Maurice Mentjens

Photography: M. Pluim


Arnout Visser is a versatile designer. His creations range from vases to bicycles, from table lamps to tile series. Among his most famous works are his Fruit on Wheels, the functional tile programme DTILES, and his ingenious oil and vinegar set Salad Sunrise, in which the liquids float one on top of the other in the same cylindrical container. Visser is a true inventor, often taking the principles of physics as his starting point. Many of his objects seem to lie at the boundary between autonomous art, scientific experiment, and industrial design. In catalogues, his works are called 'idiosyncratic'. His oeuvre is unorthodox, reflecting the fact that he himself is equal parts designer and artist. He calls himself a 'form-finder'. He is a researcher with an irrepressible love for the flexible medium of glass. Over the years, he has produced a kaleidoscope of tableware, home accessories, and lighting fixtures in this medium. For his flower vases, optical glasses, carafes, fruit bowls, candlesticks, lamps, and even glass bricks, he uses clear glass, coloured glass, new or reused glass, and especially 'bush glass' - temperamental, repeatedly-recycled glass reclaimed from discarded objects. Collaboration with glass-blowers and artisans is crucial to bringing his raw sketches to life, and this collaboration has taken him all over the world, from the Netherlands to the Czech Republic and from Kenya to countries in Asia.

Chamber of wonders

Maurice Mentjens and Arnout Visser have been friends for nearly a quarter of a century. Mentjens frequently visited Visser's apartment in Milan and his studio in Arnhem. Both spaces are filled with objects. Shelves and cases are everywhere, all of them filled to the brim with new designs, prototypes and models, materials, unusual objects, strange machines and tools, stacks of books, magazines, sketches, and calculations. This unique world looks like a fictitious alchemist's laboratory or an inventor's collection of curiosities - it can truly be called a decorative chamber of wonders. This amazing experience was a source of inspiration for Mentjens when he planned Visser's overview exhibition in the MMKA (held in 2013).

Exhibition design

The design of the exhibition is intended to reflect the feeling of Visser's search for ultimate beauty and to capture the memory of the rich ideas in the treasure troves that are his workplaces: mysterious, secretive, almost intangible. For this reason, long wooden shelves were used in the MMKA exhibition to display the hundreds of objects which Arnout Visser has designed or created over the years, to give the feeling that you are visiting the breeding ground of his creativity. The objects in their final form are located at eye level, and above them are his prototypes, experiments, and the souvenir-like bric-à-brac that he has collected on his extensive travels. The explanatory texts are written directly on the shelves in pencil, just as they would be if an alchemist had hastily scribbled them in his cluttered laboratory. In the flared ends of the open racks, glass 'video heads' invite you to take a closer look inside. Inside these 'video heads' the artist himself talks about his working methods, experiments, and final results.

Garden archway

Together, the two long, parallel racks create the illusion of a rambling hallway dissecting the exhibition space. The dimmed lighting casts a magical glow on the primarily glass objects. This diffuse glow is reminiscent of a semi-enclosed garden archway, the leafy, shadowy covered pathway that was so popular in baroque gardens, offering furtive glimpses of the life beyond it through its twinkling foliage. In the exposition, this is given shape through a number of pedestals covered in the iconic DTILES. These pedestals house the most special objects, with information about the remarkable stories of their creation. Walking through the archway, you also experience the current themes of Visser's work: the intrinsic artisanship in the Czech Republic, social design and recycling in Kenya, the Droog Design concept, Visser's ambivalent relationship with mass production in China and Vietnam, his experiments in the Dutch city of Leerdam, and his one-off projects. His work represents the booty of a 'glass pirate,' an independent spirit following its own creative master plan - idealistic and enthusiastic.

CV Arnout Visser (born in 1962 in Middelburg, the Netherlands) lives and works in the Dutch city of Arnhem. He has won a great many international awards for his work. His pieces have been purchased by the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City and the Museum for Modern Art in Arnhem, among other distinguished customers.

MATERIAL: Shelves of black-stained wood. Hollow stands and racks with cable channels.

25 August 2013 to 17 November 2013


Maurice Mentjens
Martinusstraat 20

P +31 (0)46 481 14 05
KvK 14044737
Provincie Limburg
design & development: Atelier Fabien

Maurice Mentjens