Of course, there are the Italians, there are the Scandinavians, the Dutch, the French, the Japanese, the Spanish, even the Brazilians. But there are also the Belgians! No one is a prophet in their own country, and you sometimes need to go to places like Milan for Belgian design to rise to the top. A design that is innovative, modern, stylish, sometimes alternative, sometimes a reinvented and up-to-date form of classical. This new generation of Belgian designers is challenging us and pushing the boundaries of the creative world. Unparalleled artists and artisans, dynamic start-uppers, they are reinventing their trade by exploring the notion of equilibrium ever further.
FLUID AND FREE FORMS DRAWN WITH A REAL SENSE OF INTUITION, FURNITURE EVOKING THE EXHILARATION OF THE WAVE, THIS DESIGNER IS ALSO A MAGICIAN OF MATERIALS.
Born at the crossroads of three bordering countries, Lukas Cober first studied design at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Maastricht and then at the Belas Artes faculty in Lisbon. After a collaboration with designer Valentin Loellmann, he chose to work with natural and then artificial materials, and in 2018 founded the Cober Studio. His resin furniture takes this transparent material to another level by playing with light and giving it the appearance of sandblasted or blown glass. Kuro, his first collection, put the emphasis on primitive forms thanks to their reworked and sculpted proportions, their soft lines delivering a message of naivety with their slightly exaggerated dimensions. His second collection, New Wave, has been manufactured using fiberglass, essentially woven glass. In addition to the material, which he takes to new heights, there is no mistaking the sculptural approach of Lukas Cober’s work. The designer appropriates the material to infuse each piece with a unique soul, modifying its parameters and carefully honing its details.
The result? Cober’s creations are not the perfect result of a 3D computer design. The final form is obtained by the hand of the designer himself. The artisan designer works by layering multiple layers of fiberglass fabric with resin. He then goes on to remove the excess material to refine the smoothness of the transitions. The layers of fiberglass are deployed in layers and the shapes emerge in the form of silhouettes. In 2021, his New Wave coffee table entered the collection of the Mobilier National in Paris.
Creations that explore common sense and verge on the limits of the impossible.
As a student of Art History in Ghent, he was already learning to work with wood and stone. After a collaboration with the artist and polyester sculptor Nick Ervinck, he turned his sights to design. Then, in 2015, as the recipient of the Henry Van de Velde prize, he was propelled to the forefront. Ben Storms nurtures a passion for raw, massive and traditional materials, materials with a thousand-year-old history. He combines ancient and manual techniques, laborious sanding with digitization and CNC digital sculpture. From marble coffee tables featuring soft cushions to models with tops that flirt with extreme finesse, his experimental creations set out to undermine preconceived ideas. Each project is approached as a new challenge. After revisiting the method of making drums to compose a modular lampshade with marble slats, he took on solid glass, treating it as a work of art.
Art of light. Jacopo Roda creates the Oort lamp for Italian design company Fontana Arte.
In the world of astronomy, the “Oort cloud” is a sphere formed by billions of comets that surrounds the solar system at a very large distance. It illuminates the firmament! At the last Furniture Fair in Milan, designer/engineer Jacopo Roda (55) presented a lamp going by the same name under the Fontana Arte brand, freely inspired by this celestial phenomenon. The (table) lamp consists of a flexible light line (in silicone) positioned inside a cylinder of ribbed glass. These tubular elements generate an infinite system of shapes and architectural compositions, which can be combined with each other.
“This (LED) luminaire with its sinuous rectilinear and curved luminous paths allows the creation of a personalised and different lighting for every need: a modulable, flexible play of light that can be used in domestic environments and open spaces,” says Jacopo Roda. A graduate in mechanical engineering, Jacopo Roda joined the Fontana Arte Research & Development team in 2006 and has been contributing to the development of lustrous projects ever since.
REVEALING THE UNIQUE CHARACTER OF A MATERIAL AND WORKING ORGANIC FORMS, THEN COMBINING IT WITH ANOTHER, TWO SPECIFIC CHARACTERISTICS OF THE CAPORUSSO STYLE.
After studying at the College of Art and Design (CAD) in Uccle, Sébastien Caporusso left Belgium to quench his thirst for travel, to discover the world and to immerse himself in other cultures. As an interior designer, he started out designing custommade furniture, worked as unique pieces, within the framework of interior design projects. His work is enriched by his collaboration with craftsmen and artists, unless he is developing his own pieces and prototypes. Named Belgian Designer of the Year in 2021, he continues to take his inspiration from radical Japanese design and its rich heritage of ancestral know-how. Sébastien collects and stores fragments of slabs and massive blocks of marble to build a personal “material library”.
