Spring 2005

Deadpan Dutch design [extract]

False Flat: Why Dutch Design is so Good

By Aaron Betsky with Adam Eeuwens. Phaidon, £35

False Flat presents a new and unsettling view of contemporary Dutch design. At first it seems as if we’re going to be given the familiar story – the one in which the form and character of Dutch design is explained in relation to the country’s peculiar geography and its people’s ingenious responses to it; the story with the implicit subtext that Dutch design is the best in the world. The two-part title of this book certainly bears out that assumption. False Flat makes reference to the subtle slope of the Dutch landscape created by centuries of land reclamation. The rhetorical statement ‘Why Dutch Design is so Good’ alludes to one of design’s most deeply entrenched stereotypes: when it comes to design innovation – in architecture, urban planning, product design, graphic design, or hybrids of the aforementioned – then the Dutch can do no wrong. It’s an arrogant pronouncement, however tongue in cheek and as such, it aptly reflects the deadpan boldness of this country’s government-subsidised, client-endorsed, and globally revered work. [...]

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