29-10 / 31-12 2000

Kho Liang Ie

Kho Liang Ie is known as one of the most exceptional industrial designers in The Netherlands. Between 1955 and 1975 he played a vital role in stimulating both designers and manufacturers to join forces and work closer together.
His impact was not only the result of his designs but also of his effort to use new materials and the latest production techniques. He had an intense relation with Dutch industial firms.
Especially for the Dutch companies Artifort and CAR, Kho Liang Ie was of incredible value.
In 1962, his international fame gave him the opportunity to design the interior for the Dutch National Airport Schiphol in Amsterdam. For this commission he attracted as much as possible Dutch industrial firms. The exhibition of Kho Liang Ie at VIVID shows all his important projects and demonstrates his position and meaning in the Netherlands.
Products that are still being produced will be available to buy.


"When three years ago, we were commissioned by Phonogram to design an integrated office-landscape system for 450 people, we were aware that we had no experience at all of offices and the science of man's behaviour, but that we should not be manipulated to design a sort of new human working paradise. We delved into required literature and traveled to the Hamburg empires"' went to the new Volvo factory and tried to find Bo Wolgers in Stockholm (one of the famous industrial psychologists) who had already written many reports on this subject. Unfortunately, we could only bring back his reports as we had no chance of meeting him. We went to the Kew experiments of the Department of Environmental Design in London. We met for the first time, Norman Foster in his Olsen lines building. In addition we went to Monsanto and Boot's Building (Skidmore Owings & Merill); crossed the ocean and visited several American office landscapes of Eastman Kodak in Rochester, some other buildings in the Midwest Chicago area and in New York. This was the first time we had undertaken such a very profound survey, because of our fear of making mistakes when working on a project which was entirely new to us as interior designers. It is not only an technological and aesthetic problem but more an question of comfort and convenience: freedom of human beings moving freely over 7500 m2 while doing their work. Some for their own happiness and satisfaction, some due to the necessity of earning money and some in loneliness and unhappiness in this blessed society.

For two years we worked very closely with the architect D. Zuiderhoek and with groups of people from many different disciplines. By listening and talking we got the barriers out of the way. We even organized two symposia on this subject with the help of experts of man's behaviourism, management people and designers. The pleasure of our work this time was not primarily the aesthetics of it, but to bring order in space where people can freely move their furniture, where flexibility is a guarantee for a new sort of replacement. The only grid is for electric power and telephone connections. On our survey we found that in all big offices in one technical way or another it is necessary to have some kind of "baffle" system underneath the ceiling for acoustical reasons, in most various structures from rectangular to polygonal. We found that this endless ceiling is irritating from the perceptive point of view, which is why we designed for Phonogram a system based on a wave with an amplitude of 120 cm, with the lighting installed in the top together with the air exhaust, and on the bottom the input of fresh air. The acoustic panels in the sloping parts give almost the same effect as a "baffle ceiling". It was worth investing quite a lot of money to carry out the experiment on the air-conditioning system in Sweden. We tried to create a monochrome environment only in sand colors up to dark brown, all edges, skirtings, door-handles and the staircase in stainless steel. The only real aesthetics luxury we allowed ourselves was the main staircase area connecting all floors, which we numbered by S for sousterrain, P for parterre, 1,2 and 3, adding at the groundfloor Kees Fransse's apple relief, a block print on silk by Carel Visser on the first floor, a hard edge from Jan van Goethem on the second floor. For the coffee corners in the main working areas we tried to redesign the most ugly drink- and coffee-machines into clean hygienic humanlike units. We selected sub-tropical plants from southern Europe to provide the smell of nature. One year after the opening we have the feeling the system is working(?) and maybe you can see the results in Jan Versnel's photographs, or if you come and visit and talk with the people in the office.
This project has taught us a lot. Human happiness is not to be measured. New working environments can only be created by people with people, in a togetherness with understanding and love of each other"

Kho Liang Ie

Phonogam Internationaal Amalialaan Baarn
Kho Liang Ie ass. 1971-1973
Screens: Olivetti (Sottsass)
Furniture: Ahrend (Kramer)