The Workbench was originally part of the Hard Edge series (1988-1990). After graduating from De Ateliers in 1987, Joep van Lieshout created sculptures from beer crates and standardized concrete paving tiles, one of which is now part of the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam’s collection. These works about rigid dimensioning gave rise to a series of minimalist tables and shelving units that adhere to a strict size and colour system. They rebel against the artistic maxims of uniqueness, non-functionality and originality. They openly display their no-nonsense fiberglass design, exuding brutal beauty.
Workbench in setting
Hard Edge evolved into Soft Edge, a series of kitchens, bathrooms and mobile homes that were made to order and fully customized. The limitations imposed by the rules for Hard Edge works were lifted. By this time Van Lieshout had renounced the myth of artistic genius and unicity, posing and acting as a craftsman. In 1995, he even stopped working under his own name altogether and founded Atelier Van Lieshout (AVL), a workshop that employs 20 creatives.