We have been struggling with the phenomenon of the newsletter for a while now. What exactly is the aim and the use of them? How can you ensure that they are presented regularly and professionally? And furthermore, how difficult it is when you are busy enough already with seemingly less important things?
All questions that are almost impossible to answer. We are not in a position to compile a regular newsletter in which everything is considered and styled down to the last detail. What I can do is write down what we have done and what we are going to do, and support this with photos. Instead of a straightforward document, we will develop a variable method, a method that does justice to the information of the moment; sometimes with lots of photos, sometimes with more text, new products, activities, the completion of a project or the start of one. In short, everything that is happening and that is important to us. More a (monthly) diary than a newsletter. Some projects that are announced with enthusiasm may die a quiet death, but our success stories will also be presented. I hope that reading and looking through these letters of our work and methods will become more transparent and enjoyable.
This year we used the Woonbeurs not only to present new products but also to initiate new activities. We introduced the ‘Buitenbeentjes’ collection, the beds and the children’s furniture. These three groups will now not only be sold by our own dealers (as has been the case with the children’s furniture for some time), but also by a larger number of dealers dealers. We have made booklets for each of the categories, in which the products and possibilities are depicted.
We have decided to sell these products in a different way because our current network is inadequate. The products did not fit in the shop, were insufficiently included and sold in inadequate quantities. So we have numerous products with potential that do not sell well enough. These initiatives will hopefully change this.
Children’s furniture and beds are usually sold in ordinary furniture shops. It goes without saying that we are going to sell these products in speciality stores. We already have several shops for the kid’s stuff, we still need to highlight the beds.
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The ‘Buitenbeentjes’ collection
We sell furniture primarily to stores that represent us. In practical terms it is very difficult to give and gain attention for other products. Lamps, mirrors, stools, bowls, ceramics, candlesticks etc. We know from experience that some of these products will sell well, but because they fall between shore and ship, they are ‘outsiders’. Good reason therefore to bring all these products together in one collection and sell them under their own name. We are particularly pleased with our collaboration with Vissers Agenturen.
Presentation of the collection
As well as introducing the new product groups, we also used the Woonbeurs to introduce some new products. The cushions sofa, the light mahogany table, the box filing cabinets, the waste steel table and the comic collection.
The cushions sofa
The sofa was created from the crisis collection (sheet material that is assembled using rings and nuts and bolts, also as a construction kit). The crisis collection is a good starting point for sofas because it is here that the contrast is at its greatest. Sofas tend to be designed based more on what is already available in the market than the desire to make something new. The manufacturers and stores define the market instead of the designers.
Like a construction kit, the sofa can be purchased with loose cushions, with or without covers, and if you get tired of them you can create a new look simply by changing the covers for new ones (we make new cushions from new and vintage fabrics).
The light mahogany table
We had the light chairs last year already. We presented them together with an oak version of a table. The table wasn’t exactly as I wanted; it was not light and insufficiently matched the chair. The new table is as light as possible. We have had to find new solutions for working with thin wood. That a light table and chair is exactly the opposite of what people find beautiful today is not a good reason not to develop these products.
The Strip collection
Warm-rolled profiles and especially strip have always been the subject of my attention. The materials that are usually used as construction material, but also for bistro chairs, have an authenticity of their own. Until now, these ideas had not brought me further than the qualities the material already has. But now, making a simple bend along the length of the steel creates the possibility of constructing in a way that has not yet been done with strip. The setting is done with CNC machines.
The Radboud Hospital
During the Woonbeurs we also delivered an artwork in the Radboud Hospital in Nijmegen. The pathology department approached me for an assignment over a year ago. They wanted to place an artwork in the new building that incorporated parts of the old building. After a tour, we spotted the old autopsy tables (tables upon which bodies have lain).
The pathology department works with microscopic research whereby research material is examined between two wafer-thin plates of glass. The digital images of what can be seen through these plates are almost surreal. Despite their actual origin, the images look like patterns or paintings.
The idea was born quickly: the autopsy sheets were placed vertically on a construction behind two glass plates. Between the glass plates we used surreal images in order to create a kind of human figure. The rounded stones and the gullies with figure images create a shape, orientation and colour that is reminiscent of stained glass windows – ‘architectonic’.
The figure (a silhouette) is abstract. The aim was to create a somewhat unrealistic, alienating image. The silhouette was devised from sketches and the completely digital images are placed in and around this sketched figure. A tricky job as we have adjusted the shapes to fit the figure.
The three pieces now stand in their own department at the end of the corridor. Initially, you only see the figure and the colours and the nearer you get, the more you experience the details, the autopsy table and the construction, but without it becoming oppressive.
During the process there were moments that I thought it was perhaps becoming too literal and lugubrious. The curious thing is that the hospital urged me to make it particularly recognisable.
London / Rabih Hage
Shortly before the Woonbeurs, during the 100% design show in London, we gave a presentation at Rabih Hage. He is an architect and a gallery owner. The presentation seemed to go well and there was a great deal of attention from the press. In our opinion, this first presentation is the start of a long-term collaboration.
A few years ago we took the step of expanding into other countries. We thought then that London would be the first stop. But things went differently. Tokyo, Milan, Hamburg and Bremen came first. Everything is expensive, rushed and different in London. We have to get used to it, and so do they.
We have now really seriously got started with the book. All the photos are being gathered together and made, drawings are being scanned and a target date has been set – late May 2006. Publishers De Boekenmakers will publish the book. Max Fraser, an English writer, journalist and curator will write it for us. The most important thing is that we have thought about how we are going to make the book. Instead of chapters or even separate sections that we wanted to make – free work, collection, assignments, sketches, details etc. – we have decided that we will mix everything up, but present it in chronological order. This will make it much easier to explain about the connections between different products, projects and events. The book will read like a story of the first 13 years of the company. As soon as we have images, we will present them on the website and offer people the possibility of registering for the first edition of the book.