Named for the engineer Louis Christiaan Kalff (1897–1976), Philips’s artistic brain for more than 40 years, the institute makes accessible and encourages the use of designers’ archival material by making digital versions available for education, research, and inclusion in books, lectures and exhibitions. The institute also carries out its own projects, usually in partnership with other organisations.
The Louis Kalff Instituut held an inaugural symposium at the Van Abbemuseum in April 2011 on the importance of preserving, studying and publicising materials related to industrial products. For the occasion, the industrial designer Joop Istha, who started his career with Philips in the mid-1950s, transferred his archive to the institute. The institute received approximately 4,000 sketches for items such as refrigerators, vacuum cleaners and washing machines.
Guest speakers at the symposium were Peter van Dam, Kalff’s biographer; the designer Paul Mijksenaar; Timo de Rijk of VU University Amsterdam and the Delft University of Technology; Mary-Ann Schreurs, Eindhoven’s alderwoman for innovation, culture and public space; Marie-Christine van der Sman of NAGO; Premsela’s Job Meihuizen; and Mienke Simon Thomas of the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen.
The Louis Kalff Instituut also recently welcomed into its archives a small collection of posters by its namesake. Louis Kalff was Philips’s longtime ad man and the designer of objects including Eindhoven’s iconic Evoluon conference centre. The institute will spotlight his work in 2013.