As a guest at someone’s table with a Grid 2001 napkin on your lap, you will be tested on your knowledge of modern design. Do you recognize a real Struycken? Every Dutch person knows at least one work of art by the internationally renowned artist: the postage stamp with the dotted portrait of Queen Beatrix. Struycken has designed Grid 2001 especially for Sanny’s damask collection. Sanny invited him to study her private collection of linen damask, and together they spent an inspirational afternoon among dozens of tablecloths and napkins, many of which are hundreds of years old. He could not stop touching the linen damask; she could not stop talking.
From white nothingness to damask
In the right light, the designs seem to be conjured out of a white nothingness: hunters on horseback brandishing spears, God in a cloud talking to Moses, burning cities and thundering cannons. However, interesting as they all were, Struycken found the ordered, geometric block patterns the most exciting. Even though they were hundreds of years old, they could have been designed just yesterday. They, therefore, were his source of inspiration. Grid 2001 is based on Struycken’s 1963 painting Wetmatige Beweging (Systematic Movement), in which squares evolve into horizontal and vertical rectangles then larger squares.
Because Struycken’s computer wasn’t working, he copied the basic motif onto several sheets of A4. Cutting and pasting, he designed the Grid napkin.
By repeating, mirroring and rotating this basic pattern it is enlarged to the scale of plates and cutlery. The intersecting broad and narrow stripes form a pattern consisting of squares and rectangles and the ingenious design shows a different aspect of this basic pattern in each corner of the tablecloth and napkins so that, together with the edges, a wonderful border is created around the tablecloth.
The borders are formed ‘simply’ by changing the way in which the joins are made in the pattern; what is first seen as white is suddenly dark, and vice versa. Never before has an artist created a border pattern in this way for damask. It is an ingenious idea that is wholly based on the central tenet of damask weaving, which is to create a pattern in the fabric – using only the same white threads – that produces a play of light and dark.
Art to wipe your mouth on
What is so special about this design is that the basic patterns are repeated or mirrored differently each time. Technically, this design would have been impossible to produce thirty years ago. On the napkin too, each corner is different. Grid 2001 is a must-have for anyone with an interest in design and an appreciation of modern, minimalist interiors. Do you recognize a real Struycken?
The Dutch King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima did! In 2002, they received a set of Grid 2001 damask table linen as a royal wedding gift from the editors and readers of the magazine Vorsten Royale. Made-to-measure, of course. Invited to open the Tijdloos Trendy (Timeless Trendy) exhibition at Duivenvoorde Castle in October 2010, the royal couple cried out: ‘We’ve got one of those too!’ There, in the castle’s mangle room, hung Struycken’s Grid 2001 in all its glory, on the blue painted wash rack. And, if they are ever invited to the Town Hall in Delft, the Dutch royal couple will see Struycken’s damask there too.
A big advantage of linen is that the stains are much easier to wash out than cotton!
Always put a molton underneath, so that you really protect your table in the event of an accident. The tips are ready for you.