An alphabet of Dutch benches should have been a cinch. Twenty-six benches. No problem.
The benches would be chosen randomly and as someone with no background in design, I'd just choose what I like. I knew how generous Dutch designers are in giving permission to show their work and sure enough, replies came in swiftly and positively. Many offered more images beyond the one I had asked for. In no time at all I found myself with so many brilliant benches that I hardly knew where to start.
Miggy suggested I start with A but that didn't work because, funnily enough, the images didn't arrive in alphabetical order. And sometimes I had to use a letter for more than one bench - well, why not? As Miggy reminded me, it's my blog: I make the rules.
Finally I had to call a halt, otherwise my Dutch alphabet would never end. Even so, I am aware that many wonderful benches and designers are missing in this list. Some are elsewhere on this blog and some will be here in future. But for now, to begin at the beginning . . .
A is for Air. Lotte Van Wulfften Palthe's Soft Bush Bench is an open structure of steel branches which lets air and water through. Sitting on top is a tuft of foam - that's the soft bit. The designer describes it as 'a small bench for outside use where you sink in when you settle down. Its material seeks the boundary between inside and outside; material and immaterial.' The tuft of foam on top varies in colour from mint green to pink and Lotte says 'they are in the field like tempting cakes.'
|image from www.lvwp.nl|
B is for Bank, the Dutch word for bench. It seems only right that we should see the EBB Bank, made by Nic Roex at Studio Nic Roex in Amsterdam.
At first glance the EBB bench seems to be missing some legs.
|image from http://studioroex.com|
Clearly the challenge here is balance. Rather than weight being distributed on four legs as in a normal bench, the forces here are taken in the metal base. The EBB consists of three steel parts, with each of the three planes accentuated by a different shade of colour.
B is also for Booked. Jacqueline Le Bleu's Booked bench appeared in an earlier post for World Book Day and I like it so much I'm showing it again here. It's made from real books with beautiful linen covers and yes, it's strong enough to sit on.
|image from www.bleu.nl|
C is for Clay. Maarten Baas makes furniture from synthetic clay and shapes it by hand over a metal skeleton frame. Because there are no moulds to create uniformity, each piece is unique. This clay bench just happens to be orange; the furniture is available in eight colours from www.dhph.com
|image from www.dhph.com|
D is for Delft. You can't have Holland without Delft, can you? Maybe some full size Delft benches exist but there are plenty of them depicted on tiles, like this one of a 17th century pharmacist. I found it in etsy shop Big Fish in a Little Bowl, where Patricia Sundquist collects small, unique items that she finds at thrift shops, auctions and flea markets.
|image from www.etsy.com/shop/bigfishinalittlebowl|
D is also for Daytripper, which is the name of a bench in Tokyo created by Jurgen Beys in 2001. It's an urban bench made from fibreglass and printed with white flowers over pink polystyrene. You wouldn't trip over it by accident.
|image from www.studiomakkinkbey.nl|
E is for Elm. Dutch Elm, of course. Oh, I can feel a little shiver down the spine of tree lovers here because normally Dutch Elm means bad news. But I had a little look around and I found a beautiful surviving Dutch Elm Bench, not in the Netherlands, but in New South Wales.
|image from www.thecountrytrader.com.au|
Meanwhile, there was no bench so a couple of wooden-shoed friends had to keep standing at the door of the Dutch barn.
F is for Flip-flop and also for Fat and also for Florentijn. Florentijn Hofman goes for humour, sensation, and maximum impact. Here is his Macaco Gordo (Fat Monkey), who looks like he's fallen off his bench. Fat Monkey is 15 metres long and made from 10,000 pairs of Brazilian flipflops.
|image from http://www.florentijnhofman.nl|
|image from http://www.florentijnhofman.nl|
G is for Green*. Amsterdam designers Elena Goray and Christoph Tonges make benches out of bamboo poles, which grow quickly and can be easily recycled. The Pile Island Bench is held together without glue or screws and is made from ten different kinds of bamboo, originating in Colombia, China and Indonesia. *Design question: should this print have been in green?
|image from http://elenagoray.com|
The designers see the Pile Island Bamboo Bench as a way of bringing back nature to hectic cities full of concrete and iron.
