Dutch glory in downtown New York

21 November 2013

Knots and porcelain beads woven into a ‘world curtain’

It was a Dutch party at the opening of the new North Delegates’ Lounge in the UN headquarters in the centre of New York. The ceremony was performed by Queen Maxima of the Netherlands and Frans Timmermans, the Minister of Foreign Affairs. And there was another royal aspect to it. The porcelain beads used in the curtain designed by Hella Jongerius were immersed in a bath of glaze at Royal Tichelaar in Makkum.

The redesign of the lounge is part of the overall renovation of the UN headquarters. The Netherlands ‘donated’ the design to the UN. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs asked four designers to assemble an interdisciplinary team and to draft a design for the room. Hella Jongerius put together a first-class creative team: the architect Rem Koolhaas (OMA), the artist Gabriel Lester, graphic designer Irma Boom (Irma Boom Office) and design critic Louise Schouwenberg. With this team she won the assignment. Koninklijke Tichelaar Makkum, with which Hella Jongerius has had a creative partnership since 1999, also played a modest part.

Dutch glory
These various creative disciplines came up with an exceptional concept for the new room in which major world figures discuss international affairs in an informal atmosphere. Art, design, architecture and craftsmanship merge together harmoniously. For the generous windows in the lounge, Jongerius designed the Knots and Beads Curtain – an old Dutch tradition.

The ambitious dimensions are not so Dutch: seven metres high by fourteen metres long. The beads are in porcelain, dipped in white glaze using an age-old method. The construction was carried out in Makkum, with the customary dedication of passionate craftsmen, with which this family company earns its reputation. A total of thirty thousand beads had a bath! The cotton cord onto which the beads are threaded to form a light and airy screen is knotted in accordance with old maritime traditions. Pure Dutch glory. The craftsmen from Tichelaar not only made the seven by fourteen-metre curtain, they also installed it in New York.


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