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Questions of Art and/or Design

‘Between Art and Design. The Belgian scene.’ explores the tensions between form and function, questioning the definitions that we give to everyday objects

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Images courtesy of campagne Brussels Design September

When does an object become a piece of art? When does a piece of art become a piece of furniture? At what point does the line blur between art and design?

These questions relating to the tension between form and functionality, are almost impossible to answer. They are subjective to each maker, each designer, each user. Despite their elusiveness, they make a rich starting point for the exhibition Between Art and Design. The Belgian scene. On display at Kanal – Centre Pompidou – a remarkable building in its own right which will host 13 months of exhibitions before demolition – the show explores objects that can be classified as ‘collectible design’ or ‘design art’.

Curated by Roel Rijssenbeek & Inge Vranken, the pieces on display are often playful or abstract reflecting the personal style of each designer. The pieces demonstrate the creative freedom that comes with working at a small batch or bespoke scale of production. In exploring materiality and form the pieces do not have to prioritize functionality or be limited by rigid manufacturing systems.

Focusing exclusively on Belgian practitioners, the exhibition showcases a unique community of creatives. Their experimental approach to has undeniably influenced been by movements such as Italian Radicalism in the late 1960s and early 70s.

The distinct tubular steel and brightly colored furniture of design duo Muller van Severen epitomizes the attitude of fun functionality. Also on display are the Sculptural Bench and Totem shelving by Kasper Hamacher who’s making process is much more craft-based. Focusing on wood as his material choice, the Hamacher hand-makes each piece, responding to the specific piece of timber he has at hand. Collect, by artist, industrial designer and applied artist Piet Stockmans, seems to favor form over function for his wall-hangings but uses leather, a material usually associated with design and upholstery.

Other designers navigating this grey terrain between art and design in the exhibition are: Alain Berteau, Anne Marie Laureys, Ben Storms, Bram Boo, Brut Collective, Casimir, Charles Kaisin, Damien Gernay, Danny Venlet, De Vylder Vinck & Taillieu, Erwin De Muer, Jean-François D’Or, Julien Carretero, Laend, Lionel Jadot, Maarten De Ceulaer, Marie-José Van Hee,Octave Vandeweghe, Ola-Dele Kuku, Pierric De Coster, Piet Stockmans, Raphael Charles, Sep Verboom, atelier lachaert dhanis, Studio Job, Sylvain Willenz, MdSt, Unfold, Vincent Van Duysen, Vladimir Slavov, Hans Weyers, Xavier Lust.

Between Art and Design. The Belgian scene. Will be on display at KANAL – Centre Pompidou until November 11


Kaspar Hamacher, Sculptural Bench. Photography by Jules Lobgeois
Muller van Severen, Strangledrack
Hans Weyers, 2013, Vlaamse huiskamer
Piet Stockmans, 2017 , Collect
Domestic Art by Xavier Lust

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