Maarten Baas: More Or Less: An Exhibition That Redefines Denim

Denim brand G-Star RAW has collaborated with Dutch artist, designer and fashion stylist Maarten Baas to create pieces that question our problematic relationship with consumption

Both brands and consumers of today are in a tough spot when it comes to balancing commercialization with the climate crisis. The exhibition “More or Less,”which opens to the public at Milan Design Week from April 18 to April 23, seeks to explore that predicament.

Housed in the 17th-century church of San Paolo Converso, the exhibition features a collection of cabinets designed in the shape of jeans. As functional as they are experimental, the pieces are made of denim that has been collected from recycled G-Star jeans from stores across Europe via the brand’s “Return your Denim” program. The denim itself was designed by Danish textile innovator Kvadrat Really, which upcycles end-of- life textiles into materials suitable for interior projects.

However, the star of the show comes with the introduction of a 15-metre jet. It stands bold and looming, and it was crafted by Baas to challenge viewers about our need for less.

“Every year in Milan, I witness the tragicomic dialogue between green design and mass consumption,” says Baas in a statement. “When G-Star approached me to collaborate, it was the perfect opportunity to focus on this relevant dilemma. After all, we are all part of the same puzzle: we enjoy our prosecco next to this private jet made from recycled materials.”

Working across the disciplines of product and interior design, architecture, public art and performance art, Baas has pieces in galleries including the MOMA, the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Rijksmuseum, and has won many accolades, including “Designer of the Year” at Design Miami/ Basel.

Every year in Milan I witness the tragicomic dialogue between green design and mass consumption

“At G-Star, we believe that there is no limit to what denim can do,” says Gwenda van Vliet, CMO of G-Star RAW, in a statement. “In this case, we’re spotlighting what our denim waste can become. And how we can change waste material into something meaningful that stands out; and that makes you wonder and think. Because we all want more, but our planet needs less.”

This isn’t the first time G-Star has turned its take on denim to sustainability. In 2022, it launched The Art of RAW, a platform where international design talents from both within and outside the world of fashion are challenged to transform denim waste and dead stock into something new. Later this year, the brand will also launch its own secondhand platform, allowing customers to trade pre-worn items.

“Yes, we are constantly aiming to reduce our impact on people and the planet, but, at the same time, we realize we encourage consumption, as well,” the statement from van Vliet continues. “That symbolizes the balancing act of being both a responsible and a successful business at the same time.”

“More or Less” is open to the public for free from April 18 to April 23 at Chiesa di San Paolo Converso, Piazza Sant’Eufemia 1, Milan, in Italy.

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Josh Walker

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