Bringing to mind a magnificent world of entertainment, circuses and furniture fairs, Maarten Baas’s newest solo exhibition brought an extravaganza-like element to this year’s Salone del Mobile.
The exhibition “Baas is in Town” showcased a range of objects varying from new designs to improved older creations.
“Today we face a fight with another machine: the truck that is delivering our super-heavy concrete outdoor furniture to the show.” … Maarten Baas
Baas collaborated with Ventura Projects for the exhibition, which will be the first satellite hub of Ventura Lambrate, outside of their headquarters area.
“We will show a mix of objects, varying from exclusive new products, to improvised mock-ups in polystyrene foam, all in the theme of entertainment, circus and furniture fairs” …. says Baas.
“BAAS IS IN TOWN” showed various new designs by Maarten Baas, including a new collection for Carpenters Workshop Gallery, with whom Maarten Baas worked with since 2007.
All the designs, collections and collaborations are presented in a theatrical setting, in collaboration with Theatre Group De Kwekerij.
Baas is in Town! = It is certainly one of the things not to miss Fuorisalone 2014. There were rides, clowns and popcorn , music and lights, fun house mirrors and objects that move.
The Dutch designer- craftsman , at the invitation of the organizers of 5Vie , he spent about two weeks in Milan to create his project on site ( see diary below )
The result ? A “mini fair which exhibits some new projects in a continuous combination between high and low ,” says Baas
The theme is the entertainment and the atmosphere is that of a small circus. In the rooms on either side of the space are reconstructed some circles. In the image, the area devoted to consumption.
A clown drinking within the ” Consume “. It’s a performance that Maarten Baas has designed for Fuorisalone
Lamps, chairs , mirrors : The installation features the work of Maarten Baas and its projects halfway between art, craft and design
The exhibition also featured a preview of his latest public space design: Koopgoot Collection. This collection represents specially made public furniture for the ‘Koopgoot’, the main shopping street of Rotterdam, the Netherlands.
The newest product for Lasvit, The Pop light, was also be presented.
There were also original collaborations with established designers such as product designer Bertjan Pot, and fashion designer Walter van Beirendonck and including artists from a total different background, like Teun Hocks and John Körmeling.
These collaborations are supported by the Centraal Museum Utrecht, the Netherlands.
Apart from the solo exhibition, there will be the “SIDE SHOW” with various smaller exhibitions of companies and designers that are somehow connected to Maarten Baas and his works.
Like Den Herder Production House, presenting new works by Max Lipsey, Bertjan Pot and Nightshop. And presentations by emerging designers Nima Fardi, Elissa Medina, Aart van Asseldonk, Niels Schuurman, Kazoe van den Dobbelsteen, Suzanne van der Aa and Erik Vermeulen
After Milan, the BAAS IS IN TOWN circus will travel on to Paris and London for exhibitions with Carpenters Workshop Gallery
Diary Maarten Baas
The Salone del Mobile in Milan takes place every April and for most designers, it is the ultimate moment to show and see new works. I unveiled new collections there every year between 2002 and 2009, and this April, after an absence of five years, I will show a wild mix of new work in a 600sq m space.
For a week, we’ve been gearing up for the show with a great team of freelancers, interns and volunteers. My exhibition will be like an amusement park, with many lights, moving objects and monotone music sounds. Today is heavy going, as I’m tired and sick after a very intense period of preparation. But luckily, it’s also the day that my production partner Bas (he’s called Bas, my surname is Baas – it can become confusing) comes in. He is the founder of Den Herder Production House and we have worked together for almost 10 years now. Without him I couldn’t do these kinds of things.
This is quite an ambitious project, as I want to integrate various disciplines in one show. Even theatre actors will be incorporated into the design. If you could see the various components that have been delivered today, you wouldn’t understand what they have in common: we’ve got chairs, a merry-go-round, huge mirrors, an old typewriter, a clown’s wig, a trumpet and many boxes of beer from our sponsor.
It sounds fun, but I can’t enjoy it all that much as I’ve got a fever. I fashion a kind of bed for myself from fabrics we have for chair upholstery. I shiver in my “bed” while next door my intern Hausna paints the walls and two doors, and a second intern Teun cuts some polystyrene circles. It’s actually a great adventure, which is working out because everybody takes good care of each other and has fun with it.
