Studio Maarten Baas, The Shell, 2009.

The New Language of Dutch Art and Design: Respectful of Human Life

Tomoko Take, documentation of HomelessHome Project, 2003.

Tomoko Take, documentation of HomelessHome Project, 2003.

Tomoko Take, Installation view of Catalysis for Life – New Language of Dutch Art & Design, 2010.

Ted Noten, Ted Walk, Installation view of Catalysis for Life – New Language of Dutch Art & Design, 2010.

Maarten Baas, Installation view of Catalysis for Life – New Language of Dutch Art & Design, 2010.

Martijn Engelbregt, Restaurant, Rest (foreground), Installation view of Catalysis for Life – New Language of Dutch Art & Design, 2010.

Martijn Engelbregt, Restaurant, Rest.

Tomoko Take, documentation of HomelessHome Project, 2003.


Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo
4-1-1 Miyoshi
Koto-ku, On Fukagawa Shiroyokan-dori Street
+ 03-5245-4111
Catalysis for Life –
New Language of Dutch Art & Design

October 29, 2010-January 30, 2011

Having first received attention during the 1990s for its avant-garde approach, Dutch design reflected the changing values of the times in which large numbers of people have become uncomfortable with the mass-consumer society, and it is now recognized as the world leader in design trends. It presents a new set of values that are the opposite of the twentieth century concept of design which pursued amenity and functionality.

Often described as conceptual, Dutch design is both affirmative and respectful of human life, it is based on an awareness of contemporary problems, such as the environment and consumption, urban and social systems, and the continuation of history and culture, while questioning our choices for the future. In this exhibition we will feature the work of artists/designers whose work questions the relationship between people and objects or interpersonal communications, such as designers Ted Noten (contemporary jewelry), Maarten Baas (product design), and artists Martijn Engelbregt, and Tomoko Take. Their works can be said to act as a catalyst, bringing about a dynamic chemical transformation in our attitudes to life. Including some of their most recent works, this exhibition presents the latest trends in the essence of Dutch art and design in which the imagination becomes naturally enlarged through the surprise and humor they express.

Born in Amsberg, Germany in 1978, Maarten Baas is a member of the generation of designers that emerged after Droog, etc., and ais recognized as being one of the leaders of Dutch design.

The Catalysis for Life exhibition features about 20 of his works including his 2002 Smoke series, his video series Real Time, 2009, and The Shell, 2009 that he was commissioned to produce for Design Miami.

In June 2002 he graduated at the Design Academy having produced a series of burned furniture called Smoke. His works were nominated for the academy's René Smeets Award and also for the Melkweg Award. They led to an invitation by IKEA to do a week workshop in France and Baas was selected for the prestigious Improvisation Exposition at the Design Academy in Tokyo.

His design Smoke was adopted in the collection of Dutch label MOOOI, of Marcel Wanders. Thanks to successful presentations in Milan, London, and Paris, Smoke became known worldwide. Smoke furniture has been bought by museums and collectors such as Lidewij Edelkoort and Philippe Starck.

The Smoke chandelier was part of the exhibition Brilliant at Victoria & Albert museum in London.

In May 2004 he opened a solo exhibition with New York gallerist Murray Moss. Where There’s Smoke, which showed 25 pieces of furniture, all burned and finished with transparent epoxy. Among other designs there were charcoaled classical pieces in the styles of Gaudi, Eames, Rietveld, Sottsass and the Campana Brothers.

For the new collection of the Groninger Museum, Maarten worked on furniture from the collection of the museum. These were shown during the exhibition Nocturnal Emissions and purchased by the museum.

Also the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam exhibited two of his Smoke pieces in 2005 in an exhibition of pieces purchased by the Stedelijk Museum.

His pieces are all unique and handmade, though produced in series, mostly signed and numbered by Baas. He explores the boundaries of design, without leaning on the regular "do's and don'ts". This way of working became even more clear at the Salone del Mobile in Milan 2005, where he showed his new pieces. Treasure, Hey, chair, be a bookshelf!, and Flatpack Furniture.

In 2005 he also started his collaboration with Bas den Herder, who became responsible for the production of all pieces. The foundation of studio Baas & den Herder made it possible to produce Maartens unique pieces on a larger scale, but yet all hand made in Holland. Assignments came from hotels, restaurants, galleries and museums all over the world.

At the Salone del Mobile in 2006 Maarten launched Clay Furniture, which was considered to be the absolute successor of Smoke and one of the most surprising projects of the fair.

Gallerist Moss presented this collection during the ICFF in New York, and Cibone presented a solo exhibition called Clay & Smoke.

In 2005 Baas collaborated with the design team of Ian Schrager, for the new Gramercy Park Hotel. Maarten Baas supplied Smoke furniture for each room and some Clay pieces and a Smoke billiard table for the lobby. All pieces were hand made in studio Baas & den Herder. In August 2006 the Gramercy Park Hotel opened.

