Karel Appel tapestry in De Rotterdam cleaned by freezing

by Rosanne van Tilburg on April 8, 2015

9-ICAT-KarelAppel_GROUP-A_de-rotterdamRecently the Municipality of Rotterdam moved to ‘De Rotterdam‘, the building along the Maas designed by OMA.  The interior of the 33 floors municipal offices was designed by GROUP A  in collaboration with Studio Makking & Bey and Roukens + Van Gils.

5-ICAT-KarelAppel_GROUP-A_de-rotterdamAn essential part in the design is the re-use of municipal furniture by upholstering over 2,000 office- and conference chairs with an especially for this purpose developed fabric. The collaboration between GROUP A, artist Andre Castro and manufacturer Kvadrat has led to the Rotterdam Fabric, which became a significant contributor to the overall look and feel. Further enhancement of the unique nature of the new municipal offices was given by a lovely tapestry by Karel Appel from 1972, recently rediscovered in a remote corner within the previous municipal offices, during an inventory. With its powerful colours and texture the almost forgotten Rotterdam owned artwork by this CoBrA coryphée of the first hour, had to be incorporated into the new work environment. GROUP A integrated the tapestry in the design, and prepared a prominent place for it on the 22nd floor in the welcome area.

3-ICAT-KarelAppel_GROUP-A_de-rotterdamHowever, before putting it on display, the tapestry had to be cleaned and restored. A task performed by the experts of ICAT Textile-restoration.

6-ICAT-KarelAppel_GROUP-A_de-rotterdamTreatment comprised freezing, cleaning, correcting the lining and applying a new suspension system. Before restoration works could start, the tapestry had to be deep frozen for a fortnight (- 21º C) in order to combat moths and other pests, if any. After this process the tapestry got cleaned mechanically, removing surface dirt and dust nestled deep into the woollen piles. Subsequently, the tapestry underwent a wet cleaning.

8-ICAT-KarelAppel_GROUP-A_de-rotterdamAfter the dry and wet cleaning, the openings between lining and tapestry were sewn up and the old yarn around the lining replaced, so that pests could not have access into the back of the tapestry. The original suspension system with metal eyelets was removed and a new system with 10 cm wide Velcro applied.

1-ICAT-KarelAppel_GROUP-A_de-rotterdamWith the opening of the municipal offices the precious tapestry now entered the public domain, ready to be admired by both civil servants and the public.


Photo credits by ScagliolaBrakkee (first and last) and ICAT Textielrestauratie.

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