Thursday, 23 May 2013

An Alphabet of Dutch Benches


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. 


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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
The bench is seven metres long and is based on seven postures (leaning, sitting, lounging, squatting, etc.) which are fixed into the wave-like form of the bench. Normal furniture - chairs, coffee tables, stools - is also integrated into the design. 


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. 
And when you slide back the seat of the bench, a little table appears.
S is for see-saw. There are quite a few see-saw benches around but I really like this one by Dirk Ploos van Amstel. 

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

Tennis anyone? 

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.


http://www.remyveenhuizen.nl

A bunch of tulips is always welcome, as is a bright, colourful tulip seat.

http://www.tulpi.nl/tulpi-design.html

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. 


http://www.tulpi.nl/tulpi-design.html

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?



Credits

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 school of Man & Living at the Design Academy,  Eindhoven. For him, being a designer, is an interrogation, the uniting of raw materials, taste testing, and experimenting, as with cooking: he compares design with a great meal, a feast which unites people and creates a space for ideas. www.erasmusscherjon.nl

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. 
http://www.tulpi.nl/tulpi-design.html


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 Utrecht in 2010.The XYZ table and other works are at www.viaruygrok.com

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.


Monday, 13 May 2013

Lord Brassica's guide to picnic benches


Did you know it's British Sandwich Week? This year it's from May 15-22. What better time to get your sandwiches out for a picnic on a bench in some lovely spot.

For example, here's a beach picnic with fish and chips and beach toys and sand in your lemonade.



image from www.etsy.com/shop/abasketof

I've asked Lord Brassica, Fifth Earl of Drizzly, to give us some ideas for a good picnic. Here he is at the Fribble Thank You bench with his much-loved Landrover, his dog Pru and his horse Tonks.




Lord Brassica: I say, why not just ring for a Harrod's Hamper? They do a jolly nice pheasant paté. And they'll send along a bottle of bubbly and a chap to open it for you. It's all jolly civilised.  

That's a possibility, Lord B, but really, we want to make our own picnic.

Lord B: I could send the chauffeur down to Fortnum and Mason for a nice tin of tea. Not those ghastly bags, you understand. Proper tea in a pre-warmed pot. I'll get my chap to warm it. 

Sorry, I think you've got the wrong end of the stick here. I mean a picnic. I'm talking pork pies, tupperware tubs, ants in the jam. 

Lord B: Rightio, Seashell. I'm up for a spot of survival. 

What about a traditional picnic? Strawberries, tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs.


image from www.etsy.com/shop/wildmarigold

Or just a sandwich in the park? 

image from http://www.flickr.com/photos/sarah_presh 

You don't see a sandwich? Well, it's all in the name. This bench is in Sandwich, in Kent. 

Lord B: Yes, my cousin was the Earl of Sandwich. Nice enough chap. Put some roast beef between two slices of bread and started a trend I believe.

That was in 1762 though. Some trend.

Lord B: We have a strong sense of history in my family.

On the Isle of Wight there's a sense of history. This sculpture is called Nammet Time, which is an old island word for a chunk of cheese, a hunk of farmhouse bread, and a mug of beer. 


image from Paul Sivell at www.thecarvedtree.co.uk

Lord B: By jove, this chap has the right idea. 

A sandwich on a bench is fine but why not go for the whole works? You know: the gazebo and the candelabra and no crusts on the cucumber sandwiches. 

Lord B: In that case, why not forget the picnic and book yourself in at The Ritz? They do a spiffing afternoon tea.

Good point, Lord B. 

Here's a German family who got out the white tablecloth and dressed up in their Sunday best for a picnic.  


image from www.etsy.com/shop/alaskavintage

The girl looks happy about it but Herr Grandfather looks like he would rather have gone to McDonalds.

Lord B: Now that's a place I take care to avoid. 

What, Germany?

No. McDonalds. Sat on a bench there once and bumped into some vulgar clown. Ron, I think his name was. 



Red hair? Dressed in bright yellow? 

Lord B: Terrible dress sense. I told him I'd stand him a pint at the Duck and Dogcollar. Thought it might buck up his ideas.

You're right, Lord B. Ronald is not very hipster, is he? He could do with a Hipnic Bench. It's made from state-of-the-art snowboards.


www.etsy.com/shop/ZZIV

I say! This makes me want to picnic on a mountain! 

