04 August 2015 // Laura de Wit //Amsterdam
A couple of weeks ago I visited an exhibition called Design Derby - The Netherlands -Belgium (1815-2015) held at museum Boijmans van Beuningen in Rotterdam. In this exhibition a comparison is made between Dutch and Belgian design, by presenting artifacts as silver tableware, wooden cabinets, cars as the famous Dutch DAF, household appliances as the Senseo coffee machine, but also fashion design as the Dutch designer Alexander van Slobbe and the Belgian fashion house Maison Martin Margiela. One of the aims for organizing this exhibition is the fact that design from Belgium is a lot less well known than Dutch design. With the exhibition the organizers touch upon this matter by hoping to show how the quality of design from Belgium is equal to Dutch design.
What stood out immediately is that the exhibition is arranged in very fun and playful manner. Instead of, for example, putting the Dutch and Belgian objects next to each other against walls, the objects are organized chronologically alongside a path that visitors have to follow and that leads criss cross through the enormous room. The setup of the exhibition has several elements that refer to an arena in which a match between the Dutch and Belgian designs takes place. When you enter the exhibition room you'll hear the sound of cheering supporters.
Another fun detail is the game that can be played while observing the design artifacts, which nicely adds up to the 'game' sphere that runs through the whole exhibition. The game is called 'My Favorite Design Team' and consists of a small book in which you can collect 23 cards that show a Dutch design on one side and a comparable Belgian design on the other side. The cards can be collected throughout the exhibition and the idea is to choose your favorite design item. On beforehand I was convinced that the Netherlands would win the game, as I am a big fan of Dutch design. Surprisingly enough, my favorite design team turned out to be Belgium!
A very creative detail that I think is worth to point out (see the picture below) is the 'guidance line' that runs throughout the exhibition and that consists of the Dutch and Belgian flag in one.