van Hulzen Design and Studio Louter created a clear dichotomized concept with an accent on the element of fate. Todd van Hulzen produced the architecture,the styling, and —with Studio Louter and the illustrator Hisko Hulsing— more than 700 square meters in graphic printwork.

The show opens onto a central ‘rotonda’ on which a two sided coin spins eternally, as it were, one with the head of victory and one with the head of defeat. This represents the uncertain lot of a navy man.

The first of the battles was the Battle of Chatham, otherwise known in English as the Raid on the Medway. This was a daring and brash raid on the English fleet moored in the mouth of the Thames during the Second Anglo-Dutch war 1667. The Dutch warships, under the national hero Admiral Michiel de Ruyter, burned the English armada in its home port, seized the crown ship the Royal Charles, and towed her back to Holland as bounty. (Note: Todd van Hulzen also made on request a  replica of the ship’s sculpted stern for the film Michiel de Ruyter. See below.) This exhibition includes 4 action experiences, all heroic and kid-friendly, including a shooting canon and a rowboat. We wrap it up with a chamber devoted to “glory”, that ambiguous historic creation.

The second battle, one also for the history books, was the disastrous defeat of the Dutch fleet, along with the ships of several allies, in the Java Sea at the hands of the Japanese Imperial Navy during World War II. The Commander of the allied campaign, rear-admiral Karel Doorman, perished in the campaign and the defeat resulted in the Japanese occupation of the entire Dutch East Indies, now Indonesia. This exhibition required much more tact and subtlety. It is more an homage on the brave men who, mostly, perished in this battle. It ends in a space devoted to those names.

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Design for the Mauritshuis, British Royal Collection

Not every pitch is a winner. We could dedicate a monthly post to all of the marvelous fish that got away. The odds are simply not always in your favor, and everyone knows this before going in on a design tender. Still, it’s a shame to have the designs disappear into oblivion.

We were particularly proud of designs we made for the Mauritshuis in the Hague. This prestigious museum hosted a show of paintings from the British Royal collection of Dutch Masters and was searching for a decor that was innovative and emotional. This is a very difficult thing to achieve in a traditional museum if you also want your paintings to shine without competition from your interior design. We gave it a shot.

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Carnaval Wereldwijd / Carnival Worldwide in the Afrika Museum

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The Carnival season is upon us, and the Afrika Museum in Berg en Dal (Netherlands) is devoting an exhibition this year to the phenomenon “Carnival” around the globe. Appropriately the museum places an accent on Carnival traditions among African inflected cultures in the Americas: Brazil, New Orleans, Haïti, and ancient traditions in Africa itself. But let’s not forget how we do it here in the Netherlands either. Wherever you celebrate, there are some golden threads running through all manifestations of Carnival: masquerades, seasonal rites and general “transgressional” behaviour.

Todd van Hulzen Design created a design for the exhibition finely tuned to the particulars of the museum space, the needs of the visitor and the emotions of the narrative. The story goes: Carnival worldwide is more than you know, familiar but strange, irreverent but ceremonial, ancient but continually reinventing itself.

To enter the exhibition we pass through a carnivalesque maw in a wall that separates the show from the entry corridor. This giant mouth is the entry into another world, the world upside-down. In the large exhibition hall called the “Atrium”, which is full of light, we nested all of the colorful objects —floats, costumes, maquettes— in a background of white and grey. The motif that repeats throughout the exhibition is the lozenge, or diamond. This is a reference to the tradition of jesters and fools dressed in harlequin suits, as well as the ancient origins of the harlequin itself. In the large Atrium we find smaller spaces, the clubhouses of three different associations: the locals, Groesbeek; the bistro-gallery in New Orleans; and the hectic workshop in Rio de Janeiro. The diamond motif is continued into the next rooms which are low and dark. Here are the objects that exude a bit more mystery, and also have lower light requirements. In the high vide of this space we find an ascending pyramid of carnival costumes from Brazil and Africa. And on the mezzanine we continue to the end, where we have traditions of closure: burning, purification and the clean-up.

Thanks to a great team at the Afrika Museum, and to Wendy Jansen, project coördinatrix extraordinaire.

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Todd gives a tour in NEMO

This year Todd van Hulzen and Studio Louter are submitting some projects together for various awards.  For one particular international award we made a little video tour of the new permanent installation at NEMO: World of Shapes / Wereld van vormen.  Narrated by yours truly!

Our Delta Experience opens at DeltaPark Neeltje Jans

neeltje_jans_hero-974x584So far only positive reviews for our big permanent installation “Dutch Delta Experience” in Zeeland. DeltaPark Neeltje Jans commissioned Todd van Hulzen and Studio Louter to create a large, dynamic visitor experience in their visitors’ center located on the great storm barrier accross the delta of Zeeland. Our answer was to create a filmed panorama of 270 degrees. Here we immerse the visitor in the dark world that was the disastrous night in February 1953 when a succession of dykes broke during a severe storm, thereafter permanently etching itself into the Dutch psyche. When one refers to the “flood disaster” we know they speak of 1953. Todd van Hulzen, as artistic director and designer, determined the size, shape, feeling and historical integrity of the whole. Studio Louter created the storyline and directed the filming and Sho Sho in Amsterdam created the digital animations.

