It was 1993 when for the first time a group of young Dutch designers gathered under the name Droog broke into the FuoriSalone in Milan.
Their projects were direct, essential - hence the name Droog, dry in Dutch - and with a powerful communicative force they spoke of sustainability, when it was still not a fashionable term, and they took charge of political and social issues.
Exactly thirty years after their debut in Milan, from 15 to 23 April, an exhibition at the Triennale - Droog30< /em> - celebrates the collective that has revolutionized the way design is done and understood.
Richard Hutten, one of the founders of the movement, and MariaCristina Didero, curator of the exhibition, tell us a preview of what we will see at the Triennale and why Droog still has a lot to say.
Droog30 is a traveling exhibition that after the Triennale will arrive in May at the Nieuwe Instituut in Rotterdam.
How did the idea of this exhibition come about?
Richard Hutten: “I am very enthusiastic about this exhibition, it will certainly be a milestone.
Maria Cristina Didero is a dear friend of mine, two or maybe three years ago she told me that she wanted to organize an exhibition on Droog, and so we decided to do it in 2023, to celebrate its thirtieth anniversary. It all started in Milan three decades ago, so now is the perfect time to celebrate this anniversary."
Maria Cristina Didero: “Droog was actually founded before 1993, but we wanted to take the crucial presentation of Droog in via Cerva during the FuoriSalone 1993 as a narrative expedient to build this exhibition.
The FuoriSalone thirty years ago was not Droog's first exhibition, but it was the first time this group of Dutch designers came to Milan, and made themselves known to the international public.
1993 was the year of their breakthrough, and also the year the name Droog was chosen."
To create this exhibition, you are collecting testimonials and memories about Droog through social media.
Richard Hutten: “Droog was born thirty years ago, then the world was different, there was no internet, people didn't have cell phones, no social media, they wrote letters to communicate, in a sense it was the age of the stone.
Even Design Week was different, there was a large furniture fair and in the city only a couple of companies were opening their showrooms.
In this totally different landscape, there was a group of young Dutch designers who worked relatively isolated but united by a similar attitude.
What we are doing is the crowdsourcing of opinions, anecdotes, we are collecting on social media any testimony from anyone, according to a very democratic process, just like Droog tried to make design accessible to all".
What are you discovering from the audience's responses posted on Instagram and Twitter?
Richard Hutten: “We are still collecting responses and opinions, so the process is a work-in-progress. We have already received some interesting and personal ones.
For example journalists wrote to us: "Droog inspired me to become a design journalist".
There are many stories related to Droog and we want to collect them and see how strong his influence has been in the past and hopefully still is today."
What will we see on display at the Triennale?
Maria Cristina Didero: “The layout of the exhibition was obviously curated by Richard Hutten. Among the objects we will have Cross, a cross-shaped table and bench designed by Richard Hutten, which communicates precise political, social and religious thoughts.
Furthermore, on display there will be an original film made for the occasion with many interviews with the most important members of Droog who tell their thoughts, their history, their experience, but also what Droog actually is today, because the project also wants to look at the present. It will be a fresh and unpredictable take on Droog."
Richard Hutten: “All the floors and walls will be covered with the messages about Droog that we are collecting on social media, graphically represented as 'an analog social media' because the posts will be printed on paper and put on the wall , partly to playfully allude to the fact that there was no internet thirty years ago.
To select the objects we are basing ourselves on the preferences expressed by the public on social networks.
The printed comments will also serve us to create insights into individual pieces, to reflect on whether our projects are still relevant and what is Droog's influence today”.
Thirty years later, why is Droog still influential and a point of reference for young designers?
Maria Cristina Didero: “Droog is relevant because he has created a new course. With Richard I discovered that during their adventure each member has called Droog in a different way, movement, group, platform, collective, which is a good thing because there is a multiplicity of voices and interconnections .
Students today can certainly relate to Droog, obviously in a different way than in the past because today Droog pieces have become a sort of icon, they are part of the most important permanent collections of museums around the world.
Furthermore, the historical context has also changed: for example, when the Rag chair (the seat of Tejo Remy from 1991 formed by an accumulation of rags, ndr) would probably be received differently today than in the past.
We can say that Renny Ramakers actually theorized the Droog movement while he was establishing himself ”.
Richard Hutten: “When we started in 1993, we immediately showed a different mentality and a different approach to design.
Until then, design was about form, about style, with Droog we added layers of concepts and ideas, which could be sustainability, social issues, we did completely different things from what is been done before, we were totally disruptive because we used terms that are widely used today but didn't exist at the time.
In October I attended the graduations of the Design Academy in Eindhoven, by now you hardly see design as an object for mass production, but storytelling and ideas.
And this is because thirty years ago this crazy group of young designers - the Droogs - broadened the field of design and the role of designers, going beyond just creating shapes"