This year “Belgium is Design” played an important role yet again during the Milan Design Week, in the prestigious Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera Art school.
The Belgium Designer of the Year Award celebrated its tenth anniversary this year.
The perfect occasion to team up with Belgium is Design and to organise ‘Confronting the Masters’.
This exhibition brought together the 10 designers whom previously won the Belgium Designer of the Year Award since its creation in 2006 –
Alain Berteau (2006) / Sylvain Willenz (2007) / Nathalie Dewez (2008) / Alain Gilles (2009) / Stefan Schöning (2010) / Bram Boo (2011) / Nedda El-Asmar (2012) / Jean-François d’Or (2013) / Marina Bautier (2014) / Muller Van Severen (2015).
A surprising exhibition that encourages originality, and highlights the specific characteristics of Belgian design as seen through the unique eyes of ten designers whose reputation has spread far and wide beyond Belgium’s borders.
From furniture to lighting and decorative objects, each of the designers revealed their own identity, their signature, their expertise.
These collective actions are the result of a dynamic joint venture between different design support organizations (Design Flanders, Wallonia-Brussels Design Mode, and MAD Brussels) and export promoting bodies (Wallonia Invest & Export and Brussels Invest & Export) and demonstrate the scope of the reputation that Belgian culture has achieved both here at home as well as around the globe.
Top 10 Belgium Designers of the year (chronological order)
2015 Winner: Muller Van Severen
Fien Muller and Hannes Van Severen from Muller Van Severen are the 2015 winners of the Belgian Designer of the Year award.
The crucial difference lies in the functionality, to which their fascination with certain materials and their properties, their special sense of colour and the characteristic tension between sober and playful or static and dynamic provide continuity and familiarity in their new work.
About Muller Van Severen
The visual artists Fien Muller and Hannes Van Severen started off their careers as a design duo at the Valérie Traan Gallery in Antwerp three years ago.
At first, one might viewed their work as a line created by two artists wavering between art and design.
However, it was not long before it was perceived quite differently. Their joint furniture project was rapidly adopted in international circles and at the 2012 Design Interieur Biennale in Kortrijk, they were invited as international guests.
Their sculptures and furniture have appeared in some of the most important museums and galleries of London, Berlin, Milan, Copenhagen and will soon be exhibited in Paris and New York.
Fien Muller and Hannes Van Severen always retain a keen focus on the visual and sculptural qualities of their objects.
2014 Winner: Marina Bautier
The Lap Desk is a modular solution designed with simplicity in mind and daptable to work in different environments.
Starting with a single unit, you can add extensions or a mixture of trays, deep & shallow boxes with shelves to store a variety of paperbacks and objects.
Marina designed the system with this modularity and adaptability from realising the strange way people store objects in a box or on a tray.
The name “Lap” refers to how the metal overlaps the wood structure. How you arrange the components is up to you, and they can be rearranged at any time.
About Marina Bautier
Marina Bautier was born in Brussels in 1980, where she lives and works.
After studying at Buckinghamshire Chilterns University College, she opened her own studio in Brussels in 2003.
Marina worked for ten years in the furniture industry for several international brands, including Ligne Roset, Swedese, Idée, and Case Furniture, before launching her own label : “MA”.
2013 Winner: Jean François D’Or
June is a table collection builts with straight basic grafic lines with Cruso high quality finishing and materials.
The assemble construction of the base brings a long storage place under the top plate.
A collection of stackable wooden trays fits within that storage gap.
About Jean François D’Or
Jean François D’Or was born in 1974.
Originally from Liège, he qualified in industrial design from La Cambre School of Visual Arts in 1998, before beginning his career at the lighting company Light, where he worked alongside Maarten Van Severen and Hans De Pelsmacker.
He has been living and working in Brussels since 2003.
2012 Winner: Alain Gilles
The Pure is the modern vision of a classic foosball table.
The rules, the game, and the fun remain the same, but it has now been transformed into an object that can now be displayed in a living room or in the lobby of a contemporary hotel for instance.
The foosball doesn’t have to be hidden in the basement anymore and it is no more just for gaming centers or coffee shops.
It has been designed in order to bring a sense of warmth for those moments of togetherness with the family.
With the strong use of wooden elements, and quiet presence, and a reference to Nordic design it aims to be a somewhat timeless modern piece.
From the top, its shape refers to modern football stadiums.
But it has also been design in order to have a soft feminine touch and a minimal presence in order to make it acceptable to women, and thus in the end acceptable in a house.
About Alain Gilles
Born in 1970, Alain Gilles is a Belgian designer who lives and works in Brussels.
