I’m so excited… and I just can’t hide it! Just like everything in life, OBJECT Rotterdam comes roaring back this summer after an unfortunate delay due to you-know-what. I’m not exaggerating if I say that OBJECT is my favorite design event of the year. It’s cutting edge, compact and gives a perfect overview of the newest Dutch Design on offer. Milan and Eindhoven, eat your hearts out! To get in the mood for the first summer edition of OBJECT, I chatted with curator and good friend Anne van der Zwaag.
You can visit OBJECT Rotterdam 2021 between July 1 and July 4 at the HAKA building in Rotterdam. Order your tickets online right here.
Anne van der Zwaag as I photographed her in her Utrecht home a while ago
OBJECT Rotterdam comes roaring back – an interview with curator Anne van der Zwaag
So, Anne…how would you explain OBJECT Rotterdam to someone who may have seen the posters around town but doesn’t really know what it is?
OBJECT Rotterdam is not your average fair. It’s a design platform where you can see everything from product design and industrial design to fashion, jewelry, graphic design and architecture. We don’t use sterile white booths, but always choose an iconic location for our event. Just like the last edition, we’re at the beautiful HAKA building in the western part of Rotterdam. That in itself is enough reason to come and take a look, it is such an historic industrial monument.
I like to think of OBJECT as a journey of discovery past a mix of colors and materials. What makes OBJECT Rotterdam special, is that we bring together both up and coming designers and more established names. It’s definitely an experience – and what’s even better: everything is for sale.
I’ve always wondered how much people actually buy at OBJECT Rotterdam!
A lot, I can tell you – and that’s what makes OBJECT Rotterdam always such an important platform for young designers. I always tell designers to create a mix. On the one hand, they need smaller, more affordable objects between say 50 to 150 euros that people can snap up during the exhibition. But on the other hand, there are also more expensive collectors’ items.
You also organize an exhibition called BIG ART – and it was such a challenge last summer to make it all happen during the pandemic! How did things go with OBJECT Rotterdam?
To be honest, things were just as hectic and unpredictable. First, we had to move from February to July. It was a huge challenge to make everything work. You see, the HAKA building isn’t a standard exhibition location and so we had to make all the arrangements ourselves: permits, fire safety and of course social distancing is now extra important. But I’m proud to tell you now, we’re ready!
OBJECT is known for its spectacular locations: the one at the top of Rem Koolhaas’ De Rotterdam building was amazing. And then there were three editions on the SS Rotterdam passenger ship, of course. I remember you said after last year’s OBJECT, you said that it was going to be the last one at the HAKA Building.
The work of Jelmer Konjo – definitely one of my favorites at last year’s edition of OBJECT Rotterdam
I have to say I’m happy that the owners of the HAKA Building could host us one more time. Because it’s such a monumental building, all the preparations for its restoration are taking more time than expected – especially after last year. Of course, that’s a pity for them. For us, however, it’s a big advantage since it’s a huge space where social distancing is not going to be a challenge. That being said, I have some very fond memories of the SS Rotterdam. It was so special to work on such a beautifully restored ship from the 1950’s. Totally unique!
What I also love is that people from out of town can visit both OBJECT Rotterdam and ART Rotterdam in one single day!
Absolutely – although at OBJECT, we draw a much younger audience. The vibe is a lot more rock and roll. I’d like to think that young people today are tomorrow’s collectors. I also love how there’s a new generation of creatives who do a lot of crossovers. There are architects who design furniture and designers who create art. For designers nowadays, staying in your lane is a thing of the past.
What future do you see for OBJECT Rotterdam?
I’ve been organizing OBJECT for nine years now. When I started, there were 20 participants. We’re now at well over a hundred designers. So many people count on our platform now, it feels like a huge responsibility – especially this year! Very few designers had the opportunity to present their work last year and now they finally can.
I’m pretty sure visitors can’t wait either after the cultural drought that was last year!
I think so, too. But the lockdown has also taught us the importance of good interior design. Your home has become your office, your meeting place – so much more than what it used to be. I see an enormous increase in demand for interior design objects. Bringing together supply and demand is now more urgent than ever before.
Are there specific designers to look out for this year at OBJECT Rotterdam?
That’s always such a tough question. I ask designers to participate for a reason. Without exception, they’re all good, special and original in their own way. That being said, there are two designers I’d like to mention who work on the cusp between design and art. Diederik Schneemann uses old materials in new pieces. He’s created this huge chandelier out of discarded perfume bottles, for instance.
I recently visited his studio – totally awesome! I can’t wait to see what he’s going to show at OBJECT.
Crazy, right? But if I were you, I’d also check out artist Andrea Radai. She’s created this beautiful installation made of painted bathroom mirrors that provide you an intimate peek in people’s private lives. Each mirror is unique. And what’s even better, they’re all for sale at very reasonable prices. I think Andrea Radai’s work taps into what we’ve all felt. We were all locked up in our own little world, wondering what everyone else was up to.
One final thing before you have to run: I understand you can buy your tickets online?
That’s right and you can even reserve a timeslot! We want to be able to spread all our visitors as evenly as possible. But if you prefer, you can still buy your ticket at the door as well. And another first: we have an outdoor terrace that is run by the guys from the nearby Keilecafé. Perfect if you want to enjoy a delicious Kaapse Brouwers beer after the show!