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The Living Surface - Second edition

An alternative biology book on stains by Lizan Freijsen

Lizan Freijsen, Ed van Hinte, Hanneke Gelderblom


The Living Surface - Second edition

An alternative biology book on stains by Lizan Freijsen

Lizan Freijsen, Ed van Hinte, Hanneke Gelderblom


Art / Awarded / Design / New titles



Graphic design

Studio Renate Boere

Number of pages


Book size 

23.2 x 30 cm



English / Dutch / French

First edition (2017) published with support of the Creative Industries Fund NL & crowdfunding Revised second edition will be ready winter 2019.

For more information about the artist:

An intriguing look at the work and art-practice of Dutch artist and designer Lizan Freijsen (Zwijndrecht, 1960). Offers a fresh take on how Freijsen works, the materials she uses and her fascination for stains.

“Embracing imperfection is in fact a responds to the over-controlled society in which we live. Witnessing the beauty of slow growing processes and being surrounded by urban nature connects inner time with a sense of home.” - Lizan Freijsen

Artist and designer Lizan Freijsen is fascinated by stains, fungi and mildew. By turning moisture stains into textiles, Lizan Freijsen focuses on these blind spots and visualizes their beauty. The Living Surface: an Alternative Biology Book on Stains by Lizan Freijsen gives an overview of her extensive photo-archive with a wide-range of categories of traces of decay, and a selection of her unique hand-made carpets, tapestries and blankets produced in the last eight years.

The central themes in this publication are transformation and time, in the course of which the unwanted gains significance. Engineer and design critic Ed van Hinte, fluid physicist, scientist Hanneke Gelderblom and Lizan Freijsen herself reflect on the crossroads of art, design, and science. The time-consuming production of carpets by means of the hand tufting technique, combined with form and color studies, provide insight into the design process.

The photo archive of temporary phenomena, Research on the spot (2006-2016), is the source of inspiration for the artistic practice of artist/designer Lizan Freijsen.

Lizan Freijsen lives and works in Rotterdam. After her bachelor studies at the ABK, Rotterdam (1984) she worked at the Jan van Eyck Academie, Maastricht (1989). Since 1999 she has been connected to the Willem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam as a teacher and study coach. Her practice has evolved from painting, mixed media and public space, to photographic research, in which dried stains from the everyday environment take a central place. In the frame of a Master study Design Research (2014-2016) Lizan Freijsen has rekindled interest in a lost craft, namely hand tufting. She creates commissioned carpets and textile products and presents her work at many venues in the international design or art context.

With text contributions by:

Ed van Hinte is a freelance writer, design critic, curator and teacher. He studied industrial design and engineering at Delft University of Technology. 

Hanneke Gelderblom is an academic researcher in the Physics of Fluids group at the University of Twente. She works as a project leader for the Dutch Foundation for Fundamental Research on Matter (Stichting FOM). 

Jury Best Dutch Book Design: ' When it came to this book the panel observed that there was one from the 'Possessed Archives' category. But the fascinating research material (an archive of stains), and the wonderful work of artist Lizan Freijsen that has come out of it, have here been tackled by an equally possessed graphic designer. The result is a beautifully designed book that radiates energy and on every level does full justice to the archive. The grid ensures a good balance in the truly exciting typography, for in this multilingual book Engish, French and Dutch become as it were the material that has been spat out of the archive itself and here threaded through the book: the English from top to bottom, the French from bottom to top, and the Dutch from left to right. It is up to the reader to turn the book so that the language required is presented in a readable way. That the photographic material remains upright hem upside down goes withoug saying, but to threat the text the same ways is a good solution. There was some discussion about the legibility of the French and Dutch - but the text aren't excessively long and readers of this book will have to be slightly fanatical anyway. The inside-out American-style folded dust jacket and the embossing on what might be termed the 'inside cover' are very special. This is a book in which absolutely everthing comes together: it is a classic example of genuine synergy between designer and artist.'