Category Archives: Art

Expressive Art Forms As Architectural Inventions

Federico Babina has a knack for architectural re-imaginations, whether it be depicting designer dwellings of style-conscious superheroes, or illustrating imaginary director-designed homes. The Italian creative now returns with a new series called ‘artitecture’, which sees 10 art forms envisioned as architectural inventions and delicate mechanical devices. Like kinetic sculptures frozen in time, the compositions’ ‘gears’ bring together inherent structural components of each artistic expression.

Babina’s ‘artitecture’ series pays tribute to various classifications of creative expression like music, comics, theater and dance. In each of the compositions, elements from the art form are abstracted and interpreted as structural systems, such as the keys of a piano, a painter’s brush, or a reel of film. ‘Art is the ability to convey emotions: a personal recipe made up of study, randomness, unconscious gestures, logic and intuition, all mixed to provide the sought formula…’ Babina says ‘…an assemblage of pieces that represent the artistic forms as intuitive elements.’ See more of Babina’s architectural illustrations here.

Good Enough To Eat…

Mosaic sushi is the latest food art trend to take the internet by storm. Instagram users across the world are sharing their snapshots of this artistic culinary craze that sees pressed sushi squares organized into vibrant, tiled compositions. Various ingredients from cucumbers to corn comprise colorful displays of carefully-cut pieces, forming an entirely edible artwork.

The staple Japanese cuisine is made to look like ceramic titles, where perfectly cut sushi squares are organized by pattern, color and hue. Bright pink pieces of tuna are positioned alongside golden egg arrangements, forming a mosaic design that satisfies symmetrical aesthetics.

Or visit: Tastemade Japan

It’s Hip To Be Square !

ezgif-square-plantsThe Japanese Baku Maede creative preferred medium is quite humble, whereby he transforms florals and other greenery into graphic visuals. His ‘bit flowers’ and ‘bit leaves’ art works are blooming evidence of this. Maeda has trimmed a variety of petalled plants and other foliage into square shapes, their geometric forms juxtaposed against the organic shapes found in nature.

See more of his art on Tumblr

Palaces for Workers

AMS-museum-het-schipAt the Spaarndammerplantsoen you’ll find three Amsterdam School housing blocks designed by architect Michel de Klerk. The most striking, and well-known block of the three in the complex that he designed last, Het Schip (The Boat). Who goes to this spectacular block will have more associations with a fairy tale than laborers.

Spaarndammerbuurt in Amsterdam West emerged at the end of the nineteenth century and was set up for the workers who worked in the nearby ports. In the beginning it was a shabby neighborhood where landowners earned from poor homes. But after the onset of the Housing Act in 1901 the streetscape changed. With the implementation of this law a special Dutch housing tradition started. In response to the appalling living conditions of the workers a unique collaboration was created between government, corporations and architects, with the aim of achieving the highest possible, affordable quality housing for all.

Masonry and sculpture on Museum Het Schip
Masonry and sculpture on Museum Het Schip

The by Spaarndammerplantsoen, Zaanstraat, Hembrugstraat and Oostzaanstraat enclosed residential complex Het Schip was designed by De Klerk in 1917, commissioned by housing association Eigen Haard (Your Own Place). In addition to the original 102 laborer houses, it also included a school building, a clubhouse and on the side of the Spaarndammerplantsoen, a post office. The latter was an idea of Arie Keppler, director of the Municipal Housing Agency and driving force behind the construction of these housing units. Early twentieth century, the workers received their weekly pay cash in the pub. A portion was immediately squandered. With a post office nearby he hoped the workers would save some more.

Amsterdam School details in the School-house
Amsterdam School details in the School-house

Het Schip may be a spectacular example of how attractive a housing project could be. All features of the Amsterdam School are present here: sculptural, expressive forms of brick, lots of variety of volumes and materials and rich carved decorations. There is a link between mass and individuality. It is a large block of houses, and yet every house has something unique.

On June 12, Museum Het Schip was Amsterdam School Monument of the Month. In recent months they worked hard on the renovation of the museum. Visitors were given on this day a unique opportunity to see this iconic monument in a way that was not previously possible. Parts of the renovated building were for the first time open to the public.

Travel In Style

In an effort to bring world famous art to the masses, SNCF — France’s national state-owned rail service — has applied renowned works to one of the most heavily trafficked locations in the country: its public train system. In collaboration with 3M, the interior of a commuter train has been covered with graphic film that mimics impressionist art from the Musée d’Orsay; an imitation of the architecture of the palace of Versailles; and images from Cinema Gaumont — the oldest film company in the world. During their commute, passengers can admire ‘Morning, sun’ by Camille Pissarro, Claude Monet’s ‘Blue water lilies’, or the vibrant stained glass wall of the Musée d’Orsay.

