Droog is a collection of the detritus of our culture, reassembled, rearranged and repurposed.
It was the period of the Third Way, politicians were making the world better by collaborating with capitalists while misbehaving in private lives. At the same time, design was becoming less an elite pursuit and more of a way to, as Tom Peters put it, 'make you filthy, stinking rich’. Now that the generation of '68 has grown up and proven themselves capable of turning the revolution into a car-selling theme song while behaving as badly as possible in positions of power to prove their wild spirit, it is left to their children to rebel against their sell-out and argue for the values they left behind - sustainability, spirituality, learning from other cultures, using as little technology as possible, participatory design, politics and work, freeing your body and your mind, and wearing and eating only natural products.
For all the critical rhetoric, irony and high design that characterises Droog Design, this is perhaps their most lasting and important contribution: that they have institutionalised political and social criticism as a lifestyle - the hippie way of revolution - into design and thus into at least some small part of our daily lives.
At the core of this lifestyle is the notion of recurrence, as if the spiritual beliefs borrowed from other cultures and cults had found their way into the very core of the design profession. Just as the 1960s seemed to be coming back again, so Renny Ramakers, Gijs Bakker and their merry band of design pranksters were arguing for a design process based on re-use - not just of materials, but of ideas and concepts as well. The core belief of Droog Design seemed to be that design was not a question of making more objects, using more materials, or even inventing new ideas or solutions to the problems we encounter in our daily lives, but one of finding more ways to experience, explore and expand the possibilities of existing objects, images, spaces and ideas. Like squatters in the history of art or the structures of mass production, they hunkered down with what they had inherited, scavenged, salvaged and maybe even stolen, turning it into communal artefacts. For that is what they did make that was new: a community. Droog is kind of design tribe. It is a loose group of people who are engaged in design as a way of revealing and reassembling our reality, thus using the elements of daily life to reflect on and criticise the structures of controlling that inhabited landscape. It is a way of exposing hidden structures in the blandness of what is all around us through irony, rhetoric, misuse and deformation.
Droog does not believe in the hook, the soundbite or the brand.
Droog addresses the three central questions of our day - the reduction of all our reality to technology, sustainability and identity - through a strategy of experimentation, deformation and recombination. As such, they are part of a large movement in many fields of culture, including architecture, fine arts and even music.
Moors, A. (2006) Simply Droog. Droog Design
Tejo Remy, Chest of Drawers (1991)
“Each drawer carries its own memories and they are all jumbled up in your head. So the Chest must be just as chaotic. The great thing about it is that it trains your memory. You have to remember exactly what went into which drawer."
Tejo Remy, Rag Chair (1991)
Tejo Remy’s products are a critique of the glut of objects, the excess consumption in our society. Fact is, he wants to begin again, like a kind of Robinson Crusoe who keeps himself alive on his desert island with what he can find.
Dick van Hoff, Washbasin (1996)
The felt parts are sewn together with black stitching. The drainpipe is in grey PVC stitched into the felt. Then the whole gets impregnated with polyester resin. The design has to do with the criticism of the clogged-up attitude the sanitary industry has. A washbasin to me is a receptacle for catching excess water, no more and no less.
Tejo Remy, Milk Bottle Lamp (1991)
The milk bottles hang just above the ground on long cables in a cluster of twelve - three times four rows of bottles, exactly as it is in a Dutch milk crate.
Marcel Wanders, Knotted Chair (1996)
Macramé meets high tech. This light-weight chair is born on a marriage between handicraft and industrial technology. The rope made of an aramid braid and carbon centre is knotted into the shape of a chair. Then the slack texture is impregnated with epoxy and hung in a frame to harden. Gravity creates the final shape.
Rody Graumans, 85 Lamps (1993)
“I’m not into that ‘less is more’ stuff. I just work in lowly situations, like with an ordinary lightbulb, things that don’t have much value. I like the idea of getting power out of inferiority. You can’t avoid using a lightbulb, its always part of a lamp’s construction. And you shouldn’t gloss over the bit you can’t escape by sticking a shade over it.”