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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My best friend 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. 

Every summer Migs and I go searching for benches in The Netherlands.


my photo, Groningen

We are never disappointed. 

But 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? This tile shows the bench 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. 



 www.etsy.com/shop/bigfishinalittlebowl

As for a life-size Delft bench, I found this one in the Sint Agathaplein in Delft. In classic Delft blue and white, it's an Hommage to Gaudi by artist Marianne Burgers. 


 By Wikifrits - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=31766126

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.


My photo

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. The Netherlands, of course, is a watery country.


my photo, Nijmegen

In case of flooding, you might need a very high bench to keep your feet dry. Even school benches need to be well clear of the water.


my photo, Enkhuizen

Of course that applies to lots of places nowadays. Here's a bench in Amsterdam 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

my photo, Houton, Utrecht


I is for imagination. Benchwise, every space in The Netherlands is a window of opportunity. 


my photo

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 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.


 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


Although the Dutch are the tallest people in Europe, there are little people on benches all over The Netherlands. These kids were waiting on a bench outside a shop in Veere. 


my photo, Veere, Zeeland

Personally I love wooden shoes. Here's my best imaginary friend Miggy at the Kinderdijk.


my photo, Kinderdijk

Miggy says it's best not to get me started on wooden shoes.


my photo, Camp de Muk, Winssen, Gelderland

Yes, 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 near Eindhoven.


my photo, Camping Diesdonk

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.  

is for Mosaic. The Netherlands is just a little bit damp so it's well suited for benches made of mosaic. You'll see them all over the Netherlands. They're called social sofas  www.socialsofa.com/  Social Sofa in Tilburg make a concrete and mosaic living room style outdoor bench, which people can decorate together to create a shared space in their own neighbourhood. Once you know what they are, you'll see them throughout the country tucked into little parks, streets, and playgrounds. Here's a jolly cat sofa at Houthavenplein in Dordrecht. 


my photo, Dordrecht

My cat Meredith approves. She knows that there are plenty more fish in the bench sea zee. 

my photo, Nijmegen

M is also 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 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

While we're talking about numbers, our Dutch version of Scrabble had three Ks, two Zs, and two IJs. There were also 18 Es, far more than in English. 


my photo

Miggy is telling me this has nothing to do with benches. She's right. I'm just showing off the word kunstnijverheid, which is something to do with applied art. I like to think of benches as applied art.

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/



 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.


http://www.flickr.com/people/mr172

P is for provincial. Dutch cities and provincial towns have a wealth of benches along their streets. It's common to see a bench outside every house, as in this street in Zeeland.


My photo, Middelburg

In many of its provinces The Netherlands is still an agricultural country. 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.


my photo, Breda

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. 

And S is for sea, of course. Being a sea-faring nation, the Netherlands has lots of places where you can sit on a bench and stare wistfully out at the sea. Though sometimes, like here in Medemblik, the sea has become a lake. 


my photo, Medemblik

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 2012 Venlo FloriadeTulpi-seats have been planted all over the world. Yes, of course -  their popularity continues to grow.

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 Women, though in Dutch the word for women is vrouwen so maybe that should be V? There is a delightful town in Zeeland called Vrouwenpolder and just along the dyke in Westkapelle I was lucky enough to see a brand new mosaic social sofa celebrating women meeting and working together. 


my photo, bench by http://vrouwenvannu.nl/zuid-holland

W
 is also for Weeribben. On one of the hottest days of summer 2010 Mungo and I cycled through De 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.


My photo, De Weerribben National Park, Drenthe

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

Every year my best friend Miggy and my husband Mungo and I go on a bench-gathering trip. There were plenty of tense tents moments when we ate our way through found the tasty benches of Italy. Another time we got high on benches in the Alps but Greece was a mission impossible. And then there are the benches of St. Helier, and the benches of Las Vegas, where Mungo and I gambled on love. If Irish benches don't tickle the cockles of your heart there are plenty of benches from other countries here on Benchsite. Japan, for example. And a whole fiesta of benches from Mexico. There's also a bench from each of the countries of Europe and a special summer trip desperately looking for benches in Germany, Holland and Poland 

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   There's a whole library of book benches at http://benchsite.blogspot.co.uk/2015/03/world-book-day-dewey-need-library.html  and if that's not enough, you can have a quiet read at on a bench at http://benchsite.blogspot.co.uk/2017/03/a-quiet-read-on-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

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 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

The blue and white bench is in Sint Agathaplain in Delft. It's an Hommage to Gaudi by Dutch artist Marianne Burgers. I saw it under a Creative Commons licence 3.0 at  https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Tiled_benches_in_the_Netherlands#/media/File:Delft_kunstwerk_hommage_aan_audi.jpg

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

I saw the tall school bench on a quiet street in Medemblik, North Holland. OK, it may not actually be a school bench but it looks like one. For an education about school benches see 

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/

I like benches that are unusually big or small or short or tall. For a new perspective on benches see  http://benchsite.blogspot.co.uk/2013/06/big-bench-small-bench-cute-and-tiny.html

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

Dutch and German tourists are very fond of Zeeland in the southern part of Holland. This is old polder land, long ago claimed from the sea, and there are many beautiful historical towns, among them Veere, Vrouwenpolder, and Zandijk. The two children on a bench were outside an artist's studio in Veere.

I have a real thing for Dutch shoes and I'm always delighted when I see people wearing them, which they do when it's wet. And it was wet so I saw quite a few on this trip. This pair were inside the barn of Camping de Muk in Winssen in Gelderland.

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 all sorts 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

Mosaic benches are a common site throughout The Netherlands. They're robust, eye-catching, and lend themselves to any design or theme. People at Social Sofa in Tilburg believe that there should be a bench on every street in the Netherlands. Their crusade is against social isolation and they believe that the quality of life in a neighbourhood is largely determined by the layout and maintenance of the district, and by the sense of community among its residents. They have designed the Social Sofa, a concrete and mosaic living room style outdoor bench, which people can decorate together to create a shared space in their own neighbourhood. Once you know what they are, you'll notice them throughout the country tucked into little parks, streets, and playgrounds.  www.socialsofa.com/


The cat bench shown was next to a fish bench in a small park in Houthavenplein in Dordrecht. The blue fish bench was at Kronenburgsingel in Nijmegen. There are hundreds of others! Gronigen province alone has more than 65 social sofas.

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

Miggy and Mungo and I are fans of Scrabble. When there is nothing else to do, we play Scrabble. In rainy Gees in Drenthe we were lucky enough to find a Dutch version of the game, which has different letters than the English version. There are 18 e's and quite a few zeds and k's and v's that you don't need in English. I have worked hard studying Dutch so I was a bit miffed when Mungo came up with the word kunstnijverheid which, spread entirely across the board and including triple words and double letter scores, adds up to 212 points. But now a sharp-eyed reader has pointed out that the photo shows an L instead of an I at the end of the word. 

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 2011 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. 

Vrouwen van nu are the largest association of women in the Netherlands with over 43,000 members and 550 departments. Their mission is to enhance the Netherlands with the local power of women. I saw their lovely mosaic Vrouwen van nu social bench at Westkapelle in Zeeland. 
http://vrouwenvannu.nl/zuid-holland


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 27 countries in the European Union. Like the alphabet, it should have been easy. But then along came Brexit and everything became more complicated: http://benchsite.blogspot.co.uk/2016/07/a-fine-old-mess-of-british-benches.html