The supersized insects of RaR

At first sight when you see the ceramic vases in the form of odd insects hanging on the wall you might pass by it and just consider it kitsch. Yet, they stay with you. There’s something unusual, something moving, something dear, something to cherish. They look so real, but they are supersized. Displayed together on the wall this collection of beetles overwhelms you.  All these different species look like the work of a biologist or an entomologist. Nature imposes itself on you. Rare species enlarged by a magnifying glass. No escape. It is out of this world. Looking at them we connect with our co-creators on planet earth. This cross-pollination of nature and culture opens us up to the infinite possibilities of life with new ways to connect art, design and craft.

Two German artists, Beate Reinheimer and Ulrike Rehm, make this collection of ceramic beetles. They live and work in the Netherlands. They met as tutor and student; they kept contact over the years and started in 2010 a working relation under the name RaR (Reinheimer and Rehm). In German, the word rar also means rare, strange, or special. No better word could to describe their buggy collaboration.

Like most good things in life, the birth of these beetles started out of the blue. It happened one afternoon when the two sat down together, dreaming of ways to combine their skills and passion for pottery. Beate lives in a country house and showed Ulrike one of her favorite books on insects. A page of different beetle species intrigued both of them. Their pearly colors and odd forms were truly fascinating. They both concluded that this would be great in glaze and ceramics. 

Their love for the handmade set them right to work. Hands on. With a hole on top, each beetle also becomes a hanging vase to hold flowers. As soon as the first lot was finished RaR presented their collection of ceramic beetles at an art fair in the Netherlands. Before they could even talk to visitors, passing by the collection was Thomas Eyck who spotted the beetles. Instantly smitten, Eyck, an adviser at the Zuiderzee Museum in Enkhuizen, the Netherlands, and a publisher and distributer of characteristic and exclusive contemporary design products, showed interest in working with RaR. And when the day at the fair was over, a contract was signed wherein Beate and Ulrike gave Eyck the exclusive rights for their set of beetle vases called Schwarm.

Within a few months the beetles took flight. Eyck showed them at the Milan Furniture Fair in 2011. From there the beetle infestation spread quickly. Within a year the beetles were bought by museums—from Egypt and Japan—and collectors from all over the world. Even Louis Vuitton bought them.

Since their first meeting with Thomas Eyck, RaR is in full swing producing beetles to send out around the globe. Each piece is unique and numbered. There are 63 different beetles and 10 species. Each come with a limited edition of 40 pieces. Once you buy one, you want to collect them all and make your own wall—a dangerous item for the hunter and collector in us all. If you cannot resist make sure to place your order soon, because some are already sold out.

With more beetles in the kiln, Beate and Ulrike—still overwhelmed by their immediate success—have time to play and think about future buggy or not buggy projects for Milan 2013.

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