Silver taleS
by Jan van Nouhuys
Date: 19 Oct 2013

Silver Art & Architecture

It was March 2012 when somehow this theme of architecture & silver art and vise versa started to interest me afresh.

In the 80's the Alessi firm commissioned well known architects to design a silver teaservice. In itself not a new idea, as for Van der Velde, Berlage, Frank Lloyd Wright and other architects, it was an integral part of their work to design the interior and design objects for that interior.

At the age of 14 I had already designed many houses on paper. This went beyond merely drawing a nice picture of a house. I drew the floor plans of the ground floor and upper floors, staircases, technical and sanitary facilities were worked out in detail. The subject obviously fascinated me.

In 1964 the NS (Dutch Railways) set up a competition for primary school pupils to design a railway station building. My class took part thanks to our daring teacher. I designed a tower for the clock which had walls leaning over to all sides. At that time an unknown architectural phenomenon. The building, designed by my classmate Paul Palmboom, now an urban development architect in Amsterdam, with my clock tower as a decorating element, won second prize : a journey and stay for all 42 of us in the south of Limburg - an unforgettable experience.

Recently I saw a picture of the enormous skyscraper in Dubai (still under construction) in the shape of my vase of 2003. At times I had had this notion 'how wonderful it would be if particular objects would be realized on architectural scale'. This "Infinity Tower" has a square diameter and is turning a quarter going upwards, whereas my vase turned 75 degrees. I immediately felt inspired to make the vase again, whereby the height increases to such an extent that the turn of 90 degrees can be made.


Technically it is a problem to realize a turn in such a form without the sides getting creased in the process. I made the form out of one sheet whereby the folds served as stiffening ribs. Where the two sides of the sheet had to be soldered together, the last step in the process, I stiffened them by temporarily using the ribs of a discarded umbrella.

The sides of the vase I gave long vertical grooves which give an extra dimension to the rising form. Though the form is simple, it is fascinating to notice the effect of light on the twisted sides in much the same way as with the glass walls of the Infinity Tower in Dubai.