At around 1pm I have to wake up for a TV interview with an Italian broadcaster. A cameraman, an interviewer, a soundman, two assistants and a PR manager circle around the busy garage where we are building the exhibition. I survive the interview while longing for my improvised sick bed, only to find it’s become a space for drying freshly painted lamps. I escape instead to our friendly neighbouring Italian coffee bar, where I sit with an espresso and a glass of water. They’re vacuuming the floor, doing the dishes and saying many things in Italian. A quiet place is hard to find today…
Today I feel much better. I’m ready for the last few days of the build, before the big show starts. It will be a circus, literally.
It is the first day of testing the machines. As we strive to be the most entertaining show of the Salone, we have a lot of things you usually find in amusement parks. The highlight of the day is test-driving the merry-go-round. Erik is the mad professor of the crew, and he comes up with the fantastic idea of speeding it up, just for fun. This works pretty well. The thing whizzes around at a fairly fast pace and we jump on and off for a crazy tour.
Erik manages to modify the volume button of an old amplifier and transform it into a speed-control button. He plays around with it until it finally gets stuck on maximum. This becomes an especially unique experience for Aart, who is now stuck on the merry-go-round, his long hair trailing behind him as he is swirled around and around. He can’t jump off for fear of either breaking one of the exhibition pieces or some of his own bones. The only option is to turn the carousel off completely, which can only be done on the machine itself. Aart doesn’t know how to do it, nor can he hear the advice from the guys on the ground because of the noise of the motor and the music from the carousel’s speakers. As Niels starts searching for the mains, Aart throws up all over me as the machine continues cheerfully circling around to the melody of Y Viva España.
After a few more minutes of hardcore theme-park entertainment, Niels finally locates the switch and ends Aart’s torture. Pale-white and pretty dizzy, he steps off, giving us a thumbs up to indicate he’s fine and then drops to the floor. He starts laughing out loud, and so do we. The merry-go-round has passed its test.
After the chaos of the merry-go-round yesterday, today we face a fight with another machine: the truck that is delivering our super-heavy concrete outdoor furniture to the show. Once the fair is over, these designs will end up in the main shopping street of Rotterdam, the so-called “Koopgoot”. The truck has been driven to Milan by two rock ’n’ roll drivers, Herm and Hidde, who thought it would be fun to make this trip in an old army vehicle.
There are six pieces of furniture in total, and when we try to get them out of the truck none of them will give an inch. When we packed the pieces in Holland we had a forklift truck, and the idea of unpacking them at the other end wasn’t really thought through. The philosophy that what goes up must come down was reason enough to trust we would find a way.
And sure enough, we do. It feels like our lucky day: the truck fits exactly through the door of our place, so we drive it in and create a ramp along which the pieces can slide off one by one. It’s extremely heavy work, but manageable with six men and some ropes. After an hour of sweating, the job is done.
At least, we think it is – until Teun says, “And now, it’s springtime!” Apparently, he foresaw from the beginning something we hadn’t – that the springs of the truck have risen now that the heavy pieces have been unloaded. The door is blocked by the truck, which is squeezed between the ceiling and the floor. No one can fit through the gap to go out, so we are all caught like mice in a trap. Teun decided not to warn us on purpose, because he thought it would be fun to watch us solve the problem; this is the kind of office humour you come across in Den Herder Production House.
We try to weigh the truck down by standing on it and piling it with heavy things, but there’s no way we can emulate the weight of the concrete furniture – and nor can we get the furniture back in again. There may be a smarter solution, but seeing the smile on Sjors’s face when he picks up his steel grinder makes everybody want to go for the most hilarious option: taking the roof off the truck. Within half an hour, the truck is not only 30cm lower but it’s also become a convertible. When we finally get it outside, it’s just a matter of welding the roof back on and filling the holes with the synthetic clay I normally use for my furniture. It actually looks so cool after this operation that we regret it’s not part of the show. Actually, it still could be – but then we’d need to get it back inside again.
Some of the crew are staying in a fancy apartment in the centre of Milan, where they are not allowed to hang their laundry over the balcony because of the prestigious image of the building. Since the rest of the apartment is being used for beds, the laundry has to be hung in our makeshift exhibition space. Aside from the thousands of strange things we’ve assembled for the Salone del Mobile, this space is also acting as a car park for my Rolls-Royce in which I drove to Milan. Of the various illustrious functions a Rolls-Royce can perform, holding a clothes line probably isn’t one of them. Nima comes up with the idea, partly because it is practical, mainly because he thinks it will look funny. We tie one end of a rope to a bench-vice and the other to the famous Spirit of Ecstasy, and suddenly the space is strung with freshly washed underwear. After a few hours, the clothes are dry and we take them down.
