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Exhibition about versatile designer Piet Cohen

From bathroom accessories to Judaica


This year it is forty years ago that the synagogue in Groningen was reopened. This happened in a brand new interior, designed by industrial designer Piet Cohen. This fortieth anniversary is a good reason to organize an exhibition about this versatile artist in the synagogue this summer. About his life, his Groningen synagogue design and his many designs that vary from bathroom accessories to Judaica.


In 1981 the synagogue was reopened after a thorough restoration. It was needed after decades of use for a laundry and then years of vacancy. Part of the restoration was a completely new interior design. When Piet Cohen (1935) was commissioned, he considered it a great honor. But there was also a sad side to it. Cohen: “I had to reduce the six hundred seats in the building to 120.”

From now on, the 120 new seats would be more than enough to accommodate the synagogues.


Striking are the copper pagoda-like lamps on either side of the Sacred Ark. Designer Piet Cohen: ,,They have no substantive meaning. But its sloping layers refer to the steel light construction above the current synagogue.” This construction is in fact a transparent dome and, according to Cohen, should give the 120 seats a certain intimacy.


Very different

His Groningen design is the first of a total of six synagogue designs, such as the synagogue on Obrechtplein and the Jewish schools Maimonides and Roj Pina in Amsterdam. Groningen is therefore the basis of all those other shuffleboard designs. But Piet Cohen also designed other objects with very different functions: from everyday (such as bathroom accessories and lighting) to exalted (Judaica and monumental work).


A special feature of his oeuvre is his Anne Frank Memorial in Israel: a square space, built from rusty steel. From this space, the viewer looks at a massive wall with a stylized chestnut tree.

Anne Frank Memorial in Israel


Despite his relatively advanced age, Piet Cohen is still active as a designer. In May 2019, the Rav Aaron Schuster (RAV) Synagogue in Amsterdam presented a set of new velvet Torah cloaks from his hand. In 2020 his most recent work was unveiled: the holocaust monument in Amstelveen.


Despite his relatively advanced age, Piet Cohen is still active as a designer. In May 2019, the Rav Aaron Schuster (RAV) Synagogue in Amsterdam presented a set of new velvet Torah cloaks from his hand. In 2020 his most recent work was unveiled: the holocaust monument in Amstelveen.






























 

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