In Milan, in April 2009 Maarten showed Real Time, a series of videos depicting a clock, with actors moving the hands of the clock as time passes.

In 2009 Maarten was named Designer of the Year by Design Miami. During the design fair in Miami, he presented a new piece, commissioned by Design Miami, called The Shell.

Maarten Baas currently lives and works in

Martijn Engelbregt was born in Den Haag in 1972. In his work as an artist/designer, he has produced many communication projects involving the public, including The Service art project for the Dutch Parliament in 2002.

Catalysis presents five playful Engelbregt projects: 3D Form, Restaurant, Rest, Tiny Tokyo Monument, Counterscript, and Neighbourshop, a project designed to deepen ties with one's neghbors.

Martijn Engelbregt has been described as a procedural artist. As founder of EGBG – Engelbregt Gegevens Beheer Groep (Engelbregt Data Management Group) – he designs institutes, forms, surveys, and procedures. His absurdist projects offer an ironic perspective on a sometimes Kafkaesque world.

Engelbregt studied graphic design at the Utrecht School of the Arts, graduating cum laude in 1996. During his first year, he began collecting forms, initially because he was intrigued by their graphic appearance. But soon he became even more interested in the question as to why and how people fill in these forms. “When I began experimenting with forms, my main aim was to post a warning: beware to whom you give information!” he told a newspaper. “But now I too am keen to collect data, although I handle it differently than the outside world.”

Soon after his graduation, Engelbregt made a name for himself by publishing a Counterscript against unsolicited calls from telemarketers. Some years later, EGBG caused commotion by sending out official looking forms to 200.608 households in Amsterdam, asking tenants to register any illegal immigrants they might know. The main aim of the project was to discover how people would react. “It’s art in the form of a research,” says Engelbregt.

In 2002, he established The Service, located in an office in the Dutch Parliament, to research the possibilities of combining art and democracy. The findings were published in the hilarious Sevice Catalogue – This is the Netherlands.

Born in Tegelen in 1956, Ted Noten is a leader in the field of conceptual Dutch contemporary jewelry. Not limiting himself to the use of precious metals as raw material, he has received significant attention in the design field, winning the Françoise van den Bosch in 2008.

Noten has has worked as a bricklayer, a nurse in a psychiatric hospital and a traveller prior to studying at the Academy for Applied Arts in Maastricht, the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam and becoming a senior Research Fellow at the School of Jewellery at Birmingham City University, England. Noten is now an internationally renowned Amsterdam-based jewellery designer whose work has been exhibited and purchased for public and private collections all over the world, including at the Museum for Arts and Design of NYC, Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art (MIMA), Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, the Victoria and Albert Museum, Stedelijk Museum ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Museum Boijmans van Beuningen in Rotterdam and Gallery Deux Poissons in Tokyo, amongst others.

He has also been awarded with the Harrie Tillie Award from the Amsterdam Fund of the Arts in 2003 and his Tiara design for Dutch Crown princes Maxima won the first prize in 2002. In 2006 his monograph CH2=C(CH3)C(=O)OCH3 and other TNs published by 010 won Best Dutch Book Designs. Since 2005, Atelier Ted Noten has extended its exclusive jewellery creations towards design projects, installations and commissions for both private collectors, cultural organisations and art institutions.

The exhibition features an installation called Ted Walk, in which 12 of his best-known pieces of jewelry presented on a fashion-show catwalk, and also a projec created specially for the exhibiton called, Wanna swap your ring? that questions the meaning of jewelry.

Tomoko Take was born in Osaka in 1970. Currently based in the Netherlands, she produces projects throughout Europe featuring workshops or performances based on the "necessities of life" (food, clothing, and shelter), that aim to promote communication between people. Her HomelessHome project, that she first produced in Amsterdam in 2003 and since throughout Europe, was inspired by the question "what does home mean to me?" that occurred to her upon hearing the word "homeless." In this exhibition she presents past video works and fashion items produced at workshops connected with the project as well as a new video work featuring the making of a performance/workshop here in Japan.

After graduation from Kyoto City University of Arts (MFA) in 1997, Take was invited to Rijksakademie van beeldende Kunsted for two years. In 1997, she started her Dutch wife / Dutch life Project, and in 1998, she started her Chiko & Toko Project in collaboration with artist Chikako Watanabe. Take won the Uriot Prize for the two projects.

In 2003 Take's HomelessHome Project won the Dutch state prize Prix de Rome (art and public space).

She is actively collaborating with different creators in the fields of art, design, fashion design, and music.


Atelier Ted Noten, Lyppen’s bag, 2005, Collection of J. Lyppen, Photo: Ted Noten.