Mevrouw T and I have been visiting the area about 30 km west of Amsterdam known as Het Gooi, one of the wealthier parts of the Netherlands. They know a lot about art and design there, and have the money to pay for it.
The Singer Museum in the village of Laren is currently featuring the personal art collection of Gooi resident and fabulously successful Dutch designer Jan des Bouvrie, along with some of the furniture that has earned him an international reputation, and a fortune.
Jan des Bouvrie is probably the most influential of Dutch interior designers. I read that his influence is the reason nearly every house in Holland has white interior walls. The Dutch don’t talk about ‘painting’ the house; they call it ‘witten’ (‘whitening’) the walls.
It’s assumed that all interiors in Dutch houses will be white, to contrast with the colours of the furniture and art. This makes sense, if you consider that most Dutch people live in small spaces and that white walls make them look as big as possible. We’ve succumbed to the fashion too.
This exhibition in the Singer Museum is timed to coincide with des Bouvrie’s seventieth birthday.
At first glance, des Bouvrie’s work looks not much different from furniture available at Ikea, but is far more expensive. Perhaps that’s the point. He invented the style, and everybody else copied it.
He’s spent his money collecting artwork by emerging Dutch artists, and also has a particular interest in modern Asian art, as do we.
The Singer is a small museum, but it has an interesting permanent collection of art, begun by private collectors William and Anna Singer. The sculpture in the Singer Museum’s lovely outdoor garden is a standout.
And when you’ve had enough of art and chairs, there is a pleasant cafe in the garden of the Singer Museum too.