As of 1 January 2021, Het Nieuwe Instituut is a heritage institution. To underline this role, the institute is developing a multi-year exhibition: Designing the Social, based partly on the architecture collection. This event offers a behind-the-scenes look at the research, and a chance to join the discussion.
Designing the Social focuses on idiosyncratic, socially driven ideas about living together that have been put into practice in the Netherlands over the past 100 years. The case studies presented were the initiatives of smaller networks, rather than the mainstream. In some instances, they were designed out of idealism; in others, they were the result of pure necessity. These alternative design strategies sought to adhere to specific ideals and meet specific needs. Above all, they aimed at creating an equal society based on social values. Together, they demonstrate that the idea of “the social”, and what is considered “good”, are not universal norms, but concepts that are constantly being explored and reshaped.
The exhibition consists of a growing number of “rooms” that depict different scenes from this history, such as the squatters’ movement, feminist design practices and the construction of the digital city. The base material comes from the National Collection for Dutch Architecture and Urban Planning and archives from the Network Archives Design and Digital Cultures. The stories from these archives are told in collaboration with various designers and the public.
This edition of TNL! In the Works examines three cases. We will discuss their historical context, their chosen design strategies and their significance today. We welcome suggestions for additional materials!
Stichting Werkgemeenschappen Bergeijk
with Hetty Berens and Rudy Guedj
The Stichting Werkgemeenschappen Bergeijk (Bergejk Cooperative) was founded in the early twentieth century as an agricultural colony and weaving mill that aimed to create a ‘different and better’ society. The resulting textile factory De Ploeg worked with Gerrit Rietveld, Mien Ruys, the architecture groups De 8 and Opbouw, and Goed Wonen. In the 1960s, the Stichting Werkgemeenschappen Bergeijk organised high-profile architecture conferences.
with Setareh Noorani and Tabea Nixdorff
This case explores the neglected herstories and design strategies of Dutch networks and movements during the second wave of feminism (1965-1985). These strategies focused on an intersectional approach to feminist activism in the design field, merging the personal with the political. Accounts of these efforts are even more important today, not as a temporary rethink, but as a continuation of the ongoing struggles of those who identify as women, non-binary, trans, and/or queer.
De Digitale Stad
with Marleen Stikker and Simone Niquille
De Digitale Stad (The Digital City), launched by De Balie and the computer magazine Hack-Tic in 1994, was the first online community in the Netherlands. It employed the metaphor of the city to visualise the then largely unfamiliar concept of cyberspace. Users could create their own houses, email from the post office or chat in the cafe. De Digitale Stad went offline in 2001. The Amsterdam Museum, with Waag, the University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision and the National Coalition on Digital Sustainability have ‘excavated’ De Digitale Stad to preserve it as an important element of the nation’s digital heritage.
The base material of this exhibition comes from the National Collection for Dutch Architecture and Urban Planning and is made possible by the project Disclosing Architecture. For this exhibition Het Nieuwe Instituut is also collaborating with other archives, among which the Network Archives Design and Digital Culture.
With a practice that spans over a variety of mediums ranging from book and exhibition design to drawing, writing or installation, Rudy Guedj (b. 1988, France) explores the associative processes that often lie behind the construction of narratives. Next to his work as a graphic designer, he publishes books under the imprint Building Fictions. This publishing project sets out to explore ‘building’ as a methodology, with the intent to highlight the potential of storytelling within practices at the intersection of art, design, architecture, literature.
Hetty Berens is an architecture historian and a curator at Het Nieuwe Instituut and Sonneveld House. She is responsible for acquisitions and collections research. She also curates exhibitions, writes and lectures. She curated the presentation Simultaneous Modernism in Sonneveld House and curated an exhibition about De Stijl in Gemeentemuseum Den Haag with works from the collection of Het Nieuwe Instituut.
Tabea Nixdorff’s practice involves writing, book design, publishing, reading performances and collaborative learning. Trained in typography, her works often explore margins—both as a social and medial locality—and in voicing and highlighting gendered absences and omissions in established Western historic narratives. In both her independent and collaborative projects, research and archives play an essential role; taking ephemeral material culture as an entry point to explore new methods of knowledge sharing.
Setareh Noorani is an architect, researcher, zinester, and part of experimental music collective Zenevloed. In her projects and creative involvements, she uses various media to explore ways of unfolding and embodying, questioning processes of trauma and time, always in the grey space between academic and artistic research. Her current research at Het Nieuwe Instituut focuses on qualitative, paradigm-shifting notions of decoloniality, feminisms, queer ecologies, agencies (non-institutional, non-authorship), and implications of the collective, more-than-human body in architecture, its heritage and its multivocal futures, as part of the new project Collecting Otherwise and the cross-institutional The Critical Visitor.
Marleen Stikker (b. 1962) is founder of Waag and 'De Digitale Stad' (The Digital City) (1993), the first virtual community introducing free public access to the Internet in Amsterdam. She leads Waag, a social enterprise that consists of a research institute for creative technologies and social innovation and Waag Products, that launched companies like Fairphone, the first fair smartphone in the world. She is also member of the European H2020 Commission High-level Expert Group for SRIA on innovating Cities/DGResearch and the Dutch AcTI academy for technology & innovation.
Simone C. Niquille
Simone C. Niquille is a Swiss designer and researcher. Her practice Technoflesh investigates the representation of identity without a body, the digitisation of biomass and the increasingly omnipresent optic gaze of everyday objects. She received a BFA in Graphic Design from Rhode Island School of Design in Providence USA in 2010 and graduated with a Masters in Visual Strategies from the Sandberg Institute Amsterdam in 2013. She is part of design research collective Space Caviar and Tutor at the Architectural Association London.
TNL! In the Works
Take a look behind-the-scenes at Het Nieuwe Instituut and think along with research, exhibitions and programmes that are currently in the works.