(jiří macek) The Zuiderzee Settings set of furniture pieces and accessories, designed by Kiki van Eijk for the Zuiderzeemuseum in the Dutch town of Enkhuizen, was inspired by the history of the IJsselmeer region. The paintings of old pharmacy desks and shelves transformed armchairs into charming dressers, which subsequently turned into jewel boxes. Behind all this, there is the unusual handwriting of one of the most interesting contemporary Dutch designers.
“I think that it is very important to create things with love in this time when everything is so accelerated,” says Kiki van Eijk. Even though her works can be found in the catalogues of many companies, she allegedly never allows the wishes of potential customers to limit her. She collects statues, is guided by her own intuition, and says that she likes stories a lot. Her drawings could easily serve as illustrations of her favorite stories - Alice in Wonderland and Mary Poppins. However, she has transformed our reality into her Kikiworld since her graduation from the Design Academy in Eindhoven in 2000. She discovers disappearing crafts, combines materials in very surprising ways, plays with forms, and endows objects with unforgettable visages. The collection and installation, which Kiki van Eijk implemented for the collection of contemporary art of the Zuiderzeemuseum in Enkhuizen, is based on the local landscape. It is no wonder.
The largest Dutch lake of IJsselmeer was created in 1932 when the bay of Zuiderzee was dammed up by the Afsluitdijk dam. Later, it was partitioned with the Housetribdijk, creating Marekrmeer lake. The Zuiderzeemuseum in Enkhuizen records the history of the bay in detail and shifts it into the present by means of a collection of buildings in the local open-air museum, including workshops, documentation of everyday life, and unusual activities that go beyond the standard scope of ethnographic museums. The most outstanding feats of the museum include a collection of contemporary design and art. Every year, the museum assigns a prominent Dutch designer or artist to interpret and paraphrase the story of the bay of Zuiderzee in his/her own way. Thus, Studio Job, Maarten Baas, Atelier Van Lieshout, Hugo Kaagman, Scholten & Baijings, and Christien Meindertsma have gradually introduced the past and traditions of the region into contemporary design and our everyday life by means of their collections. This year, the museum has commissioned Kiki van Eijk and Joost van Bleiswijk. This is probably what the article should have started with...
We watch Kiki van Eijk arriving at the museum and spending time there. She spends a lot of time in the depository and the adjacent open-air museum. She does not draw, does not write anything down, just watches or potters about. The lines of pharmacy shelves are scattered all along the landscape, turning into dressers and trolleys. The designer transforms kitchen chairs thanks to her typical charm and a division of drawers. They give such a light and unreal impression, yet are indeed real. I have seen them in Milan. However, it is very easy to imagine them anywhere else. Wherever they appear, everybody immediately learns: This is Zuiderzee. We start to watch for the sea like the inhabitants of the region between water and ground. This is the power of design. Or perhaps of a lady pharmacist?
As for the collection by Joost van Bleiswijk, we will write about it some other time.
The Shop, design: Kiki van Eijk, photo: Frank