понеделник, 2 юни 2008 г.

MGH2O boutique

The MGH2O boutique in Rotterdam by Richard Hutten may be constructed to appear casual to the core, but the merchandise is very much haute couture.

Margreeth Olsthoorn started out with a shop stocked with second-hand furniture, to which she eventually added second-hand clothes. After deciding to sell new apparel as well, she dropped the furniture to concentrate solely on fashions. Three years after Richard Hutten gave Olsthoorn’s Rotterdam boutique a face-lift, helping her to build up a clientele of regular customers, she felt it was time to separate the sexes. Menswear would take leave of the ladies and Hutten – now the love of her life – would step in and design a retail interior for the new shop: MGH2O. Point of departure? ‘Men,’ says the designer.

It’s not a theme you’d immediately suspect when confronted with the palette of the interior. Located on a street corner in Rotterdam, the little shop is a healthy skin-pink from floor to ceiling. The security gate at the entrance, the record player in the window, extension cords on the floor – not a single detail has escaped the pink emulsion. Only the counter is baby blue. ‘Margreeth really wanted a flesh colour, which wasn’t a bad idea. Theoretically, whatever shade you choose has to complement the clothes. If it doesn’t, you’ve got a problem.’

Hutten brought in a team of construction workers and began tearing down walls and carving up the floor of the tiny spirits shop that formerly occupied these premises, adding the space previously used for storing bottles to the retail area of the new boutique. He covered the bare walls with chipboard, but everything he’d gathered from behind the walls – tiles, rails, a tap – was left as is, and everything still needed for the store – stairs, counter, display units – was sawed, hammered and assembled on site or in his studio. The result can be described as ‘clumsy carpentry out of square’. ‘All that work and not one drawing,’ he says. ‘It was more like making sculpture. The idea was to create a space that would look as though a bunch of construction workers just knocked the thing together.’ It’s an idea that’s visible everywhere you look.

‘No sign of design’ – Hutten’s motto from the 1990s – has been back on the scene for some time now in the guise of ‘super normal’, a similar slogan associated with Jasper Morrison, among others. ‘This interior is also “no sign of design”, but here it’s got a frayed edge. Those “super normal” people are all about making slickly finished, ultra-anonymous products. This is more rock and roll, wouldn’t you say?’ Hutten points out that even though you can’t spot any blatant examples of design at first glance, the interior does reveal several solutions that relate to design. A sturdy framework reinforces the Styrofoam counter, for instance, and upstairs a balustrade doubles as a table.

Because Hutten designs everything that goes into an interior, as well as the interior itself, these projects take a lot of time. To work on more than one interior simultaneously, he’d have to bulk up his five-man rock band, an idea that doesn’t interest him. ‘It’s product design that I like most. The nice thing about interiors is that I get the opportunity to develop new, site-specific products.’
A preference for product design doesn’t mean that Hutten didn’t have fun making MGH2O. ‘Walking into that incredibly dull fitting room downstairs [a sort of super-low slalom with no curtain and PVC tubing for hanging clothes] always makes me chuckle – the very thought that this is interior design!’

Words Femke de Wild
Photos Daniel Nicolas

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