Carpenters Workshop Gallery | New York is pleased to present Vanitas of Life, a show of work by Dutch designers The Verhoeven Twins, formerly of the design collective Demakersvan. The exhibition which is their first US solo show with the gallery, will be on view at Carpenters Workshop Gallery’s New York location from November 7th through December 15th. The show foregrounds the pair’s borosilicate glass Bubble works and also features two iterations of their Lectori Salutem Desk in addition to their iconic Cinderella table.
Jeroen and Joep Verhoeven’s Shape of Water collection fuses time-honored symbolism and cutting-edge technology to create a sculpture of startling beauty. The bubble appears throughout art history as an image of transience, most famously in Chardin’s Soap Bubbles (c. 1733-34), which depicts a boy blowing a bubble while another watches. A similarly playful spirit infuses Verhoeven’s Vanitas of Life collection, with its billowing, prismatic glass bubbles that look like they might pop at any moment. The method to make the bubbles emerged only after years of research by the duo. The borosilicate glass is the most stable and clear glass made by man. Master craftsmen, used to work on jewelry precision, work together with robotics to shape the glass to a complex structure that results in an exceptionally strong substance. The Verhoeven Twins have created a unique cultural artefact by transforming a symbol image of brevity into an enduring object.
In addition to its more formal aspects – symbolic nature of the bubble looms large over the Verhoeven Twins’ practice. The twins refer to their working environment as living within a bubble of their own experience — as the two share an estate and a studio. The pair also attempt to capture a youthful like innocence or naivete? through their work; for the artists bubbles come to represent the fragility of life – something of aesthetic beauty but also very temporary. A vanitas is a symbolic work of art showing the transience of life, the futility of pleasure, and the certainty of death, often contrasting symbols of wealth and symbols of ephemerality and death.
The Vanitas of Life works are intended to exist at the intersection of art object and functional sculpture. The twins aim to collapse the abstract into the functional, creating a story that blends elements that society usually separates. The pieces – while whimsical and beautiful also delve deeper to ask existential questions about life, death, and all the possibility bound up within a single moment.
"We respect the old but want the new. We want to challenge, confront the normal, the accepted, the expected. We believe in fusing talented writers, filmmakers, artists, and scientists into a movement that will go beyond ego; that will create a super story teller. As designers we feel not limited to only one category. We work with museums, architecture, furniture and fashion companies, to commercial brands and self-initiated projects. But wherever the starting point is, challenging and beautiful products are always our aim.
Dutch Design is mostly famous for its conceptual, almost art-like status. We are very much Dutch, but apart from that, we also strongly believe that in the end our work should also find a larger audience. That is why we work in a similar way as the Haute Couture fashion world works.
Our studio will take the largest amount of artistic freedom to express valuable concepts, fantastic stories in projects that know no limitations. We use them ourselves as an inspiration and show them as a way to tell our story. On the other hand that same drive can lead to products that find their way in the production line. For the Lace Fence design we set up a social oriented production in India in 2006. We are now able to provide 75 Indian families with health care insurance, pension and a healthy working environment, with the production of Lace Fence.
We love to cross boundaries: between dream and reality, what is today and is about to come. The possibilities to shape the future with the tools of today are endless, we try to use them in their best way. Industrial production is as beautiful and inspiring as craft. We design serial products with the same attention as one-off’s.
We are storytellers, from fantasy to factory, from statement to product."
Verhoeven, Joep & Jeroen (b. 1976: live and work in Amsterdam).
Verhoeven Twins work combines the fantastic with the practical: it is function and form turned into mystical narrative, where the supple feather-light impressions of dreams become objects that we can see, touch and most importantly use in our every-day lives.
The Verhoeven Twins graduated from Eindhoven Design Academy in 2004. Since then, Verhoeven’s work has been exhibited internationally, with recent group exhibitions including Against the Grain: Wood in Contemporary Art, Craft and Design, at the Mind Museum, North Carolina which travelled to the Museum of Arts and Design, New York (2013), New Energy in Design and Art, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam (2011) a solo exhibition The Curious Image, Blain|Southern, London (2011),Telling Tales at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, (2009), Thing: Beware the Material World at Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth (2009), Digitally Mastered: Recent Acquisitions from the Museum’s Collection, Museum of Modern Art, New York City (2007) and Space for your Future, Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo (2007).
Verhoeven’s practice is included in several publications including History of Design: Decorative Arts and Material Culture, 1400-2000 (Yale University Press, New Haven 2013); The Power of Design: Product Innovation in Sustainable Energy Technologies, (Wiley, Chichester 2013); the publication by Glenn Adamson; Invention of Craft, (Berg Publishers, London 2012); 21st Century Design by Marcel Wanders and Marcus Fairs (Carlton Books Ltd, London 2011); Design Dictionary: Perspectives on Design Terminology (Board of International Research in Design) by Michael Erlhoff, Timothy Marshall, Laura Bruce, and Steven Lindberg, Birkhäuser Architecture, (Basel 2008); And Fork: 100 Designers, 10 Curators, 10 Good Designs, by Tom Dixon (Phaidon Press, London 2007) and Gareth William’s The Furniture Machine, (Victoria and Albert Museum London 2006).
Verhoeven’s work is in several public and private collections, including Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth; Brooklyn Museum, New York; Die Neue Sammlung in Munich, The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Centre Pompidou, Paris; and has most recently been acquired by The Corning Museum of Glass.