In the afternoon, CNN arrives to interview me as a preview to the Salone. The cameraman follows me as I tour the space and explain our exhibition for the show. Naturally, the cameraman has to walk backwards to film and his soundman keeps an eye on the path. He gives the Rolls-Royce a wide berth as, although the car is not nearly the most expensive piece in the space, it generates more respect than my exclusive designs. Anyway, the cameraman probably didn’t anticipate that there might be a washing line attached to the car, and as I am passionately explaining the new gumball machine that I’ve created, he stumbles over the line and, with a dramatic scream, crashes to the ground with his camera still on his shoulder. I think it is Kazoe who laughs first, but within seconds the entire crew, including the team from CNN, crack up at this ridiculously slapstick scene. The cameraman also sees the funny side and says he hopes it won’t be cut from the montage. I can’t wait to see it…
The weekend gets off to quite a start. Tonight we have planned an exclusive preview of our show for the Salone for a small group of invited guests. But somehow word has got out that the “Baas exhibition circus” is in town; we knew that there was a buzz about it but we were in the dark as to its full extent. Even though we invited only 100 people, more than 1,000 turn up. OK, it might have something to do with the live performance by Eros Ramazzotti, who’s a good friend of one of the crew and wanted to play for us.
As everybody knows, when there’s one celebrity in the house, more will follow. So soon we are playing host to Brad Pitt, Rick Astley, Leslie Nielsen and many Italians I’ve never heard of, but who act as if they’re famous, too. It’s a nice evening, but I sense a strange vibe in the air – a promise that the evening will get better later on.
Eros takes a break, has a drink with us and gets talking to Angus Young, guitarist of AC/DC. This is the pivotal moment of the party. Angus proposes they “rock the place up a little” and you can see the excitement in Eros’s eyes. Together they come back on stage and do exactly that. They blow away the cheesy “we’re all at a cool private party where Eros Ramazzotti is playing” atmosphere and inject some real rock ’n’ roll into proceedings. A few people leave but the main group stays; everybody takes off the “mask” they are wearing and magic creeps into the air.
One of Holland’s most senior politicians, who I suspect only came to the party for promotional reasons, goes totally wild. I don’t want to reveal any state secrets here, but he knows how to move to the music. Then Rick Astley discovers our fairground rides. For our exhibition we have modified a merry-go-round and given it new designs that also move faster so that it’s more like a rodeo. Everybody wants a go. So while Eros and Angus play, Rick makes his debut on the rodeo. He goes wild and the crowd cheers him on. The highlight is when his wig falls off (I didn’t know he had one) and he just keeps on riding without a care.
From that moment on, the wig becomes the centrepiece. Everybody wants to put it on to take a picture. We’ve been taking selfies for our Facebook page all week but have been much too busy to actually post them – but the pictures of tonight are too funny not to publish.
The party dies down and finally we are ready for the Salone Internazionale del Mobile
About Maarten Baas
Dutch designer Maarten Baas was born in Arnsberg, Germany, in 1978 but moved to The Netherlands in 1979, where he grew up. Upon graduating from high school in 1995 he began his studies at the prestigious Design Academy Eindhoven. Baas designed the candleholder Knuckle, which was taken into production by Pols’ Potten, while he was still studying. In 2000 he studied for several months at the Politecnico di Milano, in Milan.
In June 2002 he graduated from the Design Academy Eindhoven with two concepts. One of them being the now famous and widely recognised Smoke series, for which Baas charred furniture and treated the torched skeletons with a coating, that turned them into useable pieces of furniture again. As an iconic collection of modern design, Smoke has been taken into several permanent collections of museums including the Victoria & Albert Museum, Groninger Museum and Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.
In 2005 Baas began collaborating with Bas den Herder, who is now responsible for the production and development of almost all of Baas’s designs. The founding of studio Baas & Den Herder made it possible to further work out Maarten’s unique, handmade pieces and to produce them on a larger scale. This new collaboration also allows Baas to take on even more ambitious projects for hotels, restaurants, galleries, museums and private commissioners from all over the world.
Since then, Baas has started working with other labels including Moooi, Skitsch and Established & Sons. Private commissioners include Adam Lindemann, Brad Pitt, Fabio Novembre, Ian Schrager, Li Edelkoort, Michael Ovitz and John McEnroe. Collaborations include companies such as Morgane Hotel Group and Dom Ruinart, galleries such as Galleria Rossana Orlandi (Milan), Cibone (Tokyo) and Moss (NY), and many museums.
At the end of 2009, Baas was the youngest designer ever to be recognised as Designer of the Year during Design Miami.
Baas lives and works on a farm in the countryside near Hertogenbosch