|image from www.elenagoray.com|
H is for High. You might need a very high bench in Holland to keep your feet dry in case of flooding. Of course that applies to lots of places nowadays. But here's a bench just for the purpose.
|image by Nilly Oren at http://www.flickr.com/people/nillyo/|
H is also for Here. Or Hier. Or somewhere. The H is also for Houton, which is where Mungo and I found this bench on one of our cycling trips. Houton is near Utrecht. It's a suburb, something like the Welwyn Garden City of Holland. All during the 2010 World Cup semi-finals we camped at a mini-camp outside town and thought it was terrific. We were Hier. And later we learned that the Hier bench is by Marc Ruygruk at www.viaruygrok.com
I is for imagination. And what an imagination has Guusje Beverdam! She specialises in ceramics which are durable, low maintenance, vandal-proof, and frost resistant. I have admired her work ever since we spent a summer holiday cycling in Overijssel and came across what I still call The Enschede Sofa.
|image from www.guusjebeverdam.nl|
Guusje calls this a loveseat. It's made of clay and fired at 1160 degrees and then glazed in her characteristic bright colours. What a treat to find street furniture like this! Each piece of her work is handmade and unique.
J is for Jeju. Jeju Island is in South Korea. Yes, there is a little corner of South Korea that is forever Holland. Traveller/blogger Tom Stockwell, also known as Wae-gook (foreigner), found an amazing bench at Jeju Island, where Dutch explorer Hendrick Hamel was shipwrecked with his crew in the 17th century. They were imprisoned there by Jeju natives for 13 years before escaping to Japan in 1666.
The Koreans have built a replica of Hamel's ship, The Sperwer, and there's a gift shop with wooden clogs and all things Dutch. And this bench, with its Korean writing. If a person has any stereotypes about Holland, this bench will work for them.
|image from http://www.waegook-tom.com/south-korea/going-dutch-in-korea|
K is for kitsch. It has to be said that Holland is not short of kitschy stuff. Holly's Recreations shop on etsy contains vintage oddities of all kinds, like this little blue Delft couple on a bench. It's blue. It's cute. It's Dutch. What's not to like?
|image from www.etsy.com/shop/HollysRecreations|
Personally I love wooden shoes and I have one or two key rings with different coloured wooden shoes.
Ok, I'll be honest. All my key rings are wooden shoes.
|image from www.etsy.com/shop/quaksoriginals|
I know it's important to avoid stereotypes.
But I grew up with these stories and I loved them.
Here is a little bench couple who fulfilled all my childhood fantasties about Holland. I saw them at a mini-camp we stayed at in Diesdonk near Eindhoven.
L is for Long. There is a very long bench in Ijburg in Amsterdam. One hundred metres, to be exact. It's from the Droog Space to Take Place project (2006-2008), designed by architect Claudia Linders. There is certainly space for anything to take place on this bench.
|image from www.droog.com|
Space is always an issue for the Dutch. Sitting in reclaimed land, Ijburg is one of the newest areas of Amsterdam. The designer sees the Ijburg location as a representation of Dutch architecture, expansion, and the issues of public housing in a dense population. She describes it as a ‘symbol for the Dutch struggle against the water and for the engineers' tradition of land reclamation’. http://www.spacetotakeplace.nl
L is also for Log. There is no shortage of log benches around but my favourite is Tree Trunk Bench from Jurgen Beys in 1998.
|image from www.studiomakkinkbey.nl|
It pretty much is what is says it is. The tree trunk is the seat. But the surprising thing are the bronze casts of chair backs which create what the designer calls 'an interaction between culture and nature.' If you order the three bronze backrests you'll need to find eleven thousand Euros and the log of your choice.
M is for Mobile. Mobile benches? Well, yes, why not? Rogier Martens likes things which can change and disappear; this includes benches. Here's the Boombank (Tree Bench) which might be strapped onto a tree wherever you happen to be. Or it might not be. It's one of those benches which appears and disappears.
