Stories – Dutch Design damask

11 November 2017 T/M 4 November 2018

Insects that crawl around your cutlery or clouds that drift past your plate as you wipe your mouth with a napkin covered in calorie tables: every meal is an adventure at a table laid with stunning Dutch Design table linen.

And you’ll never be short of conversation, thanks to the unique story attached to each piece. Discover work created exclusively for the TextielMuseum by internationally acclaimed designers during the exhibition ‘Stories | Dutch Design Damask’, which opens on 11 November in the DamaskWeavery.

Although narrative designs are not new, since the 1990s Dutch artists have made a global name for themselves with designs that often take stories as their starting point.

The stories have a variety of sources, which are often highly personal. ‘Lowlands’, by the Amsterdam-based Italian design duo Formafantasma, was inspired by a story the designers heard at school about a boy who saved the Netherlands from devastating floods by plugging a hole in the dyke with his finger. The sea is also the dominant feature of the design, with the Netherlands just visible around the edges behind protective dykes and pumps.

References to craftsmanship, tradition and history are recurring themes in much Dutch Design damask. The inspiration for the table linen by Rotterdam-based Studio Minale-Maeda was the sinuous lines of art nouveau. The design also recalls the zoetrope, an animation technique from the early days of film. Shifts in the design create the illusion that the pattern is moving, giving the piece a rich, dynamic look.

Several designers emphasise the origin and creation of a product, such as the fibre, dye or technique used. In 2010, Christien Meindertsma bought an entire lot of flax from the Flevopolder and spent the following years making textiles, oil, linoleum and paper with it. Her table linen is not only produced from her ‘own’ linen, but aerial photographs of the lot incorporated into the design also reference the source of the fibres.


All the table linen in the exhibition was made on looms in the TextielLab, the TextielMuseum’s creative heart, and the process was closely followed and documented. Sketches, designs, tests and films that illustrate the design and production process are included in the exhibition.


The museum sells a wide range of Dutch Design table linen under its own label, by TextielMuseum, in the TextielShop. Products are added to the collection each year. This year, the museum collaborated with Studio Job on new plaids and a series of tea towels.


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