For the first time, Aldo Bakker will have a solo-exhibition in the US. Atelier Courbet in New York presents “Aldo Bakker & The European Masters”, which is a comprehensive exhibition of the designer’s work in collaboration with master-craftsmen Jan Matthesius, Frans Ottink and Rutger Graas.
This exhibition is part of an ongoing program of rotating exhibitions highlighting the work and the cultural legacy of most revered master-craftsmen from around the world or presenting the dialog between the selected workshops, manufactures and our contemporary luminaries. Atelier Courbet will unveil a comprehensive selection of collaborative works between Dutch designer Aldo Bakker and the workshops of Jan Matthesius, Frans Ottink and Rutger Graas; masters in wood crafting, copper and silversmith as well as ceramicist. For his very first solo-exhibition, Aldo choses to collaborate with Atelier Courbet in New York and presents his work, bringing light to the detailed gestures and the hands that helped him materialize and form his creative ideas.
Tonus in Wood, 2011
The Show opens May 9, 2014 coinciding with the Frieze Art Fair and the Collective Design Fair, and anteceding the IFCC Design Week in New York City. “Aldo Bakker & The European Masters” comprises nearly 20 works: furniture pieces, tableware, and other home design objects crafted in silver, copper, porcelain and wood. Aldo Bakker’s work explores borders between humanity and inhuman aspects in design, a hand drawn, and architectural exploration into endlessness. The combination of human rituals and in a way perfect, artificial shapes remains a recurring theme and it forms the indispensable tension in Aldo’s work. His work ‘drifts away’ from an obvious visible human touch, designing with shapes that seen almost perfect and artificial; yet giving integrity to his pieces is the impeccable craftsmanship, resulting through execution by the hands of the most skilled workers in design.
Aldo Bakker, Pourer, 2014
As he describes this himself: ‘My work is the result of an almost endless and time-consuming process that sometimes seems to drag on forever. It’s a process that largely takes place in my head. Few sketches or models of early versions of my designs exist. I view my designs as the work of a vormgever, which in Dutch literally means ‘giver of form’. This principle seems at odds with current conventions – the view that a clear concept automatically leads to interesting formal aspects.
Aldo Bakker, Salt Sellar (Silver), 2007
During my research into form, I am resigned to being burdened by my own perfectionism. This perfectionism is the reason why my portfolio contains no more than half the number of products that are common for someone of my age. In recent years terms like ‘authenticity’ and ‘originality’ have, in my view, been used with a certain opportunism and carelessness around me. Both in my language and in my form, I choose to approach them very precisely. I allow my designs to acquire physical shape only when I deem them to be ‘autonomous entities’.
The approach of Aldo Bakker (Amersfoort, NL 1971) is driven by exploring borders between humanity and inhuman aspects in design, a hand drawn, and architectural exploration into endlessness. With regards to this subject, it is no coincidence that Aldo chose glass as his starting material to express himself with: glass has a certain ‘inhuman’ aspect, it is the ideal material to produce shapes which seem almost perfect and artificial, a way for Aldo to ‘drift away’ from an obvious visible human touch.
Before designing in glass, Aldo skilled himself in the crafts of jewelry design, the occupation of both his parents. For years, Aldo was the only employee of Atelier Noyons in Utrecht. It was jewelry design that formed Aldo’s professional patience and shaped the perfectionism which can be found in his work until today. After studying almost every possible side to the production of glass and after realizing his first complete glass line, Aldo returned to wood and the creation of wooden furniture.
Aldo held his first large exhibitions, starting with his first overview at the Amsterdam Gallery ‘Binnen’. Followed by Solo presentations in Milan and London. During the London exhibition he met Ilse Crawford, head teacher of the department ‘Well being’ at the famous Design Academy Eindhoven, which meant the lift off of Aldo’s career as a teacher at the academy.
The design of the ‘Urushi series’ form a new milestone in Aldo’s work. Still, for insiders, the relationship between his first glasswork designs and the Urushi series is evident. This series presents the full complexity of Aldo’s working methods.
For Aldo, the Urushi series form a new beginning as well as an end. Aldo aims to evoke interaction with multiple senses with his outspoken love for materials and his never-ending determination to understand various craftsmanship’s. Due to his urge for perfection, his objects lack a typical ‘handmade’ impression, even contrarily. The almost endless process of their realization gives his designs a sense of ‘inhuman’ belonging, questioning their own existence.
Jan Matthesius executes all the silver and copper works of Aldo. Next to his work for Aldo, he designs and executes jewelry. ‘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. Everything has a function. The challenge for a craftsman is to always satisfy the high requirements of the commissioner.
The cooperation between Aldo 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 the porcelain products that have been initiated from within the 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.’
Rutger Graas is responsible for almost all the wooden furniture of Aldo. He works as an independent craftsman in a studio north of Amsterdam; ‘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 that I am work- ing as an independent craftsman. My preferences for detail and aesthetic are useful when looking for solutions in Aldo’s (often not simple) designs.’