November 27, 2019
Masters at work
In 1963, Harry Schoonbrood’s colourful mural was unveiled in the restaurant at Maastricht railway station. Up until 1988, hundreds of thousands of travellers were able to admire this impressive piece of art that was commissioned by Mosa and the Kristalunie glass factory. The mural then disappeared under a thick layer of wallpaper and was in danger of being forgotten altogether were it not for Harry Wijnen, an art lover and connoisseur. He brought this art treasure, located above the space used by the AH to go shop, to the attention of the Dutch Railways in 2011. Fortunately, Wijnen’s e-mail was kept.
Mosa and Maastricht
At the start of the major renovation work currently being carried out at the station, it was decided to take a look behind the wallpaper. It was then that the mural was discovered, generating a great deal of enthusiasm among those present, which increased further still when the Dutch Railways decided a few weeks later to restore the artwork to its former glory. This decision makes Maastricht’s history, which is inextricably linked to the ceramic and glass industry and therefore to Mosa, even more tangible for Maastricht, its inhabitants, and its visitors.
Top designer Bellefroid
Now, two weeks further into the restoration, the depictions of the products are gradually becoming visible. And although many of the items in the painting are no longer recognized, it is clear that the products represent the top designs from the collections of both Mosa and the Kristalunie glass factory. Prominent objects, such as the slender, elegant, and majestic coffee pot with – as its counterpart – the full, rounded teapot of the Noblesse mocha tableware set immediately catch the eye. This set was designed in 1957 by Edmond Bellefroid (1893 - 1971), who was affiliated with Mosa as one of its most important designers ever from 1948 onwards. Bellefroid was a talented industrial designer and a gifted ceramicist who, just like Schoonbrood, the creator of the mural, studied at the Stadsteekeninstituut in Maastricht. Bellefroid was bold in his designs and in his vision. He took the view that decoration was necessary but should not be allowed to become excessively kitsch. As such, he believed that the shape of an item should not be affected, but be enhanced. In all his designs for Mosa, he followed this trend closely and, as a result, his vision led to contemporary but timeless designs.
Famous glass artists
The glasswork created by Andries Copier (1901 - 1991) and Max Verboeket (1922 - 2015) is also visible on the mural. Copier was one of the most important glass artists of the Netherlands and he worked at the Leerdam glass factory, which just like the Kristalunie was taken over by the Verenigde Glasfabrieken (United Glass Factories) at the end of the 1950s. Copier was a master at applying the latest technical developments and experimented where he could with shapes, colours, and the practicality of designs. As well as being practical to use, the pieces made by Copier’s hand were art forms in themselves. The same is true for the works of Verboeket who was also an industrial and graphic designer. Verboeket was employed as head of design at the Kristalunie glass factory and his initial designs were highly functional. In the early 1960s, however, he switched to glass designs with whimsical but organic shapes and exuberant colour accents. His well-known, one-off KristalunieKen pieces were particularly expressive and are still very much reminiscent of richly coloured Italian glass art.
Investing in design
As companies such as Mosa deliberately chose to work with the best designers and invested in design, this produced a rich collection of workpieces that made an impression both in the Netherlands and abroad. This is also evident from the many prizes that Bellefroid, Copier, and Verboeket all received for their designs. Even back then, the Netherlands was already excelling in the area of design and stood out among other countries with its versatility in various disciplines – from painting and the visual arts to graphic design and glass and ceramic art. In 1958, for example, Verboeket was awarded the Belgian Signe d’Or Industriel prize for his Bouquet glassware and Bellefroid’s Noblesse tableware was awarded the Gulden Vorm certificate less than a year after the mural was unveiled. As a result, both the designer and Mosa became renowned for their ability to produce unique high-quality items on a large scale.
Mosa and Bellefroid were a golden duo; just as Verboeket and Copier were for the Kristalunie and Leerdam glass factory respectively. Mosa still invests heavily in design. Whereas we did this at the time for both our porcelain and our tiles (including a collaboration with Kho Liang Ie), we now do this for our tiles using complete teams that embrace all challenges and who are able to keep coming up with extraordinary things time and again. Our vision states that design must not be scrimped on. On the contrary, good design leads to creations that make you think and leave you in awe.