Sunday, July 26, 2009

Pieke Bergmans - Design Virus

image courtesy pieke bergmans ©

The presence of the young Dutch designer Pieke Bergmans could be felt throughout Milan during the Salone del Mobile. Her Design Virus series turned up at Dilmos Gallery, the exhibition "A Touch of Green" by Droog, and her own exhibition space in the Zona Tortona.

New to her studies in parasitic design was a collection of lamps produced in collaboration with Royal Leerdam Crystal, with LED technology provided by Solid Lighting Design. The fixtures, simply named Light Bulbs, continue the visual language of amorphous blown glass developed in her earlier projects, while attaining a level of elegance heretofore not seen in the Design Virus work.

In following September 2007, Pieke was the focus of a solo exhibition entitled "Uniques and Unlimited" at Toolsgalerie in Paris. The name is appropriate, considering one of her main goals as a designer is to introduce individuality into mass production. She writes: ""No two people are the same, and neither are two of the hairs that grow on your head. I wish our products were a bit more like this as well. The next step in mass production could be controlled imperfect production, for interesting, personal objects." Included in the exhibit will be the collection Unlimited Edition, a 2007 project created in partnership with Madieke Fleuren at the European Ceramic Work Center. Similar to the slumped glass of her Crystal Virus collection, Unlimited Edition plays with randomness by forcing clay through a variety of extrusion templates. The soft clay tubes are cut at random intervals and left to dry on a rack, their final forms being dictated by a host of variables, the most noticeable of which is the awkward position each vessel has relaxed into.

Bergmans titles herself Design Virus. "I wanted to come up with a theme that combined my work together - that was a clear idea," she says, trying to answer why. "I'm a designer, so I'm like a virus," she tries. "I want to produce products that spread around the world." But Bergmans says the title also refers to the way she behaves as a designer: "I'm more of a director," she says. "I design the process. The process actually designs the piece. My pieces are like a virus," she tries again. "They grow into different forms to survive ... they are alive."
But Bergmans doesn't have her head in the clouds. She's had a plan since age 18, and she's stuck to it. "I decided not to stay at one school," explains Bergmans. "Design education institutions are so focused on what they believe in - but it's just a point of view. I wanted to discover the world - I wanted to experience difference." So Bergmans pick ‘n' mixed her education; she developed her conceptual thinking at Design Academy Eindhoven, exploited the vast workshops at the Arnhem Academy of Art and Design, and developed a process at the Royal College of Art. "It's possible I don't have an education," she reflects, but flitting from one school to the next has allowed Bergmans to slowly develop a totally unique method of designing.

image courtesy pieke bergmans ©

Crystal Virus

A series of virus-formed crystal vases are fluently crawling over tables and chairs. They leave black burned stains in their confrontation with the furniture, but still they must be regarded as friendly beings.

This series of crystal vases is made by hand at Royal Leerdam Crystal. Big hot crystal bubbles are pressed onto wooden furniture and while the crystal burns into the wood, some of the woods texture is integrated into the vase. Vase and furniture are then displayed together as an installation.


The first Crystal Virus exhibition was all about 'meeting': about a modern designer meeting a traditional industry, about the confrontation between the beautiful crystal and the furniture, and about the meeting between design and art. It was one of the highlights of the Symposion that exhibited over 100 international artists and designers.
Personal Infection

There are special events in which people are able to obtain a personalized Crystal Virus. They can submit their own piece of furniture, that will be infected with the Crystal Virus. On a set date, all people are invited to come to the old heart of the Royal Leerdam Crystal factory (one of the largest and oldest glass-factories in the world). There they can witness their own item being infected by Pieke Bergmans and Master Glassblower Gert Bullée. The event emphasizes the central theme of the Crystal Virus, which is 'meeting'. It is a meeting of the Crystal and the furniture, and also a meeting between the artist and the audience. This makes each object very personal. Just to witness the glass blowing process is an unforgettable spectacle. To have your own piece made in front of you in such an inspiring setting is an experience, a memory for life. The people who have participated in these events are grateful for doing so without exception.

Massive Infection

2008 Droog Design presents Massive Infection, a large table that is completely overrun by Crystal Virus vases.

A massive infection of the Crystal Virus has been discovered at Droog Design. This Virus, brought to life by designer Pieke Bergmans, has previously been found munching on small pieces of furniture. But never before was it taking on such a large prey and in such great numbers. The event offers a spectacular sight that is not to be missed.
The Table Infection is a wooden table covered with Crystal Viruses. They are vases, created right on top of the table. Searing hot crystal bubbles are pressed against the wood, defining the shape of the crystal and leaving black burns in the process. This way, the table functions as a production unit and as a mould for the vases. The making process is a spectacular event, and what remains is a series of 30 unique crystal sculptures and a table covered in burn stains.

Vitra Virus
2007 Vitra.

The Crystal Virus has entered yet another chapter. Where in the year before it infected old and plain wooden furniture, this time the Vitra Home Collection hosts the disrupting virus at the Salone del Mobile. The contrast couldn't be greater. Famous pieces by Charles & Ray Eames, Maarten van Severen, Sori Yanagi, Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec, Jean Prouvé and Jasper Morrison prove to be most interesting subjects. Through form, colour, value and reputation, they claim a prominent role in the matter.

The brutal invasion of the crystal onto these design icons creates a dramatic tension. It may well be this provocative drama that has caused the Crystal Virus to appear in bright red. Pieke Bergmans creates her viruses in the Royal Leerdam Crystal, in close collaboration with their crystal blowing masters.

Such a meeting between crystal and furniture is called 'an Infection' and is a spectacular sight. The bubbles of hot and fluent crystal are pressed against the furniture. In bursts of fire and smoke they melt together. The black burned stain in the furniture is captured inside the crystal like a fingerprint, and the objects belong together from then on. The piece of furniture has become a pedestal for the crystal object. That, at least is one way of looking at it. Another, more appropriate to the title, is that the crystal object sits on the furniture like a parasite, a virus.

Unlimited Edition

2007 European Ceramic Work Centre
A unique production of unique vases.

Pieke Bergmans & Madieke Fleuren, working together for the first time, explored all the possibilities at the EKWC. A major goal of their stay at the EKWC was to develop a production-process that would produce individual objects. It resulted in a series of vases that is titled 'Unlimited Edition'.

"We designed various templates that we place into an extrusion machine. Thus, the machine extrudes endless tubes of clay. Because of the speed and flexibility of the clay, the tubes force themselves in maximum and almost impossible conditions and shapes. We cut the tubes of the extrusion-machine and place them onto a drying table. Because we have researched the quality and max-deformation of this clay, we have managed to develop a new product that is always unique but can be mass-produced: an Unlimited Edition."

Mother of Pearl is her work which will particularly look good in traditional Indian house.

image courtesy pieke bergmans ©

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