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The Living Surface

An alternative biology book on stains by Lizan Freijsen

Lizan Freijsen, Ed van Hinte, Hanneke Gelderblom


The Living Surface

An alternative biology book on stains by Lizan Freijsen

Lizan Freijsen, Ed van Hinte, Hanneke Gelderblom


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Art / Awarded / Design / New titles



Graphic design

Studio Renate Boere

Number of pages


Book size 

23.2 x 30 cm



English / Dutch / French

With support of the Creative Industries Fund NL & crowdfunding


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.

Transformation and time are the central themes in this publication, in which the unwanted gains significance. Engineer and design critic Ed van Hinte, fluid physicist Hanneke Gelderblom and Lizan Freijsen 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.

About the authors 

Ed van Hinte is a freelance writer, design critic, curator and teacher. He studied industrial design and engineering at Delft University of Technology. He is driven by an unreserved aversion to objects and conventions in creative communities. In addition, he initiated, together with Renate Boere, the design research facility DRS22 in The Hague. DRS22 performs design research pertaining to the public space, communication and lightweight structures. 

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). Her research focuses on various fluid dynamic phenomena, most of them related to fluid motion in droplets. Her research interests include evaporation and particle deposition in droplets, the response of droplets to impact on various surfaces and the shattering of liquid droplets upon impact by laser pulses.

For more information about the artist: