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220 × 171 × 18 mm
272 pages
171 illustrations, 83 in colour
01 Jun 2008
  • £24.95

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Dutch Design A History Mienke Simon Thomas

From the colourful abstraction of the Rietveld chair to the dry wit of the ‘milkbottle lamp’ by design cooperative Droog, modern design in the Netherlands has always been a hotbed of experimentation. Dutch designers have consistently pushed to the limits anything from posters to postage-stamps, home furnishings to street signage, ceramics to city airports. Indeed, in the last decade or so, Dutch design has become a worldwide phenomenon, almost a brand in itself, with regular publications in magazines and books promoting the remarkable output of this small country.

This book takes an in-depth look not just at designs made in the Netherlands, but behind the works created throughout the twentieth century and beyond. Author Mienke Simon Thomas, a curator at one of Holland’s leading museums, provides a compelling thematic account, guiding the reader through the beginnings of crafts education, the debates of design as art, the moral and social ideals of modernism, the new profession of industrial designer, state-sponsored initiatives, and conceptual design objects and ‘anti-design’. As she argues, Dutch design seems to have been inspired by the wish to be functional, simple and affordable, but she also reveals how it has simultaneously embraced luxury, decoration and even exclusivity.

A much-needed introduction to Dutch designs and their creators – as well as the clients who commissioned them and the state initiatives that supported them – this book will be essential reading for designers, historians and the general public with an interest in design.

‘Mienke Simon Thomas engrossing account in this book implies the current lack of design focus reflects a wider malaise a sense of drift from a clear purpose. Her survey and insights give much for thought about that doughty small country across the sea with which we British have such a particular affinity.’ — Architects Journal

‘Historical and critical account of the last 100 years, explaining why this small country is at the forefront of European architecture and product design. Thomas puts this in the context of a country whose wealth was based on trade. A well illustrated and referenced text.’ — RIBA Journal

‘A hotbed of experimentation, Holland has long been at the forefront of contemporary interior design, from the curious Rietveld chair to the quirky milk bottle lamp by Droog. Recounting the stories behind many of these fascinating pieces, author and museum curator Mienke Simon Thomas reveals all in her most recent must-read. An enlightening guide (and great gift too!) for designers and historians interested in the Netherlands myriad of intriguing products.’ — Essential Kitchen Bathroom Bedroom Magazine

‘Mienke Simon Thomas has written a serious and highly involving survey of design in the Netherlands in the twentieth century. Rather than lauding particular achievements of Dutch designers, she has chosen to situate such practice in its social and broader cultural context. She examines the practices of designers and design organizations, taking care to emphasize the importance of the various design academies and the relationship between design and manufacture and, perhaps crucially, the role of the Dutch state in supporting such work through subsidies and commissions.’ — Journal of Design History

‘This is what weve been waiting for: finally, an unprecedented critical analysis of the history of Dutch design. Mienke Simon Thomass Dutch Design is a book to have and to read: an important and richly detailed study of the cultural, economical and social-political context of twentieth-century design in the Netherlands.’ — Wim Crouwel, designer

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Mienke Simon Thomas is a curator in the department of decorative arts and design in Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam, and the author of Dutch Ceramics 1890-1940 (2002).

1  New Art, Old Craft, 1875-1915
2  Design as Art, 1915-40
3  Good Design, 1925-65
4  Design as Profession, 1945-80
5  Design for Debate, 1960s to the Present
Photo Acknowledgements