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Kho Liang Ie, Archive

While interning at the Het Neiuwe Instituut in Rotterdam, I had the luck to work on the Speculative Design Archive exhibition.

The exhibition, which presented a look into the design archives of many different Dutch designers, was questioning the methods and reasons for saving works such as sketches, models, tests and samples, for the future of design.

One special feature in the exhibition was the works and slide archive of Kho Liang Ie, now handled by his son Eng Bo Kho. The story behind this archive held an urgency which made me desperate to preserve the slides of Kho's work. Much of his archive had been accidentally thrown away or water damaged and was now sat in a sort of limbo. Spread between various boxes waiting to be sorted.

After learning some archiving techniques and processes I got to work organising, scanning and listing the slides. Creating a more formal documentation of the archive.

But, for Eng Bo Kho, who preserves his fathers name and works through exhibitions, books and events, I wanted to create an easier tool. A way for him to share the archive, with his family, friends or other interested parties. This led to the creation of an Archive Catalogue, with a simple introduction to Kho's works, life and the images of his archive split into different projects and categories.

Some of the images were damaged or with faded colouring, but this just added to the character and charm of the imagery.

The archive contains many behind the scenes snapshots of Kho's exhibition set ups and product photoshoots but also travels, his home and even some photos of Kho himself.

While the archive of course holds an importance to design history and can serve as an inspiration to young and practicing designers. The value I found within this collection was the human story.

While in the exhibition I had people come up to me with stories about the sofa they had which he designed or that they had once sat on the seating he created for Schiphol Airport. And while following Kho's working life through images of design or snapshots of his character and home deeply cluttered, in contrast with his clean design aesthetic. It all gives another dimension to his work. As a designer whose furniture was for some people a part of their every day, knowing more about where these things come from gives them happy memories and deeper connections in their own lives.

A special thank you to Eng Bo Kho

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