Grand Hornu’s Marie Pok on Danny Venlet’s Easy Rider

With an eye to getting to the core of their purpose, practices and picks, we ask the creative directors, curators and heads of collection of the country’s three design museums – ADAM’s Arnaud Bozzini, Grand-Hornu’s Marie Pok and Design Museum Gent’s Eva Van Regenmortel – to select an iconic Belgian design piece from their institution’s collection.

VENLET Danny - Easy rider - Photo Philippe De Gobert 001

Our museum presents contemporary creativity in design. The focus is squarely put on innovation and prospection. By innovation I mean disruptive innovation, the kind of innovation that stimulates thinking and brings about different ways of doing things. Centre d’Innovation & Design (CID) takes a particular interest in the research of new production processes, experimental design, design as strategy, design as a proposition of new behaviours, design as a way of marking a moment, a period. When talking about “Iconic Belgian Design,” it’s useful to define exactly what is meant by “Iconic.” If we’re talking classics, and a designer recognised as such, I might talk of Maarten Van Severen, the undisputed spiritual leader to an entire generation of designers. Van Severen was a genius, but before anything he was a hard worker. He reminds me of a record on Mozart’s history I used to have at home when I was a kid that said “Work is nothing without talent, but talent is nothing without work.” That embodies him perfectly. If we’re talking more about a piece that symbolises a certain way of seeing or doing things, I’d talk about Danny Venlet’s Easy Rider chair. It coincides with a period in my life when my passion for design started off and it’s an important piece because it combines functions (that were, at the time, new, such as the use of one’s laptop) in a roundabout way, circumventing traditional thinking. The innovation here is the questioning of age-old habits: the desk becomes mobile, with Venlet re-thinking uses and behaviours to force change upon the user. As such, the piece encapsulates a precise period in time, namely when work flexibility was a key design concern. There’s also something extremely uninhibited about the chair’s design. Then again, it was produced by Bulo, a renowned Belgian imprint famed for its relentless reinvention of the workspace as we know it.