In Brief

From Biblical Condoms to Blue Tile Contact Lenses, Putting the Rijksmuseum Collection to Unusual Uses

The Rijksmuseum’s annual Rijksstudio Award invites anyone to create new work inspired by objects from its collection, and now the public can vote on the 10 finalists.

Eden Condoms by Esther Pi & Timo Waag, inspired by various engravings and etchings (all images courtesy Rijksmuseum)

“No glove, no love” was never part of the recorded exchanges between Adam and Eve, but the damned lovers are the official spokesfigures for protected sex in a series of condom wrappers designed by Spaniards Esther Pi and Timo Waag. Inspired by a number of 16th- and 17th-century engravings and etchings by artists from Rembrandt to Dürer, their visions are among those shortlisted for the Rijksmuseum’s annual Rijksstudio Award, which invites anyone to create new work inspired by objects from its collection.

Plantstudie Hats by Jessie Hall, inspired by Karl Blossfeldt’s “Plantstudie” (1928)

Now in its third year, the public award is an initiative to encourage worldwide engagement with the institution’s collection, always yielding creative submissions, from decorative arts to fashion design to photography and video. Determined by online votes, the winning work, unfortunately, does not get realized and mass marketed, but its creator does receive a cash prize. The 10 shortlisted designs are also displayed in an exhibition at the museum.

This year’s finalists are particularly quirky, not to mention representative of a highly international group, arriving from nine countries. Up against the biblical condom wrappers are British designer Jessie Hall’s “Plantstudie Hats” — three very intricately knitted cranium cozies inspired by Karl Blossfeldt‘s photographs of tower-like plants (sadly, in her submission of her family wearing them, her dog’s head remains bare). Then there’s Francine LeClercq and Ali Soltani’s literally visionary design, a self-described “nod to Marcel Duchamps’s comments on ‘retinal art'” — a cosmetic contact lens adorned with the blue and white patterns of Delftware. The couple has also designed a set of matching nail decals.

Body adornments dominate the shortlist, which also includes a sleeping mask; a nightshirt inspired by, of course, Rembrandt’s painting commonly known as “The Night Watch“; and a dress by researcher Andrea Wallace, a museum image rights enthusiast on the path to making metadata a very hot and non-insider topic. But there are beautiful household objects vying for your votes, too, from Rina Elman’s ornate butter dish, which will elevate any morning meal to an aristocratic occasion, to Sergiy Lysyi’s elegant and adjustable Heron floor lamp, inspired by Japanese artist Ohara Koson’s woodcut print of the white bird. I’d personally be quick to place an order on this unusual fixture if it were available.

Voting for the 2017 Rijksstudio Award finalist closes on April 20.

Francine LeClercq and Ali Soltani, “Delft Blue Eyes (&Nails),” inspired by two plaques from a 17th century column

Night Watch Nightshirt by Oliver Watson, inspired by Rembrandt van Rijn’s “The Night Watch” (1642)

Chiara Bianchini, “Pop Up Birds Book,” inspired by Ohara Koson’s “Peacock” (1925–36)

Heron Lamp by Sergiy Lysyi, inspired by Ohara Koson’s print of a heron

Butter Dish by Rina Elman, inspired by an 18th-century Mantuan dress with a train

“Masterpieces never sleep” by Lesha limonov, inspired by Johannes Cornelisz’s “Portrait of a Girl Dressed in Blue” (1641)

Still from Melodie Briere’s “Temple Guardian Dance Performance,” inspired by two 14th/15th century temple guardians

Andrea Wallace’s “Still Life Pixel & Metadata Dress,” inspired by Abraham Mignon’s “Still Life with Flowers and a Watch” (c. 1660-1679)
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