Lately this has not been the frequently updated blog I’d like it to be and unfortunately I now update it quite irregularly. This is partly due to busy periods in the masters course Design Cultures I started last year, for which I’m now in the final phase of writing my thesis. I’m doing research on the colonial style homes and interiors in the Dutch East Indies and these large and spacious interiors were characterised by their neoclassical style furniture mixed with the tropical and vernacular influences. Well since it keeps me off the streets lately I thought to share a little something of some video footage I recently watched.
Most of the footage was shot between 1910 and 1930, including home videos, registrations of the streets scenes and short documentaries. I captured some stills to share here. Remarkable is the clean and bright white clothing so typical of colonials. Of course this expressed their (imagined) superiority, showed their ability to wear clean clothing every single day, since white is extremely contagious in the tropics, but moreover the repellent white was just very cool (as in cold). In the colony cars were much more common than they were in the homecountry and the Ford models were well represented. Yet, it wouldn’t be a Dutch colony if there were no bikes present and I really like the street scene where you see the Europeans commuting on their classic style bicycles. Please note the cinema too, a form of entertainment hugely popular at the time, where they screen the Fritz Lang movie Die Nibelungen: Siegfried. To get back to my topic of research, the homes and the interiors, it is a pity we only see the luxurious houses of the rich administers and clubs in these videos, which are not really representative of the usual colonial home. Although the neoclassical style is evident, the villa in the first picture really resembles a Palladio design. His I Quattro Libri Dell’Architettura was extremely popular amongst the colonials. The furniture made of rattan cane seen on two stills, is more representative of an East-Indian home. Chinese entrepreneurs introduced them to the colony and with huge success: moisture resistant, easy to move around and very airy in the hot climate.
By the way acclaimed Dutch director Paul Verhoeven is now busy filming De Stille Kracht, a novel from 1900 by Louis Couperus set in the Dutch East Indies.