A theme is nice on a picnic. Here's a bellissimo miniature Italian picnic from Natalia Antonelli in Rome. 


image from www.etsy.com/shop/miniacquoline

It would look just great on this brilliant rainbow bench.


image from www.kedel.co.uk


A rainbow generally means there's rain about. And we don't want rain at a picnic, do we? 


image from http://www.flickr.com/photos/outandaboutsf/


You're quite right, Lord B. We don't even want rain clouds

That's unless they're pretty Swarovski rain clouds like these earrings from the Picnic Bench Designs shop in Canada.  

image from www.etsy.com/shop/picnicbenchdesigns

I could buy this for my wife. 

What, the earrings?

No, the shop.

Definitely rain is a problem on a picnic. 

I say, this picnic bench seems to be in a spot of bother. It looks like you could be in peril on this sea with this one. 



image from www.happyhoneylark.blogspot.com

There's a hymn for that I think. Used to sing it when I was a chorister at Saint Asphyxia's. 

But speaking of perils, I have a question for you.

Winter picnics: a good idea? 

I wouldn't have thought so. Brass monkeys and so on.

Of course it's possible to have a winter picnic, but there are some situations where picnicking just isn't going to be brilliant.



image from http://www.simplifiedbuilding.com/

Blimey. I see what you mean.

This bench is well suited to freezing temperatures though.


image from www.jellio.com

This is smashing! I could put one of these between two hunks of bread.

An ice cream sandwich as a sandwich filling. Hmmm. Interesting. Might start another trend. 

This white picnic bench is called Iceberg. That's probably more to do with the colour than the temperature though.


image from www.icebergenterprises.com

And the name of the company. 

Here's Little Red Riding Hood all alone with her winter picnic.


image from www.etsy.com/shop/paper-machedreams

Steady on! It's a rum turn of events if that poor girl got left out in the snow.

Yes. I'd be tempted to wait until spring when the birds are singing and the grass is green.

In the meantime, here is an indoor picnic table. And the grass is green, at all times of the year. 



image from http://.haiko.Cornelissen.com

I say, one could find oneself tipsy and spill a glass of good vintage Claret on this table.

Yes, but you'd be watering the grass, so it's ok.

I wouldn't say no to a cricket match on this table.

But now we need to choose some sandwiches. After all, it's British Sandwich Week. 

Maybe the sandwiches would arrive in this Sandwich Suitcase?


image source unknown

This suitcase is top notch! I'd like one of these when I take my investments to the Cayman Islands next time.

As for the sandwiches, we could opt for good old peanutbutter and jelly, like these.

image from www.etsy.com/shop/junkfoodjewelry

I know what you're going to say, Lord B. There's a problem with this:

1) peanutbutter and jelly is American and this is British Sandwich Week
2) these are key rings, not real sandwiches

So what about tuna and cucumber then? 

image from www.etsy.com/shop/halfpintminis

Sorry, there seems to be a bite taken out of this sandwich. Maybe we should have hamburgers instead? In which case we'll need condiments. 

Salad creme for me. Good old British salad creme. And lashings of ginger beer. None of that foreign muck.

These vintage condiments seem to have their very own picnic bench. 


image from www.etsy.com/shop/retroclassics

I'd prefer something more British. More Land of Hope and Glory and God Save the Queen. It's the Union Jack every time for me.

OK, then. What about a ham sandwich?


 © Peter Denton at http://www.flickr.com.peterdenton/ 

Fair enough. I'll have a Scotch egg too. And some Wimbledon strawberries would be just tickety-boo.




image from www.etsy.com/shop/thepixiepalace

I prefer watermelon. In America they have watermelons the size of babies. They put them in the river to keep them cool for the picnic.


image from www.etsy.com/shop/thepixiepalace

Babies in the river? Hhmmm. Wasn't there a fellow in a Moses basket? What was his name . . . 

Picnics aren't only about food though. The setting is very important. 

This family has chosen their own garden for an informal breakfast picnic on simple wooden benches. 

image from www.etsy.com/shop/dreamsofavalon 

Their lawn wants mowing. I could send my gardener round to see to it.

This looks like a good place for a picnic. It's in Cyprus. 


Photo by Sheila B

That'll do nicely. Looks like there's a road for the vans to get up there.

What vans are those, Lord B?

The catering van. The furniture van. The horse van for Tonks. And of course my wife's throne.




This is Cyprus too. A lovely spot on the beach.

image by Sheila B.

I'm not a beach man myself. Prefer a nice olde tea shoppe and a strawberry cream tea.

