For more than 10 years, Belgian designer and manufacturer Milko Brusselmans has been experimenting with the engineering of folded metal plate furniture and modular storage systems which are today licensed to Union N.V. for their commercialization under the series® label. With a definite functionalist stand, Milko Brusselmans seeks an economy between the physical properties of steel, it’s raison d’être or function in our everyday, and the manufacturing cost which makes the product affordable for the consumer.

Designing is not a matter of searching for the beautiful says Brusselmans, “it is the challenge to create something truly useful, balanced in it’s form and most of all affordable for a broad range of consumers.” As R. Buckminster Fuller once said “When I am working on a problem, I never think about beauty but when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know it is wrong.” Finding solutions to remain affordable while delivering quality useful material is Milko Brusselman’s primary motivation in design. “Mass production of something truly useful and of a high quality is a great achievement, but those successful designs also need to remain accessible to the public”, says Milko Brusselmans.

Union N.V. is under negotiation for an exclusive licensing agreement with Dutch industrial designer Friso Kramer (b. 1922) for the manufacturing and distribution of the Brinkbank concrete bench. The Brinkbank was first introduced at the Brink, the monumental central square of the city of Deventer as well as in public spaces around Amsterdam and Schiphol and came in two distinct models.

The first type which has a higher and deeper backrest is more comfortable and of a larger size. A more compact version has a shorter backrest and is less comfortable to sit and meant for a more dynamic use. It has a distinctive feature which is absent from the larger, more comfortable one. An outer horizontal platform located at the back has been added for the purpose of “offering the passer-by the opportunity to stop, lean in standing position and interact with other individuals sitting or standing nearby”. “People don’t sit on a public bench because it is visually attractive… They make use of it because they identify the structure as a stable and durable anchor point in the public space”. Both models, says Friso Kramer, “need to be covered in humans”, because “humans are the fabric” of the Brinkbank.

The Brinkbank seems weightless even with it’s heavy concrete structure, and it’s monumentality is not what matters (this idea was by no means my starting point). It’s street architecture with a clear mission, a social mission. Everything here is action, movement… it’s not decorative. Arriving, sitting, standing, interacting… the Brinkbank exists solely through what people make of it. It is thought in relation to people and their whereabouts, their community. People never feel trapped. It was designed for social interaction. Groups of individuals can gather around it for a short moment and come back later. It’s a meeting point. The Brinkbank is what it does for the people. It is responsible design because it’s primary function is serving communities by creating an interactive space.¹

In today’s post-industrial society tattoos have become a widespread mode of expression, they are a mass phenomena which echo fashion’s consumerist attitudes. But it is as says Maddy d’Oliveira, “an undeniable positive phenomena because it transcends fashion by marking the individual well below the surface because it is permanent”. “It is therefore a positive move towards modes of expression which seek a deeper meaning”. We asked graphic artist Maddy d’Oliveira to collaborate on the prints for the 2014 series® t-shirt edition which is composed of 6 works in total. The skinprint edition is limited in numbers and signed by the artist.

¹ Interview with Friso Kramer in Amsterdam on the 30th of June 2014