Looiersgracht 60 is delighted to present ‘Soft Borders’, the first major institutional exhibition by award winning design studio Buro Belén. The exhibition opens on 12 October and runs until 11 November. Established by Amsterdam-based designers Brecht Duijf and Lenneke Langenhuijsen, Buro Belén responds to the overwhelming presence of technology and digital reality in our contemporary lives by creating tangible, tactile objects and installations that are made to be experienced physically. They select materials that they feel a natural affinity towards, both ethically and in terms of their sensory qualities. Through intensive research they combine craftsmanship with the latest scientific discoveries, resulting in unique products with a distinctive aesthetic.
‘Soft Borders’ features commissioned on-site projects, as well as existing works. Rather than focusing on specific works or products, the projects are presented in an associative manner, creating juxtapositions while simultaneously softening the boundaries between materials, colours and disciplines. Responding to the space at Looiersgracht 60, Buro Belén wove their products into the history, architecture and colours of the space. Hanging ‘walls’ made of wool, flax, wood, linen, biopolymers and cotton function as both barriers and entry points both within the gallery and beyond it, on the patio. A site-specific tassel rug was ‘printed’ with an abstracted image of a wall at Looiersgracht 60. It was then tufted in the same colours as the wall it depicts, allowing the rug to blend into the exhibition space.
In addition to these works, a wide range of three-dimensional objects and wearables are on view, exemplifying Buro Belén’s aim to blur the line between objects, their surroundings and the people they are designed for. ‘Vitrines for Thought’, two display cases created especially for this show, interact with the space and its inhabitants. A black case retains its secrets and piques our curiosity while a transparent one reveals its contents - reflecting, distorting and refracting the objects displayed, the person viewing them and their ever-changingg environment.
Other works on view that highlight Buro Belen’s approach are: SUN+ Sunglasses, sunglasses in a range of skin tones that match the skin of their wearer; Soft Borders, a wood and galvanized steel table that is bound together by a rainbow of colours that blend into one another, Body Cloth, a silk wrap printed with a multitude of naked bodies, produced in a number of skin tones, allowing any wearer to use the cloth to blur the boundary between themselves and the garment.
‘Soft Borders’ not only presents a detailed overview of Buro Belén’s practice but also affords visitors the opportunity to look beyond the finished products. In the basement, there are research notes, materials, prototypes, sketches, and samples grouped to reflect six key themes that run through their design practice. Together, the practices displayed downstairs and the works upstairs, present an archive of ideas, inviting discussion and highlighting the importance of the processes developed throughout Buro Belén’s practice. The viewer is invited to enter into Buro Belén’s inner world, where myriad ideas merge seamlessly, challenging us to reconsider the way we understand boundaries.
This show has been curated by Soraya Notoadikusumo and Nadine Snijders, Founders of Looiersgracht 60.