How much do you know about Belgian Design? Interview with BRUT

Design / Interview By Patrick Abbattista,

A diverse landscape will arise: that may be a characteristic element of Belgian Design in general as well.

What is BRUT? What is its story and how did you find each other?

BRUT is a new collective of six emerging Belgian designers – Ben Storms, Bram Vanderbeke, Cédric Etienne, Charlotte Jonckheer, Linde Freya Tangelder & Nel Verbeke – and is about Bold Movements and Emotions Beyond Functionality.

The junction of their practices is a natural consequence of the apparent similarities in imagery, concepts and vision.

The six represent a young generation of Belgian designers, which values the significance of collaboration and collective involvement within the contemporary design landscape.

BRUT therefore embodies the commitment to realizing a dialogue between designers and their design language: a visual and conceptual encounter, which both reflects the common qualities of the designers and emphasizes the personal idiosyncrasies of their practices.

This dialogue is always materialized with a co-decided scenography – a shared setting which visualizes a collective narrative.

BRUT has a dedicated attention for the architectural, sculptural and emotional potential of (contemporary Belgian) design.

On the one hand, this focus is a result of the personal sensibilities of the participating designers – the corresponding characters of their practices.

On the other hand, it creates a common ground and motive; it realises and defines an environment where the designers can show, strengthen and challenge each other.

 

BRUT Ben Storms Inhale _ Isola Design District _ Belgian Design

BRUT – Inhale by Ben Storms

 

What are the characteristic elements of Belgian Design?

Within BRUT, which is a Belgian collective, we share a dedicated attention for the architectural, sculptural and emotional potential of design.

We believe in strength through opposition. Where word and concept meets image; balancing between the rational and the emotional.

Our collective embraces Belgian materials, which are implemented in the scenography of BRUT.

A diverse landscape will arise: that may be a characteristic element of Belgian Design in general as well.

Why did you choose to join Isola Design District this year?

Isola is an emerging area.

As a new collective we want to come forward in the outside circles of the fair which (we believe) offers the most inspiring, daring and experimental presentations to be off track, is to be free in the choice of presentation; a tabula rasa with no distortion of fair like settings.

 

BRUT _ The Place Of Melancholy by Nel Verbeke _ Isola Design District 2018 _ Belgian Design

BRUT – The Place Of Melancholy by Nel Verbeke

 

How will you represent your Belgian roots during the Milan Design Week? What are the projects?

BRUT makes its début during the Salone del Mobile 2018, where it will introduce the choices and concepts that define and depict the collective identity of the ensemble.

Raw, black coals cover the floor of the exhibition space.

Together, the crude stones form a landscape; an irregular field with an idiosyncratic relation to the location.

The coals – with their massive materiality, subtle hues of black and their ability to both absorb and deflect environmental luminosity – engage in a relationship with the tonality of the emotions, with the stratification of the mind.

This black landscape is regularly interrupted by plateaus – support bases for the individual designs.

They play with the architecture of the environment, create intermediate spaces and shades, rhythms and counter rhythms.

Furthermore, the coal attaches itself to history and shows the way in which elements transform into something new throughout time.

At the same time, it refers to the way in which it has influenced Belgium’s industrial past as a resource. And yet it is, first and foremost, an ode to the beauty of untreated, primary materials.

 

BRUT _ Stackable Stools by Bram Vanderbeke _ Isola Design District 2018 _ Belgian Design

BRUT – Stackable Stools by Bram Vanderbeke 

 

The scenography delineates a (thinking) space and defines an atmosphere of contemplation and stillness, of devotion to matter and time.

The tight geometry of the pedestals – the architectural organization which communicates with the wider environment – guides the concentration and gaze of the spectator. The works he encounters are always a combination of existing and new work, of realized and planned concepts.

They mirror six individual creative practices which coincide in part – in this case, explicitly.

This scenography with a combination of natural, untreated materials and architectural elements, are a constant throughout the current and future presentations of BRUT.

By sharing the same scene, which has been organized collectively, the objects come together both visually and conceptually and visualize a collective narrative.

The choice for charcoal functions as a prologue: a material introduction. It allows the six designers to – temporarily – detach themselves from personal trajectories and motives.

Additionally, it serves as a challenge, as it forces them to open and explore the perspectives and possibilities of a shared ambition – radical and vital.

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