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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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.

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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More Photos from “Polder-Western” Brimstone

In 2015 I worked as an art director and set designer on the Dutch Western  Brimstone,  starring Guy Pearce, Dakota Fanning, Kit Harrington and Carice van Houten. Now that it’s in movie theaters and the reviews are coming in (one thing everyone agrees on: it’s memorable) I thought I would share some more set shots. The film has been singled out for its dark tone and its restrained but authentic-feeling architecture. The mood was set by production designer Floris Vos, and he kept to his guns, as they say, throughout the project by making sure we kept it simple. The film was shot largely on location in Germany with a Dutch and German crew.

Sneak peek at Brimstone

11755123_10203540003415566_3645573222301770185_nIntitial filming is wrapping up in Germany today for Martin Koolhoven’s film Brimstone, starring Guy Pearce, Dakota Fanning and Kit Harrington.  Production has released a few photos of the unfinished sets that I designed with Floris Vos, so I’m taking the liberty of putting out a few photos of my own without giving away too much.

For several months this year I made sketches, drawings and schematics of Western towns and farms, both interiors and exteriors to be built either in the Studio in Berlin or on location in the German countryside.  As Supervising Art Director I went to Berlin to oversee building for a few weeks in the studio. But most credit has to go to the styling talents of Floris Vos, who as Production Designer has had to endure the slings and arrows of a typically volatile production process to get us all to this place where we can say, Gosh, that looks beautiful!

Of course you might ask, “What? A German Western?” The obvious answer is “Why not?” and technically speaking it’s a Dutch/German Western, as the director and much of the crew are Dutch.
When the film comes out I will be able to post more production shots. Enjoy.

Cabin in the Woods, Klamath County, Oregon

It will come as no surprise that the “we” at T. van Hulzen design is often just myself. True, working in symbiosis with Studio Louter in Amsterdam means that with each project there’s a whole team involved doing production, content, multimedia, etc.  But rarely do I get around to doing a project that is just for myself.  That changed this past September and October when I started building my own ‘cabin in the woods’. More specifically, it’s to be a log cabin in Klamath County, Oregon, USA, on the edge of the pine forests surrounding Fourmile Flats, one of the great seasonal moorlands of the Southern Cascades. Fourmile Flats Ranch belongs —not incidentally— to my generous parents. Granting their children land is of course a sinister ploy to spend more time with them. In their defence, it’s a magical land, volcanic and densely forested at 1300 meters above sea level (4300 ft) on the eastern flank of the Cascade Range and bounded on all sides by National Forest and designated wilderness.

There is of course an architectural concept. I couldn’t just let it be a run of the mill log cabin. Call it designer’s pride. The idea is to build a structure on top of a raised platform. This fulfills a number of wishes. One is for it to be a proper wildlife viewing station, another is to have as little impact on the landscape as possible, then there’s the wish to be raised above the elements (flooding in spring and deep snow in winter) and lastly it’s meant to improve the view of iconic Mount McLoughlin in the near distance.  To this end I still have to clear 15 acres of scrub pine forest and harvestable poplars (aspen and cottonwood.)

Phase one is to build the platform.  When I left on November 2, we—my father and I— had achieved the minimum of what I had wanted.  This involved harvesting my own materials, clearing the landscape of scrub and burn piles, quarrying some rock, setting foundations, building piers and hoisting the main girders.  We also made some beginnings on milling our own planks and beams with an Alaska sawmill we had acquired.  This allows one to mill on the spot on uneven terrain.

It is obviously a project in flux.  The end designs have not been determined, and I am leaving it to some degree to the many variables that enter into the equation.  In that sense it’s a very organic process. The joy is in the hard work and the extraction of ones own materials. And let’s not forget the euphoria that comes from camping in the great outdoors for 5 weeks on end, cutting firewood, clearing brush, stoking campfires and cooking rough.

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.

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The Stern Carving of the Royal Charles

P6185210newIt’s rare that I do any sculpture work anymore for film like I used to.  But this particular assignment really appealed to me for reasons that have nothing to do with money: recreate the stern carvings of the royal flagship that Michiel De Ruyter seized and towed from Chatham during his great naval triumph over the English at the Raid of the Medway in 1667. It just seemed to historically interesting to ignore. The film in question is the Dutch production “Michiel de Ruyter” being filmed in Zeeland (the Dutch province) and the wharves of Lelystad.  But the relevant scene concerns De Ruyter’s presentation of his trophy, the royal stern carvings, to the States General of the United Provinces, which was the republican government of the Netherlands at the time. This was being filmed in gothic city hall of Middelburg in Zeeland.

