PLEASE, INTRODUCE YOURSELF. WHAT'S YOUR BACKGROUND?
My name is Bram Vanderbeke, I am a Belgian designer based in Ghent, and graduated from the Design Academy in Eindhoven(nl) in 2016. My work has a very architectural and monumental form language, and I like to play with materials, form and functionality of an object. Together with 5 other Belgian designers I am also a member of the BRUT collective.
HOW DID GET IN TOUCH WITH THE DESIGN WORLD?
As a kid I always wanted to become a brick layer just like my grandfather. I was always making things, and went to a technical school to learn all the basics about wood and construction works. This urge of wanting to make things brought me to Design Academy Eindhoven where I was encouraged to go to workshops and experiment with different materials and techniques.
MATERIAL IS INDEED THE LEADING FEATURE OF YOUR WORK, WHAT'S YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH IT? WHAT ASPECTS OF A MATERIAL ATTRACTS YOU THE MOST?
I like to play with materials and form, I like to see what I can construct out of certain materials or material connections. I find it interesting to give basic materials a new, sometimes unexpected, texture, in order to give more value to the material. I often make a lot of samples where I try different coatings or treatments on certain materials. My ‘Stackable Stools’ are made out of a black mdf with a manual applied coating on top, in order to give more depth to the material. The concrete surface of my ‘New Primitives’ collection is manually sculpted, and treated with many layers that create an unknown texture in the concrete.
AESTHETIC AND EXPERIMENTATION TAKES THE UPPER HAND OVER FUNCTIONALITY IN YOUR OBJECTS. SINCE COMING FROM A DESIGN SCHOOL, HAVE YOU EVER BEEN CRITICISED FOR THAT?
My works might be very sculptural but I believe that each work has a certain function. Next to classical functions like sitting or storing I also see emotional, spatial or guiding functions in my work. During my education at the Design Academy my teachers always motivated me to start to play with forms, materials and connections without always being too restricted by what it had to become. This gave me the freedom to develop my own form language, and let my objects adapt their function to the context where they are placed.
ANYWAY, TALKING ABOUT FUNCTIONALITY, SOMETIMES IT LOOKS LIKE YOUR OBJECTS ARE SO PRIMITIVE, THE BENCHES IN PARTICULAR, THAT I HAD THE FEELING THAT YOU CAN UNDERSTAND THEIR FUNCTION BY JUST LOOKING AT THEM. WOULD YOU SAY THAT PRIMITIVISM IS KIND OF SYNONYMOUS OF ESSENTIAL IN TERMS OF FUNCTIONALITY IN YOUR WORK?
My ‘New Primitives’ collection indeed has this very rough essential aesthetics. The Dutch Invertuals collective described me once as “a director of spaces whose work is situated on the fine line between intuition and functionality”. I believe that these primitive/essential forms come out of my intuitive decisions, and sometimes it is very clear which function these objects or forms could take.
THE BORDER LINE BETWEEN DESIGN AND ART IS GETTING THINNER THESE DAYS. DOES YOUR RESEARCH HAVE ALWAYS GONE IN THIS DIRECTION?
I have a fascination for architecture, architectural connections and architectural materials so most of my research happens in this field. I like to observe public spaces and bring elements out of the public space, like forms, textures and rhythms inside my work.
WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF A RAW AESTHETIC, IN TERMS OF LANGUAGE, IN YOUR WORK? WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO COMMUNICATE WITH IT?
I often start to experiment with materials, shapes and connections without thinking too much of what I want to communicate. I guess that these raw aesthetics come from things that I see around me, and elements in materials that fascinate me.
HOW DO YOU CONSIDER THE ENVIRONMENT AROUND YOU WHEN CREATING? HOW MUCH IS IT IMPORTANT FOR YOU THAT YOUR OBJECTS FIT IN IT? DO YOU EVER LOOK FOR CONTRASTS?
My objects don’t always have a clear function, so I find it very interesting to see how the context in which they are placed can give different functions to the object. I also like to observe the behaviour of people in certain spaces, and see how my objects can influence the way people use the space around them. I would love to make more work for public spaces where i can play with the relation between object, people and the space around it.
WHAT KIND OF FEEDBACK DO YOUR CREATIONS USUALLY GET FROM PEOPLE? ESPECIALLY FROM THOSE WHO MAY NOT KNOW MUCH ABOUT ART AND DESIGN?
I often get feedback from craftsmen and people who are connected to the construction field and work with concrete, reinforcement steel, stone or aluminium. They are very positive and happy to see that I am inspired by the materials and techniques they work with. I love to listen and learn from their experience, and hope to meet and collaborate with many more of these great craft people.
In the near future I will show some of my works in expo’s in Brussels, Paris, Kortrijk and Berlin. Next to that I want to keep making things and experiment with materials and forms in my workshop. We are planning a new expo with BRUT for the Milan Design Week 2019, where I will present new work as well.