Interesting you should say that. Mungo likes to brew up when he has a picnic. 

Here he is with his camp stove beside the Kochelsee in Bavaria. In no time at all he'll have a good cup of Earl Grey. 



This mountainside might be a good place for a picnic but it looks like someone's got there first.



photo by Sheila B

Nice picnic bag. But no good for the vans. 


Do you really need all this stuff for a picnic? My ancestor Emil Geist didn't even bother to find a bench. He just put his picnic down on a cloth and got out the bottle of Bauer Haus Dornfelder. 

image by Miggy's mum


For some reason there is a British Beefeater in Emil's picnic basket. Maybe Emil thinks either the raven or the beefeater are suitable as a sandwich filling?

Good Lord. Those Europeans have some peculiar habits.


Speaking of Europe, here are Miggy and Mungo having their sandwiches on a bench in Sevilla.


photo by Miggy's Mum


I wonder why they set the plates down in the sand? And why are they sitting by the dog pooh bin? These are fundamental Picnic Questions which have to be asked.

This leads me to another question: can you have a good picnic in a city? 

I was at The Barbican recently. Right in the middle of London. Frightfully nice place to have a picnic and then go to a concert afterwards.


image by Janet Wells

Of course sometimes you can find the perfect spot for your picnic and then the bench just isn't up to the job.


www.kedel.co.uk

I've got a handyman for this kind of thing. Handy Andy. Nice chap. Not as biddable as the butler though. Old Unwin. Now he's a cheerful fellow.


image from www.liveauctioneers.com


Lord B, are you at all worried about animals stealing your picnic? 

 
 www.etsy.com/shop/alechartmanphoto


That's on foreign soil though. Bears and such.

Yes. The words Yellow and Stone come to mind. 



 The Patient Bear, unknown souce

This fellow looks like a thoroughly decent chap. I don't see a problem with him. I'd just say Toodle pip and be off. 

Here are some bears which seem to have totally disrupted a picnic. This wouldn't bother you?


 www.etsy.com/shop/brennicki

Heavens no. It's wasps I'd be more concerned about. Nasty little blighters. 

But I've found a way to deal with them. 

Really? Tell us your secret.

Well, you know my chap Unwin?  Bald fellow. Thoroughly decent. I get him to stand away from the picnic with a dish of jam on his head. Lures wasps away. 

Raspberry works best I find. 

That's terrible! Doesn't Unwin get stung by the wasps?

He does sometimes, yes. But he just has to buck himself up. Stiff upper lip and all that. 

OK, Lord Brassica, you've been very helpful with this post. I'd like to take you to a picnic bench restaurant.

Jolly sporting of you, Seashell. 

I hope it's not this one. The service doesn't look up to much. 



image by Sheila B.
What about this one? 

The food here has a fresh twist and it's very green.


http://www.michaelbeitz.com/about.html

Or here's the Rest Air Restaurant. Should do nicely for a picnic in the air don't you think?

www.egbg.nl

Make mine a pint, and a basket of cod and chips.

Tally ho, Seashell! I'll race you to the top.


Credits


Lord Brassica, Fifth Earl of Drizzly, is a gentleman farmer here on Paradise Island. He loves his horse Tonks, his dog Pru,and his 1947 Landrover, in that order. He indulges his wife, Lady Jessica Brassica with a replica mall in the basement of Drizzly Manor, a beach hut on the Esplanade, and unlimited amounts of cash for shopping. However, it has emerged that he doesn't know as much as you'd think about farm animal benches, especially cow benches or sheep benches. He knows a bit more about horse benches, learned from his horse Tonks, and possibly something about dog benches from his dog Pru. As you've seen though, what he really knows is picnic benches

The beach picnic miniature is from Lucy and Gillian in Tunbridge Wells. At www.etsy.com/shop/abasketof   They have exquisite miniatures of dolls house food and table settings. Any one of them would make a terrific picnic. 

The delightful wooden picnic food set is by Jennie at Wild Marigold in Ohio. She makes all kinds of delightful food. It's not suitable for eating though because it's made out of wood. www.etsy.com/shop/wildmarigold

I had a bit of luck with Picnics. Sarah Presh takes wonderful photographs, including the photo of the bench under the willow tree in Sandwich, Kent. She took this on 29 April, just in time for me to find it for this post. Her photostream is at http://www.flickr.com/photos/sarah_presh

John, the current 11th Earl of Sandwich opened a chain of sandwich shops called, yes, you guessed it - The Earl of Sandwich. There was one in Orlando and another one in London. If you don't believe me check 1,411 QI Facts at www.qi.com/1411  page 74. 

