Hi Berry! Can you tell us a bit about yourself? Who are you, where do you come from, and how did your love for (curating) design come about?
I am Berry Dijkstra, a collector, design curator, and composition artist based in Rotterdam. My interest in design comes from searching for treasures in every market and thrift store I could find. Even without much knowledge, good designs were easy to spot by their aesthetics, materials and form. I did a lot of research, visited many fairs, such as DDW, and eventually started collecting larger pieces, with a focus on Pastoe and work by contemporary designers. Making compositions is something I've always done. But the tipping point really came when I got my cabinet collection together for a photo shoot. I stacked some cabinets on top of each other to get everything into the picture. And in that moment I knew I had found my story.
You shared your work with us on Instagram through #heyddw. Can you tell us a bit more about it?
At home I build still-lifes with my own collection. I release furniture from its normal function by stacking it, tilting it and bringing everything together in an installation in which the focus is on composition, form, color and material. Form follows fun.
On what do you base your choices when creating your compositions? How do you start?
At home I never work with a plan. I don't make a layout. Every now and then I have an idea about a certain item that I want to highlight or I start from a color or material. I build a grid with the big items and then I continue with smaller objects. The compositions always feel loose, but every choice is deliberate. The search for the right balance in form, material and color is intuitive. When I'm done with the composition, I wait for the right light. And always shoot head-on and from a low angle.
We live in a world of mass consumption, but at the same time there is a trend toward minimalism, in which we try to reduce and de-clutter. How do you relate to that? What value do your objects have for you?
I use a more is more principle for my compositions. I also find it interesting to bring together furniture and objects that do not necessarily go together. Sometimes it can be grating. I use functional objects and by stacking and arranging them I strip them off their function. I bring them back to form and build a new world. I collect objects, ceramics, and Pastoe. This doens't mean that I buy just anything. I make choices based on quality and as little as possible on impulse. I never buy counterfeit or junk, only directly from designers, design stores and second-hand. Basically, everything I have has a story and is an enrichment to my life. It does sound dramatic, but I really enjoy all the objects and furniture I own.
How do you keep surprising yourself, when you keep building compositions with the same materials?
The surprise lies precisely in the fact that I work with a permanent collection. Every now and then something new is added in terms of objects or furniture, but not often. For projects, I borrow items or I build on location with the items of others. I recently made a composition with items from valerie_objects for SUSAN BIJL. This temporary composition was shown during the Rotterdam Art Week.
How has the pandemic affected your work so far? How do you look back on the past year?
The pandemic started right after 'A motley crew' - my first offline show together with Pim Top. In terms of the spin-off, everything was going on and then everything came to a halt due to Covid. Fairs were cancelled and assignments cancelled or postponed. That was just as important. It didn't matter to my compositions at home. Except that I was very uninspired for a few weeks. I have continued to build and collect at home and have recently worked on an online show. Now that Covid is fading into the background, I am again getting assignments at external locations. In retrospect, Covid has ensured that I started working with moving images and I think that is a cool turn that I did not foresee before Covid.
If you could choose one person to work with (a designer, politician, artist, scientist, anyone), who would you choose and why?
I don't have a specific person in mind, but more of a discipline. I find movement very interesting and it seems crazy to me to link design to dance. For me design is also to a large extent emotion and feeling and portraying that in dance and music is an interesting point of view. Something cinematic, a large setting, filled with design and enriching the narrative with dance and telling a bigger story, a fairy tale, something that appeals to the imagination and inspires. I think it is quite something! Design, the musical – but not a musical because I'm not a fan of musicals, haha!
You are announcing a new project on your Instagram. What can you share about this?
For the past few months I've been working on an online show: A slow parade. For this I selected work by 22 designers and built a composition at home. Together with Ashley and Jurjen from From.form we captured it on 16mm film. A slow parade is a short in the form of a title sequence. I call it a trailer for a movie that will never exist. The film is an ode to design and connects the world of design with classic cinema. The soundtrack was composed especially for the film. It is a trippy dream, exciting and somewhat heavy on the stomach. It is not standard product registration, but it is especially an environment that makes you want more.
If you could ask yourself a question for this interview, what would it be? And how would you answer it?
That would be: Who is your favourite film director? And my answer is Roy Andersson. His aesthetic is so good, all sets are built, and nothing is left to chance. It's all about composition, shape, color and lines. The contrasts and the grays are so good. A heavy blanket in combination with the tragedy of life and human inability. I could watch his movies every day and not get bored.
Any news to share with the DDW community?
Soon my short “A slow parade” will be released. I am very curious how it will be received.