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Smets, Le Roux and a Biospheric Bench

For their most recent show at the Valerie Traan Gallery, Bas Smets and Eliane Le Roux have condensed time and biospheric processes into a piece of furniture

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Text by Rab Messina
Photography by Filip Dujardin

Architect Bas Smets and art director Eliane Le Roux are very aware of how we consume time. Every single time we drink from a plastic cup, lie down on a wooden bed or sit on a stone bench, we are consuming in an instant the biological work that nature carried out through millions of years.

That’s where their own stone seat, the Biospheric Bench, comes from. Made from a selection of slabs from Van Den Weghe, every module is formed by 13 stones cut to an elementary triangular shape and bound together by two elastic band —as a nod to another derivate from fossil processing. “Much like soil samples, the stacked pieces of the biospheric bench tell a prehistoric story of living matter transformed into solid material, as a compression of time and space of biospheric processes,” they said.

The duo decided to turn the setting of the Valerie Traan Gallery, where it is displayed, into a sub-tropical forest. The careful collection of formations is placed inside a selection of plants from Decofora, a NASA soundscape that evokes interplanetary travels and a custom room fragrance from Mexican perfumer Xinú.

The experience ends in a documentary, titled Biosphere II, that showcases the inner workings of a laboratory built to examine the connectedness between the world’s main biomes. Together, these elements are “part of the same exploration into the relationship between life and materiality.”

The Biospheric Bench is on display until June 23

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smets le roux
smets le roux
smets le roux
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