Sunday, 27 July 2014


Located in Staalstraat in Amsterdam, in a 17th century building where 'Staalmeesters' met to sample products of the textile industry, the Droog flagship store is great fun to visit. The Droog Design group is a design collective based in Amsterdam whose work has garnered international fame and to a large extent has defined Dutch design internationally. Founded in 1993 by product designer Gijs Bakker and design historian Renny Ramakers, the brand shares the simplicity of minimalism, but deploys humour - albeit a dry or 'droog' humour: the work is witty, clever and practical. Discarded or unlikely materials are often used to style familiar objects anew and in the process a dry commentary on the too-often all-surface/no substance world of design is delivered.


Rudy Graumans' 85 bulb chandelier, seen through the window, is an inspired example of lateral thinking in design - it's impossible not to smile at the verve with which the designer has transformed an everyday object like a standard light bulb into a spectacular chandelier.

Droog works with independent designers to design and realize products, projects, exhibitions and events.

great form and colours

One more view of the first room in the shop before moving into

the garden which we had not seen before

a small intimate garden with real plants but astro turf for the paths

Droog design seating

and a giant mushroom in the middle

back indoors through a different door


Dutchtub - note the pipes

Tejo Remy's chair, made out of strapped-together rags

Tejo Remy's loosely bundled set of found drawers, randomly stacked on top of each other and tied together with strong cord. Droog says Tejo Remy's chest is a criticism on overproduction and consumerism. His deliberate improvisation is also a protest against the increasing complexity of the design profession. The chest has no fixed form - the drawers can be combined and exchanged at will.

The store is big



another chest of drawers made out of greengrocers' crates this time


the humour, in the form of the spilled coffee in these cups, is evident here.


Friday, 25 July 2014

A fairy tale in an enchanted setting

Vouliagmeni Lake, near Athens.


I have written about the lake in Vouliagmeni before, and you can see the post here where I described the lake and how I feel when I am there, but where I also drew juxtapositions between the lake, which is a lacuna, and Barbara Kingsolver's novel The Lacuna.

Swimming was not the reason for our visit this time, however. We went to see the play Ondine, written by Jean Giraudoux, and performed by the Naan group. When we got there we found out that the play was not going to be performed in the lake itself, but the Small Lake. When I told the official that we did not know the Small Lake existed, he said that no one did, this was the fist time that it had been opened to the public, specifically for this performance.

We sat by the lake and had an early supper. At 9:00 we made our way to the small lake

It's a very small lake, tiny, and this made the whole experience immediate and very intimate

four rows of seating on two sides and the rock majestically rising on the other two

the stage on the right was partially submerged in the water and most of the action happened either on that stage or in the water


we were enchanted the whole time - it was a magical experience. I sat on the edge of my seat and did not want the performance to end.

Very clever lighting


that enhanced the rock

Ondine is a passionate love story.

Auguste and Eugenie are impoverished folk earning a living on the edge of a lake in the Black Forest.

A baby they found at the water's edge when their own child was lost has grown up to become a strangely enchanted creature they have named Ondine (or Little Wave)

Impulsive, frank and filled with wonder, Ondine is a creature of water and air, riding the storm at night, spontaneously performing little feats of magic and driving her aging adoptive parents crazy with her whims and unpredictability.

The arrival of Hans, a knight in shining armour changes all that. Ondine falls in love with him

and despite warnings from her watery friends from the lake's nether regions, she determines to marry him.

Her parents try to make her see sense

 but to no avail

she's head over heels - her face lights up whenever she sees Hans

and she will listen to no one

This ethereal spirit creature crashes headlong into the petty squabbles and paltry deceptions of human affairs.

One can get hurt that way, and she does.

The two worlds don't mix.

Hans betrays her

and she's heartbroken.

Her mentor from the watery deep, known simply as the Old One, furtively monitors Ondine's travails,

finally offering perfect amnesia as the kindest absolution.


I felt privileged being in this very small, intimate, natural space which is a wonder.


A few more shots as we were leaving


This rock is amazing


I wish they would open up the small lake for swimming


and hopefully there will be other productions


You can see here how the stage is partially submerged


Finally, on the way out, the main lake.

A wonderful evening.