While serving as a simple method to add beauty to an ordinary ride, the project also reflects the close ties between railroads and art. For example, the J line — which links Paris’ Gare Saint-Lazare and Vernon stations — travels through landscapes that served as inspiration to many artists. Similarly, the Musée d’Orsay began life as a railway station before it became a museum. as a result of the creative intervention, the artwork has dramatically decreased the amount of graffiti and criminal damage on trains, giving passengers greater peace of mind as they travel from one part of the city to another.

Somewhere Small

As a prop builder, illustrator and painter in Los Angeles, Jedediah Corwyn Voltz always seems to find himself surrounded by plants and half-finished sculptures. For his latest series of work titled ‘somewhere small’, Voltz has crafted tiny treehouses around succulents and cacti. ‘Building miniatures for stop motion always leaves me with a huge bin of scrap balsa, basswood, and various fabrics,’ Voltz says. ‘I found myself making little fantasy constructions out of that stuff during my downtime, which led to me building some more serious ones in little diorama settings. Last year, I built my first living treehouse and since then, I’ve made almost 25 of them — from tiny watchtowers in secluded forests, to quiet treetop meditation platforms, and giant bustling windmills and waterwheels.’ Visit his site here.

94 Drawings

Drawing from the side of Shipping House with detailed drawings for the artisans. This will be also on display from May 27 at the exhibition: City Illustrators of Amsterdam at the Amsterdam City Archives
Drawing from the side of Shipping House with detailed drawings for the artisans. This will be also on display from May 27 at the exhibition: City Illustrators of Amsterdam at the Amsterdam City Archives

During research for the exhibition ‘Living in the Amsterdam School’ curators of the Stedelijk Museum did extensive research into the City Archives. A folder with 94 drawings of Scheepvaarthuis (Shipping House) sheds a new light on the origins of the architecture. The Shipping House was the first major building in the Amsterdam School style, which was ‘born’ exactly one hundred years ago, and on that occasion the style got its name. The drawings give more insight into the roles of architects Joan Melchior van der Mey, Piet Kramer and Michel de Klerk.

Early last century, six leading shipping companies were about to give a very prestigious order for a large communal building near Amsterdam Central Station. The contract was awarded in August 1912 to the relatively young architect Joan Melchior van der Mey, then 34 years old. For this great job, he put together a team at a later stage, with among others the architects Piet Kramer and Michel de Klerk, who were younger than himself, and whose drawing talents he gratefully took in advantage.

In the folder with 94 drawings it is easy to read and the cooperation of the triumvirate and the role that each had in it. In addition, the folder contains designs for interior components, and there were virtually no examples known. On the majority of the drawings an indication or sketch by Van der Mey, while the working drawings can usually be attributed to De Klerk. On one study sheet one can find furniture sketches of both De Klerk and Van der Mey, with instructions on a floorplan and detailed sketches. This indicates that the designers did not take a separate component on their behalf, but really the three of them worked together to the total project.

Design drawing for a rug in the boardroom Scheepvaarthuis (Shipping House)
Design drawing for a rug in the boardroom of Scheepvaarthuis (Shipping House)

Unique in the folder is the design for a large carpet with a striking design, for the boardroom of Stoomvaart-Maatschappij Nederland (SMN) on the second floor of The Shipping House. Until now, there was nothing known about this remarkable design, and since its completion in 1916 no author has written a thing about it. Initially it was thought that perhaps it was a design by Michel de Klerk, as he also designed furniture for the space. A drawing in the ‘weaving notebook’ of Mrs Van der Mey however, shows that this carpet design is by her husband. Sarah van der Mey followed her first weaving lessons in Copenhagen in 1908, and then she wove on commission many rugs. On the found drawing, which will be included in the exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum, shows that Van der Mey consulted Sarah to explain how this particular carpet had to be practically translated. The fact that Van der Mey worked on the design of the carpet shows once again the close cooperation with De Klerk and Kramer, in particular, this specific space in The Shipping House, for which the two other architects made designs.

A study sheet attributed with design sketches to Michel de Klerk shows a colored round table. This may have been the basis for a very good table from circa 1918 possibly designed by De Klerk and was made by furniture manufactory ‘t Woonhuys. Both the study sheet and the oval table will be in the exhibition at Stedelijk Museum.

Very different is the addition of a female portrait in profile at the right part of a page of drawings. This is probably the great love of De Klerk, Lea Jessurun who, just as he, worked in the architectural firm of Eduard Cuypers, where Leah worked until her marriage with De Klerk in 1910.