Designers Stefan Scholten and Carole Baijings are master colorists, as exemplified by a significant portfolio of work amassed in over a decade of collaboration. Having defined a distinctive career path in the contemporary field of design while borrowing from their Dutch heritage, the pair take a disciplined approach of combining craft practices with industrial processes to create output that speaks to the time in which it is made. With an acute expertise in manipulating color, they take an interest in material innovation and are also adroit at paring their work down to essential forms.
Colour Installation has been custom-designed for this exhibition and reenvisions the presentation of Scholten & Baijings’s work by making connections between their design practice and their multiple collaborations with artisans and manufacturers. The duo’s trademark virtuoso employment of color is illustrated here in the multilayered assemblage of pieces selected from across the life of the studio. This includes Colour Porcelain, reimagined tableware for the Japanese company 1616 / Arita. Through a careful study of historic Japanese ceramics and color spectrums, Scholten & Baijings produced a collection born of Asian craftsmanship, yet infused with their quintessentially Dutch insight. Conjuring the color studies of artists such as Anni and Josef Albers, coupled with an interest in both the handicraft and industrial manufacturing methods that brings them in line with such designers as Charles and Ray Eames, Scholten & Baijings have built a richly nuanced palate of color combinations that characterizes this work and extends throughout their portfolio of projects.
Scholten & Baijings’ unique approach has enabled them to manipulate discrete categories of design—from creating furnishings for the Danish manufacturer HAY to tables for the Japanese artisanal wood manufacturer Karimokou New Standard to a contemporary silver tea set for Georg Jensen, they move fluidly between art and design disciplines, artisanal and industrial processes to create a visually arresting collection born of history yet overtly of the current moment.
The large-scale images integrated into the installation to focus the eye on the exquisite detail and play of color in the work were produced by Scheltens & Abbenes, Dutch photographers and longtime collaborators of Scholten & Baijings. Commissioned specifically for this exhibition, the meticulously composed images capture specific moments and relationships and frame connections between the various lines in Scholten & Baijings’s work, all while emphasizing the pair’s ability to generate beautifully creative expressions of quotidian objects. (Text by Zoë Ryan)
‘Colour Installation’ is on display now at The Art Institute of Chicago and will run until January 5, 2014.