After studying Political Sciences and Marketing Management, he chose a career in finance.
Later, he left the financial world to resume his studies, training in industrial design in France.
In 2007, he opened his own studio in Brussels.
2011 Winner: Nathalie Dewez
Nathalie Dewez’s designs reveals her passion for sculptural shapes and superior craftsmanship.
Car headlights were selected by Nathalie Dewez as the source of inspiration and the basis of experimental work with glass blowers.
By mouth-blowing the glass in a cylindrical mould lined with a grille, Nathalie Dewez obtained dome shapes on which the desired motif was marked in relief.
Each glass light thus produced is a unique piece which projects the shape of its halo of light onto the surface on which it sits and on the surrounding walls.
About Nathalie Dewez
Born in Brussels in 1974, Nathalie Dewez still lives and works in the city.
After completing her studies at La Cambre School of Visual Arts in Brussels in 2001, Nathalie quickly found her niche in the creation of light fittings.
Through appearing at numerous salons and exhibitions, she was able to establish partnerships with architectural agencies such as 51N4E and Archi2000, and labels like Ligne Roset and Hermès.
2010 Winner: Bram Boo
MATE originates from the coherence between table and screen, horizontal and vertical.
It is obvious that they are one and form an archetypical object.
Function displayed in all its trueness, defining a space in a symbolic and discrete way.
MATE subtly fits in every space, as a desk, a mirror, a coffee corner.
About Bram Boo
Bram Boo is a self-taught designer who was born in Brussels in 1971.
He works independently and has founded his own studio in 2001, with locations in Brussels and Sint-Truiden.
Bram uses the creative concept to speak a new design language all of his own.
The work of a designer allows him the freedom to question the function, aesthetic quality and identity of an object, which is why he finds design particularly exciting.
Bram Boo has notable working relationships with Bulo, Indera, Serax, Drisag, Vanerum as well as private clients.
2009 Winner: Sylvain Willenz
ARCH is an dynamic and elegant chair combining simplicity and subtlety.
A rich and sinuous massive wood structure, combined with leather upholstered seat and backrest, or available in teak / outdoor finish.
The unique identity of ARCH lays in its fine proportions and a soft line as well as in its inviting oval chip shaped backrest.
Features such as assembly details, cuts and chamfers which run along its edges create slender surfaces.
ARCH comes with and without armrest, both of which are stackable.
About Sylvain Willenz
Born in Brussels in 1978, Sylvain Willenz has lived successively in the United States, Belgium and the UK.
In 2003, he received his MA in Design Products from the Royal College of Art in London.
The following year, he opened his own industrial design office in Brussels, SWDO.
Here, he draws furnitures, lights, and industrial products for his world-famous clients, who include Cappellini, Established & Sons, Freecom, Hay, Tamawa (Belgium), and Karimoku New Standard.
2008 Winner: Stefan Schöning
Legnosystem is a glass cabinet in which Stefan Schöning have tried to introduce the lovely but difficult combination of two basic materials: glass and wood.
The exercise in this design is to find the right balance between two materials without losing the functionality of the product.
About Stefan Schöning
Stefan Schöning was born in 1968 in Antwerp, where he still lives and works.
He studied Product Development at the city’s Henry Van de Velde Institute.
In 1994 he set up an industrial design agency and currently works for customers in Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy, Germany and the US.
2007 Winner: Nedda El-Asmar
Nedda El-Asmar’s glass collection is made all in glass with very sober and softly undulating shapes that looks gracious, contemporary and timeless.
The glasses are very functional, up-to-date and aesthetic, poetic and a tad secretive.
About Nedda El-Asmar
Nedda El Asmar is a Belgian designer with Palestinian roots, who was born in Aalst in 1968.
Now living and working in Antwerp, she studied jewellery design and silversmithing at the Royal Academy of Fine Art in Antwerp, and at London’s Royal College of Art.
She won Henry Van de Velde Awards from Design Flanders in 1997, 2004, 2006, 2007 and 2008.
2006 Winner: Alain Berteau
Alain Berteau, the first to become Belgian Designer of the year in 2006, has recently designed the NIGHTCLUB, a discreet and timeless armchair and a frame-free convertible feature can turn any seat into comfortable lounging position feature for late-night cinema sessions.
About Alain Berteau
Born in Germany in 1971, the Brussels-based architect and designer Alain Berteau has been designing products, spaces and/or creative strategies for some of the industry’s leading businesses since 2002.
Bulo, ABV, Montis, RVB, Wildspirit, AGC and, more recently, Objekten (of which he is co-founder) are among his clients.
His design stands out for its functional inventiveness and eco-friendly innovation.