He draws from his treasures to hone his own creations, drawing a shape on a piece of stone. He chooses marbles or woods for their unique features, makes new cuts in the pieces to highlight a particular vein, a pattern. He does not shy away from combining a 100-year-old piece of wood with elements of veneer, thus associating his research with the ecological dimension of recycling. His concrete tables integrate a piece of polished marble into their tops to highlight its exceptional character. A chunk of oak salvaged from Liege pops up here, a poplar section gleaned from Uccle over there, giving shape to a naive and intuitive style. The sculptural objects become furniture, with an increasingly spontaneous approach. A reappropriation of codes best exemplified by the Silversquare Europe coworking space which he designed in Brussels.
When the glamour and generosity of high fashion rub off on furniture.
A product of the fashion industry, this former artistic director of prestigious names such as Cerruti, Prada or Yves Saint-Laurent, broke the rules of men’s ready-to-wear, with his brand Random Identities. The exclusive capsule collection for Pinto by Stefano Pilati takes his experiments with the origami-inspired art of draping, falling and folding to the world of interior design: one monumental piece embodies the designer’s improvised yet perfect gesture, another pays homage to his love of ample yet simple volumes. The armchair in cast bronze reinterprets the naturalness and suppleness of a circular carpet in water hyacinth, placed on a garden chair, ready-made style. Also designed for indoor and outdoor use, the tapestryinspired, over-size sofa is covered with a trompel’oeil canvas from Maison Pierre Frey, reproducing a woven straw effect. One carte blanche and two masterpieces!
Tom Dixon, a designer and artist behind experimental and futuristic creations.
Mirror, Ball, Melt and Fat? Without a doubt, his most famous collections! Tom Dixon celebrated the 20th anniversary of his eponymous brand at the last Furniture Fair in Milan with 20 new limited edition accessories. A tireless innovator, self-taught and non-conformist, he started out making furniture from salvaged parts. His first S-Chair, manufactured by Cappellini, became iconic. In the 1990s, as creative director with furniture retailer Habitat, he upheld the spirit of the Terence Conran collection, infusing it with modernity and fantasy. In 2014, he was crowned Designer of the Year at Maison & Objet, adding to the prizes won in his home country, the UK, where he has made a name for himself with creations that go against the grain of trends. He has recently left his unmistakable stamp on bathrooms, revisiting the English Victorian style in a rebuff of the all-pervading sleek minimalism.
Knoll signs up Antonio Citterio for this year’s creative collaboration.
In the big league! When Antonio Citterio is picked to design a collection by the team at Knoll, the result is a foregone conclusion: pure excellence. Klismos by Knoll naturally brings to life a seating line that embodies the expression of a contemporary language while making clear references to tradition and classicism. Particular emphasis has been placed on the sustainability of the natural materials used, such as wood and marble. Breaking away from any pre-established model and proposed in an original combination of dynamic forms, this new range features seats and backs in natural cotton rope woven on a structure in oak, or for the version with wooden backs, in a natural colour or in black. As an option, Citterio has also provided for elegant leather cushions that can be placed on the chairs for even greater comfort. Classic, yes, but a classicism that has been reinvented to take on a very contemporary look and feel.
ROTTERDAM-BASED DESIGNER MARCELIS GRADUATED IN 2011 AT THE DESIGN ACADEMY EINDHOVEN. NOW SHE IS PRODUCING PRODUCT AND SPATIAL DESIGN IN STUDIO SABINE MARCELIS, WITH FOCUS ON MATERIAL CHOICE.
Sabine’s breakthrough came in 2015. The Dawn Lights sculptures at Design Miami and Project Rotterdam, a group exhibition at Boijmans Van Beuningen drew international attention: “Dutch Designer makes her name in Lights!” praised The New York Times. Her work shows a refined frivolity, as demonstrated in many endearing creations. A donut-shaped carpet for CS Rugs, say, or the multifunctional Candy Cube side tables. She works not only with epoxy, neon and glass, but also with wool, nylon, metal and even wood. At the end of 2019, Sabine Marcelis was offered the unique chance to reinterpret Mies van der Rohe’s pavilion for the World Expo 1929. The result was No Fear of Glass. The intendant again imposed on Sabine the original request made to Van der Rohe “not to use too much glass…” But now, 90 years later, she simply ignored this advice: she made considerable use of glass in chaise longues, pillars and even a fountain.
