The design fair that would like to be more than a fair

The second chapter of Collectible design fair in Brussels tried to provide a curated platform for limited edition design and contemporary art to meet and mix.

Designers, gallerists and collectors were warned: Collectible – the Belgian fair which took place in Brussels from 14-17 March – does not want to be the regular design fair. Spreading over the five storeys of the Vanderborght building, a former 1930s department store located in the city centre, the second edition of the show provided a carefully curated repository to more than 30 design and art galleries, as well as to established and upcoming international designers.

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The fair spreads over the five storeys of the Vanderborght building. Photo Jeroen Verrecht - Courtesy Collectible

With a series of site-specific exhibitions and a programme of lectures and workshops, the fair might have already reached the goals that its founders set for themselves one year ago: stimulate encounters and question the boundaries between art and design. But also creatively tackle the issue of sustainability, as conscientiously proved the simple, but intelligent, scenography developed by French architect Sophie Dries to showcase the works of fifteen young designers selected by the advisory board of Collectible.

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View of the site-specific exhibition dedicated to young designers. Photo Jeroen Verrecht - Courtesy Collectible

Adopting a waste-no-more spirit, Dries, who is based between Paris and Milan, built her setting without processing the various components, but just combining them into a “landscape” of standardised construction materials, as she described it. After the fair, each ingredient – 1,200 kg of tiny bits of plastic, and a series of displays made of white foam and enameled boards – was given back to the various manufacturers that originally lent them. Populating the hilly and ephemeral scenery, was an eclectic selection of objects such as: Luminous Shapes, a series of hard-to-describe lamps designed by Stine Mikkelsen; Special Acoustic, an architecture-like structure made of textile designed by Fransje Gimbrère as part of her Standing Textile(s) research; Taras Zheltyshev’s soft Lymphochair, an oddly shaped creature upholstered in felt.

This section also featured more conceptual and experimental projects, like Alexandra Franciska’s research Future Remnants, which explores the role of humans in the development of new mineral formations, or Bram Van Breda’s rug Resonance, that was woven merging handmade and industrial manufacturing processes.

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View of One on One's booth. Courtesy One on One

One on One, a collaborative project initiated by the young French curator Simon Sixou, somehow fortuitously offered a synthesis of Collectible’s vision: the merging of contemporary art and artisanal know-how.

Each limited-edition series of rugs that the brand proposes is, in fact, the result of a curated (by Sixou) cooperation between an artist and a craftsman/woman. In Brussels, One on One exhibited its last collaboration: a set of rugs woven – using colourful recycled strips of cashmere and wool jumpers – by Sicilian weaver Barbara Costantino based on the paintings of Israeli contemporary artist Guy Yanai. “We simultaneously promote, as equal parts of the project, the making process of both the craftswoman and the artist”, explained Sixou, “and the benefits made from each sale is then equally divided between the craftswoman, the artist and the curator.”

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View of the site-specific exhibition presented by Zaventem Atelier. Photo Jeroen Verrecht - Courtesy Collectible

Defined by the roughness so dear to its founder – Belgian designer Lionel Jadot – Zaventem Atelier, an unconventional co-working space located on the outskirts of Brussels, presented a series of objects freshly showcased with simple white marks on the floor. Architecture-like pieces designed by Bram Vanderbeke, Linde Freya Tangelder and Charlotte Jonckheer (of Belgian collective BRUT), stood alongside the harsh Throne armchair sculpted in foam by designer Touche-Touche and a new version of Anna Aagaard Jensen’s gendered chairs, designed only for women.

The last two developed their projects in the frame of a residency at Alfa Brussels, a new gallery located on the second floor of Zaventem Ateliers. Dedicated to upcoming designers, the gallery, which claims to be an “unadulterated playground”, also presented – in its own booth, one floor below – CrossFit, the hairy and colourful sofas designed by Janne Schimmel and Moreno Schweikle, who got themselves noticed during the 2018 Dutch Design Week with their series of seats called Return to default.

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The series of sofas designed by Janne Schimmel and Moreno Schweikle at Alfa Brussels' booth. Photo Jeroen Verrecht - Courtesy Collectible

Adding a new layer of quality to the fair, the three major Belgian design museums (the Design Museum Ghent, the CID Grand Hornu and the ADAM Bruxelles) were invited to curate a common booth that highlighted the importance of public cultural institutions in the crafting of design collections.

Described by some as a true political achievement – as it symbolically brought together the Flanders and Wallonia regions – the small exhibition presented a selection of objects recently acquired by the three museums. At the same time, it recounted the strategies adopted by these institutions to obtain new pieces and overcome budget cuts – one of the solutions according to Arnaud Bozzini, director of the ADAM Bruxelles, being donations. The only items featured in the fair not available for purchase, most of the objects – among which were the Pratone sofa by Riccardo Rosso, Piero Derossi et Giorgio Ceretti and Nendo’s Twig chair – were coveted by many visitors.

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View of the small exhibition curated by the three major Belgian design museums - the Design Museum Ghent, the CID Grand Hornu and the ADAM Bruxelles. Photo Jeroen Verrecht - Courtesy Collectible
Event:
Collectible
Opening dates:
March 14 - 17, 2019
Curated by:
Clélie Debehault and Liv Vaisberg
Scenography:
Studio Verter
Location:
Vanderborght Building
Address:
Brussels, Belgium

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