Exhibiting a furniture brand that has been producing its quirky-yet-understated chairs, tables and cupboards for a century, the event celebrates the centenary of Dutch furniture brand Pastoe.

Dutch product design has gained an interesting velocity over the last two decades, with designers like Maarten Baas and Hester van Eeghen and collectives like Droog and Moooi making a name on the international scene. However, a new exhibition opening next month at the Kunsthal Rotterdam proves the country’s design pedigree stretches back much further than the 1990s.

A businessman called Fritz Loeb started the company in 1913, when he decided to make the chairs for his own shop in a traditional joinery in Utrecht. It quickly became a thriving business, lead by designer DL Braakman and, later, his son Cees Braakman. After the setback of the Second World War, the company adopted the ‘all-purpose’ or passé-partout principle, from which today’s brand name was derived, and was reborn as a modern furniture manufacturer.

The exhibition is arranged according to three themes. It begins with Archives. Curator Anne van der Zwaag has put together a collection of materials from the company history, including iconic furniture, drawings, advertisements and photographs, that provide insight into the changing face of the company, through its collaborations with various designers, architects and photographers.

For the second theme, Environments, architect Anne Holtrop developed the exhibition design to showcase Pastoe’s concept of architectural space, and to show the furniture within a contemporaneous environment.

And, lastly, Propositions covers a future generation of products the company is developing in collaboration with creative minds such as Konstantin Grcic, Naoto Fukasawa, Claudio Silvestrin and Scheltens & Abbenes.

A commemorative book in Dutch, covering the same three themes, will be launched at the exhibition opening, with the English-language edition to follow at the Salone del Mobile in Milan on the 13 April – Pastoe’s official anniversary day.

The company has also created a special Pastoe piece to celebrate the milestone. The ‘Vision’ cabinet was originally produced in a birch wood series in 1952 under Cees Braakman tenure. Called ‘Vision Elements’, the jubilee edition is a reimagining of the midcentury model by contemporary Pastoe designers Karel Boonzaaijer and Pierre Mazaraic. It was presented at the IMM Cologne in January, and is on show at the nearby Pastoe showroom in Design Post Koln.


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