Petra Blaisse, Inside Outside
Inside Outside is an Amsterdam-based international and multi-disciplinary team of architects, artists and designers specializing in landscape design and in interior architecture. Petra Blaisse founded the studio in 1991, having started her career in exhibition design. Gradually her focus shifted to the use of textiles, light and finishes in interior space and, at the same time, to the design of gardens and landscapes
I’m the founder of an interior, landscape and exhibition design studio called Inside Outside, manned by a small team and based in Amsterdam. I started this multidisciplinary work by simply combining my personal passions that come together in the manipulation or creation of experiential environments.
Through the years, curtains have become a kind of specialty of ours. We create curtains of various scale that differ per project and context. They are, in other words, site specific and unique pieces that each have their own technical roles and responsibilities, introducing a certain lightness through their flexibility and elegant presence in a space. Each has a personality with its own character, appearing and disappearing with a strong or hardly noticeable presence, depending on the required performance and effect. Moderating climate, filtering or reflecting light, absorbing sound, shaping views or creating rooms, the curtains also introduce their own acoustics and air movements as they run their path through space and wallop in the wind.
As our responsive work develops in an active design and building process, we work in the same rhythm as architecture does, following the same timeline and deadlines. This is not always possible, as sometimes ‘our’ things come earlier or later. It’s almost like weaving: a process where first others do things, then you do things, then they: you alternate, each time as a reaction to what has previously been done and anticipating — or challenging! — what will follow.
Sometimes we make temporary installations, and that is much fun, because you have to create an object or installation in a very short time span. The temporary has also something to do with your concept of ‘light’. Light because of limitation in time but also in the lightness of material and technique. For an exhibition that I designed at the Boijmans Museum in Rotterdam on the work of OMA in the late eighties, I made a very thin yellow silk curtain for a very tall vertical window in the space, placing a little ventilator below. The yellow silk cloth was constantly walloping and fluttering in an exhibition that was otherwise completely static, all about models and drawings. The weightless, perpetually moving object had an enormous influence on the whole atmosphere of the place and on the exhibited works.
We are interested in creating illusions. So, even if it has to be a very heavy light blocking or an enormous acoustically absorbent object, we want it to look light and spacious or even transparent.
On Forms of Use (Re-Set, 2012 Architecture Biennale)
We were asked to represent The Netherlands at the 2012 Architecture Biennale in Venice and create an installation in the Dutch Pavilion (by Gerrit Rietveld from the early 50’s). Our task was to symbolize the re-use of existing, vacant buildings in an economically harsh period in which developers and builders are in charge of the building market, building ruthlessly and thoughtlessly as a form of investment, while thousands of useable buildings are standing vacant in The Netherlands alone. So, re-use the already built and create new possibilities for people through low budget adjustments, collaborative work, forms of multiple use etcetera. Our installation was made of a few aluminum profiles, bicycle chain, six small motors and a large piece of cloth that slid through the space and held its position in 12 different configurations, each for 90 seconds. Each position reorganized the rectangular Rietveld space into rooms of different shape and size, thus inviting for different forms of use. The cloth itself was designed to represent architecture: weight/weightlessness, absorption/reflection, view/obstruction of view, transparency/opacity, color/no color, vertical/horizontal etcetera. Many architectural concepts were represented in this soft, basic piece of cloth that slid through time, over the course of the twelve-hour day.
You can predict infinitely, but you will always be surprised by coincidences or mistakes that, often, become unexpected blessings.