MUSEUM ARNHEM, new interiors by Studio Modijefsky
Thanks to the specific focus on women who have written the recent and contemporary history of applied art and design, the Museum Arhem has one of the most important cultural collections in the Netherlands. Studio Modijefsky – previously featured on WeVux – was commissioned to design the new public spaces of the museum, recently renovated: the general entrance, the cafeteria, the shop on the ground floor and an activity room with an event space on the upper floor. All these areas rotate around the museum’s iconic dome, which creates a large hexagonal space.
Studio Modijefsky created a new design language inspired by aspects of the building’s past and present: its origins as a gentlemen’s club and the Magic Realism that is part of the museum’s current collection. The new spaces designed by Studio Modijefsky take visitors on a journey by playing with perspective and offering “pathways into other dimensions”. With the collection moving into the new wings of the museum, the interior of this monumental building has become a work of art itself, expressing Museum Arnhem ’s core value: ‘from the heart, looking further, from now on and with quality’.
As soon as you step through the Museum Arnhem, you will find the entrance desk, above which the Studio has positioned a suspended luminous volume, which mirrors the shape of the desk and floats in space. A further twist is added by the large mirror that follows the outlines of the entrance door, but flipped upside down and tilted, inviting the visitors to look at themselves in their new surroundings in a different way. Finally, a small suspended chandelier follow the contours of the mirror.
The café and museum shop are located within the enormous space underneath the museum’s dome. Studio Modijefsky embraced its sheer size by creating the coffee area and the shop. while retaining the dome’s original character. With no boundaries, each area is distinguished by a unique identity and set of materials linked to a different theme of the museum’s collection. The entire floor becomes a space to hang out and be inspired.
A large custom-made chandelier, that follows the curved contours of the previous one, makes full use of the dome’s glorious height and unites the entire space. the shapes mirror the outline of the cupola above it, and the windows in the top of the cupola. To bring the monumental space’s height down to a more human scale, Studio Modijefsky added a low coloured plinth. Painted umber brown, it encircles the walls around the café and shop to subtly unite the two zones.
The bar is the first thing you see upon entering the space, whether it’s from the entrance or returning from the exhibition wing. Café Pierre, named after the former museum director Pierre Janssen (1926-2007), includes a wide palette of surfaces and motifs. In typical Modijefsky style, it’s a mix of different materials and sculptural elements: a marble block; two towers of aged brass and bronze ; a marble ornament. Other materials include dark and light oiled oak, linoleum, and white crackle tiles. Inspired by Magical Realism, the result of the intervention is an intriguing harmony of elements, materials and shapes.
All the benches, shop displays and bar are positioned around the monumental columns in the space, the only part of the existing structure that had to be retained. To counterbalance the height and light of the dome, all the elements have been designed to be dark and “heavy”: low and high custom-made wooden tables are paired with bespoke benches that back onto four of the columns. These are upholstered with two types of eco-leather to counteract the roughness of the wood.
For more information on Museum Arnhem visit Studio Modijefsky’s website and don’t forget to follow their Instagram page too!
Design: Studio Modijefsky; Esther Stam, Natalia Nikolopoulou, Agnese Pellino, Ivana Stella, Aurélia De Chevigny
Other designer companies involved: Benthem Crouwel (Architects), Thonik (Brand identity & Wayfinding), Karres & Brands (Landscape architects)
Photography by Maarten Willemstein
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