Indesign’s Mandi Keighran brings us her final instalment of Belgium’s Interieur 2010.
October 28th, 2010
The cold weather in Belgium this morning had me slightly jealous of the knitted sweaters cladding the chairs in Junya Ishigami’s Picnic installation. So, I headed below ground, away from the chilly winds, to the Underground – the place to find young design at Interieur.
Down here, you find the Interieur 2010 Design Competition for ideas and prototypes – the majority of which come from young, emerging designers. The theme is the same as the theme for the fair as a whole – ‘the new world’ – and as upstairs in the main halls, this theme was subject to a variety of interpretations.
It was clearly a close competition, and the grand prize this year was divided between ‘Vase & Leuchte’ by 26 year-old Danish designer, Miriam Aust and ‘Wood Stove’ by 25 year-old Swiss designer, Yanes Wühl.
Other standouts included ‘Prosthesis and Grafts’ by Marcio Kogan (which won a place in the Vitra Belgium 2011 workshop) and the vast array of lighting, from which ‘Cord’ by Theresa Kalteis won the Delta Light award.
At The Young Designers Fair, it seemed that the French were leading the way. My pick was French duo, Tabisso for their new communication concept of typographic furniture.
The fun pieces garnered attention and more than a few enquiries throughout the fair.
Another French duo, Les M, got comfy in their ‘Cocon’ armchair. I noticed quite a few visitors looking on in envy (myself included) and the cozy sleeping bag chair.
Suspacious, with their cute knitted stools and clean lines, is another young brand to keep an eye on.
Brussels’ Sint Lukas school of architecture had a stand down in the Underground too, showcasing the work of students. My favourite was a concrete space hopper (which reminded me of childhood) by Tom Dekyvere.
It was an inspiring finish to Interieur, which showcased the future of design in both Belgium and Europe. Hopefully many of the young designers exhibiting in the Underground will have work on show in the main halls in two years time.
With just one hall left to tackle at this year’s Interieur, I head to Hall 6.
The brightly lit interior of the Delta Light stand housed (quite literally, as the stand looks like a series of giant houses) the latest in lighting technology.
For Interieur 2010, Delta Light launched over 20 new products, with a focus on LED architectural lighting.
At the Axor stand I experienced Axor Bouroullec – the next in Axor’s range of designer collaborations. The collection by the Bouroullec brothers follows on from the Axor Urquioula range, and, while just as beautiful, has a far more commercial focus.
Also in Hall 6, I found stefan schöning’s ‘White Gold’ range on display at Domani, and a host of delights from one of my favourite Belgian discoveries, Sofie Lacahaert. Gallerie Sofie Lachaert shared a large and beautiful stand with Italian carpet manufacturers, Nodus.
Nodus collaborate with a variety of designers on rugs (many of you will be familiar with the work they have done with Studio Job). Their most recent designer collaboration is with Sofie Lachaert and her partner, Luc D’Hanis – a palette rug with over 240 colours!
Belgium is known for their carpet and textile industry, and their were certainly plenty of Belgian carpet brands on display. At BIC Carpets, they showcased a classic design inspired by pebbles in new colourways and launched a new range inspired by cats lounging in sunlight.
I’ve been impressed by the breadth and depth of the Belgian design community so far – in particular the support it gets from the government – Australia, pay attention!
Tomorrow, it’s down to the Underground at Interieur, to discover some young designers from around Europe.
Packing my bags and moving on from my lovely apartment in Sleeping Out of the Box in Gent was hard. But the colourful Pantone Hotel, with views out over the Brussels city skyline, made it that little bit easier. I stayed in the red room – 456 C 1817 C and 1795 C.
From there it was a slow start to the morning thanks to the strikes in Belgium, but we were soon on our way and it turned out to be a day full of inspiring ideas and discussion.
