Modern space, museum content

Leeuwarden, The Netherlands – A hundred year birthday has been the initiation of a redesign and renovation of the Princessehof National Museum of Ceramics. The grandiose 1693 building has been reinterpreted for the contemporary experience as part of a dynamic new approach to ceramics that has overtaken the design world of late. Representing a move away from the intangibilities of the digital age, ceramics have seen an unprecedented surge in popularity – with new representations in ceramic design introducing younger generations to the potential for new expressions in this traditional craft, as has been investigated in Tom Morris’s book New Wave Clay.

The redesign of the Princessehof ground floor was headed by Amsterdam-based i29 with the help of communications agency The Ambassadors of Aesthetics. The entrance hall, restaurant, museum shop and exhibition spaces have been redesigned to update the way in which exhibits are positioned within the space. The space for hospitality and retail in particular has been transformed into a white interior flooded with light, where bright coloured shelving has been installed as a vehicle for modernization. The museum shop introduces a scheme of light greys with a central table for merchandise.

In the newly redesigned exhibition spaces, the walls have been engaged as mediators of context. The main museum space has hand-painted wallpaper that seems an effortless extension of both the building’s classic traditional styling and the objects on display. In contrast, a black metal grid system is placed in the centre of the room, standing in seeming opposition to the opulence. This system of framing is used succinctly throughout the redesign, showing up as a mode of connection between the spaces. The exhibition area designated for objects of mass production is composed of a tunnel of stacked white boxes, while the objects of the Art Deco and Art Nouveau periods are arranged amongst the reoccurring grid system set in a darkened room. The visual repetition ensures that the focus is on the details and the relationships between the various items.

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