Oxidized (2003)

Smeets and Tynagel dancing in front of a series of oxidized metal sculptures they created.

Perished Bench (2006)

One of Studio Job’s signatures is a mastery of ancient craft, as shown in this bench, part of a series on the themes of evolution and death, which uses painstaking inlay techniques that are almost extinct themselves.

Paper Suites (2010)

A hotel interior, tweaked in key places: The furniture is made of wood but finished in paper, a delicate material which belies the solid appearance of the objects. Discomfort and irony feature prominently in their work: Note the barbed wire pillows.

Studio Job Lounge, Groninger Museum (2010)

Belgium, despite its historical religious fervor, is intensely secular today. The common spaces they designed for the Groninger Museum make a modern nod to medieval churches and comment on the culture’s shifting mores: After all, in this museum, design is accorded a sacred place.

The Last Supper, Gospel (2009)

Another totem of Belgian culture, delftware, gets a treatment that is both medieval and modern.

The Birth, Gospel (2009)

A stained glass altarpiece.

Glamour Factory / scenography for Viktor & Rolf defilé, Paris (2010)

Studio Job created the backdrop and staging for a fashion show by Viktor & Rolf, one of fashion’s most experimental brands, dedicated to the theme of heavy industry.

Pouring Jug II (2010)

One of Studio Job’s signature icons, which they have reproduced at a number of scales.

Safe, Robber Baron (2007); Pyramid (2008); Totem of Love (2011)

Totems feature prominently in Studio Job’s work. At left, a safe from their stunning Robber Baron series, which managed to be furniture for rich people that also skewered the rich for their ill-gotten gains. In the middle, a "Pyramid." And at right, another safe from 2011.

Table, Robber Baron (2007)

Another piece from the Robber Baron series.

Globe, Post Craft (2002)

The exhibition shows some of the formative pieces that don’t get much attention, including this globe from 2002, which presaged Studio Job’s preoccupation with heavy, almost primitive forms that hark back to pre-industrial society.

Excavator (2001)

One of Studio Job’s first works also shows an aesthetic that would recur later: An almost cartoonish reduction of objects to their most basic lines.

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Celebrating Studio Job, The Goofy Mavericks Of Design-Art

The daring young designers get their first comprehensive retrospective at the Groninger Museum in the Netherlands.

Antwerp-based Studio Job is one of the strangest, and most exciting, design firms working in Europe today. They have made "Rock Sofas" that resemble giant geodes. They have skewed cabinets to look like reflections in a carnival mirror. They have inlaid tables with skulls and cross bones, a motif they repeated in the cabin of a $455,000 leisure boat. Their taste for whimsical ornamentation and functional ambiguity positions them squarely in the design-art movement that swept the design world (and lined the pockets of the art galleries) last decade.

Now, principals Job Smeets and Nynke Tynagel are, at the ripe old age of 41 and 34, respectively, getting their first comprehensive retrospective at the Groninger Museum, in the Netherlands.

Studio Job & the Groninger Museum features dozens of objects, including early pottery-type containers that could pass for student projects (and maybe were?) and other material experiments, like paper chandeliers. It also exhibits Studio Job’s more monumental work—projects that show design-art at its most outrageous and paradoxical. Take Robber Baron (2007), a suite of five cast-bronze furnishings: a cabinet, a mantel clock, a table, a standing lamp, and a jewel safe. Elaborately detailed and gilded to a T, they were designed to reflect the excesses of 19th-century American tycoons and modern-day Russian oligarchs—while, at the same time, being affordable only to tycoons and oligarchs.

The exhibit opens October 16. More info here.

[Photography: J.-B. Mondino, C. Theurer, R. Kot, M. Aukes, P. Stigter, and M. de Leeuw; courtesy of Studio Job]

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  • JD Willemse

    Image 5: " totem of Belgian culture, delftware...". Delft is a city in Holland. The tradition is Dutch. There are several conflations of Dutch and Belgian culture in this article.