Here it is on a nice, leafy spot along the canal.
|image from http://www.rogiermartens.nl/|
And then there's the Wheelbench, which is highly mobile in the same way that a wheelbarrow is mobile.
|image from http://www.rogiermartens.nl/|
M is also for Medusa. With his outdoor bench Medusa, Erasmus Scherjon creates what he calls 'a new vocabulary of shapes'. It looks like concrete but it isn't. It drapes like fabric but it isn't.
|image from www.erasmusscherjon.nl|
First, he covers a metal framework with a tough nylon fabric which is impregnated with cement. This envelopes the frame and when it is dipped in a bath, the whole shape takes form, conserving the look and feel of the fabric.
N is for Number 3. Why three? That's because Floris Wubben's bench is called Number 3. It combines metal, polypropylene and wood, creating an undulating wave of white flowing over a driftwood base.
|image from http://www.floriswubben.nl|
O is for orange*. This is one of my favourite orange benches. It's on the Leidsegracht in Amsterdam and flanked by two Amsterdammertjes, which are placed to keep cars from driving or parking on the narrow sidewalks. The photographer is Anton at http://www.flickr.com/photos/dutchamsterdam/
|image from Anton at http://www.flickr.com/photos/dutchamsterdam/|
*I don't know what the rules are here about print colours. Call me daring but I'm sticking my neck out and putting this print in orange.
And here's another orange bench I really like. It brings out all the orange Dutchy-ness in me. So although the photographer isn't Dutch, I'm going to show the bench anyway.
|image from http://www.flickr.com/people/mr172|
P is for provincial. Here is a Dutch provincial farmers hall bench from Toebosch Antiques in Amsterdam. It's polychrome painted and comes from the area 't Gooi in central Holland.
|iamge from www.toeboschantiques.com|
Q is for quiet. One of the things I love about the Netherlands is the way you can step off a busy city street into an oasis of calm and peace. I'm talking about Beijnhofs, of course. This is the Beijnhof in Breda where Miggy and I stopped to chat about the benches. We seem to have grown older and somehow turned to bronze.
Just to clarify, I am the slender one on the left.
R is for Reef. Not a coral reef but one made from accoya wood. It comes from the studio of Tejo Remy and Rene Veehuizen in Utrecht and was first made in 2009 for the Picasso Lyceum secondary school in Zoetermeer. The designers describe it as a lightweight wooden skeleton which, like a coral reef for fish, is a place to hang out. This is ideal for students, who love to hang out. But this is no underwater reef: it's on the roof of the school.
|Image from http://www.remyveenhuizen.nl|
Here is 't Stekje, another reef bench, in a natural setting along the cycle path in the province of Friesland.
|image from http://www.remyveenhuizen.nl|
And R is also for Rubens. Madam Rubens, to be specific. Made by Frank Willems at www.frankwillems.net she's a plump but sophisticated lady (a bit like someone I know, without naming any names, Miggy.)
|image from www.frankwillems.net|
The foam can be folded differently and legs and colours changed, so Madam Rubens is unique. Frank's latest work is the Sliding Bench from his Folding Comfort series, in which layers of folded foam provide soft, comfortable seating.
|image from www.frankwillems.net|
You know how popular pop-ups are these days? Well, this is sort of a pop-up see-saw. In other words, it's not always a see-saw. Sometimes it's pretty much a normal bench.
|image from www.dvandirk.nl|
Other times it's a see-saw.
|image from www.dvandirk.nl|
Cool? This See-saw bench has cool in spades.
S is for spades. Nic Roex often makes things from other things, for example, he made these bench seats out of spades.
|image from http://nicroex.nl|
I like this bench but I will resist the temptation to say that I dig it; that would be one pun too many and would also make me sound like a 1950s Beatnik.
T is for Trolley and also for Toosh. And of course, for tulips, the national flower of The Netherlands.
Etienne Reijnders makes benches out of shopping trollies. This one he calls the Tooshe-e bench, which reminds us of the intimate connections between anatomy and benches. It is part of his Upcycle series where he turns an existing product into another product with a different (and higher) level of functioning. This transformation must take account of what the product is now, and also what it used to be. Clever.
|image from http://etiennereijnders.com|
It's Remy and Veenhuizen again, this time as designers of a bench made in 2003 for their client Museum Boijmans van Beuningen in Rotterdam. The designers likened the molecule shape of the balls to living cells which divide and expand, rather like the collection of a museum. And each tennis ball offers its own soft upholstery, contributing to the comfort of the bench as furniture.
A bunch of tulips is always welcome, as is a bright, colourful tulip seat.
