The Belgian biennial, renowned for its curated selection of exhibitors, was filled with wonderful, highly experimental furnishings and engaging installations, both at the show and off-site.
With its thoughtful range of supporting installations and events, beautifully designed trade fair spaces, sleek fleet of Audi cars shuttling visitors back and forth between various points and free wifi all over town, Kortrijk’s Interieur design biennale is one of the most exciting and manageable (in size) design shows around. This year’s edition was no exception, with strong off-site events in former factories and abandoned buildings around town, a series of research-driven exhibitions about the home devised by design writer and curator Joseph Grima, a strong presence by international companies and an impressive range of new designs launched by hugely innovative Belgian designers and brands.
1 Gone Fishing café at the Kortrijk Xpo
Of all the bars at the Kortrijk Xpo site the one called Gone Fishing by Swedes Charlotte Ryberg, Fritz Håkon Halvorsen and Marcia Harvey Isaksson was the most inspiring for its back story (it also, unsurpisingly, won the Interieur Spaces Award). Celebrating small scale and sustainable fishing practices, it draped fishing nets and buoy-like lamps above the space and covered curved seats reminiscent of rolling waves in carpet tiles made out of yarn from discarded and recycled fishing nets that would otherwise carry on “ghost fishing” underwater and endanger fish stocks.
2 MATE by Bram Boo for Bulo
Belgian designer Bram Boo has created one of the most original desk and privacy screen combos you will ever see. Made out of standard veneer or the more sustainable (but more expensive) option of solid salvaged ash wood recuperated from ailing trees, the rectangular tables come with circular, oblong or octagonal screens that also serve as the tables’ back legs. Use one end of the long table for meetings and the other end for private contemplation and work.
3 Madam is Served by Alain Gilles
Brussels-based Alain Gilles has designed a graphic and tactile eight-piece collection for new Normandy kitchen brand Evolution. Madam is Served, a playful cake/tart stand, comes in three pastels with cutting guides on the plate and a magnetic base that can be used as a bowl for sauces or stored in the stand. Still in the prototype stage, the pieces will be launched at Maison & Objet in January.
4 Fantoom by Glithero
Haunting and evocative, Glithero’s Fantoom installation at the city’s Broelmuseum used a Victorian illusion called Pepper’s Ghost to display some of the museum’s artefacts as holograms. In an interesting twist, the elements and process behind the trick – the crates the objects were lying in, the 45-degree glass surface and the clever lighting required – were on view for all to see. It’s magic, Jim, but not as we know it.
5 Eyes/Nights Only, a pop-up hotel, by Dift
Arguably the most inventive and pragmatic of Interieur’s off-site events, Eyes/Nights Only was a cool pop-up hotel in a former school and convent, devised by Dift, a creative consultancy based in Ghent. Showcasing a range of brands by day and hosting designers and press at affordable rates by night, it offered eight rooms and suites furnished with pieces by Espoo, Vormen, Artifort and Ikea. That this was the last opportunity to explore the building’s ornate high-ceilinged rooms and patterned tiles (the school is scheduled for imminent demolition to make way for luxury flats) made the event rather poignant. The room pictured featured smart wall paints by Boss and furniture by Muuto provided by Ghent concept store Ydee.
6 Solo chair by Office Kersten Geers David Van Severen
With its small square table suspended diagonally from a round seat, the Solo Chair by Brussels-based architectural practice Kersten Geers David Van Severen plays exquisitely with geometries and themes of balance and equilibrium. A tribute to Thonet’s walking-stick chair no. 6822, the sculptural seat was commissioned by Brussels Gallery Maniera and is made out of coated steel and leather.
7 Cabinet and table by Moca
Moca was founded by Ghent-based Steven Wittouck in 2010 and has gone from strength-to-strength ever since. The colourful framed sideboard by Koenraad Ruys has become a bestseller for the company, but more recently it launched a modular shelf system by Lhoas & Lhoas and an ultra-thin parquet table by Philippe Allaeys that can be fitted with one of 24 coloured laminate tops for different office settings.
8 In Vein marble trestle table by Ben Storms
This beautiful marble trestle table by Ben Storms was part of the Ventura exhibit in a former textile factory. Doubling as a decorative mirror that can be rested against a wall to save space, the surprisingly lightweight table is composed of a thin layer of beautifully veined Belgian blue stone and an organic and reflective underside made from a sheet of stainless steel expanded with water pressure. Resting on simple leather-topped steel trestles, the table is both fragile and strong, sophisticated and industrial.
9 Cork, everywhere!
It’s official, cork has been rehabilitated in respectable design circles after being shut out in pinboard hell for a couple of decades. At the Xpo site, Portuguese-Swiss brand Movecho showed round seats out of the stuff while the new Belgian brand Per/Use showcased a cork love seat by the up-and-coming Czech designer, and creative director of the brand, Lucie Koldová (pictured with Patrick Seha’s coat hanger). Over at the Ventura showcase, Cédric Etienne presented his Corkinho collection of products, furniture and even an acoustic studio made out of pressed waste cork granules from Portugal. Different colours and patterns were achieved with pigments and burning.
10 Interieur Awards Objects Category – Tumble cabinet
The 20 winners of the Interieur Awards 2014 Objects Category were showcased theatrically at Kortrijk’s Xpo as on an illuminated stage. Our favourite piece was the Tumble cabinet by Koen Devos, which brought this simple unit back-to-basics with a delightfully analogue hinge system: Pull the handle and the door falls open. Push it back in to close.