Les Ateliers Courbet announces the second solo exhibition of Amsterdam designer Aldo Bakker opening on September 28
Les Ateliers Courbet announces the second solo exhibition of Amsterdam’s esteemed designer Aldo Bakker in the United States, opening to the public on September 28, 2018, at New York’s Master Craftsmen gallery – 134 Tenth Avenue in New York.
For the occasion, the gallery will unveil Bakker’s new design for Les Editions Courbet in collaboration with Wiener Silber Manufactur—a limited edition of 15 sculptural, sterling carafes handcrafted by the Viennese silversmiths of Wiener Silber Manufactur.
With a comprehensive selection of new and recent pieces, Les Ateliers Courbet introduces pieces to the United States that have long garnered institutional and private collectors’ attentions in Europe. With a most recent museum acquisition by Le Centre Pompidou in Paris, Bakker’s work continues to find its place in significant public and private collections including Mudac in Lausanne, the Vitra Museum in Weil am Rhein, the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, Stedelijk Museum and Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the CID in Grand-Hornu, Centraal Museum in Utrecht, Museum Boijmans van Beuningen in Rotterdam or the Cooper Hewitt in New York among others.
On view through November 27, 2018, the show will highlight the breadth and whims of Bakker’s design vision through his collaborations with crafts masters Rutger Graas, Sergei Kirilov, Andre van Loon, Frans Ottink and La Manufacture de Sèvres. The selected works include sculptural furniture pieces, tableware, and design objects whose production rely on traditional métiers that encompass silver smithing, wood carving, porcelain work and lacquering. Each piece reflects the designer’s appreciation for organic and sensuous forms inspired by our natural and cultural environments. Bakker’s design language is one composed of movement whether static, as implied by the trail of the craftsmen’s hands, or continual through the gestures of their use. The pieces morph both in the artist’s mind and through the hands of the fabricator as guided by the nature of the chosen material.
While quiet and timeless, Aldo’s designs create tensions: his pieces are studies in engagement, from the challenges that they present to the master craftsmen behind them, to the resulting moments of interaction with the end user. The witty ergonomics of his designs compel the user to pause and be attentive in uncovering the intricacies of our contemporary domestic life. The purity of intention in these mindful pieces relies, at its core, on the impeccable craftsmanship of each piece that imbues the work with integrity, relevance and resonance.
Born in the Netherlands in 1971 to Dutch designers Gija Bakker and Emmy Van Leersum, Bakker grew up in an environment infused with a strong aesthetic sensibility. Deciding against traditional education and instead following his own path, he was first trained as a silversmith working on commission. Bakker set up his own studio in 1994, later moving into furniture and product design.
Bakker is interested in organic forms and movements that defies time, zeitgeist, functionality, and purposes. Those who see Aldo’s design for the first time are often drawn to the form or the materiality before they wonder what their purpose is.
This engaging and intriguing moment is important to the designer who grew his own unconventional approach to design in the scholarly household of two Dutch design icons. As opposed to most designers, Bakker rarely starts a design idea from the desire to solve a problem or address practical needs. Most of his objects start from the fascination for the timeless beauty of a form and the movement it may suggest; the form and its movement would then inspire a function. The cleverness and oddity of Aldo’s designs give his object some type of natural legitimacy and timelessness.
Bakker’s pieces result from the dexterity of his master craftsmen collaborators — silversmith Jan Matthesius, ceramicist Frans Ottink, woodcrafter Rutger Graas, urushi master Sergej Kirilov or metalsmith Andre van Loon among others.
Widely published and exhibited in Europe today, Aldo held his first large exhibition at the Amsterdam Gallery ‘Binnen’. Invited by Ilse Crawford of the Eindhoven Design Academy in 2002, Bakker has fulfilled a successful tenure at the Design university for over ten years. Today the designer continues selected collaborations with renown manufacturers while further completing his personal collection with master craftsmen and galleries around the world.
Andre van Loon and Jan Matthesius: Jan Matthesius has long crafted most of Aldo Bakker’s silver and copper designs. Trained under Jan Matthesius, master silversmith Andre van Loon now runs the special collaborations and commissions of Matthesius studio. Van Loon is behind most of Bakker’s recent works of art made in precious metal. Widely recognized for his mastery, Matthesius is now focusing on his own designs and jewelry collection. “I am always touched by the correctness of Aldo’s designs. One needs a second glance, but after a while, you start to comprehend the shape as a whole. All the details are just right. That’s when you understand why Aldo came up with this shape.” – Jan Matthesius
Frans Ottink: The collaboration between Aldo Bakker and Frans Ottink started with the production of the Porcelain Tableware series for Thomas Eyck, a Dutch publisher and distributor of design pieces. Since then, Frans has been responsible for crafting the porcelain designs that have been initiated from within Aldo’s studio. “From the moment I started with my first project for Aldo, our collaboration has become very close. I can sense what he means in a drawing or a model, and Aldo more and more understands the possibilities in working with porcelain. I am always certain that Aldo values my opinion, and that my part consist of more than the execution of a design alone. Together we create beautiful products, in which form, craftsmanship and material merge.” – Frans Ottink
Rutger Graas: Master woodcrafter based in Amsterdam, Rutger Graas is the trusted craftsman behind the works of numerous Dutch design luminaries. His ongoing collaboration with Aldo Bakker has given birth to most of the wood pieces in the artist’s portfolio. “Ever since I started working for Aldo I have been challenged to go to the limit. This is what Aldo’s work deserves and also the reason why I am working as an independent craftsman. My obsession with detaisl and my appreciation for his design aesthetics is what allows us to find solutions and materialize his design vision.” – Rutger Graas
Sergej Kirilov: Based in the Netherlands, Sergej Kirilov has received rigorous Urushi lacquering training by Japanese Master, Mariko Nishide. Today, Kirilov has garnered the respect of his peers and has established his own workshop offering his urushi expertise and undertaking the challenging design commissions of local galleries and artists. The urushi comes from the sap of a tree that grows in China, Korea, Japan and in the eastern region of the Himalayas. The process for applying lacquer is long and labor intensive, costing an average of six months to carry out the finishing. In many cases, 60 layers of urushi are applied and polished by hand.