Marco Manders at Tulpi-Design in Nieuwegein has achieved international recognition and his Tulpi-seats have been planted all over the world. Yes, of course - their popularity continues to grow.
established in April 2011 and it's a typical Dutch design studio with a flair for
quirky, innovative and playful design for indoor and outdoor environments. The tulip seat photos are from the Venlo Floriade in 2012.
U is for Una. Interior designer Tim Vinke works from Groningen, where he made the Una stool in 2010. Una can be configured in different ways; here are several Unas put together to make a bench seating several people.
|image from www.timvinke.nl|
And here is just one Una, which has cleverly transformed itself from a bench into a bookshelf and a table.
image from www.timvinke.nl
V is for Vincent. And for Van Gogh, of course. How much more Dutch can you get?
Van Gogh's work included a huge number of chairs and benches; I have picked out just two here. The first one is the well-known Stone Bench in the Garden of the Asylum at Saint Paul, painted in 1889 where Van Gogh was a patient and where he produced some of his best work. It has the vibrant colours and heavy brush strokes that are so familiar in Van Gogh's paintings.
|image from http://www.wikipaintings.org|
But there are lots of wonderful benches shown with and without people in Van Gogh's sketches and paintings. There was Man on a Bench (1886). In 1882 alone there was Three People on a Bench, Four People on a Bench, and Four People and a Baby on a Bench. There were pencil sketches, ink sketches, charcoal, watercolour, and oil paintings.
My favourite Van Gogh bench picture though is Woman with a White Cloth Around Her Head Sitting on a Bench, 1883.
|image from http://www.wikipaintings.org|
It is what it says it is. Gorgeous.
I first saw it when Mungo and I were cycling in the Hoge Veluwe National Park on the way to Arnhem. We got our directions mixed up and ended up at the Kroller-Muller Museum, which was a very fortunate turn of events.
W is for Weeribben. On one of the hottest days of summer 2010 Mungo and I cycled through the Weeribben National Park. If you remember, it was a very hot summer and Holland were in the finals of the World Cup. Yes, if you're Dutch, of course you remember. Everyone was noisy. Everything was orange.
Cycling along the canals near Kalenburg we came upon this thatcher having a quiet break on a log bench. He seemed quite oblivious to the Holland-Germany game that was being shown on every television in the Netherlands. Goes to show what a bench can do for you.
XYZ. And finally, we complete the alphabet with Marc Ruygrok's XYZ work.
|image from www.viaruygrok.com|
It's a table, not actually a bench but I think it fits here nicely.
What more could you ask of a Dutch alphabet than the letters X, Y and Z in brilliant orange?
Lotte Van Wulfften Palthe's Soft Bush Bench was part of her graduation project in 2008. She now runs Studio lvwp in Eindhoven, which includes herself and occasional interns. 'My personal definition of a studio is a place to do research, think out loud, develop concepts, read, experiment, draw and build models. All that preferably in a team with a variety of disciplines. My aim is to do exactly that.' Her website is at www.lvwp.nl
The Booked bench is by Amsterdam designer Jacqueline le Bleu at www.bleu.nl The artist describes it as 'a tribute to the book'. It is from the Emerging Benchmarks mobile exhibit of benches designed from reclaimed materials. Jacqueline Le Bleu will create benches or tables in your favourite colours. You can see more of her work at http://benchsite.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/a-stack-of-book-benches-for-world-book.html
The clay bench is by Maarten Baas at Den Herder Production House in s'-Hertogenbosch. He uses clay and other materials to create a range of furniture, clocks, and tableware which can be seen at www.dhph.com
The Delft tile of the 17th century pharmacist is from Patricia Sundquist who deals in 'happy surprises' from stuff she finds at thrift shops, auctions and flea markets. Her shop is at www.etsy.com/shop/bigfishinalittlebowl
