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Good design can—like art—question apparent truths. Good designs confronts with ingrained mindsets and offers ways to look at the world ‘differently’. Why is a table always round, rectangular or square? Why do we accept that it is impossible to arrange a bouquet of flowers in most vases? Why is a bookcase almost always a variation on ‘shelves along a wall’? Roderick Vos is a designer who keeps asking ‘why?’ And this leads to extraordinary, innovative designs, which make you think ‘yes, indeed, why not?’ At the same time, Roderick never loses sight of functionality. No ‘l’art pour l’art’ for him, no unusual shapes merely to be seen as ‘different’. Because, at the end of the day, you need to be able to eat from a table, to clean a vase, and to find the book you are looking for.

A striking example of Roderick’s design philosophy is his new ‘Broadway’ sofa, the transition from the front to the sides is not square or rounded, but chamfered at a 45 degree angle. So simple and also so brilliant that it makes you wonder ‘why did nobody else think of this?’ The unique silhouette this gives the ‘Broadway’, is underlined by a thick ‘cord’—covered in the same material as the sofa—, which traces the outline of each element. The silhouette also derives its strength from the fact that each element has been reduced to its essence: a seat and a back, without loose cushions interrupting its visual calm.

The ‘Broadway’ is a modular sofa, allowing each user to compose their own living environment. Because Roderick values the ‘be your own designer’ principle. And whichever composition you choose for your ‘Broadway’, the resulting look is both organic and cubist. An apparent contradiction, which Roderick has achieved through the combination of the aforementioned pure silhouette with a generous filling creating luscious ‘round’ shapes—as well as extremely comfortable seating! Because, as Roderick says, ‘what’s the use of a good-looking sofa if it is not great to sit on?’ Roderick is not a fan of the sometimes cynical postmodernism and prefers to pay heed to Plato, who saw the good, true and beautiful as coming from the same source: so what is beautiful, is also good and true. ‘I want to make people happy with beautiful things they can use. Objects that offer aesthetic pleasure. Strong shapes, which you sense are ‘beautiful’, ‘good’ and ‘true’.’ And this is where ‘Broadway’ succeeds.

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Studio Roderick Vos

Roderick Vos, (Groningen, The Netherlands, 1965) started his studies in Industrial Design at Design Academy Eindhoven in 1984. In 1987, working as a trainee, he moved to Japan for 6 months. Being partly Asian himself, this particular period evidently had a large impact on his personal interest in Asian Culture and its works.

Together with his partner Claire Vos, he graduated in 1990 from the Design Academy and moved to Indonesia, Surabaya to develop their knowledge of rattan furniture and textile production. In 1999 they officially started their design office ‘Studio Roderick Vos’, now based in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. Several of their works were acquired by prestigious museums, such as Stedelijk Amsterdam and Museum of Arts & Design New York.

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