Richard Hutten : 18 years of playing
Richard Hutten
18 years of playing
DMG, March 8, 2010
Rotterdam-born Richard Hutten (born 1967) is one of the Netherlands’ internationally successful designers. He graduated in 1991 at the Design Academy in Eindhoven. In his design studio he creates designs for furniture, products, interior design and exhibitions. Hutten takes a conceptual approach, but each and every one of his designs is highly functional. Often the object will even have multiple functions. His level-headed designs are playful and humorous, but they are still well-thought-out, down to the smallest detail. Accordingly, Richard Hutten’s principal tenet is No Sign of Design. Design museum Gent offered Hutten the assignment of designing his own exhibition entitled “Richard Hutten, 18 years of playing”. Those who know Hutten will know that something special is in the making.


Richard Hutten/Dombo, 2001_Richard Hutten B.V.
Richard Hutten/Dombo, 2001_Richard Hutten B.V.


TableChair concept

Born in Zwollerkerspel to a working-class family, where he grew up without any art or design, Hutten took to the Design Academy in Eindhoven. He graduated with his TableChair concept, a rectangular table from whose tabletop a square has been cut from one of the far ends. The designer then lowered the cut-out surface to seating height and placed four legs underneath it. Those who have a seat are surrounded by the u-shaped remainder of the table, which is used as armrests and back. This is a typical example of what he calls his “No Sign of Design” furniture, functional furniture with a conceptual and humorous style. In 1993 Hutten began designing for Droog Design (Dry Design), the label founded by Renny Ramakers and Gijs Bakker. “Dutch Design” is renowned around the world for its idiosyncrasy, its level-headed and humorous designs. Small wonder that Hutten was picked up immediately following his studies by design platform Droog Design, along with Hella Jongerius and Marcel Wanders.

Dumbo is highly popular

Hutten’s most popular design is the Dumbo, the drinking cup with the two large ears. Hutten wanted to make a drinking cup which enhances the drinking gesture children make. An idiosyncratic mug was thus created which, besides being visually appealing, fits particularly well in the hands of young children and handicapped persons. Ears, says Hutten, are the only part of our body which will keep growing during our entire lives. Just look at your grandfather’s or grandmother’s ears. The drinking cup’s large ears are as large as the cup itself, making it instantly recognizable. The drinking cup is unbreakable and suitable for use in a dishwasher. Hutten, father of two sons himself, drew inspiration for his children’s products from his own family life. Hutten feels that one can teach children fine taste after all. “That with which you occupy yourself will infect you” he recounts.


Richard Hutten/Berlage Chair, 2004_Richard Hutten B.V.
Richard Hutten/Berlage Chair, 2004_Richard Hutten B.V.


The Bronto children’s chair has the flowing shapes of a brontosaurus. Children find the sturdy legs so funny that they cannot help falling for this chair. They can immediately tell that this chair is not like those used by parents. Hutten even applied the Bronto’s design to an adult edition, only with different dimensions. Thus he created the Centraal Museum Chair for the museum of the same name in Utrecht. It was later put into production to accommodate design aficionados. It is this very museum chair which was selected as the chair on which Prince Willem-Alexander was to wed Máxima.

For the CMU (Centraal Museum Utrecht) Hutten designed the restaurant as well as the book store and the garden furniture. The garden chairs, the Zzzidt objects, are large spheres of coloured plastic with two flattened sides and a handle. The kangaroo balls are very handy and are highly versatile. You can carry the garden chair to wherever you want using a side handle. Zzzidt can be used as a stool, a side table or as a playful object.

A contemporary Berlage chair

Once upon a time Hutten thought of a pair of jeans with a stool sewn into the back. The assignment was to design a milking stool. His contemporary version of the Berlage chair also presented a challenge. The Municipal Museum of The hague was designed by famous architect H.P. Berlage. At the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century he initiated a new architectural style which yielded him world fame. The Museum in The Hague and the Amsterdam Stock Exchange are two of his most famous creations.

Berlage’s extensive furniture collection was Richard Hutten’s source of inspiration for creating a new chair. Even though he had to search through the entire collection, he succeeded in creating a contemporary Hutten creation which clearly shows Berlage’s influences. The chair from which Hutten eventually drew his inspiration was a rather unusual chair for the van Hengel family. Unusual in that it had no straight legs, but the back was a linear continuation of the legs. The recognizable, clear Hutten line was a perfect fit. The original chair was covered using straps (bands with which the cover is attached to the underside) which were further enhanced by Hutten.


Richard Hutten/Table Chair for Droog Design (NL), 1991 MDF_Richard Hutten B.V.
Richard Hutten/Table Chair for Droog Design (NL), 1991 MDF_Richard Hutten B.V.


The naughty Sexy Relaxy

The Sexy Relaxy is highly peculiar. For this design Richard Hutten drew inspiration from the world-famous movie scene from Paul Verhoeven’s picture Basic Instinct. The Sharon Stone pose, so to speak. The Sexy Relaxy allows one to only sit comfortably legs agape. The Richard Hutten Collection has been part of NgispeN since 2008. NgispeN is the label with which Gispen is starting a new collection, aimed particularly at design for at home. Gispen, once a reference in the field of design furniture, had limited itself to office furniture from a certain point onwards. With the acquisition of the Hutten collection, the brand is returning to the living room and the private customer. Richard Hutten is NgispeN’s creative director.


Richard Hutten/Poef-Pouff for Droog Design (NL), 1994_Richard Hutten B.V.
Richard Hutten/Poef-Pouff for Droog Design (NL), 1994_Richard Hutten B.V.


Interior projects and architectural operations

Next to the interior decoration of the Centraal Museum in Utrecht, Hutten also did the interior design for the Film Museum in Amsterdam and for the Architectural Museum in Rotterdam, better known as the NAI. More recently in Brussels, French silver manufacturer Christofle reopened a store on the Waterloosesteenweg. At the heart of the shop is a model of the table Hutten designed for the Boijmans Van Beuningen Museum. The Atomes d’Argent by Richard Hutten, a series of exceedingly remarkable candlesticks, vases and bowls are offered for sale there.


Richard Hutten/Chair Sexy Relaxy for E & Y (JP), 2000_Richard Hutten B.V.
Richard Hutten/Chair Sexy Relaxy for E & Y (JP), 2000_Richard Hutten B.V.


Rotterdam-based architectural firm MVRDV asked to design the interior for their office/residential home. One highly remarkable project however is the interior design for the Parkrand, a building designed by MVRDV in the Amsterdam neighbourhood of Geuzenveld. It can be recognized by the odd “peeping holes”. Three non-openly accessible courtyards were decorated by Hutten. In the so-called ‘outer kitchen’ Hutten installed a giant hanging lamp and a two-metre high table as a podium. The so-called ‘living room’ with metres-high flowerpots are illuminated by the largest chandelier in the Netherlands. He decorated ‘the outer children’s room’ or the playground with artificial grass, toboggans (among them the toboggan of doubt, which to take: left or right) and luminescent elephants to sit on. Everything is large and inflated, except for the elephants which are shrunk. Typical Hutten humour.

Through June 6, 2010

www.designmuseumgent.be