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Design: New Twists on Dutch Tradition

Courtesy of Zuiderzee Museum

Photo: Courtesy of Zuiderzee Museum

“It’s part of the philosophy of Dutch design to take an object and give it a new meaning, a new life,” says Erik Schilp, director since 2006 of the Zuiderzee Museum, a suddenly hip monument to a vanished Dutch past about 45 minutes north of Amsterdam (12-22 Wierdijk, Enkhuizen, Netherlands; 31-228/351-111; zuiderzeemuseum.nl). Created in 1948 on the edge of what was once the Zuider Zee, or South Sea, and spread across 37 acres and some 200 buildings in Enkhuizen, this picture-perfect re-creation of a centuries-old fishing village, complete with ruddy-faced actresses strolling by in lace caps and clog-shod men smoking herring outdoors, is undergoing a radical transformation in Schilp’s hands.

Stroll into a 19th-century farmhouse and you’ll now find an art installation by Studio Job, whose principals, Job Smeets and Nynke Tynagel, have recast everyday rural implements—a bucket, a pitchfork—in gleaming bronze. Or wander through the museum proper (in buildings once belonging to the Dutch East India Company) and you might see looks by Viktor & Rolf inspired by traditional Dutch costumes, or Alexander van Slobbe’s reinterpretations of seafaring men’s wear, or 17th-century porcelain tulip pyramids reimagined by the likes of Jurgen Bey and Hella Jongerius.

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