First stop was a meeting with Manuel Abendroth from Lab[au], a transdisciplinary practice based around a variety of artistic, scientific and theoretic methods in creating art and architecture. Tip of the day was a visit to Kunst-Station Sankt Peter in Cologne, a cathedral with a collection of modern art, which I have planned a visit to next week. It was here that Lab[au] had their M0t1fs exhibition in 2008.
Across the road from the Lab[au] gallery is the Rotor studio. It is a space constructed entirely from found and recycled objects (including a spiral staircase) from around the city centre of Brussels. Lionel Devlieger talked me through the design thinking and process behind the work of Rotor, who were responsible for the Belgian pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale.
The parliament also has an extensive modern art collection, and hosts art exhibitions. A Pieter Stockmans exhibition was showing during my visit – his patented blue and white porcelain work seems ubiquitous in Belgium, and I’m seriously tempted to see how a piece would survive the trip back to Australia…
We finished the day at the Design Flanders Gallery. The current exhibition showcased collaborations between Belgian designers. It covered design of all types, including album art, fashion, furniture and even edible design.
Stay tuned for the last of the Interieur 2010 on indesignlive.com.
If there’s one thing I’ve learnt about Belgian design over the past four days, it’s that there’s no such thing as a typical Belgian design identity or a shared aesthetic. As Interieur 2010 Designer of the Year, Bram Boo, says: “Belgium has an open mindset, which when it comes to design results in a diverse rather than a common identity.”
Today I visited a mixed bag of Flemish designers who just go to prove the appeal of this assorted approach.
First stop was the village of Tielrode, where Sofie Lachaert lives and has a gallery, studio and B&B. The gallery, where guests have the pleasure of eating breakfast (from Wasara plates, using Sofie’s own divine spoons and sugar cages), houses a rotating exhibition of Belgian design.
My pick was definitely the complex geometric timber and linen bowl by young designer Tine de Ruysser – a trained jewellery designer and a designer I will certainly be keeping an eye on in the future.
The apartment is a design hunter’s dream – full of beautiful objects by Sofie and other, primarily Belgian, designers, including Bram Boo.
The apartment is like the grown up sister to Sleeping Out of the Box, also owned by Sofie, but now run by her former assistant, Caro. I was lucky enough to stay in this haven of young Belgian design in Ghent for two nights – keep an eye out for the review on Indesignlive (in lieu of a day 4 post!).
Next, we headed to Antwerp, where we met the undeniably creative Job Smeets of Studio Job fame. Job and his partner, Nynke Tynegal, are about to release a book, which looks to be a design object in itself – think gold embossed leather cover, and the Book of Job with illuminations by the Studio Job team.
Across town, the lovely stefan schöning (Interieur 2008 Designer of the Year) talked us through his design process. Like Belgian design, his practice is diverse and multidisciplinary – including product design for a variety of well known brands, including desalto and Domani alongside architecture and urban design and the traffic lights for the Flemish government.
The day finished with a trip to the rather marvellous Atomium in Brussels. Built for the World Expo in 1958, the futuristic monument (which I was told is Brussels’ Eiffel Tower) had me expecting George Jetson to appear at any moment. Inside, was an exhibition of Belgian design, including Linde Hermans of Rode Schoentjes.
Stay tuned for more of Belgian design and Interieur 2010.
Here, Quinze & Milan x EASTPAK’s ‘Built to Resi(s)t’ couches received a fun makeover from Dutch fashion designer Antoine Peters. The black and white couches received another makeover from guests, who took the opportunity they rarely get at a design fair to draw on the furniture.
Also exhibiting at Superieur was MGX by Materialise. Their rapid prototype 3D technology allows them to print incredibly intricate lighting, some with moving parts, all in one piece – photos definitely won’t do these justice!
I then headed back to Interieur. Highlights of the day included Dutch company, Prooff’s innovative commercial furniture (their ‘Ear’ chair was used in One Shelley Street, Sydney) and the one-off Art of the Loom rug collection by Deweer Gallery. Flemish carpet manufacturer, Mark Deweer invited Belgian and international artists to design the rugs, which are some of the most impressive I’ve seen.