Nammet Time is by chainsaw artist Paul Sivell on the Isle of Wight. His numerous intriguing chainsaw sculptures can be seen at www.thecarvedtree.com  A nammet is the Isle of Wight word for sandwich. I'll bet you didn't know that, did you?

Becki Harvey Myers collects vintage photographs, including the wonderful pre-war German picnic photo. She's in Alaska at www.etsy.com/shop/alaskavintage You'll be seeing more of her photos on future Bench Site posts.


Ronald McDonald is a much-photographed character on his benches throughout the world. This Ronald was caught by Valerie Everett, who lives in Logansport, Indiana. She found him in Indianapolis on Christmas Day 2008. Valerie has a great selection of bench photos in her photostream at  https://www.flickr.com/photos/valeriebb/  

ZZIV in Milwaukee produces custom limited edition pieces of functional metal art. The ZZIV Hipnic Table features a unique twin independent aluminum pillar design and four beautifully designed snowboards. The hand welded aluminum pillars rise independently of each other, yet combine to each board to provide a timeless look and unheard of functionality in an art object. The snowboards are real, top of the line, Burton and Rossignol boards, fresh from the hills, as such they have wear which only adds to the table's character. Like nothing you have seen or sat on, ZZIV makes sitting at a picnic table cool. www.etsy.com/shop/ZZIV

Natalia Antonelli in Rome is a master of miniature picnics. You can get just about any kind of picnic you like. I chose the Italian one from her shop at www.etsy.com/shop/miniacquoline  Buon appetito!


UK company www.kedel.co.uk makes a wide range of maintenance-free picnic tables and benches from recycled plastic. They come in all sorts of sizes, designs and colours, like the vibrant rainbow one. The rotten bench is also on their website but it's not for sale. 

The first picnic table under water is in Mendocino in California, taken in December 2006. The photograph comes from the photostream of outandaboutsf at http://www.flickr.com/photos/outandaboutsf/

As you may know, I have two husbands. Mungo? His Excellency? Are you listening? Sarah in Canada makes Swarovski raincloud earrings at Picnic Bench Designs.  www.etsy.com/shop/picnicbenchdesigns  Come on, what more could a Bench Woman want? Please will one of you reach for your credit card and get these earrings for me NOW.

The second picnic table under water was taken at Jones Beach, New York in 2010. Jones Beach has fabulous swimming so it would be a great place for me. It was photographed by Kallie at www.happyhoneylark.blogspot.com 

The hymn Lord Brassica is thinking of is Eternal Father, also known in Britain as The Hymn of Her Majesty's Armed Forces. It's always sung at Remembrance Day ceremonies. The refrain is: Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee, For those in peril on the sea!  In the States the second verse has been adapted to include those in peril on the land. 

There are many, many pictures of benches under snow. It seems to be a favourite subject for Flickr people. But I chose this one from Simplified Building Concepts, an international company which makes fittings, connectors, and other parts for assembly. The photo of their Kee Klamp bench demonstrates the strength of it, even if people leave it outside all winter. You can read all about it at http://www.simplifiedbuilding.com/blog/rolling-outdoor-table-for-the-deck/

The ice cream sandwich bench is from Jellio and if you're a regular reader of this blog you'll have seen it before in the Edible Benches post. (Yes, maybe too much of a food focus here - Miggy's influence). It's the kind of bench everyone loves. I want one. It's one of many Fantastic Food furniture pieces from www.jellio.com  It costs $950.  

The Iceberg picnic table is from Iceberg Enterprises in Illinois. They make a wide range of business products which are simple, durable, flexible and modular. This includes things like chairs, tables, shelving and of course, picnic tables. Their website is at http://www.icebergenterprises.com

Little Red Riding Hood's snow picnic is a self-portrait by Daisy Harper at Paper Maché Dreams. I felt so lucky to find this image and to be given permission to use it. As for Lord Brassica's concern about the girl, I hope Daisy didn't have to stay out in the snow for too long. Her shop is at www.etsy.com/shop/papermache-dreams

The picNYC grass table is by architect Haiko Cornelissen in New York. It was a 2012 New York Design Week favourite. Not surprising. You can have a picnic anytime you want. http://hairkocornelissen.com

The Sandwich Suitcase is one of those internet photographs which is so ubiquitous that its original source is impossible to find. Google sandwich suitcase and you'll see what I mean. I copied it, unashamedly, from www.whatthecool.com


I just love the peanutbutter and jelly sandwich keyrings by Danielle at www.etsy.com/shop/junkfoodjewelry  But it's true: you can't eat them. And as Lord Brassica says, peanutbutter and jelly sandwiches just haven't caught on in Britain. That may be because British jelly is the wobbly stuff Americans call Jello. You can see how the confusion arises. You really wouldn't want to eat Jello in a sandwich now, would you?

