The fresh glow of the restored Groninger Museum in Netherlands owes much to its renovated spaces, which boast of cutting edge designs from Jaime Hayon, Maarten Baas and design firm Studio Job.
When the new building of the Groninger Museum in Netherlands was opened in 1994, it created quite a sensation. A silver cylindrical building designed by Philippe Starck, a yellow tower by Alessandro Mendini, and a pale blue deconstructive space by Coop Himmelb(l)au became the new home of the ancient museum of fine art, which had been founded in 1894. Since then, the building itself has drawn as many admiring gasps as the exhibits housed in it.
This Dutch landmark recently got a facelift, during which the museum’s exterior underwent major repairs. The golden tower was restored to its original splendour and the colours of the pavilions were freshened up. New tiles, designed by Alessandro Mendini himself, were laid on the exterior of the Mendini Pavilion. After the operation, the whole building radiates a renewed charisma.
Besides the restoration, the renovated spaces designed by three of the most talented designers in the world, also deserve attention: the Info centre by Jaime Hayon, the Mendini Restaurant by Maarten Baas and the Job Lounge by Studio Job.
Heart of the Matter
As a starting point, we have the spectacular new design of the reception hall – the Job Lounge, designed by Studio Job. Studio Job is a design firm headed by Job Smeets and Nynke Tynagel. Their design for the lounge is inspired by the typical 19th-century private gentlemen’s clubs.
According to Jeroen Junte, design and art critic, “The lounge created by Studio Job for the Groninger Museum is a showpiece in itself.” The thick-pile carpets, chandeliers and decorated ceilings of the earlier lounge have been replaced with iconic interior elements made of refined materials that have been produced by the best craftspeople. The new design is ironic, yet exciting.
The lounge has a fountain made of cast bronze; polychrome leaded-glass windows display stained glass representations and a bar equipped with wooden marquetry. The glass wall lamps and ceiling lights have been manufactured by the famous Venini glass company in Murano. Every inch of the lounge evokes a bygone era of luxurious decadence.
Not without Reason
Every design element here has a meaning. The glass lamps have the form of a pert female breast, the fountain consists of a dripping tap above a large bucket. The gothic castle chairs, manufactured by Moooi, are cast from plastic. It is an experience of contrasts – the old and the new, the high and the low and the good and the bad.
The pillar is made of rusty iron and the rosettes in the mirror room are engraved with hip hop smileys. The tablecloths are equipped with archetypical representations of prisons and camps. The leaded-glass window in Coco-the-Clown colours shows oil drilling rigs, fuming factory chimneys and other industrial excesses. The exclusive parquet floor is a confusing labyrinth.
Between the walls of the museum, mundane symbolism has been elevated to art, and beauty has been contaminated by banality. Bringing together fantasy and functionality, the design of the Job Lounge definitely deserves applause.
And so does the design of the Info Center – the new visitors’ information centre designed by young Spanish artist Jaime Hayon.
The interior has been completely overhauled and the Info Center now has a small theatre where films and documentaries related to running exhibitions can be viewed. The focal point of the Info Center is a remarkably shaped, many-armed table with a number of integrated computers, where visitors can find all sorts of material and information related to exhibitions and the Museum Collection.
This table is surrounded by chairs, ready for visitors to sit and peruse the many art magazines and periodicals the Groninger Museum subscribes to. Drop lights hang from the ceiling to lend a sculptural touch to the otherwise plain, functional room. The Hayon touch is seen in the mega porcelain vase in black and white. Mirrors complete the experience, reflecting Verbindingskanaal – the rippling canal near which the Museum lies.
If the Info center is instantly identifiable as Hayon creation, the Mendini Restaurant is, unmistakably, Maarten Baas territory! Baas is famous for his clay collection wherein a range of furniture is designed just as if it was made of a roll of clay. Baas designed a series of new Clay models especially for the Mendini Restaurant at the museum. Each piece of furniture is handmade with industrial clay, and has a metal frame for support.
The fresh approach to the design of this landmark building surely testifies to the Dutch people’s commitment to unique design.
Job Smeets and Nynke Tynagel
- Firm: Studio Job.
- Firm specialisation: Art, design and sausage.
- Design philosophy in one sentence: Design is nonsense.
- Philosophy towards life: Practice yoga at least once a week.
- Favourite architect: Our favourite architect builds Bier Stubes all over Germany
- Firm:Hayon Studio founded in 2000.
- Firm specialisation: Product design, interior design and art installation.
- Design philosophy: Design is a platform where dreams can become reality.
- Philosophy towards life: Stay true.
- Favourite designer/architect: None.
Compilation: Sumisha Arora
Studio Job Gallery, Kruikstraat 22, B- 2018 Antwerp, Belgium. Tel: +32 3 23 22 515. Website: www. studiojob.be
Hayon Studio, Muntaner 88, 2º 1ª, 08011 Barcelona, Spain. Tel: + 34 93 532 1776. Website: hayonstudioom
Studio Maarten Baas, Baas & Den Herder BV, Rosmalensedijk 3, 5236BD 's Hertogenbosch (Gewande), The Netherlands.