Studio Wessels Boer

Marjet Wessels Boer started her design studio in 2001 after graduating from the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam. Initially she created innovative design pieces, and then moved towards works in public space. She animates public spaces with objects or sculptural interventions that make you feel at home, connect you to your surroundings and inspire curiosity. Her work is often integrated into the existing architecture or the infrastructure of a space and brings about a bridge between the public and private.

“Once the street was the extension of the private domain and it was regarded as a person’s own territory. From the Middle Ages on, the construction of sidewalks, front gardens, gazebo’s and balconies established a diffuse transition between the public and private sphere.

In our modern, urban architecture these transitional zones are disappearing; the public area is constructed in such a uniform and neutral way that there is little room for personal and visually engaging details. Hanging laundry, garden-gnomes and front gardens have disappeared. Formally individualized streets are becoming transit zones and even public squares are no longer places to spend time. Because of this lack of welcoming, moving and revealing characteristics, places become anonymous and make you feel lonely. This absence is a starting point in my work.

I want to animate public places with objects or interventions that welcome you, keep you company and make you feel at home. I like to make the public sphere more personal and intimate and reconnect physical places to people and people to people.

Places have hidden needs and desires which I like to discover and fulfil. After many years of product and furniture design, the public space is like coming home. I no longer design loose objects, rather I let the object become part of and enhance a place. That’s why I often integrate my work into architecture or infrastructure (like the shadow-floor, street-carpet or double glazing).

Public work requires interaction with the audience and this discussion forms my work. Residents give me clues and explanations. In addition to a lot of listening and observing, when the context demands it, I create a format to integrate the personal contributions of users. I like to use depictions of recognisable objects that raise questions about the people who inhabit the spaces I work in (such as an exercise bike, baptismal candles or Indonesian shadow puppet).

Although I want my work to be accessible for a diverse group of people, my intent is to bring about an intimate relationship. I seek the undefined spaces between public and personal, and try to find the right balance between open and intimate. By offering multiple, consciously arranged perspectives, I would like to stimulate the imagination of the user and expand his or her ideas about the possibilities and meanings of the site.”

Marjet Wessels Boer

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