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.

Finders Keepers, the MACGUFFIN exhibition in The New Institute Rotterdam, 2017


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.

Thousands of unobtrusive objects in Finders Keepers, curated by MacGuffin editors Kirsten Algera and Ernst van der Hoeven. The New Institute Rotterdam, 2017.


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.”



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.

MacGuffin no.1 the Bed, 2015

MacGuffin no.1 the Bed, 2015

MACGUFFIN N° 1 – THE BED – is all about the amazing backstage stories that revolve around our beds: cookie-cut Airbnb bedrooms, customized Do-it-Yourself beds, neat nightingale nests, copulating skyscrapers, instable flowerbeds and deflated airbeds are investigated by writers, critics, designers, craftsmen and photographers like Sam Jacob, Chris Kabel, Noriko Kawakami, Arnoud Holleman, Steven Heller, Wouter Vanstiphout, Madelon Vriesendorp and Labadie/Van Tour.



MACGUFFIN No 2 takes THE WINDOW as the starting point for a compendium of absorbing stories on panoramas, panopticons, plastic frames, plant-stacked windowsills, and sumptuous draperies by Maison Jansen. Windowphobia, defenestration and the window cleaners of the V&A Museum are among the subjects examined by an array of luminaries that include writer Douglas Coupland, design critic Alice Rawsthorn, curator Corinna Gardner and designers Chris Kabel and Rudy Guedj.



MACGUFFIN N° 3 – THE ROPE. Where would we be without rope and knots? This third issue of design and crafts magazine MacGuffin explores the fascinating life of the object that binds together pieces of furniture, K2 climbers, redneck cars, Japanese eggs, and Mars rovers, inspiring a community of flax spinners, biennale curators, bondage lovers, and sailing enthusiasts: Rope.



MACGUFFIN Nº 4 delves into the alluring lives of THE SINK, the object that speaks volumes about who we are and how we live. Featuring mesmerizing inox sinks, sinks for genever drinkers, pathologists and babies, ‘kommunalka’ sinks, sitcom sinks and bottomless sinkholes into which everything disappears. Experts from designers Michel Charlot to Jesse Howard and from photographers Scheltens & Abbenes to artist Peter Halley shed light on the humble object that is a centrepiece in our lives.



MACGUFFIN Nº 5 on THE CABINET, opens up the curious life of the cabinet, where intimate stories are hidden away, kept and inevitably shown. Revealing enlightened DIY shelves, immaculate celebrity closets, whimsical cocktail bars, socialist kiosks, classic cubes and cabinets that beat you at a game of chess. Featuring Emily King, Vytautas Kumža, Les Lalanne, Ettore Sottsass, Slothouber & Graatsma, Wolfgang Tillmans, Yvonne Dröge Wendel and many, many more.



Since the first issue was published in 2015, MACGUFFIN has been showered with prizes, nominations and awards from leading design organisations. The editorial room could have an extra cabinet for all these honourings by now:

– European Design Award 2016 | Bronze, Categorie: MAGAZINE

– Dutch Design Awards 2016 | Finalist DESIGN RESEARCH

– Stack Awards 2016 | BEST MAGAZINE

– D&AD Awards 2017 |Graphite Pencil | Categorie: INDEPENDENT MAGAZINES


Pin It on Pinterest

Share This