The half-eaten tuna and cucumber sandwich is from Jill, who makes a wide range of beautiful miniatures at www.etsy.com/shop/halfpintminiatures  What I love about this sandwich is that it is half-eaten. How many artists would take a bite out of their product before putting it up for sale? Well done, Jill! 

Retro Grandma collects all kind of interesting retro stuff at Retro Classics in Saskatchewan. She informed me recently that the vintage condiment set has been sold. But of course she has lots of other brilliant retro stuff at www.etsy.com/shop/retroclassics  Her blogspot is at http://www.retrograndma.blogspot.com

Photographer Peter Denton found the Ham and Sandwich road sign in Kent. I saw it on Flickr, where he has a whole lot of lovely bench pictures.  Peter Denton's photostream of photographs from around the world, including benches, can be seen at  http://www.flickr.com/photos/peterdenton/


The Pixie Palace is in Walla Walla, Washington where, by strange coincidence, Miggy's Mum went to nursing school. Miggy has some cousins there (hello Gail and Chandler). The Pixie makes a veritible feast of handmade felted foods, including watermelons and strawberries. They all look good enough to eat. www.etsy.com/shop/thepixiepalace

The restful Breakfast Under the Birch Tree is a cross stitch pattern of a Carl Larsson painting by Lesley Bradshaw in France. Her shop is at www.etsy.com/shop/dreamsofavalon

My good friend Sheila B lives some of the time in Cyprus. She goes out and about taking pictures of benches for me and she came up trumps with the picnic benches. It looks like lots of people picnic in Cyprus. However, I doubt if they would appreciate Lord Brassica's convoy of vans winding their way up the Troodos mountains.

Emil Geist is one of my Geist ancestors from Germany. More on that in later posts. Emil is something of an expert on sweet German wines. He's keen on Dornfelders from the Nahe region and he particularly likes the Bauer Haus Dornfelder, which is a sweet red. He tells me to say that Dornfelder is the second most grown grape in Germany. So now you know.

Janet Wells lives in The Barbican in London. A retired artist, she has an eye for interesting photographs. There are plenty of those in The Barbican. 

Unwin, The Cool Butler with Tray, is three feet tall and, as Lord Brassica says, looks like a thoroughly decent chap, even after having raspberry jam on his head. He was auctioned by New York Live Auctioneers in 2008 at a starting bid of $100. Wherever he's ended up, I hope there are no wasps. www.liveauctioneers.com

The chipmunk stealing a picnic is by Alec Hartman, whose photographs can be seen at www.etsy.com/shop/alechartmanphoto

The Patient Bear is another of those internet memes which . . . oh, forget it. I'm not going to apologise. There is absolutely no way I or anyone else can find the owner of this photograph. There are websites devoted to trying. There are even suggestions that he's been photoshopped. But it's an endearing shot. So, whoever photographed The Patient Bear, bearskin hats off to you. 

The Bear picnic painting is by Kara Hamer in Arizona. You see what I mean? Having bears at a picnic is not going to be a tidy business. It's chaos. And what a great painting. Kara's shop is at www.etsy.com/shop/brennicki

Michael Beitz, a Fine Arts graduate of the University of Buffalo, exhibits throughout Europe and the US. He makes all kinds of weird and wonderful sculptures which have emerged from his experience as a furniture designer. Sofas in knots, upside down tables - it's great to see his quirky, twisty, mind-bending stuff. The green tangled picnic table from 2013 is called Picnic.

http://www.michaelbeitz.com/about.html


Martijn Engelbreght and Miguel Brugman's 'Rest' Air Restaurant was in Wageningen, Netherlands in 2008. Unfortunately, they are no longer taking reservations. But isn't this the most wonderful thing? Martijn gave me permission to use the picture. He has a very cool website address: www.egbg.nl






Mungo and his parents at a picnic in Glendalough, Ireland