Interview Karel Bodegom in 'Den Haag Centraal' July 5, 2018


Masterly The Hague initiates a unique encounter between Dutch masters and contemporary designers. The The Hague interior architect and designer Karel Bodegom, like Rembrandt is fascinated by light.

Interior architect and designer Karel Bodegom has been working for bas van pelt interior architecture in The Hague since 1988. He consults for spaces within existing architecture and designs distinctive interior objects such as the trunk gas fire. Bodegom has a penchant for daylight, lamps and colour. For Masterly The Hague, curator Nicole Uniquole linked him to Rembrandt. Bodegom has been working together with her for years. He designed a light object 4.5 meters in height for in the stairwell of art dealer Hoogsteder & Hoogsteder. His preparations consisted of meticulous study of Rembrandt van Rijn’s work. In addition, he conferred several times with Willem Jan Hoogsteder, art expert and co-organiser of Masterly. Specifically, on the combination of art and light and the lighting of old colours.

About Rembrandt

Willem Jan Hoogsteder on Rembrandt: “He is called the master of light. Rembrandt suggests a great deal, more so than his predecessors. He experimented with the contrasts of light and dark, clair-obscure. It becomes evident in the Christ bust, the study of Christ in the permanent collection of Bredius. Light reflects on the most important parts whereas other parts in the shadow are omitted. The dark parts are slightly hazy encouraging us to complete the picture with our imagination. That is what renders the portraits so lifelike and artful; he was concerned with what is on the inside. Rembrandt taught us to look in a different way, at people with emotions and character.”

Light in Construction

Karel Bodegom calls the Christ bust a 300-year old selfie. “It looks like a self-portrait although I’m uncertain, but I see how it bears resemblance with the maker. Rembrandt’s greatest merit was his ability to create light in shadow”.

The intimacy in Rembrandt’s work also greatly appeals to him. The Christ bust painting cannot be moved from its fixed spot at the Bredius museum. “I wonder which feelings remain after having seen the Christ bust; what lingers? That is what I want to evoke with my design.” Bodegom thus created the light object naming it Light in Construction. An initial version was presented at the well-known Milan design exhibit last Spring. It is constructed of existing elements assembled in a unique manner. A low horizontal beam is attached to a high vertical column. These are steel scaffolding elements covered in a thin layer of gold spray. The spray was developed by Art & Metal. Construction joints hold the fluorescent lamps. “They needed to be fluorescent. This light swirls and is deflected which is only possible with gas discharged lamps, not with LED light bulbs. The scaffolding tubes are also a nod to the future. The Binnenhof will be fully scaffolded the coming years. “I thought of how I could lend it some cachet?” Laughing, “Now Hoogsteder can get accustomed to the view.”

Reorganising Spaces

Festival visitors can hardly avoid the light object. It will be placed in a corner of the stairwell at Hoogsteder & Hoogsteder. Bodegom describes the lamp as making an upward movement in the stairscase.

“To put it flippantly, you could pole dance around the lamp. It is a strong point of reference. Lighting technician Gregor van Egdom brings the light to life; het lets it breathe. Sometimes it will be lit up to 100%, at other moments the light will be reduced to 30%. It depends on the light coming through the windows around the staircase like  natural pillars of light. Using a computer program, it is easy to imitate the sun behind the clouds.” Bodegom relies on collaborations like the ones with van Egdom and his partner Stijn Hofstede.

“Rembrandt did not work alone” he laughs. “Just as Rembrandt caught the light in his paintings, I attempt to do the same with the spaces I want to reorganise. For private surroundings I want to suggest light as though you were outside. Preferably by lighting the darkest area to enhance the white.” He is knowledgeable on the effect of light within a space.

“It creates optimism, tension and theater; it enlivens the interior. We are reducing our spaces, we live in smaller quarters and lead an increasingly nomadic existence. The balance of light in a compact space is even more important than in a large space. It is intended that a chandelier of migratory glass birds is suspended in the stairwell. I very much look forward to the final result.”

About Masterly The Hague

Masterly The Hague takes place on Thursday 20 through Sunday, September 23rd. This new festival joins the Dutch masters with contemporary designers in an historic location. Visitors meet with the designers and the classic works that inspired them in the magnificent rooms of the three city palaces on the Lange Vijverberg.

More on the festival:



palazzo turati  - 17 t/m 22 april 2018

light in construction

Sturdy vibe in perfect detail

Interior architect Karel Bodegom captureslight in an innovative and functional design. Light in construction is a lighting object especially developed to serve as an indoor meeting point beacon in public spaces.

Original in form and function

Light in construction combines a Philips 830 fluorescent lamp with existing Layher scaffolding elements covered in a thin layer of gold spray.



palazzo turati - 4 t/m 9 april 2017

in style with 'de stijl'

the maison d’artiste tempts you to roam its idiosyncratic interpretation of mondrian’s studio in 'laren' around 1917. the studio holds a desk; a rendition of the escritoire in steel-tube frame by karel bodegom and licensed by thonet. the world’s oldest furniture brand thonet began experimenting with steel-tube frame furniture alongside  their wood frame production during the 'de stijl' movement. 

bodegom produced 3 variations on the secretaire. the first was made in wood veneer (1), with sleek and harmonious planes outlined by printer ink on cherry wood to reflect mondrian’s constructivism. the second is executed in the familiar primary colours (2) to evoke the imagery and the essence of mondrian while the last secretaire is covered with leather (3) and wool felt, as if crawling beneath mondrian’s skin. this is why the latter includes an ingeniously designed mechanical  door: a cabinet-secret.

all three desks together are an ode to mondrian’s first geometrical abstract paintings.

these unique pieces are sold either separately or together and are encased for worldwide delivery, all prices on request.   -