“Ding dong!” – the sound of a brass antique box that is my doorbell. My guest welcomed by the same mundane sound that is heard the world over. Surely there is a better to announce your arrival; surely a doorbell can be more visually simulating than a small box. This is where the subtle humour of new age Droog Dutch design steps in and saves us from the norm with their “Bottoms up Doorbell”. This is a brilliant piece of Droog alternative thinking, but is Droog just another fancy design company that manufactures pointless products and sells them for a ridicules price.
Droog Design is a Dutch based design cooperative. The Dutch word Droog is translated as dry in English, thus meaning Dry Design. ‘Dry Design’ was launched in 1993 by Gijs Bakker and Renny Ramakers as a design presentation group but received their first commission in 1996. Amsterdam is the port, in which this growing cult design empire is based. Droog are growing fast though with shops popping up in Tokyo and new this very year to Soho, New York. Droog are a typical fearless Dutch design firm and are keen to take designs from little known designers, it’s this fearlessness that has helped Droog to become so popular. Not to mention their ability of instantaneously boosting the reputation of product designers such as Marcel Wanders and Richard Hutten to name a few.
Peter van der Jagt’s “Bottoms Up Doorbell” is perhaps one of the most suitable, yet clever designs I have experienced. Van der Jagt is a Dutch independent product designer. He was born in 1971 and studied 3D Design at the School of the Arts in Arnhem. He has designed for big companies such as Moooi, Authentic and of course Droog. Some of his well-known designers are the 1500-LED scrolling clock and the Nixie Clock. Van der Jagt’s “Bottoms Up Doorbell” was designed in 1993 and manufactured by Droog as an experiment in 1994, winning a Red Dot Award in 2007. Van der Jagt has fought against the horrible, vulgar novelty doorbell and has come up with a subtle classy alternative. Simplicity is the key to his design, two crystal wine glasses, simple yet elegant. The sound is made by the glasses being struck in turn by a small hammer that is connected to an electric rally. When the guest presses the elegant black buzzer the hammer strikes the glasses, giving the guest a musical toast. a gentle ‘ching ching’ of glasses. I think this to be chic and up market, a prosperous design that has become a sought after object amongst designers.
Droog’s “bottoms up doorbell” Is an example of their great design qualities. The down side to this product is the price. Quoted at ‘€ 190’ in one of Droog’s European catalogues, I would have to admit that it is a little over priced to say the least. The whole key to this subtle work of art is the simplicity of the design. The doorbell is made from basically a 12V transformer and a pair of crystal glasses. This simple design looks like it was crafted in a garden workshop, yet looks at home well in elegant town house. The doorbell could easily be copied at the tinniest fraction of its cost. This ridiculous over pricing is apparent through out Droog’s products and the world of elite product design, where the likes of Alessi and Bang and Olufsen charge extortionate amounts for their products. In my eyes a great example of this over pricing is Droog’s cult objects ‘Chest of Drawers’, designed by Tejo Remy and priced at “€ 11.500” . The set of drawers is simply a set of recycled, un-matching drawers held together by a length of canvas. There is nothing subtle, stylish or elegant about this product and there is nothing subtle about it’s gross miss pricing.
There is a sense of irony in some Droog’s design philosophies. Gijs Bakker, the co-founder of Droog and a Professor of Design at Eindhoven Design Academy, was invited to be a guest lecturer at Sydney’s University of Technology Sydney. 'Italy was still dominating the scene, but...