Saskia van Stein is artistic and managing Director at Bureau Europa, platform for architecture and design in Maastricht (NL). As a presentation and network organization, Bureau Europa presents exhibitions and other activities in the field of architecture, design, instable media and urbanism. From a broad cultural perspective, the issues addressed in this institute relate to contemporary societal global urgencies and how these are analyzed, addressed or expressed in the designed environment.
Until 2012 van Stein worked as a curator at the Netherlands Architecture Institute (NAI) in Rotterdam. Her contemporary cultural practice and interest lie in an intricate relational complex of social, political, economical, psychological and cultural phenomena. During her tenure at the NAI, she initiated multiple projects and curated over 40 exhibitions including ‘The Good Cause, Architecture of Peace’ (i.c.w. Archis foundation at the CCA in Montreal, Canada). In collaboration with Stealth Unlimited, she curated ‘Archiphoenix, Faculties for Architecture’ in the Dutch Pavilion at the Architecture Biennale in Venice in 2008. She was also part of the curatorial team (i.c.w. RAAAF, Jurgen Bey, Barbara Visser and Joost Grootens) responsible for the prize winning Dutch entry for the 2010 Architecture Biennale in Venice, Italy, entitled ‘Vacant NL, Where Architecture Meets Ideas’.
With a profound interest in the discourse of exhibition making and the ‘politics of curating’ van Stein explores different formats and methods of knowledge production and performative display. She’s worked on the exhibition ‘The Bronze-Green Oak Wood’ which ‘crowd sourced the content’, surveying how we observe and depict nature, from landscape to back garden, from bio-topia to urban greenery. She co-curated the traveling exhibition entitled ‘Domestic Affairs, the house is a home to a paradox’ (i.c.w. Institute of Relevant Studies), which explores the house as an interface to our social, economic and political lives. This exhibition traveled to Doha, Qatar and was the Dutch entry for the UABB Shenzhen Biennale in China in 2016.
At Bureau Europa, she co-curated the exhibition ‘THE NEXT BIG THING IS NOT A THING, surveying the design discipline’ which uses the gaze as a metaphor and relates the evolving field of design to the science of anthropology.
She’s a board member of several advice committees, such as Contemporary art center Stroom (The Hague), dance company GOTRA/Joost Vrouenaerts (Heerlen), the Euregional informal academy entitled Stad.Academie and experimental participatory architecture platform TAAT, ‘Theater as Architecture, Architecture as Theater’ (both in Maastricht). Van Stein was chair of the jury for the Prix de Rome 2014, involved in the Pierre Bayle 2015 prize for best architecture critic and is a jury member of The Princess Margriet Award for Culture for ECF (2015-2017). The past four years she has been a member of the (international) Dutch Design Awards jury. Currently she’s also part of the advisory committee to the Council for Culture.
Van Stein has an ardent social and cultural commitment and is actively involved in many debates on art, architecture and design, both as a cultural practitioner, writer and as educator she’s frequently involved in guest lecturing. As a moderator she has worked with cultural institutes such as Netherlands Photomuseum, The New Institute, The Holland Festival and this years ‘What Design Can Do’ conference.