If you want to know where the future of design is headed, look to the young designers who are breaking ground today. This maxim rang true at this year’s Ventura Interieur in Belgium, where a group of up-and-coming Flemish designers stole the show with work that is innovative, experimental, and bursting with creativity. Design Platform Flanders invited Inhabitat to Kortrijk to check out the best of the best, and we’re happy to say that many of the designs on display look towards the future with sustainable materials, low-impact production techniques, and quality craftsmanship – read on for our favorite finds.
Heleen Sintobin‘s Armadillo seat is handmade from over 2,000 rounds of vegetable tanned leather strung together to create a comfortable pouf. Heleen also showcased a pair of her Pichi Pillows, which are made from recycled leather by Sweatshop Deluxe, a socially responsible production workshop based in Rotterdam.
However it unfolds into a full-size workspace made from study felt! The origami-inspired object is perfect for small space living – it can be used as a shelf, a desk, and a sound-insulating room divider that folds away at a moment’s notice.
Atelier NAUWAU is a collaboration between arborist Niels Arnauts and furniture maker Rayah Wauters. The pair harvests wood from sustainably managed forests and uses it to create playful products and furnishings. Their Woodswing consists of a button-like circular seat threaded with climbing rope – simply toss it around a tree branch to create an impromptu swing.
Jonas Van Put takes chaise lounges to to new heights with his towering Pangea chairscraper! Jonas was inspired by multi-tiered rainforest ecosystems when creating the 3.3-meter-high “conversation tower,” which invites groups of people to chat while hanging out on various levels.
Cork is one of our favorite materials – it’s renewable, lightweight, insulating, and it can be harvested without damaging the tree. Corkinho takes the material’s green credentials one step further by using waste cork salvaged from the bottling industry. Studio founder Cédric Etienne has developed a process for compressing tiny bits of cork into products, furnishings, and even entire buildings.
Antwerp-based designer Nathalie Van der Massen creates lovely textiles that play with texture and light. Her colorful, ultra-soft Gallo blanket is made from felted mohair threads that subtly shift during the weaving process to create complex patterns and hues.
21-12 founder Tine Sibbens pairs shells, coral, and salmon leather with subtle accents of gold and silver to create unique jewelry that celebrates the natural world. 21-12‘s Hydrophobia collection is inspired by the ocean and the Nereids, the sea nymphs of Greek mythology.
How do you lighten the footprint of a heavy marble table? Simple – slim it down to a scant few centimeters! Ben Storms has developed a process for stabilizing large, very thin sheets of marble using metal cushions. His resulting table is much more material efficient than your average monolithic marble table – and at 40 kilograms it’s light enough to be picked up and moved by a single person.
Cheb Fusion pairs traditional Arabic design motifs with modern materials to create contemporary designs that pop. The studio’s Nichenn shelves are embedded with color-changing LEDs that lend subtle accent lighting to interiors.
MS Flash creates eye-popping large-scale wall murals that can be custom-tailored to fit any space. We love their colorful geometric prints!
Alexandre Lowie is a master furniture maker who focuses on quality materials and impeccable craftsmanship. His Copenhagen Series table is beautifully finished and can be expanded from 1.62 meters to 2.75 meters to accommodate additional guests.
A full-scale workshop at the entrance to Ventura Interieur invited guests to witness the young designers at work.
Photos by Mike Chino for Inhabitat