Gabo and The Bijenkorf
The Bijenkorf aims high with everything it does. The grandeur of Marcel Breuer’s architecture is being revitalised, thanks to an extensive facelift, and Gabo’s famous sculpture has been restored too.
Words: Evelien Baks
Art and beautiful things go hand in hand and they make life just that little bit more pleasurable. It is therefore not surprising to hear that artists have been warmly embraced by the Bijenkorf, the city’s number one department store for high-end brands. It began with Marcel Breuer, the man behind the world-famous Wassily chair, or the B3 as it is also known. After World War II, the Hungarian-American architect was asked to design a new Bijenkorf for Rotterdam after the original building was destroyed during the 1940 bombardment of the city. Grandeur was returned to the Coolsingel in 1957 with Breuer’s design, which included travertine tiles on the exterior walls, a monumental stone stairway, wooden handrails, terrazzo floors and beautiful door handles.
At the moment, the department store, which is a protected heritage building, is undergoing an extensive facelift. Every floor will soon be bathed in luxury, and particular attention is being paid to the store’s original 1950s features. Those distinctive elements conceived by Breuer are being exposed and will be treasured. Its 1300m2 cosmetics department is now the largest in the Netherlands. You can mix your own perfume there at Le Labo and also enjoy a beauty treatment. Starting in Spring, renovations began on a completely new jewellery and accessories department and the restrooms will undergo a metamorphosis as well.
Last year, the Bijenkorf also tackled the 26m tall sculpture by Naum Gabo, which has been standing in front of the store since 1957. The sculpture is a well-known feature that has, in typical Rotterdam fashion, been given a range of nicknames. The most common is The Thing. Since the beginning of the year, the 40-tonne granite, concrete, steel and copper artwork has been shining like new and is once again beautifully lit up.
The Bijenkorf regularly invites artists to the store. For the very first edition of Room on the Roof, Rotterdam’s residence artists event in April, artist Krijn de Koning created an installation in a forgotten space on the first floor. During the wonderful Dakendagen event (Rooftop Days) on June 1st, 2nd and 3rd, the Bijenkorf once again threw open its doors to the uppermost floor. We can’t wait to see what’s next!