Sabine Marcelis has built up a remarkable list of clients, in fashion, architecture and art. These include the Rem Koolhaas’ architecture agency OMA, high-fashion labels Céline, Burberry, Fendi and Isabel Marant, Salle Privée and luxury beauty brand Aēsop. Her dreams for the future? Marcelis: “I would like to make more permanent installations in the public space. Freely accessible for everybody. I like to think ‘big’: a massive project for a major city. Perhaps a gigantic waterfall right in the middle of New York!” Costly? You would need to pay almost 25,000 $ for her Soap Table. But there is also “a Sabine Marcelis” for 30 € – at Ikea.
Pose lamp: furniture company Ligne Roset makes a winning team with the Belgian designer.
In Paris, Ligne Roset (and Cinna, its outdoor counterpart) unveiled the Pose lamp by James Van Vossel. An all-round craftsman, metalworker and inventor, this charismatic young designer from Mechelen is also an insatiable researcher, always with one foot in artisanal design and the other in industrial production. True to his credo “Life is too short to create something ordinary”, he devises objects with a real identity and function, their ingenious and playful character never far away. The Pose lamp is a case in point, a dizzying balancing act, but also a challenge in terms of form, functionality and materials. What makes this creation stand out is the invisible light which emerges from the tube placed in a decentralized way on the disc. This makes it possible to rotate the bottom of the lamp with a simple movement of the foot or hand. Let there be light!
A tireless explorer of the morphological qualities of vessels, the artist metalsmith brings out their soul and detonates the most beautiful of their secrets.
A tireless explorer of the morphological qualities of vessels, the artist metalsmith brings out their soul and detonates the most beautiful of their secrets.
Beginning with a flat sheet, Adi Toch shapes and transforms metal into delicate hollow objects. She marries traditional silversmithing techniques with an experimental approach to create a unique visual language through intricate surface marks and a particularly refined patination. A boundless creative playground that also engages through sensorial interaction by exploiting the conductive, sonic and reflective qualities of the material. Under the expressive and skilfully worked skin of the gold, copper and silver vessels, tormented only to be better revealed, she imprisons sand or tiny precious stones that whisper their vibrant presence with infinite poetry. The artist lives in London where she is a lecturer at the RCA and has taught and exhibited around the world. Her work is held in major private and public collections. She was a finalist for the first Loewe Craft Prize and has won prestigious awards. Her work Place to Place is on permanent display at the Gilbert Galleries of the V&A Museum.
SLEEK AND RIGOROUS, THE DESIGNER’S CLEAN LINES GIVE EACH OF HIS CREATIONS A LOOK THAT STANDS THE TEST OF TIME. A STYLE THAT HAS NEVER BEEN SO UP-TO-DATE.
“I’m not a big fan of objects. Some people like to surround themselves with a lot of stuff, accumulate, collect. Having plenty of space and light is what makes me feel good”, explains Piero Lissoni (66 years old), architect, designer and art director for major Italian furniture makers. He came to the attention of the general public in the 1970s, when he designed the first kitchen (XILA) for Boffi that was pared down to the extreme, entirely smooth and without handles, and forged a reputation worldwide for his clean, functional and elegant style. Simply beautiful seems to be the adjective that motivates most of his choices. As is often the case in his (many) creations, he focuses on the essential. Not too too much, nor too little, with an unabashed taste for “warm minimalism”. His work takes him from architecture to industrial and graphic design projects, ranging from furniture, accessories, lighting, kitchens and bathrooms to the design of hotels, showrooms, private residences, stores, and even yachts.
His talent has been crowned with the most prestigious international awards, Good Design Award, Red Dot Award, Compasso d’Oro. Piero Lissoni’s interest in the world of art has often led him to come up with the scenography of prestigious exhibitions, at the Bagatti Valsecchi Museum in Milan, at the Palazzo Reale or at the Fondazione Prada… For the designer, the human being remains at the heart of his work. Viewing design as the world’s first profession, his work always revolves around two notions: beauty and eco-responsibility. In a quest to improve people’s daily lives.
STUDIO PIET BOON HAS BECOME A LABEL KNOWN FOR CRAFTSMANSHIP, QUALITY AND VISION. EACH DESIGN IS NOT ONLY INNOVATIVE, IT ALSO FOCUSES FIRMLY ON THE “EGO” OF THE ORIGINAL BUILDING.
