It is a publication in an unusual format: 12 blades folded in leporello format and stored in a glove. In total 20 photos of 108 x 28cm with life-size spoons, printed in black and white. They are accompanied by six texts in Portuguese, English and German signed by professionals of different specialties:
Hannes Böhringer, professor - Berlin;
Franco Clivio, designer - Zurich;
Marcus Jauer, journalist - Berlin;
Axel Kufus, teacher - Berlin;
Peter Nickl, curator - Munich;
Corinna Rösner, curator - Munich.
Design: Hans Hansen, Hamburg
Edition: Florian Hufnagl, director Die Neue Sammlung - The International Design Museum Munich
Photos: Hans Hansen
Photo assistance: Felix Krebs, Hamburg
Graphic design: Annette Kröger, Pierre Mendell Design Studio, Munich Coordination: Bebel Abreu, Mandacaru,
Printed in Berlin, Germany, in 2012 - Single copy of 1,000 copies
Letter to Hans Hansen
My dear Hans,
Your decision of making a book about my bamboo spoons made me think about the power of photographs, the magic of spoons, and the power of fortune interfering with our lives.
I have learnt that there are a large number of people that don’t pay attention to the spoons they use every day, and that there are people who like spoons, as much as they like other objects. There are also, and that is very good, a few number of people that love spoons. A jewelry teacher, who gathered a beautiful collection of spoons, has taught me that the spoon is the first object ever used by men and that this could help explain the fascination some of us feel about it.
Life has shown me that people who are affected by the simple shapes of handles and shells perhaps remember their own grandmothers in the kitchen, making a sweet with a very good aroma. Others, enthusiastic with what they have seen, do surprising things: invite you to take part of an international exhibition, decide to keep spoons in a design museum, and like you, even set out to make a photograph book about them. I think they do that out of generosity, so that other people can also be delighted.
I tell you that the history of this book begins with terrible black and white photos of spoons that the painter Heidi Libermann, a good friend of mine, insisted I took for her. And Peter Nickl saw precisely those images without contrast in a friend’s house, in Hamburg. He likes to say that he was mesmerized, and has never ever forgotten what he saw. His invitation to expose at the 2002 Exempla, an annual event celebrating the excellence of the manual work, came exactly on my birthday, as a gift.
It was there that I saw Corinna Rösner coming close to the spoons with sparkling eyes, as someone who had finally found something to include in her collection at the International Museum of Design, in Munich. As I don’t mix money and spoons, we agreed that, in exchange for a set of long spoons, my daughter Bebel would do an internship in the museum, under Corinna’s guidance.
It was there that she met Pierre Mendell and fell in love with his posters. I found it very funny when I was told he would like to get exactly a dozen spoons. I responded to that order by cutting an old little bamboo pot I found at a friend’s kitchen, and was thanked by Pierre with a small red heart drawn in the center of a card. As far as I know, you saw precisely those spoons at Pierre’s studio, which Annette Kröger keeps active, during a meeting his friends, who miss him very much.
Your letter talking about your old wish of making a book has deeply touched me. It brought me back your tall and thin figure in front of the counter full of spoons, touching each of them with great curiosity. I tell you that I kept in my memory your joyful face, getting away from us, shaking a long spoon in the air that, because of a communication failure, you believed I had given you as a gift. During all these years, I tell this funny history about our meeting at the Exempla. Later on, I was told you were a photographer who was exhibiting your works in town.
When returning from Hamburg, bringing my spoons back, Bebel and Diana told me that you would smile by yourself while patiently positioning the spoons to photograph them, and that you would have no concern about time. This made me feel that we are similar persons, and made me think that to photograph in the studio and to cut bamboo while walking on the beach might activities of the same nature.
May the book bring you lots of happiness, my dear Hans.
Vitória, June 2010
The Magic of the simple things
Excerpt from the text published in "Álvaro Abreu Bamboo"
I first saw Alvaro Abreu’s spoons at a special show, Exempla, during the 2002 Internationale Handwerksmesse in Munich, and despite the many other strong impres sions there, they struck me like lightening. There were four of us at the time: the director of Die Neue Sammlung – six months later the museum would celebrate the opening of its new building, the Pinakothek der Moderne – and the three curators. We had a kind of annual ritual: first, each of us would stroll separately around the special shows and then meet later and talk about what struck us as outstanding, always with a view to whether it was worthy of a museum. Our awareness had been further heightened by the plans for our future permanent exhibition on the theme of design. In 2002 there was no controversy whatsoever: Alvaro Abreu’s spoons fitted the collection, like a glove fits a hand.
At an exhibition in Abreu’s hometown, Vitória, I saw the spoons again, this time a much larger number, a huge number, innumerable spoons. The walls of the exhibition space were covered with them, a whole universe of spoons. The insatiable eye was presented with spoon after spoon, ladles, scoops, spatulas. And here again one could well understand – or understand even better in view of the diverse nuances, variants and modifications – why the right place for these works is the museum, where what counts is design, not products that can be bought, but ideas. What counts for Alvaro Abreu is the idea of the spoon, the making of it, and its usefulness – yes, that too – but primarily, the grasp of the idea of appropriate design gained in the making of these simple handy things for every day use. If you wish, you could call this conceptional, to use a timely art term, but you can also simply be captivated, delighted, enriched and inspired by it.
Corinna Rösner, Curator
Mr. Abreu’s Spoons
Excerpt from the text published in "Álvaro Abreu Bamboo"
One night I was dining at friends' house in Hamburg when black and white photos of bamboo spoons appeared beside my plate. "Is that something for an exhibition?" asked the hostess. I looked at the photos and something electrified me. This does not always happen, and when it does, one does not forget in the blink of an eye.
Peter Nickl, Curator