As well as the one legged EEB bench, designer Nic Roex has transformed spades and car bonnets into benches. Nic (born 1981) graduated from the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague in 2009 and opened Studio Nic Roex in 2010 in Amsterdam. His work also appears on Black Bench Friday. His website is at http://studioroex.com
and his Facebook is https://www.facebook.com/StudioRoex
The Dutch Elm bench is courtesy of The Country Trader in New South Wales. A member of the Australian Antique and Art Dealers Association, they have a wide range of restorations and new designs which are chosen for their exceptional decorative qualities and originality. The Dutch Elm Bench certainly fits that description. Their website is at www.thecountrytrader.com.au
Florentijn Hofman's makes HUGE sculptures from ordinary objects which value the reactions of passers-by. ‘My sculptures cause an uproar, astonishment and put a smile on your face. They give people a break from their daily routines. Passers-by stop in front of them, get off their bicycle and enter into conversation with other spectators. People are making contact with each other again. That is the effect of my sculptures in the public domaine.' Fat Monkey was in Sao Paulo in Brazil. http://www.florentijnhofman.nl/dev/projects.php Here is a brilliant short video about the making of the monkey: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u5FyGf7PCA8&feature=related
Elena Goray is an interior architect and designer who was born in the Russian Federation and studied Design and Applied Art in the Netherlands. She has worked extensively in Russia, Germany, China and throughout the Netherlands. Her studio is in Amsterdam and her website is at http://.elenagoray.com
Nilly Oren is an Israeli photographer who travels widely and photographs all kinds of amazing things. The tall bench was taken in Amsterdam in 2005. Her photostream is on Flickr at http://www.flickr.com/people/nillyo/
Guusje Beverdam specialises in ceramics. Her work is colourfully glazed and recognisable for its humour and sense of fun. She was Arts Woman of Overijssel in 2012 and no wonder. You can watch videos of her working on her website at www.guusjebeverdam.nl
Tom Stockwell is a teacher who lived and taught in South Korea for several years before embarking on his travels around the world. He writes an informative and entertaining blog at http://www.waegook-tom.com
Holly's Recreations shop on etsy contains vintage oddities of all kinds. The little blue Delft couple on a bench are part of her found and creative fodder at www.etsy.com/shop/hollyrecreations
The wooden shoe keyrings are from Sharon Quak at www.etsy.com/shop/quaksoriginals. Sharon is actually Dutch so these are real. And I do have my own wooden shoe keyrings but they are rather battered.
Jurgen Bey's Studio Makkink and Bey is in Rotterdam and the website www.studiomakkinkbey.nl features a huge number of fascinating benches. I forced myself to choose just two: the Tree Trunk bench (1998) and the Tokyo Daytripper bench (2001). At Studio Makkink and Bey, 'One single product can progress into a project of a larger scale, motivating its own setting. In reverse, a project on the scale of architecture or urban planning can equally produce a series of products related to their original context.' The design team is an alliance between designers, architects and experts from different fields of knowledge. The studio's ambition is 'to see the role of the designer expanded to the most strategic function possible.' If you like the Tree Trunk bench you'll probably be interested in other kinds of mobile benches: http://benchsite.blogspot.co.uk/2014/11/dude-wheres-my-bench.html
In 2006 the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs commissioned design company Droog to create a gift for the waterfront area of Ijburg in Amsterdam. Architect Claudia Linders designed the 100 metre bench for the Space to Take Place project. Linders is principal of the Bureau Claudia Linders, a studio for interdisciplinary research and design. Her work can be seen at www.droog.com and at www.claudialinders.nl Here in Fribble-under-Par Tamsin has an interesting perspective on large, small and very long benches.
