Designing the Surface is an exhibition that focusses on the final layer that separates materials from their surroundings. This layer might be applied by a craftsman or a machine but it can also be the result of the influence of time or the elements. Varnishes, coatings and other forms of surface treatment play an often overlooked but essential role in our experience of objects. After the Steel Age and the Silicon Age, the surface should be the next place to look for an understanding of how materials impact the world around us.

The exhibition is one of the results of the Material Fellowship that I received in 2016. It was developed with the help of exhibition makers Koehorst in t Veld as part of the long-term program The Things and The Materials of the New Institute in Rotterdam. Other results of the Fellowship include The Faux Series and the publication of On the Surface, a collection of five essays written for ‘Interwoven, the fabric of things’

January – August 2017
Het Nieuwe Instituut

Exhibition design by Monadnock Architects

Photo’s © Stijn Bollaert 2017, © Johannes Schwartz 2017