Extraordinarily well-designed museums have a history of turning otherwise virtually unknown cities into design junkie paradises (see Bilbao, Spain, thank you Frank Gehry). And I have to admit: It’s not a terrible idea for encouraging tourism. In fact, Groningen was just bumped from obscurity into candidate for my Small European Towns I Would Someday Like to Visit Tour, because it’s the home of that crazy, candy-colored, post-modern, strangely medieval contemporary art and design museum that recently reopened after serious ($10 mil-plus) renovation by a gang of Euro uber-designers. The museum’s collection sounds interesting enough–De Ploeg paintings, silver collection, post-modern Italian furniture by Memphis, contemporary art from the Netherlands, UK, US and China–but the building and its interior spaces are the real draw here: an entrance hall and lounge by Studio Job, a futuristic-looking info center by Spanish artist/designer Jaime Hayon (tricked out with his BD Showtime chairs and Copa Cabana lights), the Mendini restaurant by Dutch designer Martin Baas (made famous by his clay series), and an over-the-top, pastel patchwork tile exterior of the building by Italian designer Alessandro Mendini. There are two other architectural portions designed by Philippe Starck and Coop Himmelb(l)au.
[Photos courtesy of the Groniger Museum, first spotted on Designboom]