First seen from the viewpoint of a child’s room as the storm gathers momentum, then from upon the sea-dyke as waters rush in and sweep away everything in their path. Finally we see the determination of the Dutch people to protect their country through heroic engineering and (heroic) unanimous cooperation.

In this video, in Dutch, you can get an idea of the elements of the experience.

The concept of the Panorama is actually quite old. We were inspired by the big Panorama Mesdag in the Hague, an original painted 12 meter high Panorama, following the rage in the late 19th century. At the time it was the closest you could come to an immersive artificial experience. What we add to the experience is the element of time.  This means that our panorama contains a story that unfolds as you stand before it. WInds blow, shutters creak, children scream, waters lap at your feet.

We went through many phases to arrive at our end product, but we are quite satisfied. Thank you Neeltje Jans.

 

Amsterdam Light Festival 2014-15

Amsterdam Light Festival 2014-15 This year’s edition of the Amsterdam Light Festival will include another work by Todd van Hulzen and Studio Louter.  This year we’ve created a projection on the round surface of Renzo Piano’s NEMO Science Center, which people also call the “bow”, as in ship’s bow.

The objective was to make a sliding graphic for a beamer that projects through rolls of acetate, something like a cross between a conventional slide projector and a film roll.  The result is an analog scrolling animation. We did the work on invitation from NEMO itself and were supplied with a projector from the vendor Pani.  We were asked to make a design that was relevant somehow to the current exhibition “Wereld van Vormen”, an exhibit on the subject of mathematics and geometry. Since we were the ones to actually do the design of that show, it all just kind of fell into place. Although, not without due effort.

The concept is that the world can be broken down into mathematical elements and pure shapes.  We’ve chosen to create an abstraction of the city, in particular a city like Amsterdam.  There are some bridges and stepped gables, and at the end the buildings pull out of frame and reveal the piles upon which they are built.

See this fantastic time-lapse film of the festival.  Our project is at 1:01.
 

Soft Opening of a World Wonder

P9255888World of Shapes is the name of a big, new, permanent exhibition designed by Todd van Hulzen Design at NEMO Science Center in Amsterdam.  Wereld van Vormen, in Dutch, is all about geometry, mathematics and the world we live in.  The “soft” opening was Thursday 24 September, and even though there are a few elements that need fine tuning after the work crews leave, it’s up and running and can already be visited during normal hours.  When the final batch of spotlights arrive we can put the cherry on the cake, as it were.

Everything around us is either made of geometry of can be reduced to a kind  of mathematics.  But the world of mathematics, particularly from a classical standpoint, encompasses more that just numbers and angles, it also includes such almost arcane subjects as proportions, perspective and optical illusions. Even phenomena that seem to be mere matters of perception can be explained through the clarity of mathematics and accurate measurement.

Todd van Hulzen design created the designs for the ‘decor’ of the exhibition.  But first we came up with the overall “total concept” in cooperation with our dependable creative partner Studio Louter.  Studio Louter also created the marvelous digital applications and interactive games. Drumming up a complete concept is harder than it may look, considering all of the disparate parts involved. We unified it in this case with the Universal, meaning we created a kind of self referential world all constructed out of triangles and hexagons.  In fact we created something that had never really been done at NEMO, and that is create an exhibit that is truly a sum of its parts instead of a collection of loose interactive elements.  The client was thrilled, the visitors are entertained, and we are taking a deep breath until the next project.

Het Geheugenpaleis is shortlisted for the Museum+Heritage Awards

DSC_2593The National Archives inaugural exhibition Het Geheugenpaleis (the Palace of Memory) has been shortlisted for the 2014 Museum and Heritage Awards in London.  Apparently our designs for this project were innovative enough to garner attention from abroad, and we are rather proud of that.

Our competition in the category International Award (the award is a primarily British affair) will be: The Olympic Museum in Switzerland, The Springbok Experience in South Africa, The Gemeentemuseum in the Hague, and The Red Star Line Museum in Antwerp, Belgium.

The winners will be announced in May and Todd plans to be there with our colleagues at Studio Louter and Het Nationaal Archief.  A good excuse to iron the tuxedo!

Mariapark in Sittard: “Round Trip Netherlands” gets its second wind.


