After the success of his “Royal Rip-Offs”, Bas van Beek was commissioned to design the Museum Year Object in 2010 for the National Glass Museum.
For the Museum Year Object, Van Beek delved into the rich history of Leerdam glass. “I have always been intrigued by the aesthetic of pressed glass,” he says. “If you look at what was being done in the late 20s compared to what designers are doing now, it just does not add up. Something strange is going on.”
Holland stopped producing pressed glass 35 years ago although a workshop in Leerdam will still make moulds on request. When Van Beek sent them his design ideas they came back with an estimate of 10 000 euros to produce a mould.
The glass museum couldn’t put up that sort of money so instead Van Beek turned to the Internet and via Alibaba discovered a factory in China that could make him his moulds for two thousand US dollars.
“Online you can find factories that can make any product in any material you want,” Van Beek says. “It is amazing. I did the whole thing via email.”
Not that communicating with Chinese factories via email is an easy task or guarantees the expected results. “Communication is hard and confusing,” he says.
After a long and worrying stretch of silence Van Beek received the following email from “Tom” at the factory: “I did not escape. Do not worry. Aha.”
Despite concerns, however, Van Beek eventually received his samples and says they were “superb.”
“Cup and Paste” is based on some Berlage sketches of a cup and a series of bowls that Van Beek uncovered at the Netherlands Architecture Institute. The sketches were designs for pressed glass objects for the Leerdam Glass Factory, but were never produced.
Using Berlage’s mathematical system, Van Beek used the sketches to design a corresponding saucer – the apparent missing link in Berlage’s glass plan. He then borrowed elements from other iconic designs by Copier and De Bazel to paste together a cup. In the final objects, original Leerdam characteristics exist, albeit with an original and contemporary twist.