How to speak Dutch (design)
It's the summer of the Netherlands in the Berkshires. Here's what you need to know.
This summer, the Berkshires are invaded by a foreign state -- and for a change, it's not New Jersey. Mass MoCA, Tanglewood, Jacob's Pillow, and just about every other cultural institution west of the Connecticut River are presenting work from the Netherlands in "NL: A Season of Dutch Arts." Those of you fortunate enough to attend tomorrow night's opening gala at Mass MoCA, or any of the events this season, will no doubt need a crash course on Dutch design and style to keep the conversation relevant. Clip this cheat sheet on who's who and take a peek at the first mention of Rem Koolhaas.
MARCEL WANDERS: Dutch designer who has created everything from the iconic Knotted Chair to lighting, electronics, and birdhouses. His most recent project is a collaboration with Puma. Score points by dropping the phrase, "The Airborne Snotty Vase was playful, but I much prefer the message of the Egg Vase."
TORD BOONTJE: You know his work thanks to Target. The retailer used his fanciful designs for its holiday 2006 campaign. The look is enchanted forest run amok, eschewing the minimalism of many of his contemporaries. Best known for his Wednesday line of lights, tables, streamers, screens, and garlands. Buy Martina Margetts's amazing book "Tord Boontje" to read on the lawn of Tanglewood.
TIESTO: Affable, lanky trance DJ now famous for spinning at the 2004 Olympics in Athens. The Dutch people have voted him their 40th greatest citizen of all time. If his name pops up in conversation, proffer this morsel: "Madonna's 'Die Another Day' was practically unlistenable until Tiesto got his hands on it."
DROOG: Careful, it's pronounced "droch," with a long "o" sound. The Dutch design collective that helped spawn the careers of several influential designers, including Wanders. Put up Chris Kabel's Shady Lace Parasol at Tanglewood (available at Lekker in the South End, a hotbed of Dutch design) for UV protection and to spark conversations about the importance of Droog.
VIKTOR & ROLF: Imaginative clothing designers who play with pleating and exaggerated silhouettes in their fashion. Several pieces in the fall 2006 collection (which was on display at the Museum of Fine Arts) were silver - plated. Their low-cost line for H&M was snapped up the day it was released. This is perhaps the one party where it is appropriate to wear their black denim tuxedo.
MAARTEN BAAS: The Johnny Rotten of Dutch design. Enjoys burning furniture, then preserving what's left with epoxy resin. Useful phrase: "I'm still deciding if Baas's Smoke Chair is a brilliant gimmick, or just plain brilliant."
BERTJAN POT: Collaborated with Wanders on the Carbon Chair, an extremely rare and costly light-weight chair. Like fellow Dutch designers Baas and Hella Jongerius, his designs are whimsical solutions to problems you never knew existed.
HELLA JONGERIUS: Combines old-timey craft techniques with modern materials to make deceptively simple, beautiful porcelain and wood creations. Memorize this: "The IKEA series was good, but I'd move to Rotterdam to complete my collection of Beads & Pieces."