After an architectural training Jan Slothouber (1918 – 2007) and William Graatsma (1925) worked as architects / designers from 1955 for the Dutch State Mines (DSM). Here they designed the packing, product applications, advertisements and exhibitions and gave the company a recognizable face. Within the information service of DSM the two had an unique position: they could build their own world and developed the principle of cubic constructions. The cubic as a main point brought restriction but also clearity in the multiplicity of possibilities according to Slothouber and Graatsma. The use of several materials adds each time new aspects to the functioning of the cubic constructions.

With their work Slothouber and Graatsma had a clear social intention. The designers considered themselves in fact as ‘ anonymous ‘ discoverers of the many applications of cubics. In democratic passing these possibilities, in which the useful construction exceeds the personal, artistic claim, lies the meaning of their activities. On one hand their working method was entirely new, on the other hand it had been linked with an old idealistic tradition, which propagated an important role for art and design in society.

William Graatsma

Almost accidentally Slothouber and Graatsma entered the world of the visual arts. The Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam asked them to make the exhibition with the title Vier kanten: maat, vorm, kleur, letter (Four Sides: Size, Shape, Colour, Letter). After that they founded the Centre for Cubic Constructions (CCC). Several fascinating presentations folowed, among that in the Art & Project gallery in 1968 and the Dutch presentation at the The Venice Biennial in 1970. See some historical images below.

The ehxibition Cubics takes place at Vivid Gallery January 9 to February 27.