Belgian method: fairs according to Biennale Interieur 2018

With a new five-day format, Interieur celebrated its fiftieth anniversary by rethinking what it means to design a design fair today.

Biennale Interieur 2018

In 1968, the date of its birth, Biennale Interieur adopted many of the attributes of the time: questioning the established dogmas, embracing innovation and taking a stand. Today it is a branched and expanding reality, a privileged showcase for Belgian design.

One of its most interesting aspects is the way of doing business: a multidisciplinary event that involves the entire city of Kortrijk, where communication is declined in every aspect of the concept. The logo, designed in ’68 by graphic designer Boudewijn Delaere, is still the brand name of the event.

An ‘integrated’ approach is part of a well-established tradition in Belgium where, already in the post-war years, it had become an essential tool for doing politics and administering a city, as Katarina Serulus tells us in her book Design & Politics. Everything goes through design, whether it’s the reception of a fair or a hospital room.

“Is Biennale Interieur a meaningful brand? Is it a brand at all? If it is, how can it survive in an ultra-saturated market?”, to these questions the creative director of Interieur 2018 Dieter Van Den Storm answers leaving carte blanche to many young designers, entrusting them with the care of the installation. “Interieur does not want to be just a fair, but a search for meaning in contemporary living.”

The heart of the 2018 project is the “Central Piazza” by Studio Verter, an architecture studio based in Rotterdam founded by Claudio Saccucci and Roxane Van Hoof. “We worked from the visitor’s point of view to offer a different experience than usual,” they say. “By researching the spaces of aggregation in history, we have identified the square as the ideal meeting place for exhibiting Interieur’s projects. A natural reference given the scale of the project: we are talking about over 20,000 square meters!”

Studio Verter, Biennale Interieur 2018
Studio Verter has thought of an open, free space in the centre of Kortrijk Xpo, encouraging companies to get rid of walls and platforms for a freer, more fluid exhibition, where they can contaminate each other, as in a museum.

Unlike the traditional closed exhibition pavilions, we thought of an open, free space in the centre of Kortrijk Xpo. We encouraged companies to get rid of walls and platforms for a freer, more fluid exhibition, where they could contaminate each other, like in a museum. Then we designed easy, chromatically coded routes and introduced the Landmarks, architectural elements that, while improving orientation, emphasize this concept of the square.

For the Landmarks we called Adam Nathaniel Furman, Conrad Willems, Maniera with Arno Brandlhuber and Chmara.Rosinke. Then we designed the entrances, a rambla, and all the intermediate spaces. From the square, open, little by little the installations become more dense, just like in a city.”

New this year was the reuse of the St. Maarten hospital to host the City Festival, the exhibition area dedicated to emerging talents and students. It is a historic hospital, located in the city, which has not been used for some years due to its small size. The structure proved to be perfect for the occasion thanks to the small inpatient rooms where the individual designers exhibited their work, paying attention to the scenic effects, while the collectives appropriated the operating theatres and common areas.

Among the most striking installations are Nightingale’s Antidote 2x19 for D&M Depot, Sabine Marcelis’ light series, Harvey Bouterse’s ceramic vases, the game design works of HoWest School students, the graphics of the creative agency DIFT in collaboration with Design Museum Ghent and the sustainable works created with the rural communities of Sep Verboom and his studio Livable.

Opening image: a collaboration between French studio Dessuant Bone, the electronic music group Goose and Allaert Aluminium. In the photo an image of the installation at the fair.

Biennale Interieur 2018
Fair opening dates:
18-22 October 2018
City Festival opening dates:
18 October - 4 November 2018
Kortrijk, Belgium

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