Sunday, May 11, 2014


reporter: Miguel Dominguez
biography: Hans den Hartog Jager
archival images:

Aldo Bakker with two of his 'Tonus' stools

On May 10th, the exhibition ‘Aldo Bakker & the European masters’ opens at Atelier Courbet, New York. On show are new editions of the Tonus in urushi, oak and bronze, a new silver pourer, and other recent works.

Aldo Bakker is a designer that battles the spirit of the time. Nearly all his designs are remarkable for their defiant refusal to be classified by time or fashion. Those who see Bakker’s designs for the first time, often wonder what their purpose is. Brought up as the son of designers Gijs Bakker and Emmy van Leersum, he decided against following the traditional way of education and instead has sought out his own strengths.

Water carafe

Oil can, vinegar flask, salt cellar

Silver salt cellar

Stackable oil platters

Soy Sauce pourer

Pose bench

Bakker rarely starts a design from the desire to solve a practical problem. In fact, though Bakker may unmistakably be a designer, his interest in functionality only comes in at the latest stage. His objects nearly always originate from the fascination for a form. Bakker looks, sketches, and draws and in this way he researches whether a form can be transformed into an object – or rather, an image. At this stage, the logic and beauty of the form are more important to Bakker than an actual function. His fascinations in this process are akin to the ideas of artists such as Cézanne and Brancusi, who tried to distill a mountain, a plate of apples or a head down to their (geometrical) essence. Bakker does the same. However, in his research he is also seeking whether a new combination of such forms could lead to new objects, and new ways of use.

Pivot flask with vertical lid

Why does a pitcher always have an opening at the top or side? Why are salt and sugar always in opaque containers that obscure the amount you are going to sprinkle? This transforms a salt shaker into a spoon, containing the salt in the broadened grip.

Anura stool

As a result of de- and reconstruction, many people do not recognize the function of Bakker’s designs at first – sometimes Bakker seems to produce designs that have yet to find a use. This makes them intriguing, for they seem very logical and ordinary at the same time, as if, in spite of their oddity, they feel at home in the world. In Bakker’s work, pouring, drinking, sprinkling, sitting, are no longer acts one mindlessly carries out. Through their form and material, his designs seem to tempt users to approach their function in a different way, to perform all these everyday casual acts with renewed attention and concentration. In this way, the Tonus and Candle Dome look like wigs or hairstyles. Bakker is a designer that does not want to help his audience but rather challenges them – making the comparison to Brancusi not so odd after all.

Minimalistic candle holder

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