After having worked for several years as an urban planner, Floor Nijdeken (Apeldoorn, 1981) turned to the study of product design at ArtEZ School of Art in Arnhem. Social structure and people’s needs played an important role in Nijdeken’s education; these concepts still figure prominently in the furniture, clothing, and products he has designed since he graduated.
One example is Nijdeken’s 2013 installation Crossover Collective, with its central theme of human interaction. In this installation, a sizeable wooden frame functions as a large table for needlepoint, in which people, who may or may not know each other, sit down to jointly work on a tapestry. Collective engagement in an activity as easy to learn as needlepoint makes conversation unavoidable and offers an opportunity to share tips, know-how, and memories.
Nijdeken’s installation arises from the nostalgic yearning for communities of the past, with their strong social connections, still widely practiced traditional crafts, and valued tangible materials. Many designers, particularly young ones, have recently turned their attention to local trades and traditional handwork. This can be seen as a reaction to the anonymous character of many mass-produced goods.
Crossover Collective was initiated as a campaign to stimulate communication among the elderly, but it found physical form as an embroidery workstation that connects the generations. The installation draws an enthusiastic response, particularly from young visitors. Collective embroidery, it turns out, yields a moment of quiet in a busy world cluttered by unceasing information from phones and tablets. The resulting needlepoint wall hanging, in a pattern designed by Nijdeken exclusively for the Stedelijk Museum, is a silent witness to this social exchange.
Floor Nijdeken is one of the 26 designers and studios that are selected for the group show Dream Out Loud – Designing for Tomorrow’s Demands. The exhibition can be visited from 26 August 2016 in the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. Read more about the exhibition or order tickets.