Finders Keepers | 2017 | MacGuffin in Het Nieuwe Instituut
Imagine a large exhibition space in a highly respectable institute, say, like Het Nieuwe Insituut / The New Institute in Rotterdam (NL). Not only Museum for Architecture, Design and Digital Culture, but also State Archive for Dutch Architecture and Urban Planning and Agency for Architecture, Design and Digital Culture. That’s a mouthful of serious design! You buy a ticket and enter the exhibition space, curious after the latest show. FINDERS KEEPERS it is called, and it is put together by the editors of MACGUFFIN magazine.
If not prepared for it, you’ll be quite surprised at what you see. A collection of number plates. And of handcuffs. Tens of flyswatters. Hubcaps. Mobile phones. Typewriters. Knives. Bricks. Plastic bottles, you name it. All kinds of old and used things that prior only made it to the dustbin, not to the museum, are now on exhibition. An immense collection of virtually unobtrusive and uncollectable things. The philosophy behind it tells you a lot about the makers of MACGUFFIN, the highly appraises design magazine that is honoured time and again.
While much of the design world focuses on new trends, new things and new thoughts the editors of MacGuffin, Kirsten Algera and Ernst van der Hoeven, find wonder in the ordinariness of the everyday. Their fascination with a timeless aesthetic is also the key to innovative research, which has resulted in the thematic issues of MACGUFFIN Magazine.
The philosophy is this: we are surrounded by objects. We design them, make them, buy them, use them and then forget about them or resell them. And a remarkable number of people also seem to collect them: knives, carpet beaters, roofing tiles, pencils, even staircases. As the curators of the exhibition Finders Keepers, the editors of the design and crafts magazine MacGuffin reveal the universe of the collector, bringing together objects from dozens of collections and exploring the collectors’ strategies, the aesthetic pleasure of collecting and the hidden life of things.
For the exhibition, the MacGuffin duo has brought together more than 5.000 household objects from over 40 collections in a grande parade of everyday products. Inspired by Modest Manifesto for a Museum, in which the Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk pleads for a museum in which the story of ordinary people is central, Finders Keepers explores collectors’ stories and their relationship to a world of objects.
This transforms The New Institute into a collection of collections. The exhibition functions as a huge cabinet, orderly holding all these different things in a confined space. The same accounts for every issue of MacGuffin, the magazine: each edition is a cabinet in print, a drawer that is opened for the curious viewer and shows its capricious content. Five of these drawers have already been opened now and each edition of the magazine takes an object and explores the manifold stories it generates and uncovers the personal and sometimes curious relationships we have with the stuff that surrounds us.
“Mass production, born in the industrial revolution, created a new type of thing”, says architect and design critic Sam Jacobs. “The shock of this new type of thing was not just their material form, not just their aesthetic qualities. The sudden presence of all of these new things amongst us was equally an economic and social question.”
THE FIVE EDITIONS OF MACGUFFIN
Each edition of MACGUFFIN takes an object and explores the manifold stories it generates and uncovers the personal and sometimes curious relationships we have with the stuff that surrounds us.