reflections by belgium is design #milan2014
There is no doubt that Belgian design was on the radar during Salone del Mobile. With both Flemish, Wallonian and Brussels-based governments paying closer attention to their creative scenes in recent years, one wonders if industry-ruling Dutch design hasn’t over-run its national border. With Eindhoven less than 18km away from Belgium, and Hasselt – one of the country’s thriving hubs – another 37km, the verdict might already be in.
Publishing its own map that pinpointed national design representation across town – Belgium is Design held two of its own collective exhibitions. As one made its mark in the throngs of Salone Satellite – pushing up against the actual fair – another Triennale Di Milano-mounted showcase explored a specific curatorial theme.
Reflections not only surveyed Belgium’s rich offering of small studio-base practices but also highlighted the country’s glass production heritage. Mirrors have resurged in recent years and factor prominently in collections such as Antwerp-based Valerie Traan gallery or Brussels-based Victor Hunt but also act as a versatile format – incorporating other essential elements and poetic references. Maarten de Ceulaer’s Aller-Retour storage unit features a coat hanger while one of Damien Grenay’s contributions explores the myth of Narcissus. Reflections did not shy away from also presenting the latest from major brands like Delvaux.
Standing out from the rest, Sylvian Willenz’s Shadow champions advanced eco-friendly mirroring technology. Playing on the 3D illusion of 2D composition, the wall-mounted vignette tests depth and perception. Nearby, Alex de Witte’s The Big Bubble moves away from mirrors but still reevaluates glass as a contemporary material. Large oversized light-bulb-like bubbles distort visual impressions and creates spatial awareness. Topping the bill, Julien Carretero’s celebrated Contrast Angle Lamp combines different metallic finishes with colours and texture through concave and convax forms.
Adrian Madlener, a recent graduate of the Design Academy Eindhoven, is a designer turned journalist. Originally from Belgium, he grew up in New York where an early interest in architecture exposed him to a wide range of creative disciplines; everything from contemporary dance to fine art, and eventually design. During his studies in Eindhoven, Adrian discovered that his true calling lays within design theory, history, and criticism. Though writing is his best design tool, he still gains great satisfaction from sketching, modeling, and experimenting with material. The critic should create to critique.