The ceramics at Serax had me wondering how a few pieces might survive the long trip back to Sydney. Their range includes collections by Designer of the Year, Bram Boo, Piet Stockmans and Ann Van Hoey, whose work ‘Etude Géométrique’ was a prizewinner in the Interieur International Design Competition.
There was also a ‘Blob’ for sale in one of the halls. From what I could gather, it is a vision of a new mobile workplace by DMVA Architecten.
The day finished with a surprisingly civilised (for a design industry event!) dinner at Exterieur – the after hours venue for Interieur. Extremis is one of the main sponsors of Exterieur, and the dining rooms showcase their ‘tools for togetherness’ in an innovative way.
The theme for this year’s Interieur 2010 in Kortrijk is ‘The New World’ – a theme embraced not only in the impressive installations, but also by the 300+ exhibitors, throughout seven halls.
From students selling tiny folded metal aeroplanes on safety pins to fund world travel to a 10 metre long dog constructed of cardboard, this year’s Interieur is a glimpse into design’s imagination.
The exhibition design for Interieur 2010 – entitled ‘Mirror Morrir on the Wall’ (yes, it is meant to be spelt that way) – itself was an evocative interpretation of the ‘The New World’ theme by architects De Vylder Vynck Taillieu. The narrow space of the central Rambla was transformed by the trio into a maze of mirrors and raw timber frames that dissolved the space, and prompted reflection of our world and the design community.
Guest of honour at Interieur 2010 is Japanese architect, Junya Ishigami. His installation, ‘Picnic’, was a bright, white new world, where a family of clothed chairs – brothers, sisters, parents and grandparents – picnicked around his whimsical garden tables.
Since their beginning, Belgium brand Extremis have had a vision of a new world that brings people together – hence their mission to design not furniture, but ‘tools for togetherness’. This morning at the Extremis stand, Creative Director, Dirk Wyants launched a new table, ‘Hopper’, inspired by his newly purchased hops farm.
Fittingly, they also launched another tool for togetherness – the }Tremist beer with glasses designed by Belgian silversmith Nedda El-Asmar.
One of my favourite stands of the day belonged to Belgian bedding company, Magnitude. Here, a new world of divine bedding was created, and I found what I think may just be the perfect bed.
Of course Belgium is renowned for its lighting brands, and Dark certainly lived up to the reputation. Their now classic ’12-25’ and ‘Bridge’ lights are now available in Pantone colours, and the newly launched ‘Yokozuna’ made a fun statement above their stand.
Stay tuned to Indesignlive for further coverage of Interieur 2010.
While here, I’ll be visiting some of Belgium’s top established and emerging designers, architects and fashion designers.
After a late start, thanks to a cancelled flight, I headed straight from the airport to Belgium’s fashion capital, Antwerp.
We started at MoMu Fashion Museum, to see the exhibition Stephen Jones & The Accent of Fashion. The fantastical exhibition explores the unique world of Stephen Jones, a milliner who has worked with some of fashion’s biggest names.
From there, it was a brief wander down the main shopping street of Antwerp to Ra, a concept store stocking well-known international labels alongside emerging Belgium designers, many from Antwerp’s Royal Academy of Fine Arts (home to the Antwerp Six). The interiors are just as intriguing as the fashion, with a rooftop moss garden and an indoor ‘village’.
At Ra, we met Antwerp-based Australian designer, Narelle Dore, a graduate of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts. Her recent collection, based on the salt lakes of Perth, brings the sun-bleached colours of Australia to Antwerp.
Based on today and the coming week’s program, it’s clear that on top of bringing us French Fries, Tin Tin and The Smurfs, the Belgians can also lay claim to a thriving design community with more than a few heavy hitters and a crop of new talent waiting to be discovered.
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