Design collection of Groninger straw, clay, algae and bamboo

Design collection of Groninger straw, clay, algae and bamboo
10 June 2021 Bertine Aalderen, van

Upon entering the library in Leens, immediately to the right of the entrance, you will see a large round table surrounded by six special stools. They are made from raw materials from the Wadden area. The product designers were inspired by various elements from the region; the material, the people, cultural history and the landscape.

‘This collection shows that Groningen has a lot to offer. Six product designers have been inspired by the ‘gold’ of the Groningen country.’ – says Eileen Blackmore of House of Design.

Lokale Maakpaats tafel en krukken voor Leens

The collection was specially made for the library in Leens. Ilona Ebels of Biblionet Groningen explains: ‘At the beginning of 2020, our library moved to the town hall in Leens. A beautiful, central place where we let the library grow into a platform and podium, where meeting, learning and discovering are central. How wonderful is it that this collaboration enables us to tell the story of the local production process and show it with this collection!’

Straw, algae and bamboo
The stools by Studio Simone Vermaning and Studio Volop (Volken de Vlas and Gerard de Hoop) are made of straw, incorporating visual elements from the landscape. In addition to straw, Volop has also used algae in one of the stools. Paul Bloemers from Bloooms has made a stool from bamboo, whereby bamboo is pressed into sheet material and is also used as decoration.

Clay and digital tools
Ceramicist Wybren Veenstra has a stool made of clay, glazed with yogurt and milk. This has created a special colour gradient. Wybren was inspired by the cracked dry clay crust when designing the shape.

Studio Marc’s research focuses on the application of digital tools such as 3D printing and laser cutting in combination with clay. His stool is made of clay and wood, with a height map of the salt marsh at Uithuizen incorporated on the seat.

The table was designed by Gerard de Hoop and made by Werkplein Ability in Uithuizen. The base is made of iron and the table top is made of glass. Under the glass plate, you can see the experiments with the raw materials and semi-finished products. This gives visitors an insight into the material research and production process.

Local suppliers
The raw materials used to make the stools are supplied by local parties. The straw comes from the cooperative De Graanrepublic in Bad Nieuweschans, the algae is supplied by Omega Green from the Eemshaven, the seaweed comes from the fishermen of Solt in Zoutkamp and the clay from the Kleirijperij in Delfzijl and from Strating in Oude Pekela.

The bamboo plates that have been used come from outside the region. Bamboo is grown in the area in Kloosterburen, but it could not yet be used as sheet material for the project. However, it could be used as decoration. The research into processing the Groningen bamboo for products is still ongoing.

‘The six stools are exemplary products, showing what is possible with the material and ultimately allowing us to set up or scale up local production – with local craftsmen who are proud of their region.’ – says Eileen Blackmore.

The stools and table are part of the project Lokale Maakplaats (Local Making Place) and were created with financial support from Biblionet Noord and the creative voucher from Kunst & Cultuur.

Photography: Janna Bathoorn.