Since 1983, Studio Piet Boon has been a major name in architecture, interior and product design. The origins of Studio Piet Boon are rooted in Amsterdam and the adjacent Zaanstreek. A region that is known for its innovative character and “getting the job done” mentality. Around the 15 th century, the first painters, carpenters and other craftsmen evolved into smart business people. Local entrepreneur Piet Boon leveraged all this in 1983 when he founded the now internationally successful Studio. Thanks to this combination of insights, designs were created on the basis of light, space and shape. In which the vision of functionality, individuality and beauty come together. In order to achieve the best possible results, Studio Piet Boon works with disciplinary teams, consisting of garden landscapers, interior designers, stylists and architects. The collections, consisting of furniture for indoors and outdoors, kitchens, bathrooms and a range of accessories, are sold worldwide.
In addition to being an interior designer, Piet Boon also became a world-famous product designer. In 2005, he launched his own furniture line, in which the identity of his style comes fully into its own. The collection is rich with natural materials, details and functionality. Piet Boon has had, alongside his own furniture line, many partnerships with prominent brands. He has, for example, worked with automotive brands such as Land Rover and Porsche.
His concept: fathoming his past. His implements: materials and crafts.
Maarten De Ceulaer studied at LUCA School of Arts in Brussels and the Design Academy Eindhoven. As for his “method”, he likes to think in series, rather than single objects. De Ceulaer likes the freedom that working with galleries brings, but at the same time he appreciates the technical and budgetary constraints of industrial design. He enjoys appealing to a wider audience with “democratic” objects. De Ceulaer’s graduation project Suitcases is a telling example: “Travel is ingrained in all of us. It explains why suitcases continue to fascinate people, including those who collect them.” Other projects include Transformations, a commission from fashion house Fendi. The designer has previously exhibited work in numerous galleries and museums such as Galerie BSL in Paris, Moss in New York and the Design Museum Den Bosch, in the Netherlands.
Founded by the husband & wife team Vicente García and Cinzia Cumini.
The creative spouses add a good dose of their Spanish and Italian origins to their work. These cultures share creativity, beauty and joie de vivre as fundamental values. Founded in 2012, Studio Garcia Cumini works for retailers such as Foscarini, Agape, Poltrona Frau or Zanotta. The main client, however, is Cesar Cuccine. The designers’ mission: on the one hand, to reflect in-depth on the lifestyles of those who will use the product, examining the evolution of society and imagining its future development. On the other hand, to directly study technical innovations and production processes in order to fully understand and exploit their potential. The result: kitchen systems including Dressup, Intarsio, Tangram, The 50’s, Unit Pocket or Williamsburg. Designed for Cesar Cuccine, they are destined to last, and to maintain their balance between soul & function, between art & technology, and between intuition & material.
UPTOWN HAS TRANSFORMED THE BOULEVARD DE WATERLOO AREA WITH THE COLOURS OF ART AND DESIGN. A CAREFUL SELECTION PUNCTUATED BY NEW INSPIRING TALENTS.
This route encourages the mixing of genres and the fusion of inspirations. The classical diktats are being eroded, as the creative world becomes less compartmentalised, forming an artistic bubble with increasingly permeable borders. To catch the eye, the artist needs to take possession of the space. The commission analyses the aesthetic codes and values to be combined with a place’s architecture and create harmony, division or evoke a particular emotion.
This edition was enhanced by the presence of the team of journalists from VILLAS, who awarded two prizes. The Design Prize was won by the College of Art & Design (CAD) in Brussels, whose teaching focusses primarily on hands-on practice. It highlights the level of demand and creativity that drives the entire teaching team, including the college’s director, Eric-Luc Maquet. Alain Berteau, curator of the exhibition, selected around ten of the projects on display in the Perspective. Brussels space. This year, UPTOWN launched its CIRCLESTUDIO ® label, which questions circularity by favouring artists and designers who are interested in society’s challenges and who work in harmony with nature. The artist Sylvia Bauer was chosen in the category of most original work, in particular because she echoes our current lives by offering a second life to commonplace materials and waste from our modern way of life. She remains attentive to the material, exploiting all possibilities in order to open the viewer’s eyes. Enthusiastic reactions were unanimous when visiting Natan and Fratelli Rossetti. UPTOWN offers the less and less compartmentalised creative world an opportunity to inspire and to give a committed boost to tomorrow’s world.