“Hands On” premiered at Industry Gallery in Washington D.C. on March 20, 2010. It marked the first-ever solo exhibition for renowned and innovative Dutch designer Tejo Remy, a founding designer at the Droog Design collective, and René Veenhuizen, his design partner of the past decade. Remy & Veenhuizen always have preferred hands on experimentation and avoid designing with computer assistance. In their large, one-room, light-filled studio just outside the historic core of Utrecht, they bend, fuse, glue, and manipulate fabric, glass, wood, cement and other materials, creating, testing and fabricating new designs. “When all the things with which we surround ourselves on a daily basis are seen as materials with which to build on further,” says Remy, “the world becomes one great toolbox.” The concept behind the exhibition was to construct a house inside the gallery, consisting of a living room and an outdoor area, along with other discrete sections.
Within these confines, the designers would then curate their work into a seamless “whole” framed by the house exteriors, which both framed the work and highlighted its uniqueness. “Hands On” featured approximately a dozen works created from concrete, bamboo, tennis balls, and old woolen blankets. All of the work was being premiered in the U.S. for the first time, and the exhibition drew a large crowd of Washingtonians and others eager to catch a glimpse of the next phase of the ground-breaking Dutch duo’s work.
Press and media attention surrounding “Hands On” was extraordinarily high, with art and design aficionados deeply interested to see the latest works by one of the most important contemporary designers of our time. Remy & Veenhuizen’s first U.S. solo exhibition was covered in the New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/18/garden/18shows.html?_r=0), the International Herald, Dwell (http://www.dwell.com/event-spotlight/article/remy-and-veenhuizen-dc) and Fast Company (http://www.fastcompany.com/3010547/is-washington-dc-ready-for-an-onslaught-of-contemporary-design). “Hands On” also appeared in notable art blogs including artdaily.org (http://artdaily.com/index.asp?int_sec=11&int_new=36577#.VL1aZEfF83U).
Then-Washington Post Art Critic Blake Gopnik sat down with the two designers for an in-depth interview for the Post’s art section (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/24/AR2010032403318.html). The Soft Concrete Series was covered in detail by Dezeen, one of the most widely-read design blogs, which marveled at the seemingly plastic and vinyl look of the series (http://www.dezeen.com/2010/03/18/concrete-chair-by-tejo-remy-renee-veenhuizen/). The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art was the first collection to acquire a work from this exhibition, the “Concrete Chair Prototype #1.