Coming attraction: a first monograph on Dutch design duo Stefan Scholten and Carole Baijings

Reproducing Scholten & Baijings is the first monograph on the Dutch design duo Stefan Scholten and Carole Baijings. More than a simple survey of the studio’s output, the book thoroughly documents their intensive research and hands-on approach to making as part of an iterative design process. It also examines the relationship between designer and manufacturer through seven case studies, including collaborative projects commissioned by 1616/Arita Japan, MINI, Georg Jensen, and Maharam.

The book is an outgrowth of Blocks and Grid, the first in a series of textiles designed by Scholten & Baijings in collaboration with Maharam. Introduced in June 2014, Blocks and Grid broke with convention as an innovative exploration of modern coloor blocking over an unprecedented 27.5-foot length. It was through this project, says Carole Baijings, that “we found that our way of working is special”—a discovery that prompted Maharam to undertake a visual record of Scholten & Baijings’ unique process with the publisher Phaidon.

Maharam enlisted Joost Grootens, whose studio specializes in the design of books on art, architecture and urban space, with a particular focus on atlases – designing the books and the maps themselves – to design Reproducing Scholten & Baijings. A self-trained graphic designer with a background in architecture, Grootens has a refined ability to codify visual information, which allowed him to systematically document Scholten & Baijings’ archives: sketches, models, prototypes, colour swatches, samples  and finished products. Says Grootens, “The book does not follow the design process chronologically; it does not work towards a final image. With Scholten & Baijings, there are no final images. The process never stops.”

The book reflects Scholten & Baijings’ meticulous attention to detail: a die-cut jacket, neon edging, heightened colours, and dividers of various paper stocks that have been embossed, gradated, spot laminated, or otherwise specially treated. “I try to stay close to the designers and translate their language in the language of the book,” says Grootens.

Abstract images by Scheltens & Abbenes, who have photographed nearly all of Scholten & Baijings’ work over the past 14 years, favour new and surprising perspectives over straightforward documentation. It’s an approach that Scholten & Baijings embrace, according to Maurice Scheltens, because “they are able to understand that someone else can have their own interpretation of the colours, the shapes, the feel of their designs.”

Design critic Louise Schouwenberg contributes insightful analysis along with a thought-provoking dialogue with Michael Maharam on the art of collaboration and the role and responsibilities of a design patron. Says Maharam, “Sadly, design patronage does not exist on the same level as it once did. Design is now a managed process led more by managers than by the entrepreneurs who embraced this activity as a cultural cornerstone, a hobby, a passion, a joy and an investment of themselves and their money in people and things they believed in. To be truly good in the ‘design’ business is to know and appreciate the applied arts; this creates opportunity and lifts the bar universally. Unfortunately, most companies view this as a cost rather than an investment.”

Reproducing Scholten & Baijings will be published by Phaidon on Jan. 26, 2015. It is the third book Maharam has directed in recent years, after Maharam Agenda (Lars Müller, 2011) and Irving Harper: Works In Paper (Skira Rizzoli, 2012). The Irma Boom-designed title, Maharam Stories, a compilation of essays from across the art and design world, will follow in April 2015.

Maharam offers a comprehensive collection of textiles for commercial and residential interiors.

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