News — 23 Dec 2015

The Amsterdam School is famous for its architecture, both in the Netherlands and internationally. However, the school’s spectacular designs for the interior are less well-known. Next spring, the Stedelijk presents the first-ever major presentation of furniture, lamps, clocks and other designs by this prestigious Amsterdam movement. Featuring blow-ups of photos, and designs, the exhibition has been designed to transport visitors back in time, to the early 1900s when the Amsterdam School designers radically transformed the applied arts. The survey encompasses over 500 objects, and is the fruit of many years of research, and an appeal for help in tracing items related to the movement. The search for objects led to the discovery of numerous designs now in private hands, which will also be included in the exhibition.

The Amsterdam School

With its expressive and rich forms, the Amsterdam School (1910-1930) is unique in the Netherlands. The movement not only consisted of architecture, but also included designs for furniture, lamps, clocks, ceramics and textile. The style was taken up by all disciplines, particularly graphic design, in which a relatively large number of women were active, including Tine Baanders and Fré Cohen.

Two variants of the Amsterdam School emerged: the more expressive style with exuberant shapes, deep, contrasting colors and distinct contour lines, and the crisper, more geometric style influenced by the journal Wendingen, the platform of the Amsterdam School. Not only architects like Michel de Klerk, sculptors like Hildo Krop and furniture designers such as Harry Dreesen and Louis Deen worked in the Amsterdam School style; the movement also inspired companies like Metz & Co. This led to the movement’s aesthetics extending far wider than one might originally have thought—its influence not only spread throughout the Netherlands, but also reached the Dutch East Indies.

The exhibition begins with an introduction to the architecture, which evolved against the backdrop of World War I, and the women’s suffrage movement. In addition to focusing on different designers, the presentation also explores the commercial dissemination of the style, and the links with bars, restaurants, and the theater - of which the lobby of the Tuschinski cinema in Amsterdam is a spectacular example. The exhibit also features the presentation of the Amsterdam School at the International Exhibition in Paris, in 1925.

Some five hundred objects will be presented, loaned by almost one hundred lenders. Included are pieces by Louis and Willem Bogtman, Joseph Crouwel, De Nieuwe Honsel, Jaap Gidding, Dick Greiner, Michel de Klerk, Piet Kramer, Hildo Krop, Marie Kuyken, Joan Melchior van der Mey, Gustaaf Adolf Roobol, and H.Th. Wijdeveld, among others.

Renewed appreciation

The Amsterdam School was at the height of its popularity in the 1920s, but after World War II, the style was overshadowed by the constructivism of De Stijl and the Functionalism of the Bauhaus—design movements felt to be more in keeping with the Netherlands. It wasn’t until the nineteen seventies that the Amsterdam School saw a resurgence of interest, partly as a result of attention from Italy and the US. The Stedelijk Museum organized the first major exhibition in 1975, which centered on architecture. With this, the museum was instrumental in rekindling renewed appreciation of the movement.

In the nineteen nineties, a modest degree of interest in Amsterdam School interiors began to emerge, brought about partly by the restoration of large social housing projects in Amsterdam and buildings such as the Shipping House and Tuschinski Theater.

Postmodernism also played a role in this renewal of interest: expressivity and decoration were once more able to play a larger part in architecture and design. The work of contemporary architects like Claus + Kaan and Liesbeth van der Pol, and designers such as Aldo Bakker, sometimes display an evident kinship with the Amsterdam School.

One of the gallery spaces will be entirely devoted to giving visitors a chance to experience the Amsterdam School for themselves. Are the chairs comfortable? Which techniques were used? And what was it like to be an Amsterdam School designer or architect? Visitors can also see short videos here that explain more about the manufacturing and design process. 

The search of curator Ingeborg de Roode can be followed via our special Tumblr page

Blog

The Stedelijk started a special blog in the run-up to the exhibition. Here, people involved in the project share updates on their research into the furniture and other designs of the Amsterdam School. The blog is growing all the time, and also offers background information on the clock by Michel de Klerk that was rediscovered not long ago, and was acquired last year by the museum. The site also features unusual discoveries and a film about a collector, shot in his Amsterdam School interior. As the exhibition draws nearer, the blog will post more information on academic research, and on the preparations for the book and exhibition in 2016. Visit: Amsterdamschool.tumblr.com  

The appeal Ingeborg de Roode launched earlier on the Tumblr page sparked off a wave of excited responses from people who own a lamp or other item Amsterdam School blog
The Stedelijk designed by the Amsterdam School. Some of the objects will be included in the exhibition. Now, the Stedelijk is keen to find photos of the Amsterdam School interior of the American Lunchroom that was situated on the Kalverstraat in the nineteen twenties. So if you, or someone you know, can give us details about these photos, please get in touch with Ingeborg de Roode at i.deroode@stedelijk.nl.

Research

 Over the last few years, curator Ingeborg de Roode (Stedelijk Museum) and Marjan Groot lecturer in Design and Domestic Culture (University of Leiden) have led a major study that comprised the first comprehensive inventory of the furniture design of the Amsterdam School. Visual material from archives, literature, and museum files and photos of objects belonging to private collectors, dealers and auction houses resulted in a database that currently contains 5,000 records. Designs by figures such as Hildo Krop and Willem Bogtman could be studied for the first time, in addition to which, objects thought to have been lost or which were previously unknown, came to light. Magazine advertisements revealed that objects in the Amsterdam School style were also sold through furniture retailers and galleries and that furniture, clocks and stained glass lamps in particular were extremely popular, many of which have been preserved. This project also reveals that the Amsterdam School was adopted by almost every design discipline: from jewelry to glass, from posters to interior fabrics. Until now, exhibitions paid little attention to examining the true breadth of the movement.

Amsterdam School - 100th Anniversary

Early last century, the explosion of energy, creativity, new shapes and innovative materials culminated in 1916 with the opening of the prestigious Scheepvaarthuis, or Shipping House, now the Grand Hotel Amrâth. It’s also when the movement became known as the Amsterdam School. In 2016, various cultural venues throughout the capital will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Amsterdam School with exhibitions and activities. A website has been launched with details of the program of the Amsterdam School Museum ‘Het Schip’, ARCAM Architecture Centre, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, Grand Hotel Amrâth, and the Monuments & Archeology Department of the Municipality of Amsterdam. This special commemorative year officially kicks off in February 2016.

Publication

A comprehensive publication of the same name, edited by Ingeborg de Roode and Marjan Groot, will accompany the exhibition. The publication is based on sources and a review of the literature, and contains both historical and new visual material. The essays include an analysis of the furniture design of the Amsterdam School, an essay on its commercial reception, on the international context and influences on contemporary design, and case studies on Michel de Klerk, stained glass manufacturing companies, the use of photos as source materials, and the restoration of interiors. The book is a joint publication of the Stedelijk Museum and Dutch publisher Thoth, and is available in both Dutch and English, approx. 300 pp., in both paperback and hardback editions.

The exhibition Living in the Amsterdam School. Designs for the interior 1910-1930 and the accompanying publication are designed by KOSSMANN.DEJONG.

The exhibition Living in the Amsterdam School is made possible with the support  of the VSB Fonds, the Stimuleringsfonds Creatieve Industrie and additional support of the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds, the Gravin MAOC van Bijlandt Stichting and the PW Janssen Friesche Fonds.

The Stedelijk Museum would like to express its sincere thanks to principal sponsor Rabobank Amsterdam for making this exhibition possible.

Note to editors:
For more information and images, please contact the Press Office of the Stedelijk Museum, +31 (0)20 573 26 660 / 656 or pressoffice@stedelijk.nl