Couleur Locale for Oranienbaum / Cultural Foundation Dessau Wörlitz

The project ‘Couleur Locale, Droog Design for Oranienbaum’ highlights regional design.

Oranienbaum is a little town south-west of Berlin in the former Eastern part of Germany. The castle of Oranienbaum, surrounded by a big landscape garden, was built by a Dutch princess of Oranje Nassau in the 17th century. Eager to preserve this Dutch-German cultural heritage for future generations, the Dutch government decided in 1997 to contribute to its restoration. This is based on a concept delivered by the local Cultural Foundation Dessau Wörlitz that is focusing on restoration, revival and innovation. For the latter two they ask Droog to cooperate.

After a visit to Oranienbaum Droog comes up with the idea to design a number of products which fit in whatever the region has to offer and eventually should be produced there to revive economic activity, attract more tourists and add joie de vivre to the region. They aim to add a new cultural dimension in a way that both respects the soul of the area and gives it a contemporary interpretation. The key notions are: tradition, history and innovation, art and culture, nature and ecology, education and recreation, the relationship with the Netherlands, trade and economy and employment.

Droog asks Hella Jongerius, Marcel Wanders, Jurgen Bey and Martí Guixé, the first foreign designer to join Droog, to unchain Droog’s mentality on regional conditions. They combine utility and beauty in new concepts for local materials and products and suggest ways to enjoy the impressive gardens.

Martí Guixé
“In Oranienbaum I noticed the boredom and the stillness of nature. And the peace that makes me nervous. A nature made only for looking, a big park where you can not interact, like a big scenario. An out of time, artificial vision of nature.”
Marcel Wanders
“I have focused on products that might contribute to the special character and atmosphere the region has for the interested visitor, not just because this makes the region even more attractive, but also since this region has very special qualities that might be unique and important to the rest of the world.”

Hella Jongerius
“What struck me most was that spirits were so low in Oranienbaum and the surrounding area. The whole place was covered in a grey blanket. I was given a very simple mission: restore laughter.”

Jurgen Bey
“Oranienbaum is a cultivated landscape in which nature and culture meet and influence each other, a protected area where the portraits of the eras have been frozen, and almost forgotten stories can survive. It is where souvenirs from all parts of the world have found a new place to stay and where guests have left their marks. The nice thing about these kind of places is that they are a sort of collection of curiosities, a colourful mixture of objects that all tell their own story.”

The project results in a large number of concepts which are first shown in Milan under the name of  ‘Couleur Locale, Droog Design for Oranienbaum’. A few months later the project is presented in Oranienbaum. That also means the end of the project. A few local companies show interest but their financial situation does not allow them to invest in production and distribution. Attempts to interest local cultural and commercial organisations to support the project fail.

Spazio La Posteria, Milan, Italy: 13-04-1999 / 18-04-1999

Orangerie Oranienbaum Castle, Oranienbaum, Germany: 16-06-1999 / 05-09-1999