Order + Chaos

Project by Daan Kamerman 

People have been sharing houses for ages. Some type of communal living is still rather common. Living in a student house photographer Daan Kamerman documented shared kitchens as places where different patterns of usage meet. For WOTH she also portrayed shared kitchens in the creative studios of Kiki and Joost, Susan Bijl, and Piet Hein Eek.


Nijmegen, the Netherlands. The sink of a residential group:

4 working people between 35-45 years of age



A student house of three in The Hague. There was little

atmosphere or individuality to be found. A place with just

a practical function. Cold light and an out-dated kitchen.

Order and chaos

I’ve been intrigued by both all my life. As a child I just loved to ‘arrange’ subjects to create some kind of cohesive order. The resulting harmony felt soothing and aesthetically pleasing to me.
But I’ve grown up into a quite chaotic person, at times. Indecisive, leaving things without tidying up after I finished a job. Therefore I am longing for structure that will create meaning.

As a student photography at Royal Academy of the Arts The Hague (the Netherlands), I picked ‘liminality’ as the guideline for my graduation project. Liminality is a term for the chaotic and undetermined phase (‘betwixt-and-between’) during transition from one specific (often social/cultural) identity or ‘space’ to the next. It occurs during life changing events like puberty or moving house and is accompanied by feelings of uncertainty, chaos, ambiguity and disorder.

I decided to document the co-existence of order and disorder in everyday spaces like kitchen cabinets and fridges. You’ll find the most interesting examples of order- disorder conflicts within the context of student housing, squatted or other forms of (temporary) accommodations, where many people share facilities like kitchens and bathrooms. These places reveal many identities and meanings played out and I know them well: not only from my current living conditions, but also from the community where I grew up and shared an apartment with my mom.


Distinguish between spaces as ‘front stage’, the places we are inclined to share with ‘outsiders’ and ‘back stage’ (for our own eyes only) just like in any theatre. Kitchens may be part of the ‘front stage’ to brag about on social media. Or ‘back stage’: a room of privilege where we only invite our family and friends trusted enough to witness our chaos. Behind the doors of kitchen cabinets and fridges another dimension resides. Sometimes carefully arranged, but often chaotic. Whenever this usual dominion of privacy becomes upset by the shared use of more people, the setting stirs up many confusing questions. What’s being shared or private? What’s the amount of chaos being tolerated? Who is in control? Is order/chaos negotiated or does it evolve organically? As an observing outsider: how do we experience chaos or a system/‘order’ in shopping, shelving, consuming, sharing, cleaning? when opening these doors: do we experience discomfort, relief or a sense of intimacy?


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Rotterdam. Studio kitchen at the store and warehouse of designer Susan Bijl.

I recognize discomfort as a meaningful existential situation. It is the reason why I photographed the shared fridges and kitchen cabinets. I decided to use an analogue point and shoot camera, instead of a digital one. When using such a point and shoot, I prevent myself from doubt. The fact the parameters are limited and gives me the freedom to just create. I have to make do with what’s there, right in my hands. Seeing the result at a later moment. Furthermore the image quality looks messier, which fits the project.

I don’t want to tell you what makes these images interesting. Or what it is that you should take from them. I want to challenge you to look at them like you would at the “Where is Wally?” books. Observe the details, the differences, the systems. And make up your own mind.

For this issue of WOTH I expanded my existing series with photographs of the kitchens of well known Dutch designers Susan Bijl, Piet Hein Eek and Kiki & Joost. They were brave; allowing me to explore their boundaries between front stage and back stage, public and private, order and chaos.

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Shared kitchen at Piet Hein Eek’s premises; atelier and store Eindhoven.

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Communial kitchen at the atelier in Eindhoven of designers Kiki van Eijk and Joost van Bleiswijk. 





As part of her exam at KABK The Hague photographer Daan Kamerman (1999) documented the kitchens of friends and strangers.