marian bantjes: manicured chairs for droog
marian bantjes: manicured chairs for droog
jul 25, 2010

marian bantjes: manicured chairs for droog

this year, dutch design company droog decided to take advantage of the numerous liquidation items which are put up for auction by the hundreds of companies that go bankrupt in the netherlands each month. the result? ‘saved by droog‘, a project in which droog invited 14 international designers to reconsider the 5135 items they collected as raw material for some creative intervention.

1 of the 80 ‘manicured chairs’

canadian graphic designer and illustrator marian bantjes, was among the designers invited to take part in the project. from the lot, she selected two items: a single wooden table and 80 wooden folding chairs. what did she decide to do with her pieces? her idea was a bit of a wacky one:

‘I had just had my fingernails done in LA for the first time, and I was fascinated with how quickly and nicely the manicurist put designs on my nails. so I proposed to droog that we get 80 manicurists and get one each to decorate a chair. incredibly, they went for it. in the end there were only 4 or 5 manicurists, but still…‘ – marian bantjes

marian bantjes: manicured chairs for droog detail of a chair with a floral motif

the collection of 80 chairs appropriately entitled ‘manicured chairs’, were each painted with a variety of designs. when discussing with the manicurists on what to paint, bantjes outlined a few instructions. in terms of colors, she requested:

bright colours: pink, red, yellow, etc. opaque colours: white or nail polishes with a lot of white in them: light blues, greens, etc. neon colours (a whole chair in neon colours would be cool: it would glow in black light!) metallic colours: the more shiny-metallic they are, the more they will stand out on the dark surface. silver, copper, glitter… that the manicurists can choose a colour ‘theme’ or make the designs multi-coloured.

marian bantjes: manicured chairs for droog manicurist federica painting a pink flower motif onto one of the chairs

regarding motifs, bantjes wanted the designs to be kept simple and easy. she made suggestions of flowers: 3- , 4-, and 5-petaled flowers, or little grasses, stars, abstract things with shapes and dots (which she particularly liked). she also tried to encourage the manicurists to perhaps paint designs that they have become particularly skilled at such as a little butterfly or ladybug. the only premise was to keep the designs small and simple as if they were being painted onto a fingernail…her preference was for the artists to pick one or two little designs and just repeat the it over and over again, covering the surface of the chair. no big design pictures, no scenes or designs that would not fit on a finger nail. that the final outcome should look pretty and delicate.

marian bantjes: manicured chairs for droog up close view of federica painting the flowers onto the chair

‘manicured chairs’ was the first project that bantjes has done in which she was only involved in the concept and not in the actual designing phase:

‘…this is very new for me because I only conceived and gave directions for the work. I know many people work like this but I’ve never done anything before that I haven’t actually put my hands on in some way.(…)”

marian bantjes: manicured chairs for droog view of some of the ‘manicured chairs’

marian bantjes: manicured chairs for droog an up close look at some of the designs

marian bantjes: manicured chairs for droog an up close look at some of the designs

marian bantjes: manicured chairs for droog manicurists patrizia and cinzia working on two of the folding chairs

marian bantjes: manicured chairs for droog production of the ‘manicured chairs’

marian bantjes: manicured chairs for droog a wooden folding chair pre-manicure

see also ‘happy wallet’ by stefan sagmeister and marije vogelzang’s ‘mouth watering spoon’ from the same exhibition ‘saved by droog’.

  • didnt came out as planned :)))
    outcome: nothing was saved.

  • :):):):)

    i can hardly type anything…i laughing so loud…
    this is ridiculous…

  • @Dylan
    I agree with you that in this case branding is quite inevitable. Strictly spoken this chair is a waste product. The alienation of common objects derives from the fact that they were produced for a market and not for consumers in the first place. Droog narrows down the circle of production and consumption in a very human and marxistic way. The meaning and value is a direct result of the effort put into it. It doesn’t really matter what the ornament looks like. It is more important that somebody has been working on it for hours. The King Midas mentality is not to be taken too literally. This exhibition is really not about branding or making plenty of money in the first place. It is about creating value in a devalorised world.

  • Discipline writes:

    “Droog returns some dignity to an otherwise meaningless chair by investing manpower.”

    – – – – – –

    Meaningless chair? Made meaningful how?

    In my opinion, we are looking at meaningless ornament undermining meaningful form and function. “Droog” is branding not meaning. I don’t mean that Droog is not responsible for some of the most meaningful design in the last 30 years, but this is not it. The idea of Droog “returning dignity to an otherwise meaningless chair” is a King Midas mentality.

    Not to say the concept itself isn’t a good one. It is.

    Dylan M.
  • @ Tinus. First of all you have to consider the exhibition ‘saved by droog’ in its entirety which comprises over 5000 items. The idea behind the exhibition is not to create fancy design but to raise awareness of our commodity fetishism which ultimately results in the devalorisation of everyday objects. Droog returns some dignity to an otherwise meaningless chair by investing manpower. In this case the gesture is more important than the outcome. Have a look at ‘daily handkerchief’. It reveals more about the concept than the chair. Believe me, once you really start thinking about it, you will end up liking it.

  • @ discipline
    What do you know about avant garde?
    We did this back in the seventies, because we didn’t have any money to buy new chairs. (talking of financial crisis) Now someone comes up with the idea of letting manicurists re-paint old chairs, sell them for too much money… and you are talking about avant garde?

    What a joke!


  • @Tinus
    well it might be the beginning of the end of design as we know it, but the concept is great and rather avantgarde since it reflects on the financial crisis. Read the concept and think about it for a while before you prematurely ejaculate in the comments section.

  • Too bad… What a lame concept!

    The end of Droog as we know it is near…
    This has nothing to do with design anymore…


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