Several weeks ago we dismantled our exhibit in Münster (see below) and now we’ve just built it back up in Sittard in a very different location. The very secular exhibition has gone to a remarkably godly place: in the cloister of the Mariapark in Sittard, which contains some of the most stunning examples of 19th century religious architecture and sculpture in the Netherlands. So after 2 days of hard work on the exhibit about the Dutch annexation of German territory after the War, we were filled with an extasis of a different Passion altogether. Not to diminish the pain of Dutch occupation, but the stations of the cross at the Mariapark are hard to outdo in suffering. It also offered some interesting contrasts and disconnections, as if Jesus of Nazareth was looking out from under the weight of his cross saying, “Suck on that, whiners”.

For images of the show as it was first exhibited in Münster, Germany see the album on that subject.

Thanks to Manuéla Friedrich for spearheading this whole project and for persevering when the prospect of ever getting this show off the ground looked increasingly bleak, and to Studio Louter for production.

Exhibit “Einmal Niederlande und Zurück” opens in Münster, Germany

“Einmal Niederlande und Zurück” is an exhibition that Todd van Hulzen Design created at the Haus der Niederlande in Münster, Germany about German areas under Dutch control after the Second World War. Artifacts and archive materials tell the story of Dutch indignation, retribution and dreams of expansion after the war, as well as the life of Germans living under Dutch rule, cultural shifts and enduring identity. Continue reading

Wayang Kulit Belanda: shadow puppets of Dutch characters in Indonesian style.

For an installation in Het Geheugenpaleis (Palace of Memory,) currently on exhibit at the Dutch National Archives in the Hague, Todd created a series of shadow puppets based on both caricatures of Dutch “types” and on traditional Indonesian style shadow puppets made of punched leather, or Wayang Kulit.  This was in turn for the archival theme “Opgevangen in de spruitjeslucht”. This treats the subject of the repatriation, often forced, and the reception of Dutch colonials and  Dutch subjects from Indonesia after Indonesian independence.  Instead of the traditional subjects from Indonesian Wayang Kulit drawn from the Bhagavad Gita or Mahabharata, we see here much less heroic figures drawn from Dutch life and fantasy: for instance Saint Nicholas, but also a bicycling preacher, a public servant, and a housewife in traditional attire with a rather threatening cheese slicer.  In the middle we see a simple and proud “Indisch” woman who is the hero of a digital game being played in a console just in front of the display.  The puppets were installed within the cardboard boxes along the wall, and each illuminated independently with LED lamps.

Finally a National History Museum at the National Archives: a sustainable festival of the Past.

 

Anne-Reitsmacollage

Photo Anne Reitsma

After three years of hard work, the Geheugenpaleis (Palace of Memory) has come to completion. This project represents the crowning achievement of not only our studio, but of the long term ambitions of the National Archives itself. It is grand, evocative, fascinating, touching and above all it offers deep immersion into the stuff of archives and the stuff of history. T. van Hulzen Design and Studio Louter were engaged from the early beginnings to help forge a sound program, a gripping concept and a cohesive design. We’ve conceived a Memory Palace like no other, which like Bluebeard’s castle offers mysteries behind every door, a world of history in every archival box. 11  uniquely decorated chambers, enlivened by 11 creative installations (music, documentary, video, radio-show, etc.) surround a central “courtyard” allowing for that “a la carte” feel that festivals have. Every room has a unique experience and a unique interpretation of the material, but it is all tied into the history and the utility of the Archive itself.

From a design point of view, we are particularly proud of our all-cardboard “fortress”—this for all the physical qualities that paper and card have to offer: warmth, acoustics, recyclability, and sustainability.  Never have we created so much volume with so little mass. An exhibition of 800 square meters was virtually carted in on two pallets of stacked and folded cardboard boxes. This cardboard, supplied by IHC interior builders, is recycled and emission free. And after the exhibition is retired at the end of 2014 the whole exhibit will be sent to the recycler yet again, to be chipped, separated, and reprocessed. This is a stark difference with the conventional waste created by an exhibition made of wood, plywood, plaster and paint. And with the exception of the printed information panels, all our color is created with the use of filtered LEDs; so no paint required.

Yet not only is our cardboard solution particularly sustainable, it looks remarkable too. The cardboard carries one of the central tropes of the exhibition: a memory palace created of stacked archival boxes, a kind of dream-idea of the Past, made concrete, as if you are walking through Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities or one of Borges’ fantasy libraries. By stacking hundreds of boxes in an oblique bond, we create patterns that catch the colored light in continuously changing waves. Continue reading

New NEMO project for 2014

NEMO

Amsterdam Science Center NEMO has accorded us (T. van Hulzen Design and Studio Louter) their latest contract for the concept, production and design of an all new addition to the permanent display.  The subject is mathematics and geometry in all its facets.  We will touch on pure mathematics, but also on platonic solids, perspective, fractalization, and even proportion and aesthetics.  The concept is “Meetland” or “Measureland”, and our aim is to create a whole world, with streets and buildings and landscapes all of measurable surfaces, all reducible to pure mathematics.  This will be our big project for 2014 and should open at the end of the year.  Keep posted!