The original stern carvings, or “counter” as it’s officially called, are hanging in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam in a gallery devoted to the De Ruyter era.  I had to scale it down a little bit for technical reasons (the original is 2½ x 3½ meters) but even making it out of high density polyurethane foam I still had an enormous challenge of volume.  With an assistant Rik and some more of the great folks in the De Ruyter art department we managed to get the still wet project in just under the wire. It was heroic!  And it looked beautiful in the (artificial) late afternoon light of the location in Middleburg.

Looking forward to viewing the film when it’s released.

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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.

The exhibition was achieved on a limited budget using a system of standard plot-cut panels printed on a flatbed printer and then fitted together without the use of hardware or tools. Panels were cut from single standard sheets of underlayment plywood. The glass cases were lined with 8mm recycled grey felt. The paper archival objects were hung without frames or passe-partouts, but were instead suspended betweeen 3mm rare-earth magnets and ferous screws projecting from the felt background.

The project was realized with our perennial partner Studio Louter (content and production), as well as Victor van der Meiden (construction), Leanna McAlpine (graphics) and Rijnja Repro (printing and cutting).

The exhibition will also travel to Sittard (NL) and to Bocholtz (NL).

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V. Scans from Colling’s Gothic Ornaments

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Title: Plates from Colling’s Gothic Ornaments, vols. I & II
Author: James Kellaway Colling (1816 – 1905)
Subject: Gothic Architectural ornaments
Year: 1847
Source: Personal collection

Todd van Hulzen shares his scans and files from historic archives on the subjects of architecture and the arts

My recent trip to Münster, Germany reignited an old flame. That goes back to my late teens when I first picked up a book at a used book store in Grants Pass, Oregon titled “Deutsche Kunst” by Wilhelm Müseler. This passion was historic architecture in general, and Gothic architecture in particular. Years later, in 2006, I had the dreamed-of opportunity to actually “build” an entire Gothic church and monastery for the digitally generated sets of the Canadian fantasy television series “Sanctuary”. Even though there was no brick or mortar involved, it allowed me to delve deeply into the spirit and the bones of medieval architecture. Ogival arches, hammerbeam ceilings, bundled columns, and world of forgotten construction techniques. It also allowed me to amass quite a library on the subject, my favorite of which was Viollet le Duc’s encyclopedia on architecture. This you can consult yourself on Wikisource. Marvelous! Here I will share scans from a book I have on Gothic ornament by James Colling from that heyday of Gothic revival, the Victorian Era. Many lovely plates with gilded highlights which have to be turned page by dusty page to be really appreciated.

Click here for the gallery

Amsterdam GVB Streetcar now rolling with our designs on it.

With all the commotion around the opening of “Temporal Tower” we almost forgot that there was an Amsterdam tram (streetcar) of the GVB (Municipal Transport Company) about to roll out with our name on it. And sure enough, there she is.  Dirk Bertels of Studio Louter and Todd van Hulzen worked together on the concept, which is part of the marketing and sponsorship between the GVB and the Amsterdam Light Festival. But Dirk did all of the actual hard work, Todd just stood back and watched and gave self-evident advice. What looks like a white sticker is actually light-reflective film that lights up when directly lit by traffic lights. We settled on light-reflective film after a long search for materials, from glow-in-the-dark to holographic foil. Now that it’s going to be on the rails, we are curious to see if it will make an impression. But our names are printed on it, and that’s what we’re the most proud of. On the rear is a section of illustration dedicated to the Temporal Tower. You can see the scaffolding. Let us know if you see it around.

The Haringpakkerstoren “rebuilt” in scaffolding and light

compositeWe can’t describe how giddy and proud we are of our new big baby, the impressive reconstruction of the historic Haringpakkerstoren (Herring Packers’ Tower).  Of course our tower is not made of masonry and wood, but of scaffolding, mesh, and most importantly, light.  30 meters high (100 feet), the tower, which we call “Temporal Tower” rises up along the quays of the old harbor of Amsterdam, adjacent to the Central Station and is lit by 36 LED arrays dispersed around the spire.  The light is very gradually animated in something of a churning cycle of one color group.  Each week we will change the color scheme and configuration.  For more information on the history of this tower, the original of which was demolished in 1829, see some of the entries below.  For now we just want to publish some of the most recent photo’s of this little giant. There are more to come, as the project is getting quite a lot of media attention. Continue reading

The Making of “Temporal Tower”

Here are some pictures of our tower project in the making.  The first step was agreeing on a budget and a technical design, which we ploddingly accomplished with our world-class international scaffolder StageCo.  Then with the help of a crane, postponed several days due to a fierce storm, we hoisted the sections which we had built at street level into position.  After that came the mesh wrap.  We were already pretty charmed by the pictures of the tower with only scaffolding and no wrapping.  Now the story is complete, but we secretly long for the purity of the scaffolding on its own.  What do you thinnk?

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And here is a video interview I did, explaining the concept in the early stages:

 

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.

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