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Sylvain Willenz: Essential Reflections

Feb 8, 2017

Sylvain Willenz talks to TLmag about his Alaka series of oblique mirrors strategically framed in marble, now showing at Spazio Nobile.

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Founding his own Brussels-based practice in 2004, Sylvain Willenz has already made a name for himself on the international scene. With a prolific portfolio of products, furniture, installations and interiors designed for leading brands like Hay, Hem, Ligne Roset, and Karimoku, Belgium’s rising design star has been awarded numerous accolades including a prestigious UK Grand Designs Award. Though destined for market or through the practice’s own online store, many of Willenz’s most iconic pieces can now be found in prominent museum collections. Developed for Retegui in 2015, Alaka is a series of oblique mirrors strategically framed in marble bases. Stripped bare of any pretence, the iterative design features bevelled edges that allow light to seamlessly blend the object within any context. TLmag spoke to Willenz about the silver qualities found in this collection.

TLmag: What is your affinity for silver as both a visual and material composite?
Sylvain Willenz: Whether done using traditional techniques or with aluminium on an industrial scale, the process of silvering mirrors is fascinating. I’ve been able to experiment and have produced several mirrors over the year. When Retegui asked me to design new products for its collection, using their core material marble, I thought it would be interesting to combine it with another element. Marble married to mirror came to mind. The materials contrast was very beautiful. The Alaka mirrors combine 3D milled marble slabs and industrial mirror in three different tints: silver, smoked and gold.

Your Alaka design features a silver finish. What visual, physical, or metaphoric treatment does this effect allow you to express?
Alaka means angle in Basque. Run all around from one material to the other, beveling edges in the production process is both akin to mirror and marble. I thought it could work to visually reinforce the combination of both materials.

How did your choice of material allow you adopt an iridescent, reflective, or luminous effect within your design?
The choice of glass mirror offers a fresh treatment of reflection. At the same time, It can never become ostentatious, thanks to sober, classic, timeless and toned-down forms. Alaka celebrates the beauty of natural materials as well as craftsmanship.

Season III – Silver Edition, design & Silvano Magnone, handmade photography, Spazio Nobile, Brussels (BE), 24.11.2016-19.2.2017, www.spazionobile.com

Installation view of Silver Edition exhibition at Spazio Nobile. Photo: Jörg Bräuer
Installation view of Silver Edition exhibition at Spazio Nobile. Photo: Jörg Bräuer
Installation view of Silver Edition exhibition at Spazio Nobile. Photo: Jörg Bräuer
Installation view of Silver Edition exhibition at Spazio Nobile. Photo: Jörg Bräuer
Sylvain Willenz. Photo: Julien Renault
Sylvain Willenz. Photo: Julien Renault
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(c) Jean François Jaissaud, Luxproductions for Spazio Nobile /TLmag
(c) Jean François Jaissaud, Luxproductions for Spazio Nobile /TLmag
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(c) Jean François Jaissaud, Luxproductions for Spazio Nobile /TLmag
(c) Jean François Jaissaud, Luxproductions for Spazio Nobile /TLmag

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