No retrospective of polished ‘showroom products’, but a gallery filled with ideas. Bertjan Pot’s raw design process is on view in Rotterdam this summer. Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen is showing masks, lampshades and other textile works made using a principle essential to textiles: the repetition of a small element to create a larger whole.
In preparation for this exhibition, Bertjan Pot (1975) refused all commissions for a year so that he could work in complete freedom. He tinkered with projects he’d put on the back burner and developed new ideas that arose in the process, without expectations and with lots of surprising results. In ‘Hot Glue’, an exhibition for Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, he looks to the future, not the past. His design process is made visible through numerous tests and try-outs, some of which are the source of new products. Pot set to work with rope, tape, yarn, set squares, plastic spoons, beads, plastic bags and hot glue. Lots of hot glue. Pot: ‘I was always good at making models, and I think it’s a shame that a design career sometimes means a shift from being a maker to being a manager. In this exhibition, I’m definitely a maker.’ ‘Hot Glue’ is displayed in three galleries.
Bertjan Pot studied at the Design Academy Eindhoven in the Man & Identity department, in which textiles played a large role. After graduating, he established his own studio and has subsequently designed numerous celebrated products for the home, including the ‘Random Light’ and ‘Random Chair’, the ‘Stairway to Heaven’ lighting, and his ongoing series of masks.
For Pot, the design process almost always begins with the inherent characteristics of a particular material or production technique. Often it’s a small discovery: a stitch, a knot or another way of combining things. Repeating this action results in an object. This principle, which is also at the basis of textile production, is a recurring theme in Pot’s work. He readily admits that his approach is often opportunistic: it’s about getting the best out of the selected materials and production techniques. His aim is to create an end product that is greater than the sum of its parts. It must amount to a valuable thing, no matter how simple or awkward its construction and no matter how cheap or ugly the raw materials.
Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen has 23 works by Bertjan Pot in its permanent collection, five of which are currently on display.