Rogier Martens at Studio Martens in Utrecht has created a number of exciting mobile benches, like the Wheelbench, and The Pop Up bench, which literally pops up out of the pavement. The Tree Bench can be easily strapped onto a tree using a suspension system. 'It is no challenge to just dig a hole and a install a bench. An ideal bench needs the environment and the environment needs the bench too. To achieve that goal a bench contributes to the park as a walk, sit, rest, kiss, lie, meet, watch, dog walk, day-dream, stretch, run, think, decide, smoke and lunch spot.' http://www.rogiermartens.nl/ If you're wondering where the benches went, more benches from Studio Martens can be seen at http://benchsite.blogspot.co.uk/2014/11/dude-wheres-my-bench.html
Erasmus Scherjon (born 1983) graduated in 2010 from the
Floris Wubben's studio is in Eindhoven. The work of the studio is to transform and combine natural materials, enabling furniture and nature to co-operate in harmony. Examples are his Potato Family furniture and the Number 3 Bench which you can see at http://www.floriswubben.nl
I first saw Anton's gorgeous orange bench on Flickr. Anton and Janet are Amsterdammers who enjoy sharing Amsterdam-related photos and information. They publish DutchAmsterdam.com, an online guide to Amsterdam, as well as a source of Amsterdam-related news items. Their website is at http://www.dutchamsterdam.nl Anton's photographs are at http://www.flickr.com/photos/dutchamsterdam/
The wavy orange bench is by Mr 172, aka Michael, in Berlin. His photostream is at http://www.flickr.com/people/mr172 And if you haven't had enough orange benches, there are plenty more on Benchsite
I am grateful to Toebosch Antiques in Amsterdam for their permission to use the image of the Dutch provincial farmer's hall bench. I really wanted something of Olde Hollande here to complement the many contemporary benches shown on this post. The bench was at the time of contact for sale for Euros 11.500 at www.toeboschantiques.com
The Reef bench and the Tennis ball bench are by Tejo Remy and Rene Veenhuizen at http://www.remyveenhuizen.nl in Utrecht. The two designers studied together at Utrecht School of Art and at Department 3D-Design; they have worked together since 2000 and have a worldwide profile. 'By making everything our material, the world is our toolkit. We transform the familiar and incorporate the circumstances. By applying this as a kind of design rule, we create our own freedom.'
Frank Willems describes himself as 'a designer with a passion for adventure'. http://www.frankwillems.net/ A graphic designer by training, he has a degree in advertising and presentation techniques and a specialisation from the Design Academy in Eindhoven. His Rubens collection has five models: Madam Rubens compact, Madam Rubens long, Plus de Madam Rubens compact, Plus de Madam Rubens long and the Petit pouf.
The seesaw bench is by Dirk Ploos van Amstel at http://www.dvandirk.nl He describes his work as being about demystification, where 'the most important mechanisms and constructions of the products are made visible.' His recent High Five Bench is another example where the construction, components and materials of the piece are shown in a pure and simple way: https://www.facebook.com/DvanDirk?v=wall
Etienne Reijnder's Toosh-e is an ex-shopping trolley converted into a bench. He describes himself as '. . . a headstrong designer, who especially loves to walk the road of sidetracks and loves challenges. I believe in simple work. The design and material must fit in with the thought process, so don't make it prettier or uglier than it needs to be. I work very crisp, and pure.' His website is at http://etiennereijnders.com The Toosh-e bench appears elsewhere on Benchsite at http://benchsite.blogspot.co.uk/2013/12/just-x-shopping-benches-til-christmas.html and http://benchsite.blogspot.co.uk/2014/11/dude-wheres-my-bench.html
Established in April 201 by Marco Manders, Tulpi-Design in Nieuwegein has a flair for quirky, innovative, playful and fun design for indoor and outdoor environments. These tulip seat photos are from the Venlo Floriade in 2012. The Tulpi-seat has won a number of design awards such as the coveted Award for Most Original Design and Good Industrial Design (Dutch Design Week 2011) and the prestigious Golden A'Award in 2015.
Tim Vinke studied Interior Architecture before setting up his own studio in Groningen. 'An important thing in my work is that y designs always have to have a function . . . My designs are characterized by a clear and 'simple' form language. Materialization, experimenting with materials and humour also play an important role in my designs.' The Una stools are made from polystyrene with a coating to make them strong. They are lightweight and can be used both indoors and out. http://www.timvinke.nl
Vincent Van Gogh has been dead more than 70 years, which means his work is available in the public domain on http://www.wikipaintings.org The Stone Bench was in the garden of the Saint Paul Hospital in Saint-Remy-de-Provence where Van Gogh stayed for a year after cutting off part of his left ear. During this time Van Gogh was very ill but sometimes he was allowed to work outdoors and here, between May 1889 and May 1890, he produced some of his best work.
Marc Ruygrok's XYZ table is being used here as an honorary bench because I love it. He has created a wide variety of letter benches and furniture. I first saw his HIER bench in Houton near
Want to see more European benches? Blogda came from Krappistan to help me with the Europe Day benches. The idea was to illustrate European diversity by showing one bench for each of the 28 countries in the European Union. Like the alphabet, it should have been easy.